"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Saturday, April 19, 2014

INQUIRER: How other faiths observe Holy Week

Pope Francis kneeling to wash the feet of people with disabilities (Source: Chron)
It's IRONICAL that an ordinary journalist of Philippine Daily Inquirer knows the REAL REASON, and ESSENCE of celebrating the HOLY WEEK, - it is the 'PASSION, DEATH and RESURRECTION' of the LORD JESUS-- while those who say they are professing "faith" in (the same) Jesus Christ downplay this celebration NEGATIVELY JUST BECAUSE it's a CATHOLIC-led HOLIDAY.  What a shame! And who doesn't know the origin and founder of these SECTS:
  • Aglipayan Church founded by Bishop Gregorio Aglipay in 1902 (Filipino former Catholic)
  • The Iglesia ni Cristo founded by Felix Manalo in 1914 (Filipino former Catholic)
  • Jehovah's Witnesses founded by Charles T. Russel in 1931 (Protestant)
  • Seventh-day Adventists founded by Helen G. White et.al. in 1863 (Protestant)
  • United Church of Christ in the Philippines founded 1901 but officially registered in 1942 by group of Evangelicals, mixed of Congregationalist, Presbyterians and Episcopalian
But the CATHOLIC CHURCH is considered as "among the oldest religious institutions in the world" (Wikipedia) and the mother of Christianity-- founded by JESUS CHRIST upon ST. PETER the APOSTLE, whom he promised that the "gates of hell" shall NOT prevail (Mt. 16:16-18). Therefore the same CHURCH now is crossing the THIRD MILLENNIUM with 266 Popes, the present is POPE FRANCIS!
MANILA, Philippines—The annual commemoration of Holy Week—marking the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which begins on Palm Sunday, climaxes on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection—and its pious customs observed in Roman Catholic tradition also find expression in the mainstream Protestant denominations and evangelical churches. What follows is an informal survey of what Holy Week observances are followed by other faiths.

Aglipayan Church

The Aglipayan Church, officially the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), or the Philippine Independent Church, follows the same Holy Week observance as the Roman Catholic Church, according to Rev. Fr. Terry Revollido, rector of the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary.


“I don’t see any significant difference because we’re also following biblical narrative,” Revollido said.
Like the Roman Catholics, the Aglipayan faithful begin the Holy Week with Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, there would be a celebration of the Eucharist and the washing of the feet while on Good Friday church activities include the Seven Last Words, veneration of the cross and processions. The Easter Vigil mass is held the evening of Black Saturday and the Salubong very early on Easter Sunday.

The Aglipayan Church, which calls itself the national church of the Philippines, proclaimed its break from the Catholic Church in 1902 by the members of the Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina because of the alleged mistreatment of Filipinos by the Spanish clergy. Although a Christian denomination, the IFI rejects the spiritual authority of the Pope and emphasizes patriotism in its teachings.

The members of the church are called Aglipayans after its first supreme head, Fr. Gregorio Aglipay.

Iglesia ni Cristo

The Iglesia Ni Cristo, another homegrown Christian sect, does not observe Lent or mark the special observances and services of Holy Week, as it believes that the pious customs associated with it derive from pagan traditions.

For instance, it believes that Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week commemorating Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem to fulfill his paschal mystery, has pagan origins. The INC says the palm symbolizes victory, and notes how victorious armies of pagan nations decked themselves and their chariots with palm fronds.
According to the INC, the word Easter was derived by St. Bede from Eastre, a forgotten dawn goddess. Numerous local customs held during Easter, such as the blessing of meat, eggs and other foods the partaking of which was formerly forbidden during Lent, have pagan origins, the INC believes.

The INC members believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and that God made Him Lord and Savior. However, while Jesus Christ is holy and a very special man, he is not God, he is the only mediator of man to God, they say.

They also believe that Christ’s resurrection is the main proof that the dead will rise again. Those in Christ will rise first to be with Him forever in the Holy City. Those who are not of Christ will rise a thousand years after the first resurrection to be cast into the lake of fire.

The INC’s main activities include “worship services”, missionary work and edification. Worship services are usually held on Thursdays and Sundays by every local congregation inside the house of worship. It consists singing, prayer and study of God’s words for proper application in daily living.

The members are happy to fulfill their duty to share the faith by inviting others to attend Bible study sessions and worship services. The INC also uses mass media in spreading its message of hope to a broader audience.

For the spiritual welfare of church members, prayer meetings are held weekly by each group of neighboring households for further instructions in the faith and announcements about church projects and activities. Pastoral visits are also conducted regularly by church officials for prayer and spiritual counseling.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo also holds semi-annual (mid-year and year-end) Pasalamat (thanksgiving) as a sign of gratitude for God’s blessings. As with regular worship services, it consists of hymn-singing, prayers and the study of God’s words.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination whose distinct beliefs are based on their interpretations of the Bible, do not observe Christmas, Easter or other holidays and customs observed by mainstream Christianity.
They believe that Jehovah is the only true God, and Jesus, God’s only begotten Son who served as a redeemer and a ransom sacrifice to pay for the sins of humanity as the only intercessor between God and man.

While Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in commemorating the death of Jesus, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not share many of the beliefs and practices associated with the Holy Week of Catholics and other Christian denominations. The Witnesses do not practice the Lenten rituals of fasting, or pilgrimage to holy places.
The most important and solemn event for the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the “Lord’s Evening Meal” or “Memorial of Christ’s Death,” commemorated on the date of the Jewish Passover.

“After careful reading and study of the Bible, [the Witnesses] found that this is the only anniversary that Jesus commanded his followers to celebrate. Before dying, he commanded his disciples to keep observing the Last Supper, otherwise called Lord’s Evening Meal, once every year. Jesus’ command to celebrate this occasion can be read in the Bible,” said Dean Jacek of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Philippine branch.
To determine the date of the Memorial each year, the Witnesses follow the Jewish calendar.

“Under the Jewish calendar, Jesus’ death occurred on the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E. Last year, the date Nisan 14 fell on March 26, so on this date Jehovah’s Witnesses met together in their building for worship (called Kingdom Halls) all around the earth after sundown. To celebrate, they did exactly what Jesus said should be done. Some 20 million attended the occasion,” said Jacek. This year’s Memorial was marked on April 14.

Those attending the Memorial with Jehovah’s Witnesses for the first time will see a functional, clean venue devoid of religious symbols.

“There may be some simple flower arrangements, but attendees will not be distracted by gaudy bunting or any party atmosphere,” Jacek noted.

“A qualified speaker will consider in a clear and dignified manner what the Bible says about the occasion. He will help all to understand the meaning of Jesus’ death. A simple ceremony, imitating what Jesus told his apostles to do, will then follow,” he said.

Seventh-day Adventists

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a Protestant Christian denomination, does not observe the practices of the Holy Week as Catholics or other Protestant denominations do. Accepting the Bible as the only source of their beliefs, Adventists only observe the practices and faith of the early Christian church.
The church is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ.

Adventists believe that the resurrection of Christ that is commemorated at Easter is a historical event of immense importance. But they point out that the Bible only noted that the resurrection occurred on the first day of the week and did not suggest that the resurrection made a new day holy.

Without biblical precedent for making Easter a special day of celebration, Adventists observe only the Sabbath as sacred or holy time because it is the only holy day of the week stated in the Bible.
“We just celebrate Sabbath day as the Lord’s day,” said Bro. Emer Dayo of Lipa Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Batangas province.

“The Bible tells us to observe it from (Friday) sunset to (Saturday) sunset. Sabbath is the test of true obedience to the Lord,” he said.

According to the Adventists’ Biblical Research Institute, however, some Adventists have introduced Sunday morning services during Easter. But this does not mean that Sunday is to be considered as holy. Adventists only see Easter as an opportunity to do evangelical outreach without assigning any special religious meaning to the day itself.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a Protestant Christian denomination, observes the same Holy Week practices as that of Roman Catholicism, according to Lowell Tac-An, executive secretary of the organizational ministry of UCCP.

“We also celebrate Palm Sunday with a special form of worship. Then we also observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. There is a reenactment of the Last Supper and we also do the seven last words. Easter Sunday serves as the culmination of the whole Holy Week celebration,” Tac-an said.
“There isn’t much difference because we also follow what’s written in the bible,” he added.

According to Tac-an, one difference between the UCCP with the Roman Catholic Church is the that the formers does not believe in purgatory.

“In the basic protestant doctrines, we also believe in life after death. But there is no belief in purgatory,” he said.

Aside from Holy Week, the UCCP also observes other religious Christian festivities like Christmas and All Soul’s Day.

Tac-an said that the UCCP is divided into seven jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has their own bishops. The UCCP is led by a head bishop who is elected every four years.

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