Friday, April 6, 2012

Viernes Santo

Viernes Santo, Good Friday, is the holiest of days here in El Salvador.  In Suchitoto, we began the day with the Stations of the Cross at 10 am, walking from the Capilla de la Cruz, about a mile to la iglesia Santa Lucia.  The heat was punishing, but that didn't stop the Suchitotense: we were a goodly crowd, walking slowly from station to station, each lovingly set up in front of a house or store and carefully decorated, following the image of Jesus carrying his cross.  The high point for me was the time - at stations IV, V, and VI - when St. John (on his own platform) comes to bow before Jesus, goes back to a side street and returns with Mary who bows before her son as he bows to her.  A little later, Veronica comes with her towel to wipe the face of Jesus, and the three of them become part of the procession, following Jesus on the way of the cross.

When I read the accounts of the crucifixion, it's the terrible aloneness of Jesus after he has been arrested that strikes my heart.  Here, following the stations, we become his friends along the lonely way to death, with his mother and his friend and a woman who reaches out to comfort him.

Later, after the Viernes Santo service and Adoration of the Cross, another procession left the church, this one for the Santo Entierro, carrying the dead Jesus to his resting place.  The Santo Entierro procession walks over alfombras, carpets, that have been specially created just a few hours or even minutes before, created to be destroyed by the feet of the men carrying the body of Jesus.  Last year the alfombras were all swept away in a rainstorm before the procession arrived.  This year, happily, they were completed, the procession passed, and then the blessed rain came down, cutting the heat of a day as hot as any I can remember.  

Tomorrow we celebrate the rising.

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