Monday, April 25, 2011

Bisita Iglesia 2011

Our third year of visiting churches during Good Friday. This time we explored the churches on the west district - that means we travelled from the north east side of Singapore to the western side. Here is the map of our Bisita Iglesia route:

Same as every year, we started at St Anne's Church in Sengkang, the one closest to our place.

We left home a little bit later in the morning as the kids got up late. We read the first and second stations from the booklet given out by the church weeks ago for lent reflections (From Wilderness to the Waters of Life). We also let the kids have their share of reading and reflection. Let me share them with you:

First Station: Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus is brought to stand in front of Pontius Pilate, the judge. He is innocent but Pontius Pilate condemns him anyway and sentences Him to death.

It is really our bad thoughts, mean words, and angry actions that You are being punished for, Jesus. We are praying the Stations of the Cross to tell You that we are sorry for all our sins.

Second Station: Jesus takes his cross
Jesus has been beaten by soldiers. He has been laughed at and spat upon. Now he must pick up the heavy cross and carry it while the crowd yells. He is so tired and sad, but no one cares.

We care that You are tired, Jesus. We are sorry that You are sad. We would like to help You carry Your cross with our prayers.

Then we headed to Church of St Ignatius (church #2) at 120 King's Road. It was around an hour's bus ride, taking bus 136 to Blk 302, Upper Serangoon Road, then transferring to bus 153, alighting at Spanish Village, Farrer Road. 

Since we started quite late in the morning, it was already 12 noon when we got Spanish Village. We decided to have lunch first (no meat for the adults).

After lunch, we headed to the Church of St Ignatius which was a block or so away - an uphill walk.

When we got there, they were in the middle of the mass so we decided to wait it out. We visited the bookshop while waiting. The bookshop lady was very nice and accommodating. When she saw us standing outside the shop for a very long time (we had gone back and forth to the church which was on the second floor for a few times then), obviously very hot, she came out and invited us in the shop where we could be more comfortable with the aircon. We found out she was about 1/4 or 1/8 Filipina. Her grandmother (who she was not able to meet personally) was a Filipina. 

After about 30 minutes or so, we headed back up to the church. Finally, the mass was over. We were able to read the next two stations of the cross.

Third Station: Jesus falls the first time
The cross is too heavy. It is so heavy that Jesus falls down under its weight. The blood from the crown of thorns is running into His eyes and His back aches from the scourging. People are still screaming and throwing things at Him. His heart must be as heavy as the cross He carries. 

It is our sins that make Your cross heavy, Jesus. We are sorry. We love You and we try to be good for You with our prayers and with our lives.

Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Blessed Mother
Suddenly, Jesus sees His mother. She is standing at the side of the road surrounded by the crowd. Her eyes filled with tears when she sees Jesus. She wants to help Him out but she cannot. Both their hearts ache at the other's pain.

Jesus, You and Your Blessed Mother help us whenever we ask. Our hearts ache too with the pain of the Stations of the Cross. We promise to pray to You both often, for help in our lives.

Moving on to our third church, the Blessed Sacrament Church at 1 Commonwealth Drive. It was around 20 mins bus ride from the Spanish Village taking either bus 93, 153, 855, 961, alighting at Opposite Blessed Sacrament Church.

Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
The soldiers are in a hurry. They grab Simon of Cyrene out of the crowd to carry the cross and make Jesus go faster. Jesus was grateful to Simon for his help.

Simon did not know he was blessed when he was carrying Your cross - he only felt how heavy it was. Praying the Stations of the Cross will help us to remember that carrying our crosses helps You too.

Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Jesus' face is covered with sweat, blood and dust. It is itchy and uncomfortable. In pity, Veronica runs out to the road to wipe the dirt from Jesus' face. This small act of kindness is all she can do to help Him.

Jesus, we want to see and touch Your face, shining in glory in Heaven. We know that our small acts of kindness and our prayers help us grow closer to You and Your Father in Heaven.

Then we headed to our fourth church - Church of the Holy Cross at 450 Clementi Avenue 1 via bus 196 from After Commonwealth Drive, Queensway bus stop. It was a 26-minute bus ride, alighting at Transview Golf Club, Clementi Road.

Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time
The road is so long and the cross is so heavy. Exhausted, Jesus falls down again. The soldiers yell at Him and whip Him to make Him up. Don't they know that they are hurting Him more? Jesus knows that He is suffering for the sins of the world. He gets up and keeps walking.

Jesus, sometimes we get tired, discouraged and impatient with the world. When we fail and fall into sin, it hurts You more. We are sorry and we ask You to help us be as patient and brave as You.

Eigth Station: Jesus speaks to women of Jerusalem
Next, Jesus meets some of the women he taught. They are crying. They are crying for Jesus, and for their own loss - what will they do without Jesus? Jesus tells them not to weep for Him, but for all the sinners of the world.

Jesus, You told the women of Jerusalem to weep for us. Even in Your pain, You remembered us. Thank you. We will pray for sinners, too.

We stayed at the Church of the Holy Cross for almost an hour I think because we were held up by the rain. As expected, it usually rains in the afternoon of Good Friday. 

On to our fifth church - Church of St Francis of Assissi at 200 Boon Lay Avenue, we took bus 198 from the bus stop at Blk 610, AYE, which was quite a walk from the church. We crossed the overpass to the other side of the AYE. The next church was 24 stops away, alighting at Blk 185, Boon Lay Avenue.

It was still drizzling when we walked to the church. The mass was almost starting so we had to read the two stations while sitting on the bench.

Ninth Station: Christ's Third Fall
Jesus reaches the last hill before Calvary. He looks up to see how far He has to go. When He sees the hill where He knows He is going to die, His strength leaves Him and He falls to the ground. There is still more pain, still more sorrow to endure. But Jesus loves us, so He keeps going.

Jesus, You kept going even though You were tired, scared and sad. You loved us then, and You love us now. We offer our prayers to tell You that we love You, and want to comfort You in Your great sacrifice.

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments
The crowd has followed Jesus and the soldiers to the top of Calvary Hill. Now they laugh as the guards pull off His clothes - His robe has stuck to the blood on His back. The guards push and shove Jesus. They do not care who He is, they only see that He is an object of scorn.

Jesus, even wounded, bleeding, roughly treated by the guards and mocked by the crowds, You were and are still our King. We ask You to remember us in Your Kingdom.

We didn't waste anytime, and walked to the bus stop under the rain with our very small umbrella to shield us. Our sixth church - Church of St Mary of the Angels, was 16 bus stops away from Blk 176, Boon Lay Avenue via bus 174, alighting at Church of St Mary, Bukit Batok East Avenue 6.

As with most of the churches we visited, there was a mass going on. The church was packed. Chairs were arranged outside to accommodate the rest of the congregation that did not fit inside the church. We had to stand on the side and read the remaining stations. We decided this would be our last stop.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Is this the worst? The feet that carry the message of God's love and the hands that healed are pierced with nails as Jesus is nailed to the cross. More wounds, more pain and more humiliation for Jesus.

Jesus, they tried to stop Your hands and feet from doing Your Father's work by nailing You to a cross. You endured the pain of it for us, as You gave Your whole life for us. We thank You and we love You.

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies upon the cross
The sword the Simeon prophesied has pierced Mary's heart/ The hopes of the Apostles are crushed. The veil of the Temple, symbol of the old covenant of God's Love, is torn in two as Jesus' death opens a New Covenant with God.

Jesus, You spoke lovingly to everyone gathered at the foot of Your cross. You knew the new life that Your death made possible. Speak lovingly to us when we come before You and make us worthy of the new life in You.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken from the cross
Now, all that is left is to take Jesus' body down from the cross. All the gentleness, reverence and love denied through this terrible day is possible now. May and the Apostles wonder, is it too late? Is it over?

Jesus, with our prayers, we join in taking Your body down from the cross. We touch You; take the nails out, wash Your wounds, take off the crown of thorns, with love and sorrow. We grieve with Mary, and want to comfort her.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the sepulcher
Even in this time of sorrow, there is help. Joseph of Arimathea arranges for Jesus to be buried in a nearby tomb. His body is wrapped in clothes and sealed away. Everyone walks away, weeping. Finally, all is quiet, peaceful even.

Three days later, something wonderful happens - Jesus rises from the dead! The Light of the Resurrection cracks open the tomb - Jesus' light is stronger than death.

As we say our final prayers to end this year's Bisita Iglesia, we reflect upon what has happened, and look forward to the coming of the Risen Christ. 

We ended our day with a celebration. It is not a easy feat to go from one side of Singapore to the other side, especially with kids in tow. Our children rose up to the challenge, they enjoyed the journey, no one fell asleep in the bus, they took part in the reading and the prayers. It was then time to honor our eldest on his 11th birthday after focusing much of the whole day remembering Jesus. That would be in another blog though :)

(personal pictures to follow)

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