Friday, April 18, 2014

Visita Iglesia on a Good Friday: San Antonio Abad Parish

Wazzup Pilipinas !

The third church on our Visita Iglesia on a Good Friday was the San Antonio Abad Parish church located at Stella Maris Avenue in barangay Maybunga of Pasig city. It is very near the barangay hall of barangay Maybunga, and not really that big so you might miss it if you are driving too fast.

From what I have researched on, a certain Fr. Alonzo de Alvarado led the Augustinians in sailing down the Pasig River with the encomendero Juan de la Isla in January 1572. They reached Maybunga on January 17, the feast of San Antonio Abad, placing him as its titular. Maybunga was then an independent community with its own group of lakans and maginoos.

It is likely that this community was the settlement established by Dayang Kalangitan and Gat Lontok, centuries before the Spanish arrived. – Three days later, the Spaniards moved on from Maybunga to the center of ancient Pasig at Pinagbuhatan.

A distinct feature of the community is the centuries-old chapel which the Spanish missionaries, with the help of the natives of the community, built. In it is enshrined the community’s patron saint, San Antonio Abad. The patron saint is believed to help the residents in many ways, such as in bringing about a good rice harvest, progress and prosperity.

We were disappointed to find out that the church was actually closed on Good Friday. However, there were plenty of people gathered around and praying and seems to be doing the stations of the cross.

I was surprised that the people were willing to stay and pray instead of just looking for a church that was open.

In my opinion, churches need to be open 24 hours a day seven days a week. People should be allowed to enter a church at anytime of the day. The church is for the community. It should always be available to the public especially at the time of their needs.

Here they did not covered the cross, but only the saints at both sides of the altar. We can see that they are covered in purple cloths.

I think the only thing that needs to be covered are the images of the saints and not the cross here which has no image of a Christ nailed on the cross.

Truly, I no longer believe that the church should depict Christ as nailed in the cross anymore. Though they want to remind the people that he suffered on the cross for us, Christ has already died, lived again, and risen to heaven. It is from the so-called "heaven" where he, along with the heavenly Father of all, observes the people.

However, there was a small INRI located at the opposite structure  beside the church. I guess it would always be a symbol or image that would forever be a part of the church.

A constant reminder of the sacrifices one had given in order to give us another chance in life.

There were some people all praying at the stations of the cross. These people were not bothered by the fact that the church was close.

If we were not on a Visita Iglesia, I would have just left and went to a church that was open so I could kneel and pray inside.

It seems there are still a few people who do not mind the lack of ease or luxury of situations in order to keep observing what they are used to. This reflects the great manner and behavior that they were born and raised.

Some candles were also lit as offering. Only a few was there during that particular Good Friday when many are either at home, at the beach, or hanging out in the provinces of their families or relatives.

It seems our senior citizens are still the most endearing of all believers. I saw a lady at her senior years who was the only person out there that offered a prayer to San Antonio Abad,, and lit a candle as offering.

From my research, it was in the third century that St. Anthony, or San Antonio, sold all of his possessions, gave the proceeds to the poor, and went into the desert to lead a life of prayer and contemplation. His example attracted other men to the desert, and eventually they formed the first Christian monastic community. The Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius of Alexandria (298-373) spread the saint's influence and inspired the formation of monastic communities throughout the Christian world.

In the middle ages, St. Anthony was the patron of a monastic order known as the Hospitallers of St. Anthony, who made a specialty of treating diseases of the poor in medieval cities. These monks wore a black habit and in many cities supported their charities by raising swine. For this reason, Anthony is often depicted in the same black habit and with a pig as his attribute. Bells were used to call swine in at the end of the day, so another attribute is a single bell or a pair. Yet another is a walking stick with a tau-shaped top.

The Golden Legend's life of Anthony begins with the brutal torments visited upon him by demons, and these are a favorite subject in the art (image). As a symbol of his victory over these demons, some portraits show him with a devil underfoot, as at left.

Narrative images tend to draw on episodes from the Golden Legend's lives of Anthony and St. Paul the Hermit. The former famously undertook a difficult journey (image) to visit the latter and learn from his wisdom (image). While he was visiting, the two were fed by a raven that brought one loaf of bread for each of them (image). On a second visit, St. Anthony found the old hermit dead. Lacking a shovel to bury him, he managed to get him into the ground with the help of some passing lions (image).

Another popular narrative subject is Anthony's encounter with a heap of gold, which he shuns as a device of the devil (image).

The saint is also known as St. Anthony of Egypt or St. Anthony of the Desert.

We prayed on all the images that day. Taking photos were just for documentation so we could spread the necessary information in our blog, but the essence of faith and belief in Christianity still emanates deeply especially that day as we observe Holy Week.

Though many have questioned religion and have mocked it as just the way of the past religious leaders to keep the people in fear and submission, the positive attributes of having faith towards a higher form of "leader" that looks upon us gives everyone hope and encouragement, like a parent to their children, keeps everyone believing that their good deeds and best efforts will be eventually rewarded.

We may have doubts, but the most important here is we all aim to be good in everything that we do.

San Antonio Abad Parish

Address: Stella Maris Ave. Maybunga, Pasig City
Date of Erection: December 21, 1985
Vicariate: Vicariate of the Immaculate Conception
Titular: St. Anthony Abbot
Feast: January 17

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