Jesus’ Passion, as a historical event, happened once. But it doesn’t stay that way. Because He is our Lord, it lives on in each of us. In my Afro-Ecuadorian Catholic tradition, we celebrate the “15th Station: Jesus rises from the dead! The joy, the love, the HOPE that allows us to LIVE. He didn’t stay dead, He is alive. Mary Magdalene arrived at dawn to Jesus’ tomb to bathe Him in perfumes, but He was not there. The tomb represents our own lives. We find ourselves in darkness and confusion, but it is temporary. We too, will rise.
As a consecrated Afro-Ecuadorian missionary, I am devoted to commemorating Christ’s Passion. We missionaries often go to communities on the margins of society, where priests rarely frequent, to offer the liturgies. On Wednesday, we join together in a candle-lit ritual, in the middle of darkness, with traditional Afro religious chants to open the Holy Week celebration. The next day, is the washing of the feet, when Jesus dignified the lowest members of society by humbling Himself. After the ceremonial washing of one-another´s feet, we play solemn instruments, pray, and sleep in the church. During the night, there are three riot-like entrances from a group staged to be the ones looking to find and crucify Jesus. Their entrances always startle us and can be very frightening. They are important reminders – though just a glimpse – of the terrifying experiences Jesus lived.
In the morning, Good Friday, we begin the procession of the Stations of the Cross, starting with Jesus as a prisoner before Pontius Pilot. That night, people stay in the church and pray thirty-three Apostle’s Creeds, for Jesus’ thirty-three years of life. On the evening of Holy Saturday, we celebrate a vigil which includes a bonfire with scripture readings and baptisms. Sunday morning is the FULL Glory: the Holy Mass of Easter. Here, we see the Holy tomb empty of its contents, and the extraordinary in the ordinary!