Employees of the City Government of Valenzuela observed traditional Lenten practices in anticipation of the forthcoming Holy Week on the first week of April.
The observance started off with the Ash Wednesday Mass celebrated at the Audio Visual Room of the Legislative Building. It was attended by more than 300 participants coming from the different offices of the local government.
Reverend Father Romulo Perez, in his homily, reminded the faithful of the religious nature of lent. “Lent is a time for recollection… for repentance. It is a time to go back to God and strengthen our relationship with Him through prayer, alms-giving, self-abnegation and by offering sacrifices,” he said.
In a related event, Valenzuela City Hall opened its doors to a group of devotees who brought a visiting image of the Divine Mercy to propagate awareness of the devotion, perform acts of mercy and evangelization among the Local Government employees.
The group, aptly named “Friends of the Divine Mercy,” has extensively travelled in nearby cities to promote the devotion to the Divine Mercy. With the temporary enthronement of the image, the group has completed a circuit of the CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area and aims to go farther as long as opportunities are opened to them.
The Divine Mercy is a Catholic devotion started in Poland by a nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska in the mid-90’s. The devotion spread throughout the western countries even at the twilight of rising communist regimes. It arrived in the Philippines sometime in the 1970’s where the devotion remains to be one the most popular today because of the “3 o’clock prayer” habit that has since become a Filipino household staple.
City Cultural and Tourism Development Officer, Mr. Barcelito SJ. De Sotto emphasized the City’s support to religious liberty of its employees and constituents. “We appreciate these developments in the spiritual upliftment of our employees because these are living traditions and are part of our people’s religious heritage,” he said.
The image is temporarily enshrined at the Executive Building lobby and will remain for the entire month of March before embarking on a new destination.
Lent counts for forty days before Palm Sunday – the official start of Holy Week – which will fall on April 1, 2012. It is a remembrance of Jesus Christ’s forty days of prayer in the desert wherein he succeeded in overcoming temptation by the devil. From then on, Christ set off to his public ministry.
Due to its penitential nature, Lent is dubbed as a “preparatory” stage for the observance of Holy Week which culminates in Easter Sunday, the highest Christian feast for Catholics around the world that accounts for more than a third of the global population.