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Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Flagellation and Penitence

Guardia Flagellants
Flagellation is a form mortification of the flesh. In the literal sense, it means, "putting the flesh to death". The term primarily conveys religious and spiritual contexts.

Flagellation has begun as a movement of radical Catholics during the 13th and 14th centuries. It has started as a militant pilgrimage but the Catholic Church has condemned the act as heresy. Still, the ritual has remained in many Catholic regions like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Philippines.

Guardia Sanframondi
Guardia Sanframondi is a town in Benevento, Campania, Italy. It is famous for the penitential rite, which the town’s people hold every seven years. They call it riti settennali di penitenz. It has four components namely, Parade of Mysteries- where people wear costumes that depict Old and New Testament characters. Then Choirs- formerly composing of unmarried women but recently, married women and men have joined; Penitents- flagellants that strike their back with metal scourge join the procession; and the Statue- the procession ends in the procession of the Madonna and Child around the town.

Flagellants in the Philippines/BBC Photo
Some Catholics in the Philippines practice flagellation as a form of religious ritual, sometimes in addition to self-crucifixion during Lent more particularly on Good Friday. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has condemned the rituals as heretic but they could not stop fanatics from pursuing their beliefs.  

The term "mortification of the flesh" comes from the biblical principle, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live." Radical believers use a literal sense of breaking the body to achieve a satisfying religious experience.

Perhaps, Catholic faithfuls are influenced by accounts that the early saints practice flagellation in their personal worship like St. Dominic Loricatus is said to have performed 'One Hundred Years Penance' by chanting 20 psalters accompanied by 300,000 lashes over six days...  St. Catherine of Siena wore sackcloth and scourged herself three times daily in imitation of St. Dominic (wikipedia).

However, when the Lord said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” he never meant it literally.

The biblical principle refers to “shunning” sinful ways and persevering in righteousness, which requires some personal sacrifices and a life of worship and prayer. Hitting oneself to receive an answer to prayer is an old pagan practice in the Old Testament time:
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. -1 Kings 18:25-29NIV

Images courtesy of: and bbc

1 comment:

  1. Penitence and self-flagellation are useless and will never get the attention of God if there is no repentance and renewal of heart and mind. When being sorry for your sins, repentance and asking for forgiveness from a forgiving God are enough. Repentance means shunning your past sins and old ways, and changing /transforming your heart, mind and thoughts to restoration of a life and ways that please God. Kung pagkatapos ng penitensya at pag-pako sa krus, balik ka pa rin sa dati mong ugali at buhay, walang silbi ang pagpinetensya mo , at hindi ka pa rin mapapatawad ng Diyos.


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