Church in Cala Cala
Holidays in other countries are always an adventure and full of emotion, mostly of missing your family and traditions back home. The best cure is to spend it with a surrogate family. I felt strange waking up on good Friday morning to gorgeous weather. Full sun and in the high 70s with not a cloud in the sky. Sure, we've had some warm Easters in Cleveland, but the norm is early spring gray, often rainy or drizzly, and that wet cold that seeps into your bones. For me the weather matches the occasion, which is the following in the steps of the Passion of Christ. I couldn't imagine a Christmas spent in tropical climes. We sing songs about roasting chestnuts, sleigh rides and snowmen and somehow pina coladas and blue waves and palm trees and white sand just don't signify Christmas.
Unveiling The Cross
So I was feeling out of my element when I got up. Anita was preoccupied with her new puppy Fiona that the neighbor was giving to her and so after lunch at her sister Sarah's house, I walked to the nearest church in the neighborhood of Cala Cala. It was early afternoon and a service was in progress. The church was nearly full and they were singing songs. The priest read the account of the Passion and then unveiled the cross for adoration. I was used to the ceremony in my church at home which was more stark but also much more beautiful. We sing the ancient Gregorian chants as the cross is unveiled and one by one the people file foreward, shoeless, to kiss the cross in the front of the church. Here, in the modern rite, the priest chanted some absolutely silly Spanish version of "this is the cross" in a pathetic jingle to the accompaniment of guitar.
High School Girls
Then during the adoration they played more silly forgetable songs on guitar and keyboard. There was nothing solemn or beautiful or worshipful about it in my view. Afterwards there was to be distribution of Holy Communion, but Good Friday is the one day in the year when it is NOT distributed! It seems like the modern church has deliberately changed things around and is doing the opposite of what was tradition for almost 2,000 years. So seeing this on the program I made my exit after the adoration and took a taxi back to the center to the main plaza.
I was early for the famed procession but it allowed me to get a good vantage point and walk around and see some things before the crowds arrived. This procession was famous for the ceremonial casket with the efigy of the dead Christ enclosed in it.
Designed by Faberge it was only two that he made. The French one was destroyed in Paris during World War II and so this beautiful gold casket encrusted with precious jewels is the only one remaining. I watched the military bands arrive in pomp and circumstance and then later the cardinal with his retinue and the confraternaties. After awhile everything was in place. I realized that the best place to witness the procession would be from the main street parallel to the church and not on the corner where the procession began. Sure enough, I was able to get up on the raised median and take some good pictures and video. It was a long parade, and after watching the majority of it go by I was exhausted by the day's activities and just didn't have the energy to wait by the cathedral to watch the procession arrive and finish there. But I felt like I had a full day and there were no regrets.