MANILA, March 28, 2015—Manila’s chief exorcist has raised doubts about the orthodoxy of some popular Lenten rituals like crucifixion, flagellation, and other physical penances which he believes already approximate self-torture and violent exhibitionism.
In a recent interview on the Catholic apologetics-catechesis show “Know The Truth,” Fr. José Francisco “Jocis” C. Syquía, head of the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM)’s Office of Exorcism, dismissed such folk practices as “extreme” and “exaggerated.”
“Never crucifixion!” he exclaimed, referring to a Lenten custom penitents, mostly males, in San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, Pampanga, as well as in Kapitangan, Paombong, Bulacan observe each Good Friday during which they have themselves flogged and crucified in “imitation of Christ.”
While he granted there are forms of mortifications the Church accepts, the priest stressed never does she teaches nor approves of those motivated by the wrong reasons, especially when performed in public.
“Many do this as a way to expiate their sins for the whole year, so that they can sin again the next,” Syquía told Know The Truth host Marwil N. Llasos.
According to him, this disposition is borderline “pagan”, given that the intention is not because the people doing these things sincerely want to repent and change their lives for good, but only to validate the sins they have previously committed.
“Focus on people who really seek conversion. Their energy must be spent on striving to amend their ways, instead of on exposing themselves to the eyes of all,” he said.
“The important thing is to check the disposition,” he added, underlining the need for constant re-evangelization.
Syquía stated conversion is not a one-day thing.
Courage to be unknown
Moreover, the priest pointed out saints never crave attention for themselves, let alone desire to be a public spectacle.
“Men and women of unquestionable holiness always do mortification in a hidden manner,” he explained.
“They cringe at the idea of others seeing them do mortification, that’s why they only do so always in secret. They prefer the Lord alone to know what they do,” he added.
Syquía said those who make a show of their penance, automatically forfeit their Divine reward.
Holy Week special
Interested parties may watch the full interview on Know The Truth’s Holy Week special starting Monday until Saturday, 6:30 a.m., 3 p.m., and 11 p.m., on TV María. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)