Religion, tradition, superstition
Sometimes,there is a very thin line between religion and superstition. This can be seen here in the country especially during the Holy Week.
Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. I remember the lonely Thursdays and Fridays extending till Saturdays of the week during my younger days. There was nothing much that you can do for you were forbidden to play by your parents since you cannot have fun while the Lord suffers. TV stations were out and comes back only at 3:00 pm only to be given reruns from the dinosaur age. This went on till the coming of cable tv. Business establishments were all closed.
But that did not mean we really had nothing to do. You can read the Pasyon, which I could not figure out till now why they have to use a microphone and make the neighbors lose sleep in the evening (probably part of a scheme for unsolicited penitence, huh?), watch the senakulo (a theater production portraying the life of Christ), visit seven churches to do the Stations of the Cross. Not your idea of fun, are they? But these are nothing compared to what other people do. YOu can also see people carry the cross, walk from a to b kneeling and/or flog each other and make a spectacle out of themselves. In Pampanga, people do actually nail human beings to the cross. They would soak their nails in alcohol for one year so as to ensure that these are clean. (Why not holy water, huh? Maybe that makes it all the more potent.)
There is nothing sacred about these things if you ask me. God never instructed us to do just that. And yet we do. If you ask me, Good Friday whould be a time of merriment for on this day, God has fulfilled a covenant with us. But that's just probably me. I cannot even say that these forms of sacrifices are wrong entirely. It just happens to be how people relate with God. And when it comes to matters of faith, each individual is entitled to exercise it in whatever form he/she likes provided it does not cause injury to another.
At any rate, as I have said, we know that there is a thin border between religion and superstition. Much of the practices we see during Holy Week resulted in superstition. Ask most of the people why they exercise the sacrifices they do and most likely, the answer is because these prove that they have won God's favor through some sort of a miracle done to their lives. This is not solely a Catholic endeavor. Many religions have their own practices.
How should one view faith? I think we should look at faith in different perspectives. One is look at it in the eyes of an intellectual, the other as a child. We should view faith as an intellectual so that we can learn to differentiate a miracle from a hoax. That we don't fall prey to exploiters. We should view faith as a child so that we can accept what is that that we cannot explain and believe in it. Too much intellect and you become an agnostic or even an atheist. Too much thinking like a child and you become a fanatic extremist. As we all know, too much of everything is not good.
Happy Easter everyone.