Maundy Thursday, San Antonio
The day is marked by religious services and the continuation of the Passion Play commemorating the Last Supper and the condemning of Jesus.
Again an amazing performance . . .
Afterwards the church bells and musical instruments are silenced inside all churches until the conclusion of Saturday's Easter Vigil.
I’m not quite sure who named it or why it is called Good Friday because it isn't really very good unless you are a fan of Pontius Pilate and the Romans. Anyway, it is a holiday in much of the western world and if you happen to be in a Catholic stronghold like we are here . . . Holy Week is a huge holiday. It starts with the biggest weekend of the year in Mexico whether you are religious or not. It's an opportunity to travel, to party, or just have some time off your normal routines. Traffic started being a problem on Thursday and the town and all of the Lakeside area is noticeably jam packed with people . . . many of them Mexicans on vacation for the next week or more; carload after carload have driven down from Guadalajara. Most of the locals and foreigners who live full time in the area have stocked up by now and plan to lay low till it's all over.
Each of the towns and cities in this area put on a Passion Play that starts on Thursday and continues thru to Easter Saturday. We're told that in Ajijic, where the production will likely be more elaborate, the crowds will be so huge it's difficult to move around and we would have to pick one vantage point and take in only that part of the play that passes by that spot. So based on what we've seen on Thurs we decide we would follow the play in San Antonio which is also closest to where we are staying. Since it is a smaller community we would get a better view of the proceedings.
Let me start by saying the whole passion play is taken very seriously. In fact, they used to actually nail the Jesus figure to the cross until one year it was too much for the man and unfortunately he died. Now they tie him to the cross but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t suffer during this ordeal. Here it is a very prestigious thing to be chosen to play this part.
It is hot, very hot as it is the middle of the day. The procession is nearly two kilometres in length and two centurions on horseback lead the way with Jesus staggering along under the weight of the cross. The two criminals walking with him also carry crosses and there are a number of centurions walking along whipping Jesus as they laugh when he stumbles. A loud throng of people follow cursing and jeering.
They stop every so often as the story is told and explained to the people by loudspeaker, although I’m pretty sure they know all the parts by heart. At one point I was quite close to Jesus as he fell under the weight of the cross and as he was being whipped I really felt the emotion of the moment and could almost see myself 2000 years ago watching it as if for the first time.
At the edge of town the procession filed into an open field (cow pasture really) and the criminals and Jesus are tied to the crosses and left hanging while Jesus has his final words. This is a beautiful setting with the lake in the background but quite a somber mood in the crowd. There is more taunting of the men on the cross and this continues for almost an hour.
Jesus is taken down from the cross and carried back into town to be placed in the cave/tomb that had been prepared at the front of the church with a Centurion guard placed out front thus ending the story for today.
The priest said some words . . . well he went on the way priests do and finally the play was over and all the players gathered round to take a bow and pose for photos.
There is a lot of preparation involved in this, the costumes and makeup are amazing. All very touching and quite real.