MANILA, Philippines -- Here's another way of atoning for one's sins aside from self-flagellation and crucifixion: observe the Holy Week entirely "green" and free from trash.
Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez posed this challenge to penitents as he echoed calls of an environmental group, EcoWaste Coalition, for a greener Holy Week, shunning practices that would involve wasteful consumption of natural resources.
"A green Holy Week is a timely call in response to the wastefulness and greed that is blatantly trashing our fragile environment," said Iñiguez, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, in a statement on Monday.
"I encourage everyone to plan for an earth-friendly and spiritually nourishing week," Iñiguez added.
The EcoWaste Coalition has listed several "down-to-earth" suggestions and guidelines, which the faithful could observe during the Holy Week with the planet in mind:
Pilgrims can help Mother Earth during the Holy Week by picking up litter that they see along the "Alay Lakad" route from Ortigas Avenue Extension to Antipolo City.
To cut back on fuel consumption, the traditional Visita Iglesia can be carried out online courtesy of a website http://visitaiglesia.net recently launched by the CBCP.
* Use handkerchiefs instead of tissue paper to battle the heat during penitential services and liturgical celebrations like the "Via Crucis" (Stations of the Cross), according to the group.
* Postpone expensive, non-essential long distance trips and think about donating the money saved to the Catholic Church's "Alay Kapwa" program or to any of your favorite charitable causes.
* Avoid over-decorating carrozas or floats for the Good Friday "Santo Entierro" (holy burial) procession by adorning them with only biodegradable decors and natural flowers and plants like sampaguita.
* Keep the "pabasa" a healthy neighborhood spiritual event by making the "kubol" and its immediate vicinity a "no smoking and no drinking" zone.
* Keep the Easter celebration or "Salubong" simple and free from firecrackers and confetti. Easter egg hunts can also be healthy and earth-friendly by only using natural ingredients or dyes to color the eggs.
"We are inviting the faithful to celebrate the Holy Week with a pledge to cut back on garbage and pollution as part of our spiritual works of penance, charity and reconciliation," said Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition.
"The fact that Earth Day this year falls on Good Friday is indeed good for the environment as this should mean less cars on the streets, less energy use in malls, less noise, less non-essential consumption and less garbage," he added.