To kick off the event, the local vigilantes enter the church in formation and take their positions along the wall. Their shear presence puts hearts at ease knowing that everyone is safe and nothing would disrupt this special time.
Father Paco explains the importance of this tradition, leads prayer, and encourages everyone to go back in time to when Jesus was being taken off the cross.
Could we imagine ourselves removing each nail? In our minds, when we look down at our own hands, do we see Jesus' blood upon them?
First, the group of men in white remove Jesus' crown of thorns and ceremonially offer it up in reparation for our sins. The crowd in the church is solemn and contemplative. It's amazing!
One by one the group prayerfully removes each nail and presents it to all those present, asking us to meditate on Jesus' suffering and sacrifices.
There were intense drum rhythms which guided our emotions and kept the mood somber.
Finally, the men in white carefully and prayerfully removed the corpse of Jesus from the cross. They gently laid him into the hands of the others and then...
...joined them to process to Jesus' casket.
There was a lot of quiet fuss about how exactly to put Jesus because everyone had an opinion and wanted what was most respectful.
When the puppet of Jesus was all ready, everyone left the church and began processing through the streets while carrying Jesus in his glass-topped casket.
The group processed through the streets for three hours in agony...the same amount of time that Jesus suffered on the cross.
The first year that we participated in this tradition it all seemed very strange to us; partly because we didn't understand was happening, but also because it's so different than what we had experienced in the United States.
Last year we understood a bit better, but it was still a little strange.
This year we looked forward to this annual event and found it to be a beautiful time of prayer.
When we first arrived we participated in "their" traditions with a mixed sense of curiosity and obligation. Now, we joyfully participate because they're "our" traditions. We've adapted to the culture and have become a real part of the community. We love it here and thank God for the opportunity to live alongside such amazing people!
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