Friday, 3 April 2015

St Joseph Church's Good Friday Candle Light Procession


Lord Parjanya
Credit: mythology.wikia.com
As far as I could remember, Easter Friday in Sydney almost always ushered in with rain. In the last 2 days in Singapore, rain poured down from heaven in bucket load. Since I was thinking of attending the Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, the 2 previous consecutive days of heavy rains was a heaven's sent.

Why is it so? I'm glad you ask.

I reasoned that with the 2 days of heavy downpour, Lord Parjanya (the Hindu god of Rain) would have his fill of his show(er) of power. On other other hand, if we had some very hot and scorching days before Good Friday, the chance of rain is very high. Since I don't have Lord Parjanya's Rain Hotline, I had to rely on the scientific Law of Averages to tell me that after it rains heavily, it's probably shines (and vice versa). It turned out that we - the outdoor participants of the Good Friday Candle-Light procession - were showered with the blessing of dry weather. Hallelujah !


Public anouncement, St Joseph Church, Victoria St, Singapore
There's another St. Joseph Church in Bukit Timah,
this procession took place at St. Joseph on Victoria St

Portuguese missionaries brought Christianity to Asia by piggybacking on the spice traders from the West from 16th century onward. It should come at no surprise that the early Portuguese missionaries came to Singapore in the 19th century when it was only a colonial backwater (with lots of showers). Stamford Raffles only planted the British flag and staked his claim for Britain only a few decades back.

Why no surprise? I'm glad you ask.

This is because the Lion City is only a stone throw away from Malacca where the pioneering Jesuit Francis Xavier devoted part of his life doing missionary work. Let's bear this in mind, it wasn't until Xavier arrived in Japan that he heard about China. Don't laugh. This was sometimes before the internet. And he was the man of the cloth, lived in recluse, and devoted to the Book (not National Geographic, which wasn't available then. Nor would I imagine he had time for such leisure pursuit. Not to mention Jesuits' noble vow of poverty). Yes, the Europeans who took a slow boat to China and the rest of Asia all sailed past the The Strait of Malacca.

This church used to be referred to as the Portuguese church because it was run by Portuguese missionary. They handed the church over to Archdiocese of Singapore in 1999. While it's no longer has Portuguese admin link, but St. Joseph's still has at least 3 other Portuguese links: architecture, iconography and liturgy.

Facade, St Joseph Church, Victoria St, Singapore




The architecture is mostly Portuguese (I said mostly because few old churches/cathedrals have pure architectural styles). There're a number of statues of Portuguese saints in the church, and most notably the outdoor shrine to Our Lady of Fátima. And the Easter liturgy, which observed in the Portuguese tradition, was the reason why I turned up at St. Joseph Church on Good Friday.


St Joachin statue, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore statue, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore St Anne, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore


Outdoor Shrine, Our Lady of Fatima, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
Outdoor Shrine, Our Lady of Fatima, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
Outdoor shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, and the 3 Fatima kids.

The ancient Roman crucified Christ, but it was them (via Emperor Constantine) who spread Christianity worldwide. When Emperor Constantine decided to switch religion from Paganism to Christianity, understandably there were a lot of resistance from the Pagan majority in the Eastern Roman Empire. In good politics, one needs to compromise, and so the Pagan tradition of Easter celebration had to be adapted for the newly minted Christianity. Some argue that this was the work of the Church of Rome. I'm not taking sides.

Understandably, some Christians who swear on this pagan origin of Easter are quite cheesed off about observing it. Fortunately for me, as I'm not a Christian, I don't need to worry about the origin and significance of Easter (Christian would probably tell me that there's nothing fortunate for me by not being a Christian. They're probably right. I shall find out when i'm dead if i'm fortunate or not. Or unable to find out. I'll find out or not either way, soon enough. The not so crowd-pleasing 2nd Law of Thermodynamics makes sure of that. I can't break that Law any more than i can put a broken Humpty Dumpty back again. In any case, all non-believers will enter the Kingdom after their demise. Why? Because they're all prodigal sons and daughters. What's the deal with that, right?).

Besides, i don't want to play favourites with different religions. To put it in another, i don't want to choose, i want to be chosen. (But please don't choose me! And please don't fight over me!)

Anyway, i was just here to observe Easter (actually i was here witnessing, not observing Easter. You knew what i meant anyway).


Attendants of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore Attendants of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore Attendants of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore

There were packed crowd, and the attendants were actually more ethnically diverse than the ethically diverse Singapore, if you know what I mean. And hardly surprising, many of the attendees are Pinoys who are living in Singapore because 85% (depending when you do the counting) of the population of the Philippines are Christian.

Attendants of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
Men (and lady) at work
Attendants of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore

Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
Flag bearer led the Procession


Attendant of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
Tail end of the procession

Attendant of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore
"You Light Up my Life"


Attendant of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore Attendant of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore Attendant of Good Friday Candle-Light Procession, St Joseph's Church, Victoria St, Singapore





No comments:

Post a Comment