Monday, March 26, 2007

Should you be in Ecuador...

... then make sure you spend Holy Week in Quito.

On the Wednesday of Holy Week the archbishop and the canons of the cathedral of Quito celebrate the "arrastre de caudas". It is a very old custom, obviously imported from Europe. Roman soldiers who had fallen in battle were covered with a big black flag, which was supposed to suck up their mojo. The flag was then carried past the mourning soldiers, all dressed in black, and the fighting spirit of the fallen was thus passed on to the living.

The church transformed it into a ceremony in which the huge black flag carried by the archbishop is supposed to symbolize death (in fact, superstitious belief had it that you would die in the coming year, if the flag touched you while it was carried through the town). The procession ends in the cathedral, where the canons - all dressed in black cappe - lay down, while the archbishop, in cappa magna, holds up the flag so that the faithful be reminded of the virtue of Christ, who died for us on the cross.

Seeing the photos and thinking of the rich sybolism behind the whole ceremony, I once more shake my head in sorrow when I think of what the Holy Mother Church could be and then see what She actually is. "Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu." Does this sound familiar, dear bishops? It should. Feed you flock with a bit more than clown-masses, rock liturgies, uninspired homilies and polyester chasubles.


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