2018 MAUNDY THURSDAY IS MY 30TH BIRTHDAY
This isn’t the first time that my birthday fell on Holy Week. Ever since,too, I always had a subdued to no celebrations at all during my birthdays so contrary to what other people think, I’m totally cool with this. Holy Week had an entirely different meaning to me, too, some three years ago since I started to become a lector so now I’m even happier, gladder and feeling more special because I get to share this special times with the church’s extraordinary and most important days.
Tahanang Mapagpala ni Madre Rita will help me celebrate my 3 decades on earth on May with details I will happily talk about on a blog post sometime next month.
Our family usually don’t go to vacations during Holy Week. This year though, we decided to visit a cathedral, a shrine and an orchard – all these can be found in Batangas. We didn’t intend to do the full visita iglesia, a tradition of visiting 7 churches, though that’s the plan for 2019. Original plan is to go to Marian Orchard and then side trip to other nearby church in Batangas. Our interest with Marian Orchard was ignited by again, a tv morning show, which featured wide acres of land in Batangas dedicated in devotion to Our Lady.
Marian Orchard is located in Balete, Batangas. It is Catholic in nature but isn’t particularly owned or managed by the Catholic church (Marian Orchard is established by Lazaro L. Katigbak and FAITH Colleges) though Holy Mass is being celebrated here on a regular basis. As of this writing Holy Masses are on every first Friday of the month, during Saturdays and Sundays at 4PM. It is open daily from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM with last entry at 5:00 PM. Entrance Fee is Php200 per person. Map of the entire place is available for free inside the orchard. For more details on this spiritual oasis, I believe their stunning website will be of much help.
Upon our visit, there are still on-going developments of the place though the construction doesn’t lessen the peace and quiet you will find there. There are Stations of the Cross where propriety is deliberately observed by visitors.
My take: it’s pretty with the colorful flowers on every turn. It’s an orchard after all! What I just find lacking, though this is of course subjective, is the solemnity of the place. Maybe because it’s new? On this same day, we went to Lipa Cathedral and Padre Pio Shrine, too, and these two places evoke that feeling of solemnity and holiness, a different kind of vibe the moment you set foot on them. Unintentionally, a priest would later on share that old cathedral hallways evoke a different kind of feeling of sanctity because of the numerous prayers said inside these walls and halls for decades or even centuries. Sometimes, older structures means being witness to a richer history, to more fervent prayers uttered, to more souls communing with God through prayer.
Anyway, I’m sure it’s never their goal to replace any other existing church or shrine – just to provide a very welcome addition to religious spots. Marian’s Orchard’s goal is a renewal of faith. Since the place is definitely Ig-worthy I have no doubt that not just the old but even the young will find it a very good alternative to beach trips during Holy Week. It’s a must see!
Sharing with you some photos below.
SACRED HEART TOWER PLAZA
SACRED HEART TOWER
TWO HEARTS PROMENADE