My plan for this Good Friday and Earth Day has been simple: practice fasting and abstinence while also practice the three R’s of environmental justice (reduce, reuse, recycle), in which I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished those throughout my trip today to San Francisco. Aside of course from the fact that I’ve taken the bus instead of a car to get into the city, I also took the opportunity to exercise as well by walking several blocks downhill instead of waiting for a bus so that I can stretch my muscles while enjoying the views of Downtown, Pacific Heights, and Washington Square (remember that gravity works with you when going downhill, the opposite when going uphill). And doing my fasting and abstinence was also quite easy as well: instead of getting diet soda when I had my only meal for the day (fasting requires a full meal and just two small “apportions”), I had a cup of water instead, and I had shrimp and vegetable spring rolls for lunch, complemented with fried rice. I did those, not only to show that I am one with the Christian community in commemorating the passion and death of Christ, but also as a commitment to going back to my roots and reflecting on the less-fortunate brothers and sisters who I notice and think of everyday, as well as understanding what it takes to become a sustainable person in the community and working within my means.
I went to four churches as part of my “Visita Iglesia” (church visits) tradition: St. Patrick’s in the South of Market district, St. Mary’s Cathedral near Van Ness Avenue, Mission Dolores in the Mission District, and Saints Peter and Paul Church in Washington Square. I spent the most time at St. Mary’s because that is where I traditionally celebrate the full Good Friday service (minus the “Seven Last Words” reading and reflection that other churches provide as well), and I’ve been doing such pilgrimage for the past three years. Officiating the service is none other than the Archbishop of San Francisco, and the service, as a whole, is very impressive: the Gospel of the Passion according to John is sung wondrously; the Archbishop’s homily reminds me of how, despite how other writers depict Christ, Christ continues to love us to this day; and the motets were beautifully sung by the church choir (in a cappella). Despite a large crowd that went to the church, the overall feeling of visiting St. Mary’s today has been a somber, reflective one, reminiscent of how Christ loved us that he sacrificed his life for our salvation, and it also reflects how, despite all the crises we face today, I can help in unifying the Catholic community in prayer and giving back to the community what I have, as well as providing help for all those who need my assistance.
Beyond the church visits, I also noticed that I felt much better going around the city with just a limited amount of money in my hands for the commute. By walking around instead of driving a car and finding the closest parking spot, by eating less on my plate rather than getting a full meal, by being mindful of what I spend instead of just swiping my card whenever I find something interesting, it seems like my Good Friday and Earth Day has been a rewarding and great experience. Today has been rewarding for me, not only because I got to visit more sights in a day, but also I used my feet more to explore the areas not served by a bus. It is also rewarding for me to eat only what I can consume and give money to the people in need because I realize how connected I am to other peoples’ lives. And today has gone great for me because I have prayed intently for a lot of people: my family, friends, cousins, close relatives, all those dear to my heart, asking for their intentions to be granted and be forgiven for all the wrongdoing I have done against them. The best part: as I traveled around the City, I have been rewarded with wonderful, clear skies, making it an ideal day to do photography, something I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. And with the wonderful day Good Friday has been, I probably ended up taking hundreds of photos, many of them I will share next time on my Photos pages.
Good Friday is a day of remembrance of Christ’s life and love for us, while Earth Day is a celebration of life around us on earth. Both Christ and life are God’s gifts to us, so celebrate the beauty of the planet while remembering Christ’s passion for our salvation, and hopefully, we can reflect on how we can hopefully bring ourselves to the light of God guiding our lives today and in the future.