The other day I biked for 97 kilometers to a village up in the mountain of Talaingod to celebrate Easter with the members of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC). It took me over six hours to reach the place. The Redemptorist seminarians have been in the mission area for two weeks and they had invited me to preside at the Easter vigil celebration with the community composed mostly of poor peasants. After supper with the leader of the BEC, we begin the Easter vigil at 8 pm. The most powerful symbol of the liturgy was when the people accepted and shared the light from the paschal candal. In the midst of darkness, the candles the people were holding were bright enough to fill the the chapel. I reminded the people that the risen Christ - the light of the world - has conquered the darkness of sin and evil by his resurrection. We need to accept Jesus and live in the light. This requires dying to sin and living a new life - a life freed from sin and evil.
We finished the liturgy at almost 10 pm. After a light snack with the leaders, I went to sleep in the hut of the BEC leader. By 3:30 am, I was already awake. The people were ready by 4 am to celebrate the traditional "Sugat" - the ritual enactment of the encounter between the sorrowful mother Mary and the risen Jesus. It started with a procession - the men following the "risen Jesus" and the women following the "sorrowful mother." When the two processions met ouside the chapel, the angels took the veil of the sorrow mother, and her sorrow was turned into joy. The "Sugat" was followed by an Easter morning Mass which was over by 5:30 am. After breakfast, I biked for another six hours back to the parish.