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Gen Z ways of penance for Holy Week

by RepublicAsia

A WORD of encouragement: Gen Zs are the body of Christ. 

As Pope Francis said, “Lenten penance is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcoming our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus on the Way of the Cross.” 

The Lenten season is a time of spiritual growth. It helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy, because He is greater than our sins. 

Why do we repent?

Penance is a way for individuals to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with their faith, their community, and, depending on the specific religious context, with God. 

Moreover, penance helps us better control our damaged nature. To force the body and the passions to follow the guidance of the spirit, one can deprive themselves of reasonable satisfaction, such as food, sleep, entertainment, etc. 

Fallin’ on her knees

19-year-old Jezereen Mikaya Nuyles, a political science student from Central State University, has no other routine when it comes to being penitent during the Lenten season. She prays every day while also asking God for her repentance. 

Photo Courtesy: @jezereen.a | Instagram

Jezereen is not a particularly religious person who goes to church on a regular basis. However, this Gen Z continues to have a deep relationship with God. 

Moreover, for Jezereen, being “penitent” implies being apologetic for whatever wrongdoing, whether it was intentional or unintentional. She also believes that after you repent, you should not repeat any awful behavior. 

State of grace

Meanwhile, another Gen Z identified herself as agnostic. 

According to Veronica Bergstrom, a researcher in a University of Toronto study, someone could be either an agnostic atheist saying, “I don’t believe in God but I don’t know whether He exists,” or be an agnostic theist saying, “I believe in God but I don’t actually know whether He exists.” 

For Irene Gonzales, a 23-year-old civil engineering student from University of the East, she narrated that she was not used to such traditions as her family was Christian. They believed that religion should be joined and practiced by free will and at the right time.

Photo Courtesy: Irene Gonzales | Facebook

“I do respect the Lenten season but as an agnostic, I believe that repentance should be done often,” she said. Irene experiences discomfort about acting in a way that causes harm to others and leads to negative consequences that contradicts her personal moral code. 

Breathe in, breathe out

Whenever Irene feels extreme regret, remorse or guilt, she does breathing exercises and meditates. 

“Praying means communicating with God, while meditation is simply listening,” explained author Simon Chokoisky to a Psychology Today article.

Irene occasionally extends her apology to the people she has offended, acknowledges her mistakes from the past, and forgives her younger self. She lets go of whatever resentment she has since she recognizes that people change for the better over time.

Her definition of “penitence” may have been inapplicable, as she grew up not celebrating or practicing it during the Holy Week. However, if she were to define it, “it is just being human,” feeling remorse and guilt is part of human emotions validated and understood. 

In pursuit of restful silence

Holy Week is not meant for vacation, family reunion, bar and cafe hopping, or swimming. 

Perhaps, this may include fasting or abstaining from certain pleasures or indulgences. You can free yourself from the trappings of technology such as online shopping, scrolling from social media, “chismis,” dating apps, and binge-watching. 

Sarah Noelle Ortizo, a 20-year-old education student from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, repents by praying or watching movies that focus on family problems, or Lenten features such as the film “Passion of Christ” or episodes from the noontime show “Eat Bulaga.” 

Meanwhile, fashion content creator Jezereen, like most girls, loves shopping online. She’s giving herself a short span of time on social media, especially buying stuff online.

“It’s okay naman to shop online, however, holiday kasi and it’s Lenten week so I consider the importance and purpose of the Lenten week,” she said.

She recommends for your time to be spent productively to make connections with God by reading the Bible, devotional message, prayer, preaching, etc. On top of that, it’s also a time where you can ask for forgiveness and gratitude; it’s like having a pause for the meantime. 

Meanwhile, Jared Vallar, a financial consultant at Sun Life Philippines, believes that he doesn’t have much to repent for. For him it is not about following the traditions of the Roman Catholic faith because he has his own understanding of God.

He realizes that most people recite “Our Father” but with no sincerity at all. This is what he meant by “routine based.” Jared has his own way of praying and this type of prayer works for him because it allows him to communicate with God more. For him, penance means sincerity. 

With reports from Nicole Thomas


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