Here is something you might want to try with your loved ones this Holy Week, especially if Saint Pio Center in Libis, Quezon City is accessible for you: Pray the Stations of the Cross barefoot.
The kids and I were able to do it yesterday, Holy Tuesday, with my parents. We decided to do it earlier in the week because we knew there would be more people during the Easter Triduum and since we still have a toddler in the family, we generally try to avoid large crowds.
Going barefoot was not something we originally planned to do. When we arrived at Saint Pio Center, we were told that people wearing inappropriate footwear like slippers were not allowed to enter the Stations of the Cross area located outside the chapel. My mom was wearing FitFlops, and the two older kids were wearing slippers (they had been staying with my parents since last week and had only brought slippers with them).
Initially, we were trying to convince the people at the entrance of the Stations of the Cross area to let us in because we did not know that there was a “dress code” for it (we knew of the strict dress code inside the chapel though). But then something beautiful happened, which reminded me of this verse:
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. (Isaiah 11:6)
My daughter said quietly, “I’ll take off my slippers.” (There is actually an option to go barefoot, for those who wish to do the Stations barefoot.*)
When she said that, I suggested that those of us who could go barefoot do so. So my mom, the two older kids and I went barefoot. (Our three-year-old daughter also took off her shoes when she saw us going barefoot but put them back on after a while — maybe because parts of the ground were hot at times). I was pleasantly surprised that none of the kids complained the whole time!
Praying the Stations of the Cross barefoot, while carrying our own crosses (except me; I wasn’t given a cross by the caretakers because I was carrying a toddler)… what a beautiful, humbling experience! It was an unplanned, God-sent opportunity to share in our Lord’s sufferings even in such a small manner, and offer up our “sufferings” for others, especially a fellow homeschool parent who is in the hospital now after suffering a traumatic brain injury (please do lift him up in prayer this Holy Week!).
Whether or not you get to do barefoot Stations of the Cross, I pray that the rest of your week be full of opportunities to experience God’s love and mercy. (The Shine Forth Holy Week Retreat is one such opportunity.) Remember, Holy Week is a time for drawing near to the Lord. He is just waiting for us to turn back to Him!
*If you do choose to go barefoot when you pray the Stations of the Cross at Saint Pio Center, please take note that there are some areas that are covered in pigeon droppings (there are many pigeons outside the chapel). We tried to avoid stepping on them but there are parts where you cannot avoid doing so. 😉 Just offer it up! Also, my daughter said she almost stepped on a piece of broken glass, so I relayed this to the caretakers of the Stations of the Cross area. They said they will look into it. God bless us all!