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from Photographers' Blog:

New Mexico’s Holy Week

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New Mexico

By Brian Snyder

The high desert of northern New Mexico, with Taos as its unofficial capital, is a confluence of cultures and eras.  Native American, Spanish, Mexican and American cultures co-exist and show themselves in both modern and old ways. Holy Week in this area is celebrated in a very public manner within the safety of the region, beyond the notice of much of the rest of the United States. The rites and customs are very much of the place and cultures found there.

On Holy Thursday a youth group re-enacted the Stations of the Cross at the Sanctuario de Chimayo. The Sanctuary is a church built over a source of sacred dirt that is believed to have healing powers. It is also the destination for thousands of pilgrims from all over during Holy Week. The youth group from Our Lady of Sorrows church in nearby Bernalillo has been doing the performance for years, with new teenagers replacing the previous year’s every year or two. The whips hitting the man playing the role of Jesus are real (though the blood is make-up) and the teens are convincing in their roles as Mary, the women of Jerusalem, Veronica and Roman soldiers.

If the pilgrimage at Chimayo is well-known and better publicized, the pilgrimage in Ranchos de Taos and Talpa on Good Friday is a very local, traditional and communal activity. The several mile walk begins at the famous San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos and from there the Stations of the Cross are marked in various fields, front yards, moradas, and capillas along the route. Four men carry a large cross and lead the procession, with several hundred believers following behind. In many ways Good Friday is the apex of Holy Week. Worshipers, including many young people, pray out loud, sing, and even chat and laugh with one another as they make their way through the countryside.

The moradas, which are unsanctified chapels, are the spiritual home of the Hermanos, a private, secretive, lay group of Catholic men with a history dating back hundreds of years. During Holy Week the Hermanos worship at the moradas and welcome the pilgrims as they pass by on their walk. With the Hermanos are a group of girls dressed all in black, including black veils, representing Veronica (who in the Bible wipes Jesus’s face).

from Photographers' Blog:

Ages old battle for a ball

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Every year on Orthodox Easter, traffic is blocked for hours on the main highway in Western Georgia to allow the men of Shukhuti village to battle for a 16-kilogram (35 pounds) leather ball, stuffed tight with sawdust, soil and topped with red wine.

Villagers from upper and lower Shukhuti gather under an old tree in front of the abandoned building, formerly the House of Culture during Soviet times. Divided into two teams, they face each other and trade cries, egging themselves on. Father Saba, the local Orthodox priest, carries the ball surrounded by his helpers like bodyguards to throw the ball into the crowd. Lelo has begun.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

The White House can’t afford plates?

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Blog Guy, I'm disappointed in you.

Most of my readers usually are. What did I do now?

Easter came and went and you didn't offer up your usual Goofiest Easter Photo. What gives?

I'm still waiting for our panel of judges. It's down to two finalists.

One shows President Barack Obama talking to the Easter Bunny. The other shows television personality Kelly Ripa doing something very weird with a crêpe.

from Photographers' Blog:

Half a century of crucifixions for both penitent and photographer

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I can't help but be amazed by the contrasting observance of the Lenten season, particularly Holy Week, in my country, the Philippines. To many, Holy Week means going back to their home towns for vacation for a relaxing time and to renew ties with families and friends. To others, like the people from Pampanga in the northern Philippines, it is the time for the annual religious ritual that could be viewed as bizarre in the eyes of some observers.

Pampanga has become a popular destination for local and foreign tourists, as well as journalists, during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as thousands of penitents self-flagellate and dozens enact Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Last Thursday, I followed the shirtless men as they walked the streets while whipping their backs with bamboo sticks. Blood splattered not only on my clothes but also on my camera lens as I got closer to the penitents to take a snap shot of their wounded and bloodied backs. Sometimes I even tasted the blood as droplets landed on my face.

from Tales from the Trail:

Hint of politics creeps in to rare Obama church appearance

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Barack Obama is not shy about discussing his Christian faith, but the U.S. president and his family do not attend church regularly in Washington.

So a presidential visit is a rare happening among the city's churches, and Easter is one Sunday when one regularly occurs.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Have yourself a chocolate little Easter…

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chocolate easter 490

Blog Guy, I thought maybe you could run some photos to help get us in the mood for Easter tomorrow.

Sure. Now up here at the top, a guy is spreading chocolate to make Easter treats in...

from Oddly Enough Blog:

I’ll NEVER do that again, I promise!

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penitents melanie this 490

Blog Guy, every year at Easter time I see lots of photos of "penitents" from different places, which I gather has to do with repenting for sins and stuff like that. I was hoping you could elaborate a bit for your readers.

penitents robes 300Not without doing actual research, which takes too much effort.

But I was hoping you could just make up stuff, as usual.

Okay. It appears some penitents have to wear hooded outfits which are VERY unfortunate in design, if you catch my meaning.

from FaithWorld:

U.K. academic says Easter date can now be fixed

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(The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci, 1498)

The Last Supper took place on a Wednesday -- a day earlier than thought -- and a date for Easter can now be fixed, according to a Cambridge University scientist aiming to solve one of the Bible's most enduring contradictions.

Christians have marked Jesus' final meal on Maundy Thursday for centuries but thanks to the rediscovery of an ancient Jewish calendar, Professor Colin Humphreys suggests another interpretation.

from Shop Talk:

Check Out Line: Thank you, March

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Check out the latest retailer to benefit from the earlier Easter and a mild March.

family dollar storeFamily Dollar's profit in the quarter that ended in February came in higher than analysts' anticipated, as the discounter extended hours at its stores and sold more private label goods, which carry better margins.

from FaithWorld:

Jerusalem: heart of the Mideast conflict

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jerusalem

Jerusalem, December 8, 2009/Ammar Awad

Next week is the time of year when millions of people around the world look to Jerusalem as the source of inspiration for the Christian festival of Easter and Jewish Passover celebrations. But this week the city is also the recurrent focus of bitter dispute. The United States has directed rare strong criticism at Israel over its plans to expand Jewish settlements there, saying the building undermines U.S. efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

SETTLEMENT2Want to know more? Following are links to a sampling of recent Reuters stories about Jerusalem and a Reuters graphic on new Israeli construction in East Jerusalems:

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