Thursday, February 26, 2009

An introduction to the Stations

There are many forms to the devotional practice of the Way of the Cross, or as it is often popularly called, ‘Stations’. There are living Stations, where people perform the parts. Some parishes have school children in the enactment, often on Good Friday itself, and sometimes the Friday before. A few parishes take to the streets with adults in a procession on Good Friday, and of course there are two the world media will photograph--the ones in Jerusalem, and in Rome.

Some are less theatrical, yet can still be very moving and spiritually enrichening. I have for many years attended stations, the last few years I have tried to attend them in different parishes in the lenten season. There are, of course, different programmes. They are usually on Friday at 7 p.m., but they can be found at other times. Some precede or follow mass, some have an exposition of the Eucharist and Benediction.
There are versions where you are put in the position of Mary, Jesus or a member of the crowd. Some are done with audio-visual equipment, some people are encouraged to process through the church from depiction to depiction of each station. There are parishes that do one form in english, and another in the language of the old country. Where I went to parish grade school, they were the traditional ones of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, which as a youth, I found too intensely intimate; as an adult I am more comfortable with the language. Each can affect different souls, one peson may notice the effect of a different presentation has on him.

Some people wish to add an extra station of the Resurrection. No such 15th Station. Yes!, we all know Jesus was resurrected, and we wait for it on Holy Saturday, but the events of the cross were of Friday, on which, He suffered, died and was buried. Via Crucis was Friday, not Sunday. It is, in part the protestant tendency of uncomfortableness with Good Friday, that, americans have picked up, and allow for this reformation of the stations. Some of these people who want this 15th are upset, with people whom do not want it. They want to force their indulgence upon others.
Now, I will go on a generalising tangent, in reference to general principles. There are many such things some wish to progressively alter. Good Friday must be, primarily, about Good Friday, just as Easter Sunday must be about Easter. Similar criticisms were directed at Gibson’s film on The Passion. The conservative view is to be held. In so many things, change should come when there is a true need for change, not just when change is desired, especially when the change is desired by the few for all. Some novel private permutations are fine, as long as they are not made mandatory, by soft, or hard coercion. This is a form of tyranny by diktat. There are people of position, who overstep and over reach their legitimate authority, and there are people of no position who overstep and over reach. A committee as well as a bishop, a policeman as well as an activist or a ‘facilitator’ can, and do, go too far.

This is the form of the Stations, that, will be presented in the following pages. Caveat: this is just one of many possible versions. Stations can be done privately or publicly, in solitude or in community. A visual focus of the scene, will be here, a photograph of a station from a local church, this will be followed by: a Douay Rheims Challoner revision of the Vulgate, and the Vulgate passage from the New Testament, which will be followed by: quotations from Archbishop Óscar Romero and an english translation, most of this will be lifted from: Monsenor Romero: El Pueblo Es Mi Profeta, Equipo de Educacion Maiz, 1994.

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