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Monday, March 14, 2011

Wading into Lent

We have a lot of Lent to go.  Perhaps we should spend some time talking about things that can be a little confusing.

Like the other day, when we talked about the changes to the Stations of the Cross.  Maybe not confusing, but a surprising number of people don't know there has been a change.  I chalk that up to churches not wanting to let go of their Stations of the Cross panels, some of which are beautiful works of art in wood, stone and beautifully painted plaster.  They are old and irreplaceable.

Which makes the rules for the Stations of the Cross a bit dodgy, since you have to walk around to do them and the new ones aren't up there on the wall for many of you.  How does one do the new Scriptural Stations? That can be confusing.

I don't know.  I imagine you'll just have to walk around, stand in front of the number, and picture a different rendering.  In other words, you'll be standing in front of Jesus is condemned to death, but you'll be picturing the Agony in the Garden.  And when you land in front of Jesus picks up his cross, you have to picture Judas betraying Jesus and then Jesus getting arrested  By the time you reach Jesus picking up His cross on the your new list, you'll be standing in front of of Jesus falling the second time.  That's #7.

At least when you're standing in front of #9, you can look back at the rendition of #8 on the wall of Jesus meeting up with the women of Jerusalem.

Nothing matches up until the very last one when Jesus is placed in the tomb.

Happily for you, there are quite a number of little Stations of the Cross booklets you can carry around with you. That should help.

Which reminds me! You know you can get Lenten coloring books for the kids?

I'm not sure I'm enthusiastic about Lenten coloring books, but I'll go along with it.  My beef is that these types of teaching tools are billed as "fun" for the kids.  A "fun" way to teach them about Lent.

I realize that it is going to be tough going to teach them about Lent if it isn't any fun.  But...Lent isn't supposed to be fun, so right there, what are we teaching them?  And why does everything we learn have to be fun?

I know, I know. "Fun" is part of the way we teach children to enjoy learning new things.  If it's fun, it might generate interest and being very interested in things is rather fun.

Isn't Lent interesting enough to hold a child's attention without having to crack out a pinata full of holy cards? (Because a Lenten pinata better not be full of candy!)

I digress.

It's okay to stick with the Traditional Stations. No one minds.  But our current Pope has asked up to take up the new ones.  I'm on board with that.  I love the new Scriptural Stations, even though we lose poor St. Veronica.  There are plenty of other St. Veronica's to replace her

A reader tells us:

Our parish still uses the Stations which are on the wall - the traditional ones - when we pray the Stations together on Fridays during Lent. On Good Friday, we have a Choral Stations of the Cross, with a meditation on each Station and music which corresponds to that Station. For that we use the "modern" version. It works for us!

You make it sound so easy!  What about the walking around part?


bearing said...

I disagree that Lent "isn't supposed to be fun." The seasons of the liturgical year are there, in part, to bring a rhythm to our Christian journey -- first a fast and then a feast. If there were no feasts and fasts, or even if it were all feasting all the time, the Christian life of prayer and celebration would be far more monotonous. Lent helps make things interesting, and interesting is a kind of fun -- even for children.

Anonymous said...

Our parish is so large and so many people come to the Friday stations, we are asked NOT to walk around. Kids are welcomed to walk around with the priest, and sometimes moms and dads of very young children help their children walk around, but otherwise, we don't because we've been specifically asked not to.


Annette said...

My oldest hates coloring. Maybe I should get the coloring book for him as a penance.

Dev Thakur said...

Dear Sister, where or when did the Holy Father ask us to use the new Stations?

And I wonder if, when he did, he meant in any way to nudge us away from the traditional ones?

I for one don't think I can ever let go of my traditional ones. I also respect the luminous mysteries but don't use them (and if someone gives me a hard time I will point out that in Pope John Paul II's own letter he encourages and suggests but in no way requires that they be used).

Dylan said...

I was just on a Seminary retreat.
The Seminarians put on a "Living" stations. It was one of the most profound religious experiences of my life. Even though it took two and a half hours and lasted until midnight, it wasn't long enough. (Even though my body was ready to fall asleep in the Grass at the 12th Station)

Maureen said...

I didn't know that Veronica had been airbrushed out of the picture! - I was always quite fond of her. I suppose she has gone to join St Christopher, and I still am quite attached to him,after all these years!

Paige said...

Poor St. Veronica! My mom's confirmation name is Veronica after my great Aunt, who was Sr. Veronica of the Mt. Carmel nuns in S. Louisiana. It's fitting for my mom, she's always trying to help people. I think of her fondly as a very nice woman.
Also, how sad that Jesus doesn't meet his mother anymore in the new stations. Can you imagine what Mary must have gone through at that moment, seeing her son beaten half dead and condemned to death? And can you imagine how Jesus must have been pretty relieved and comforted to see the face of his beloved momma? It makes me tear up just thinking about it. I think any child or mother can really relate to their humanity in that station.

Anonymous said...

This is kind of off on a tangent, but the comment about Veronica being airbrushed out of the stations reminded me of something. I guess it's kind of ironical. The other day, I went to see a screening of the Josemaria Escriva movie that is coming out - partially because I'm curious about the whole "Opus Dei/canonization-of-a-priest-who-swore-like-a-sailor-and-cursed-like-a-trucker" thing. The writer screenwriter wrote in a whole character that didn't actually exist, but the whole angle of the story line was to bring out the character of J. Escriva by showing how he would have reacted to a person like the made-up character, had he encountered him. Apparently, this is not a new technique... I was taught that there actually was a woman who wiped the face of Jesus with her veil, but we do not know her name. I had heard that the veil is on display either in Rome or in Spain. Upon doing further research, I found that this is not the case. What is on display is probably a copy - but of what, we are unsure. Several artists over the centuries have painted their version of the purported image on the veil. Oh well - it still makes for good meditation material. Whether or not anyone wiped the bloody, sweaty brow of our Lord, we may never know - but what we DO know, Christ taught himself. "Whatsoever you do for these, the least of my bretheren, that ye have done unto me." Or, as my high school bible study teacher said way back in the 70's, "You love God only as much as you love that person whom you love the least."

sam said...

Time to show my ignorance,what exactly do you do for the stations of the cross. I know it's got to be more than just walking around looking at the pictures and thinking about what they represent - but what is it?
Thank you in advance

Anonymous said...

Sorry don't know the answer.On friday after Mass the Stations of the cross follows ,A Deacon of our church leads the handful of people that stay.The Deacon was not told of a new booklet and was searhing for the old traditional book of many years past.He was handed the new booklets and asked that we bear with him as he was unaware of procedure and content. The Pope continues with the taditional way so why is it we who love the old way are to now adopt this new version.I would like answers.Last year 2010 Holy Thursday a dozen or so people showed up for the stations non of which were ever present the previous weeks of lent.They showed videos on on migrant workers,starving children,abused,illegals etc. I didn't understand the language because most was in Spanish with captions in English too small for me to read. I was so yearning to meditate on Jesus Passion and felt empty.I inquired to the deacon What was this all about ,he rolled his eyes and did not answer. After Easter I was still kind of disturbed and had to inquire about the presence of the unknown to me group.I found out they represented The Peace and Justice Committee. Bishops in Florida call it Social Justice. I am praying for understanding as to why the Catholic Church is getting so Political and is focusing change here in Fl.and Not the majority of northern Catholic churches.Lenten season builds up to Christ's Passion and Death on the Cross.We are Gods creation,we are Not Jesus but we can strive to be Christ like. The new theme presented in church past few weeks is on Human Trafficking again through the Bishops of Florida and the Social Justice Committee. Don't we have Law Enforcement to take care of these crimes.?? Marion Veronica `

jeliecam said...

For the colouring books for Lent, one way to remove the element of fun, would be to limit the colour selection to three. After the child picks his favourate colours, only give him three different coloured crayons.

Anonymous said...

@Sam_acw: what you actually do for stations is to meditate on the different scenes of the Passion. In some booklets, there is a specific prayer to help you focus on each scene. Most will start with a genuflection, upon which you say the words, "We adore thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee, (and then you rise to finish the verse) for by Thy holy cross, thou hast redeemed the world." Using more contemporary English, you would say (genuflecting)"We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,(rise) for by your cross You have redeemed the world." Then there would be either a short scripture verse and meditation, or just a meditation. If you are alone or with a small group, you can move from station to station. When a whole group prays together in the church, usually a priest or deacon goes from station to station. He is either alone, or accompanied by some servers. In my parish, when we do it all formal we have a priest, two deacons, a cross bearer and two candle bearers. The bare minimum is the priest with one deacon and at least one server. That's not the important part though. What matters is realizing that Christ suffered for us, and that we should 'carry our own cross' and reach out to others.
@Anonymous - That is probably what the politically correct bishops are aiming for, too. That being said, you are not alone in wishing they would leave the politics out of it. Imigration is just one issue. How would they feel if all the stations ONLY meditated on reaching out to the physically challenged? What about the mentally challenged? What about other people who are in some way marginalized? I have a niece who is wheelchair bound, a nephew with epilepsy, a great nephew with autism, a sister who is blind, and several aunts and uncles with various cancers. We are challenged to see Christ in EVERYONE, not just the groups with the most political activists. There are racial stations, and there are probably feminist stations and gay stations floating around out there somewhere, too. We need to pray for EVERYBODY - including overweight people like me!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous -- don't think you suffer alone in Florida. The Social Justice squads are well in force in the Midwest and elsewhere as well. I believe that Mass is a place for us to worship God and to be fed for the journey of the week ahead -- a journey that includes caring for the marginalized, the poor, the immigrants, the ill, the unwanted or hurting of any stripe, even (especially) those most difficult for us to see and to reach. But the Mass must come first. I must hear the Word, repent, be fed at the table, worship and be strengthened in order to carry out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy with any faith and vigor at all. Having petitions read in three languages or a song sung in Haitian or whatever just so that the Committee can fee good about themselves -- when every person in the church speaks English -- does nothing except draw my attention the "Show" instead of to God. On the other hand, the National Catholic Register recently had a tremendously powerful column about "my ugly little liturgy" -- about continuing to realize that Christ is present even when we don't like the Mass. That is becoming a growing challenge, which I suppose means I must grow in faith and grace to persevere.

Zora said...

It is very easy sister! We walk from Station to Station on Fridays during Lent. On Good Friday, for the Choral Stations, there are too many people for anyone to be able to move from Station to Station.

Sharon said...

I too would like to know where the Pope asked us to take up new stations. I know that new stations were used for WYD;they featured only moments for which there were scriptural references but I am unaware that the Holy Father proposed them permanently instead of the traditional stations.