Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The First Station is what?

So, last night I went with the Newman folks to the local parish's Stations of the Cross. Normally that's a pretty straight forward, right? I mean, they're right there on the walls. But noooo, we have to make it complicated.

Apparently, at one point back in the 1991, JPII led what was expected to be a Stations service, but instead used an entirely different set of events from the Passion as the 14 stations, and then added the resurrection as a 15th. In Fr. Kavanagh's opinion, this meant that JPII had "changed" the Stations of the Cross, and so we got "John Paul Stations" instead of the two millienna old Stations of the Cross. (Nevermind that John Paul himself celebrated the regular Stations every Good Friday after that.)

Now, I haven't anything against different ways of remembering the Passion, or of innovative ways of expressing real piety. But don't call what you're doing by the same name as a preexisting devotion, because this confuses people. And nothing against John Paul, but I rather prefer the "normal" Stations of the Cross to these new ones. First off, the normal ones are ON THE WALL. So it looks really goofy when you get to the 5th Station, for instance, and the picture for it is back at the beginning. Second, they aren't "Stations of the Cross," even though that's what they say -- they're Stations of the Passion. They start in Gethsemane, and Christ isn't even in every one of them -- you go off to hear about Peter, for instance. That's great and all, and if you're commemorating the Passion, those are important parts -- but if we're commemorating the way of the Cross, it seems that the Cross should be the focus.

Third, and this is ommitted from the USCCB set I linked to, there's that "Fifteenth Station." Now, I know that the Passion only makes sense in light of the resurrection, but the celebration of the resurrection comes after the Cross; it's a related but distinct event. Thus thethree day structure of the Tridium: the sorrow of Good Friday, the waiting of Holy Saturday, and the final joy of Easter. We don't celebrate all three at once because it causes the events and their importance to blur and mesh together unnaturally. We must pass fully through the valley and be darkened by the shadow of death before we can climb to the summit of everlasting life.

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