Monday, March 9, 2009

Take up your cross and follow

The Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross (the Via Crucis in Latin)is a popular devotion among Catholics especially during Lent. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Principles and Guidelines was published in December 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

This is what it has to say, in part, about this Lenten practice:

The Via Crucis is a synthesis of various devotions that have arisen since the high middle ages: the pilgrimage to the Holy Land during which the faithful devoutly visit the places associated with the Lord's Passion; devotion to the three falls of Christ under the weight of the Cross; devotion to "the dolorous journey of Christ" which consisted in processing from one church to another in memory of Christ's Passion; devotion to the stations of Christ, those places where Christ stopped on His journey to Calvary because obliged to do so by His executioners or exhausted by fatigue, or because moved by compassion to dialogue with those who were present at His Passion.

In its present form, the Via Crucis, widely promoted by Saint Leonard of Port Maurice (+1751) consists of fourteen stations since the middle of seventeenth century.

The Via Crucis is a journey made in the Holy Spirit, that divine fire which burned in the heart of Jesus (cf.Lk.12:49-50) and brought Him to Calvary. This is a journey well esteemed by the Church since it has retained a living memory of the words and gestures of the final earthly days of her Spouse and Lord.

In the Via Crucis, various strands of Christian piety coalesce: the idea of life being a journey or pilgrimage; as a passage from earthly exile to our true home in Heaven; the deep desire to be conformed to the Passion of Christ; the demands of following Christ, which imply that His disciples must follow behind the Master, daily carrying their own crosses (cf Lk.9,23).

Every day during Lent there are so many people who walk the Way of the Cross in churches throughout the world. If you haven't tried it lately, Lent is an ideal time!

God bless you!

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