Friday, February 20, 2015
Bus Station, Train Station, Stations of the Cross... part one
I realize that I have a love/hate relationship with Stations of the Cross much like my relationship with Ash Wednesday. I love the devotion but I am very particular about how it should be done, yeah I know there's that whole judgemental thing appearing again.
I've recently become a huge fan of LifeTeen and their ministry; if you had asked me a few years ago I would have told you to stay away from them, mainly for personal reasons, but I was not a fan. How God works in mysterious ways, as I now love them. Anyway, last year I had managed to find little guide books from LifeTeen on Confession, prayer, Adoration, and the Rosary. I used the Rosary book last year when I tried to say a Rosary daily during Lent, this year I'm opting to use their guide to Stations of the Cross, Come Walk. I managed to find it last year on Amazon and quickly ordered it based on their other "guide" books and I do love it.
In cause you can't tell I am very traditional when it comes to Mass and other religious events. Does this mean I disapprove of "hands in the air" chari-spastics, I mean charismatics, no. I lovingly and joking call them chari-spastics but that's because that's not my style; it appears every so often on a retreat or at a conference. I am very European in how I do things, I am Irish-American Catholic after all. So this spills over into how I like Stations of the Cross to be done; traditionally with no added flare. My parish offers Stations on Fridays after the 12:05pm Mass, so it's been my Lenten devotion for the past few years as my day off was Friday and I could easily go to Mass and Stations. There is a book that the parish uses and has used for years, that I just can't stand. Here's where my holier-than-thou persona seems to come out, I hate when we dumb down prayers and teachings of the Church. This issue of mine really shows true when it comes to Stations of the Cross. I am aware that the traditional Stations comes from Scripture and Tradition and that St. John Paul the Second, made new stations that are more Scriptural than the traditional ones, more on those later, but I'm old school in what I do, so I like the traditional ones.
I was slightly excited when I saw my pastor saying daily Mass today, because I was hoping he would lead us in the Stations afterwards. This is where my respect and awe for the man shows. The first time he ever lead the parish in Stations I was floored, as there was no book, no guide in his hand; he just knew them and what he was going to say by heart. The scary part is he rarely deviates from his script when he says them and after forty plus years as a priest I can see how one could and would memorize a version of Stations to use but it's still impressive. His comments are modern enough, but not dumbed down or rhyming. The LifeTeen book offers reflections and questions that allow you to look in on yourself and see how you can better yourself and I think my pastor's version/comments of Stations does the same. So when I saw the stack of books, I thought "oh no Deacon Tony's going to do stations" but then I didn't see our deacon at Mass, so I was still slightly hopeful that our pastor would be leading them until the final blessing. I know how crafty my pastor is, he gives the final blessing at the end of stations when he leads them, today he ended Mass normally and I thought "oh it is the Deacon."
I stayed to say Stations and tried my best to not complain or read my lifeteen book, this part I failed at, but I didn't complain as much as could have. I don't know why I don't like the book, okay yes I do, the prayers rhyme and they seem so dumbed down. I know my years of studying religion, and theology come in to play here when I want something to go deeper. Are there parts of these stations that speak to me, yes, but that's God's grace working through what we give Him. I know by the end of Lent I will probably have the LifeTeen book memorized as I plan on saying/doing Stations of the Cross daily and something will come from it, because that's how God works. I love Deacon Tony dearly, but I don't like the way he does Stations. I am the type that likes to be left alone when praying and that's hard at my parish because everyone knows me and wants to say hi and all of that fun stuff and usually I am fine with it. I made a decision that if Deacon Tony is leading stations or I see that stack of books out, I will come back before Fr. Ray's Lenten teaching sessions on Friday nights and say my own version of Stations because I don't want to be uncharitable or complaining while I'm saying Stations as a group.
I remember a book we used while I was a student at Seton Hall and I wish I could find it, it's probably in this house somewhere as my mom and I don't throw stuff like that out. I liked this book because it was traditional, you announced the station, said "we adore You oh Christ and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world", had a reading/reflection on the station, and then finished with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. I remember this simply because my friends would make fun of me by pointing out that when I said the prayers my Irishness appeared via accent and speed of the prayers. I don't know if I'm looking for how I felt when I did Stations at Seton Hall or for something to speak to me. Fr. Ray's or Fr. Roberto's stations are not like those I said at Seton Hall, but they speak to me in a way that Deacon Tony's don't. I know this is all me and not the deacon's fault, but I just feel like something is missing.
We'll see how I feel about Stations after I have said them for 40 some odd days. Who knows maybe I'll write my own reflections as I felt called to do for awhile and most especially when the Deacon is leading the Stations. Oh well I'm off to read Behold the Mystery and learn more about the Mass, maybe in reading that it will remind me of why we do what we do and open my eyes to other devotions as well.
Expect more on Stations as Lent continues. ;-)