Christ’s passion

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When we visit a church, new or familiar, I photograph the stations of the cross with relish.  Sometimes the end result includes dark, fuzzy, and/or cropped pictures that make me long for do-overs.  Other times I’m simply amazed at the beauties that pop out at me unexpectedly as I search my ever-expanding photo files for visuals that complement my writing.  But, always, I’m so drawn to the stations that I wonder how they were chosen to begin with.  And, if they could tell their story, what would they say?

Christ’s passion

July 2014, I fell head over heels in love with the stations of the cross during our eight-day silent retreat.  And, just last month, I serendipitously discovered why.

Thanks to a lifelong lingering memory, I can trace my initial fascination with the story of Christ’s passion to a long-ago prayer that mom recited nightly for my baby brother and me as we would “go to sleep with the angels.”

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar” (Mendoza, 1939).

Powerful devotion

Life never has seemed so full of trouble and strife as now.  But, amid our daily anxieties, we never lose hope.  God’s help is near at hand.  With it we look forward to a share in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Our present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that one day will be revealed in us.  All we need do is remain faithful and constant.  In our daily cares and preoccupations we must keep our heart steadily fixed on our true goal.

We will find it much easier to do so when we perform our work with the spirit and outlook of Christ.  In his sacred passion and death our Savior opened the way for us to follow.  There is no other path to God, our father.

The stations, [Christ’s] way of the cross, are our way to salvation, too.  We must often apply their power to our own life situation.  This can be done anywhere: at home, on a park bench, waiting for a train or a friend.  When our schedule is crowded, we can think and pray at least one station a day.

Our Lord doesn’t expect long or eloquent prayers.  We need not even use words; a brief silent lifting of our hearts to him suffices (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-8/14, p. 2).

Opening prayer

God, our heavenly father, we raise our minds and hearts to you in praise and thanksgiving.  Though weak and sinful, we wish to follow your only son, our Lord Jesus, on the way of the cross.  May your Holy Spirit help us use our Savior’s strength effectively in our place in life.  We ask the special aid of our blessed Lady, ever virgin and mother, in following Christ and in making his way of the cross our way of life.  Amen.

1: Jesus is condemned.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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2: Jesus takes his cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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3: Jesus falls the first time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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4: Jesus meets his mother.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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7: Jesus falls the second time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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8: Jesus speaks to the women.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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9: Jesus falls the third time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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12: Jesus dies on the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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Concluding prayer

O God, our heavenly father, by your great mercy we are born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your son.  We look forward to the inheritance, imperishable and unfading, which you have reserved for us in heaven.  We thank you for calling us to eternal glory in Jesus, our savior.  We ask your forgiveness for the many times we have failed in following Christ.  May the remembrance of his life, passion, and resurrection sustain us on our earthly way of the cross.  May his example strengthen us in faith, hope, and love.  And when we come to die, may we, by your gracious goodness, be born again to eternal life.  Amen.

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Contact information

Prayers are from Your Way of the Cross (FMA, B-13R, pp. 3 & 11, respectively).  Your Way of the Cross leaflets and the Retreat Booklet are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; and A Prayer in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows is from the Servants of Mary, The Servite Order, 1439 South Harlem Avenue, Berwyn, IL 60402-0712.

Stations of the cross (left to right, top to bottom) can be found in the following sacred spaces: Sts. Cyril & Methodius (Corpus Christi, TX), St. Anthony of Padua (Rockford, IL), Most Holy Trinity (Covington, LA), St. Mary Cathedral (Austin, TX), St. Anselm (Madisonville, LA), St. Mary’s (Brownsville, TX), Christus Spohn Hospital Chapel (Corpus Christi, TX), Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio, TX), and St. Joseph (Port Aransas, TX), respectively.

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February 25, 2016

Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a Christian spirit the pinpricks of each day!  Think, then, which is the more heroic
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

February 29, 2016

“We must not seek the cross in extraordinary sufferings seldom, if ever, encountered; we must look for it in the duties, the life, the difficulties, and the sacrifices of each day and of each moment” (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, Divine Intimacy).

March 9, 2016

“We could not go to Calvary to offer ourselves with him and thus share in the fruits of his sacrifice, so Jesus brought Calvary to us” (Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik, The Basic Book of the Eucharist).

November 10, 2016

“No one should be ashamed of the cross of Christ through which the world has been redeemed” (St. Leo the Great).

March 20, 2017

Christ’s whole being must ring in our hearts with blood and bone.  We must follow him.  We must strive to penetrate into the heart of his mystery, to what he really is.  Then things be­come plain to us, as we have found them here (Romano Guardini in Meditations on the Christ).

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St. Anthony of Padua Church – Rockford, IL

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Grounds at the Oblate School of Theology – San Antonio, TX

Links of interest…  Disciples’ diary (Peter & Judas)…  Franciscan Mission Associates: contact / devotional saintslight a candle / prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / saint & prayer of the month / who we are…  Majesty of Christ crucified…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotion / fish eaters / for families (more) / for kids (coloring pages) / how to do / making them worthwhile / on your block / origin / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) / scriptural (JPII) / significance / way of the cross…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Videos: intro & street stations for commuters & bikers….  Way of the cross (Artola, 2005; preview)…  What Jesus saw from the cross…  the Word among us

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St. Mary revisited

??????????On May 5, 2013, Steven and I attended Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin.  We’d visited during Advent almost two and a half years before when we’d vowed to return one day soon, so we felt quite blessed to finally be there again.

Except for the physical signs of a major restoration project underway on the tower and the façade, all else was the same.  The church community was genuinely welcoming; the choir, robustly ethereal; the homilist, focused on gratitude.

What a God-filled day!

Blessings and gratitude

After Mass, the choir heartily rewarded us with one last song.  Everyone applauded gratefully, and the organist continued to play.

Captivated by the majestic notes filling every nook and cranny within the church, we lingered motionlessly, savoring each melodic morsel to the very end.  Then we applauded enthusiastically a second time.

“Wow!  This is truly different from our church,” I said to Steven.

“Yes!”

“Look.  One of the ladies is taking flowers up to Mary’s altar.”

I turned to see a woman carrying a rather large bouquet of fresh, long-stemmed flowers as she walked to the main altar.  What were they for?  Something special after eleven o’clock Mass?

“Are you going to take pictures?” Steven asked.

“I’d like to.  This time I want some good photos of the stained-glass windows.  This is such a beautiful place!  And the music?  Oh, my goodness.  It’s just amazing.”

The young woman who’d been listening to the music from her pew made eye contact with me as she stepped into the aisle next to us.  “Thank you,” she said, smilingly acknowledging my effusive compliments.

“Are you a parishioner?” I asked.

The young woman nodded.

“So you enjoy this all the time?  This is our second visit here.  The music is just heavenly!”

“We’re very spoiled,” the young woman twinkled.

“Yes!” I agreed.

“I was going to a different parish until I got married.  My husband was a parishioner here, so this is our church now.  We’re spoiled rotten.”

“Enjoy for the rest of us who can’t be here every Sunday!”

“I will.  I think of that.  I think of the people in all the places I’ve been to in my travels.  Some worship in makeshift churches, and our dear Lord is there nonetheless.  From now on I’m going to enjoy this place for you all.”

“Thank you!”

St. Mary revisited

Next, a man of the cloth approached.  “Hi, are you visiting?”

“Yes,” I softly replied, waiting for Steven to say something.

“Yes.  We’re from Port Aransas,” Steven told him.

“Port Aransas.  Lovely place.”

“Good morning, Father,” I said without realizing that the man was a deacon.

“Good morning.  How are you doing?”

“Just fine,” I said, as Steven mentioned to him that my recording device was still on.  “It’s that I have a personal blog,” I explained.  “I’ve posted about this church before, and I’m going to do it again.  I just love this place!  Earlier, I was telling a young woman, a parishioner, that you all are so blessed to be here every Sunday.”

??????????“The church is beautiful,” Steven agreed.

“This glass came from Germany; the glass up there in the nave came from France.  The Carmelite nuns in France made that.”

“Really?  I correspond with a Carmelite Sister in Goonellabah, Australia.  She’ll be thrilled to learn that, so I’ll definitely send her a photo.”

“The window in the nave came a long time ago,” the deacon added.

“And the church was built when?” I asked.

“Around the Civil War, but the parish started before then.  The church was completed in 1892, I believe,” twenty years after having been commissioned.

“This time around you all are fixing up the façade?”

“What happened is that some stones were falling from the bell tower.  When some of the stones were replaced, the workers determined that more stones might fall off.  They did a large renovation of all the stonework; and they did this other tower, too.  Then, in checking the rose window, they found that it was also compromised.  Some of the wood was splitting, so they’ve taken the window out and are repairing all that wood.  They’re putting in some stainless-steel braces to hold the glass together.”

“Anything and everything to preserve the beauty of this sacred space,” I added.

“We are lucky to have this beautiful church,” smiled the soft-spoken deacon.

“And we look forward to returning, believe me.  Thank you, Father.”

Deacon Vince,” he gently corrected me.  “It’s good to meet you.”  The deacon shook Steven’s hand and started to walk away.

“God bless you,” I said, before resuming my picture taking.

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Prayers

For the grace of love…  O Mary, my dear Mother, how much I love you!  And yet in reality how little!  You teach me what I ought to know, for you teach me what Jesus is to me and what I ought to be for Jesus.  Dearly beloved Mother, how close to God you are, and how utterly filled with him!  In the measure that we know God, we remind ourselves of you.  Mother of God, obtain for me the grace of loving my Jesus; obtain for me the grace of loving you!

Heartfelt request…  Mary, my dearest mother, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility that I may receive Jesus as you did— and go in haste to give him to others (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

In time of need…  May we be assisted, we ask, O Lord, by the worshipful intercession of your glorious mother, the ever Virgin Mary, that we, who have been enriched by her perpetual blessings, may be delivered from all dangers and, through her loving kindness, made to be one heart and mind.  Who lives and reigns world without end.  Amen.

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Links of interest…  Discerning hearts (blog; downloads)…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page prayers (miracles – more – novena – queen of angels) / untier of knots  St. Mary Cathedral: about / Mary, blessed virgin / Mass times / nave / prayer requests / restoration / visitors / website…  the Word among us

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St. Mary Cathedral

Before returning home from Austin yesterday, Steven and I attended Mass at the St. Mary Cathedral.

Neither of us had been there, so we had no idea we’d be transported to another place in time.

The bold colors, stained glass windows, lifelike statues, and arched ceilings were stunning; the soft lighting and the straight backed, unpadded, wooden pews reminiscent of the European churches Segy and I visited years ago.

And the music?  Oh, the music.

Heavenly!

As I thought of Mozart, Steven whispered, “It’s part of Handel’s Messiah.”

After Mass, the priest announced that tickets were going fast for St. Mary’s fifth annual Celtic Christmas concert this coming weekend.  How I wished to be there!

                

        

               

       

               

               

     

           

                

Prayers

Mary, Mother of God…  O Mary, Mother of God, as you are above all creatures in heaven and earth, more glorious than the cherubim, more noble than any here below, Christ has given you to his people, firm bulwark and protectress, to shield and save sinners who fly unto you.

Therefore, O Lady, all embracing refuge, we solemnly recall your sweet protection, and beg Christ forever for his mercy.  Amen.

Mary, Mother of the Church…  Mary, Queen of Apostles, you are present among all peoples.  Mother of the Church, you remind us constantly of our place and our role in the Church.  Jesus sends us on mission to be with others, a sign and reflection of the lights of his heart.  Mary, help us to be responsible members of the Church.

Our Father….  Hail Mary….

Links of interest…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page prayers (miracles – more – novena – queen of angels) / untier of knots…  Messiah (about)…  St. Mary Cathedral: about / Mary, blessed virgin / Mass times / nave  prayer requests / restoration / visitors / website…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Painted churches…  St. Austin Church…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s