Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stations of the Cross

Usually a Catholic tradition nowadays, we, as a Western Orthodox Church also celebrate the Stations of the Cross during the lenten season every Wednesday night. We walk through the stations after a 7pm liturgy (which most people fast for beforehand so that they can receive communion). The Stations are not a long service, but after not eating since noon, and an hour of liturgy, our wills often become weak, and thoughts of dinner and rest nearly overwhelm us.

It is at this time, however, that some of the most beautiful words are spoken and prayed, and if we listen, we come away renewed and with a deeper understanding of the Lord's suffering. We also come away with some greater knowledge of ourselves. It is a kind of knowledge that only comes through such an experience; a spiritual meditation of the cross, crossing oneself and bowing, praying, and hearing healing words. The soul and the body putting forth effort together.

When I was a little girl, I prayed that God would show me what his suffering meant; why Easter was so special. It took me until my first lent in the Orthodox Church to really make any headway in this. It took the effort of these long services where we, in our own small way, partook in the sufferings of Christ. That is what I had always been missing- the partaking in Christ's suffering before his resurrection. He calls us to die with him, that we might rise. If we do not die during a preapratory period like lent, the resurrection does not have the same depth or "gravitas," as a friend of ours likes to call it.

On the Easter morning after my first journey through lent, I was filled with such a joy. Christ had risen! Actually, the Hymn "He is Risen!" woke me up, like the Spirit of the Lord coming to announce his resurrection again, afresh. I was so joyful that day and cried as we rang the bells at Church in celebration. Many people did actually, it was hard not to. My emotions matched by desire to know the resurrection that day.

The lenten periods where I have fasted and made the spiritual effort have been the times when the resurrection meant the most. Though this year, my fast is different ( I am not restricting diet so much, except sweets), I need to make a similar effort towards His glorious appearing.

Anyways, I anow off track with my original thought- that of the Stations. Here is an excerpt that caught my eye last night. May it be a blessing to all.

From Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments-

Behold the Lord who clothed the world in beauty, who
now submits, for love of man, to all man’s hatred. He is
stripped of His clothing and prepared for the Cross.

Let us pray.

O BLESSED LORD JESUS, now prepared for the gallows tree;
Help us to strip off all false pride and to be clothed with sincerity
of heart: Let love rule in our hearts and fill them so that no
room remains for anger; let us rejoice in the success of others, and
pray for them in their shortcomings, that we have no room for the
cloak of envy; for lust, give us singleness of purpose; that all our
desires may be lived in the pure crucible of this Thy holy sacrifice;
Grant us for greed a love of holy poverty; for sloth a holy industry;
for gluttony a wholesome discipline; that resisting all temptations of
the world, the flesh, and the devil, we may live in faith, through
hope, with love by Thee, who now livest and reignest with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.


Jen said...

Thanks so much for sharing these lovely (and well-articulated) thoughts.

Jen :o)

Elisabeth Hupp said...

Hi Katie,

Your post reminded me of the beauty of the Stations. This is my second lent having not experienced them (in the Eastern Rite), and they are truly so helpful in focusing us on our Lord's passion and our call to follow and "take up our cross."

I always work on I can get Fridays off for Church but I miss having the hymns, of the Stations in my head Thursday morning as in past years :). Perhaps Yiannis and I can start praying them at home (sure, no mixing the Western and Eastern lubrics in the chruch...but how about in the home?:).

Take care,