By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
WYNNEWOOD – Catholics across the Archdiocese are invited to join Cardinal Justin Rigali as he leads a candlelight procession and the Way of the Cross in an outdoor liturgical service at 7:30 p.m. Good Friday, April 10, on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
The miniature pilgrimage, also known as the Via Crucis and Via Dolorosa, became part of general Catholic practice after the 17th century. The late Pope John Paul II, who throughout his pontificate prayed the Way of the Cross on Good Friday evening at the Colosseum in Rome, further popularized the devotion.
The Way of the Cross will be celebrated at the seminary regardless of rain.
Although parking will not be available on the seminary grounds, shuttle buses will be available to and from the seminary from a parking lot at nearby St. Joseph’s University, 54th Street below City Avenue, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Three priests of the Archdiocese recently reflected on how the stations impact their lives.
The stations depicting Jesus’ three falls – Stations III, VII and IX – have been most meaningful to Msgr. James J. Flood, pastor emeritus of St. Margaret Parish in Narberth.
“In each one of those falls, Jesus gets Himself up with great agony and proceeds to do what His Father wanted Him to do, to fulfill the vocation that was given to Him,” said Msgr. Flood, who was ordained in 1958.
Not only have the stations personally resonated with Msgr. Flood during times of difficulty or sacrifice, he has also referenced them in helping others, “especially in the sacrament of penance, that with God’s grace – no matter how bad things might have been – you can still pick yourself up with His forgiveness and move forward.”
“That’s what Jesus did on His way to Calvary,” Msgr. Flood added.
Station II – Jesus Takes Up His Cross – is particularly profound for Father Daniel M. Kredensor, a parochial vicar at St. Andrew Parish in Newtown who was ordained in 2008. “It’s when Christ actually had to pick up the cross and carry it on His shoulder. It’s just amazing. I connect it to my life in thinking, He’s taking that cross – my sins. We believe He died with our sins. That really starts our whole life in Christ.”
Father G. Dennis Gill, director of the archdiocesan Office for Worship, ordained in 1983, points first to the Mass. “In the celebration of the sacred liturgy, we encounter the spanine event of the death and resurrection of the Lord,” he said. “It is this event that redeems and saves us, that invites us to conversion and communion with Jesus Himself in His own offering.”
In praying the stations, the faithful can identify with the Lord in His suffering and death, “which we celebrate in the Mass,” Father Gill said.
Station XII – Jesus Dies on the Cross – is meaningful to Father Gill because “it is the point on which the whole mystery of redemption turns,” he said.
In addition to attending archdiocesan celebrations, Father Gill encourages Catholics to visit the Stations of the Cross at their parish churches.
As for Father Gill, he prefers to make the stations without a given text, he said. “I find it spiritually helpful to actually walk along the church aisle and pass from station to station with thoughts of the cross arising from each of the stops of our Lord on the way to His saving death.”
The faithful’s participation in the Paschal Triduum is important, Father Gill said.
For those who have not had a particularly productive Lent, there’s still time.
“It’s not too late to present yourself for the sacrament of penance, to decide to keep the Easter season,” Father Gill said.
“We should put as much effort in observing the Easter season as we do the Lenten season,” he added. “The Easter season is the season of the Holy Eucharist. Our Lenten practices and disciplines should become our Easter commitments.”
For information about the stations of the cross at the seminary, call (215) 965-8280.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.