By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

Cardinal Justin Rigali is asking Catholics across the Archdiocese to accompany him as he leads a candlelight Way of the Cross devotion at 7:30 p.m. Good Friday, April 2, on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

“The devotion is a fitting way to reflect on the great love that God has shown us in the sufferings of His only Son,” said Msgr. Joseph G. Prior, rector of St. Charles Seminary.

“As we journey from station to station around the campus, we are reminded that God is with us on this journey through life, continuing to pour out His mercy upon us.”

The significance of this particular Stations of the Cross for the faithful of the Archdiocese, Msgr. Prior said, is that “it centers around our walking and praying united with our Bishop, Cardinal Rigali, and each other.”

The miniature pilgrimage, also known as the Via Crucis and Via Dolorosa, became part of general Catholic practice after the 17th century.

Last year, more than 900 clergy, religious and laity joined the Cardinal and his auxiliary bishops in praying the Stations of the Cross at the seminary, a tradition the Cardinal initiated there in 2006.

The devotion at the seminary will be celebrated regardless of rain. Candles will be provided.

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 Ave. beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“We have been fortunate over the years that the faithful who participate in the stations at the seminary reflect a cross-section of the faithful … reminding us that all are called to share in the Lord’s love and mercy,” Msgr. Prior said.

Whether the pilgrims are 3 or 93, the devotion is catechetical. “When praying the Stations of the Cross, the faithful recall the final hours of the Lord’s passion. The meditations reflect the great love that He has for us and the suffering He endured on our behalf to free us from sin and death,” Msgr. Prior said.

“They are, therefore, a devotion which highlights the Lord’s mercy and His gift of life,” he continued. “Each station emphasizes a particular aspect of the Lord’s journey to Calvary and our corresponding journey through life. Each episode in the Lord’s passion has resonance in our own life.”

He cited as an example how the second station, “Jesus Carries His Cross,” recalls the Lord’s acceptance of His cross. “Each one of us has crosses to bear in life. If we accept them and join them to the Lord’s, we gain the strength and courage to endure that ensuing suffering.”

It becomes redemptive “not only for ourselves but because it is joined with Christ’s cross for everyone.”

The fifth station, “Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His Cross,” is another example of how the faithful can relate to their neighbor and the Savior, said the rector.

“As we go through our lives, we recognize that other people help us carry our crosses – we do not carry them alone, and we express gratitude for the assistance.

“At the same time, we are called to help others carry their crosses. Each Station of the Cross has a deep meaning and the applications are multifold,” Msgr. Prior said.

Holy Week begins Palm Sunday, March 28. In commemoration of the celebration of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, Cardinal Rigali will bless the palms to be distributed to the faithful, participate in the procession and serve as principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion at 10:45 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

On Holy Thursday, April 1, parishes across the Archdiocese are invited to begin the solemn observance of the solemnity with Morning Prayer, offered for priests and priestly vocations.

The Cardinal has also asked Catholics across the Archdiocese to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of Chrism at 10 a.m. April 1 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

The Cardinal will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the annual Mass, at which he consecrates sacred chrism and blesses oils for sacramental use throughout the Archdiocese for the coming year.

Holy Thursday commemorates the day on which the priesthood was instituted by Jesus Christ. More than 400 priests of the Archdiocese are expected to concelebrate the Chrism Mass. The procession begins at 9:40 a.m.

Those who are unable to attend the Mass may view it live via streaming video on the archdiocesan web site, The Mass will also be broadcast live on the Catholic Channel, which airs on Sirius Satellite Radio on Channel 159 and on XM Satellite Radio on Channel 117.

Holy Spirit Radio, which airs on 1570 AM in Philadelphia and Doylestown and on 1420 AM in Chester County, will also provide a live broadcast of the Mass.

Also on April 1, the Cardinal will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral. The Mass commemorates the Last Supper, during which Christ instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders.

After the homily, following the example of Christ who washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper, the Cardinal will wash the feet of 12 seminarians who study at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

On Good Friday, April 2, Cardinal Rigali will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, commemorating the passion and death of Jesus Christ. The traditional veneration of the cross, led by the Cardinal, will occur during the liturgy.

At 8 p.m. Holy Saturday, April 3 at the Cathedral, Cardinal Rigali will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the Easter Vigil Mass celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. More than 900 catechumens and candidates – those who have not received Christian baptism and those who have – will become full members of the Catholic Church at the Cathedral and churches throughout the Archdiocese.

On Easter Sunday, April 4, the Cardinal will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the 11 a.m. Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord.

Other Masses at the Cathedral on Easter Sunday are at 8 and 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.