Did you know that our Christian brothers and sisters proclaim the gospel of the Transfiguration on the Sunday before Lent while we hear it this 2nd Sunday of Lent? For them it is the end of the liturgical season of Epiphany that starts with the first revelation of the Christ child to the world and end with the account of the divine glory of God being revealed in the person of Jesus. There is a lovely symmetry to that. On the first Sunday in Lent, both traditions proclaim Jesus’ temptation in the desert – and with the exception of this Sunday, both traditions proclaim the same Gospels for the remainder of Lent.
The Traditional Stations of the Cross have long been celebrated in many forms with the 14 Stations familiar to us a relatively recent form. Several of the stations arise from long-held traditions among the Christians of the Holy Land, but they are not necessarily Scriptural. In 1991, Pope John Paul II instituted a form of the Stations that are based solely on Scripture. This too forms a wonderful means of reflecting upon the events of the Holy Week which put the love of Christ in the forefront of our hearts and minds. Continue reading
When Holy Land pilgrims returned home, they often brought back a bit of Palestine. In addition to relics, the pilgrims also brought back the desire to re-create scenes from the Holy Land in order to share their experiences with those unable to visit the holy places firsthand. When the Holy Land was closed to western visitors, European replicas of the sacred sites became increasingly popular. Outside of Jerusalem, the tradition of walking the via sacra in commemoration of Christ’s passion, death, and burial with “stations” is mentioned as early as the twelfth century and all of the references point to an outdoor celebration. There was no standard celebration of the via sacra. Depending on the location there were as few as seven and as many as 42 stations. Interestingly, in the beginning, the customary route apparently was the reverse of ours, starting with Calvary and ending at Pilate’s house – and included many other stops that are no longer considered part of the Via Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Way”).
A Word from Fr. George…
Lent is a time to reflect upon our life with God, and as the Orthodox theologian, Alexander Schmemann, notes all reflections should lead us to the Eucharist. As you consider some of the “Lent 101” links provided below, take a moment and consider how your Lenten journey will lead you to a more full, complete, and holy encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist.
And if you would like – read some more musings on Lent, “So…what are you giving up for Lent?” here.
Need to Brush Up on Lenten Traditions?
There are many traditions and observances we as Catholics celebrate during the season of Lent. Over time, we may start to think of them as routine. But every one of them has developed into a tradition with the intent to deepen your reflection upon the Lenten journey. If you need to brush up on why we keep certain rituals or practices, please see the links below for more information.
This Wednesday, February 13th, is Ash Wednesday. Why do we celebrate Ash Wednesday? Find out more.
What are the Stations of the Cross? And why do we pray them? Learn more.