What's Happening at Calvary
The First Week of Advent
Sunday, November 1, 2015 12 PM
Holy Eucharist with the Installation of
Episcopal Church installs its first African American presiding bishop
Michelle Boorstein November 1 at 10:22 PM
The public face and style of the Episcopal Church shifted Sunday with the installation of Michael Bruce Curry, the denomination’s first African American spiritual leader.
Curry, 62, a high-energy, evangelical pastor, is expected to bring a positive, Pope Francis-like vibe to a church community marked in recent years by shrinking numbers and legal disputes related to gay rights.
“Don’t worry! Be happy! God loves you!” Curry boomed at the close of his sermon to the 2,500 people gathered in the soaring Washington National Cathedral. Preaching from the elevated Canterbury Pulpit, Curry immediately changed the face of Episcopalianism, historically one of the faiths of the nation’s white elite.
Curry, known for focusing on evangelism and programs for the poor, follows Katharine Jefferts Schori, a somber Nevada oceanographer who was presiding bishop for nine years.
Jefferts Schori oversaw a tumultuous period as Americans turned away from the denomination and conservatives streamed out, in some cases triggering litigation over church properties that bled into many millions of dollars. The church has faced the same tensions that other faiths have had for decades over issues such as gay rights and the female clergy, but it ordained Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop, in 2003. Since then, the church has lost 20 percent of its membership.
Curry focused his installation sermon on racial reconciliation, a cause at the center of what he calls “the Jesus movement” — a new emphasis on evangelism. Preaching in an animated style more familiar to a Baptist church, he told the story of a young black couple who visited an all-white Episcopal church in the 1940s. The woman, an Episcopalian, approached to take Communion. The man, who was studying to be a Baptist pastor, sat in the back, watching to see what would happen when it became clear in this segregated era that there was just one cup from which everyone would drink.
When the white priest offered the cup to the young black woman, the scene was so dramatic that the man shifted his affiliation and was ordained as an Episcopalian.
“The Holy Spirit has done evangelism and racial reconciliation in the Episcopal Church before, because that man and woman were the parents of the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church,” Curry said, speaking of himself.
The church broke into roars and applause.
“Yes, the way of God’s love turns our world upside down. But that’s really right-side up,” Curry preached. “And in that way, the nightmare of this world will be transfigured into the very dream of God for humanity and all creation. My brothers and sisters, God has not given up on God’s world. And God is not finished with the Episcopal Church yet.”
Racial reconciliation has become a higher priority for many predominantly white U.S. churches. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, along with the Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, in recent years have elevated it in sermons, programs on gun control and symbolic actions such as removing the Confederate flag from stained glass in the cathedral. The question for Curry and other faith leaders is how to avoid the political polarization Americans both love and hate and with which many young people associate organized Christianity.
While Curry focused on overcoming economic, racial, educational and political divisions, he is known as a progressive who was one of the first bishops to allow same-sex marriages to be performed, in North Carolina. He was involved in grass-roots demonstrations in Raleigh called Moral Monday, challenging local and state governments to address the poor and marginalized.
“Is it an understatement to say we live in a deeply complex and difficult time for our world,” Curry said. “Life is not easy. It is an understatement to say that these are not, and will not be, easy times for people of faith.
“Churches, religious communities and institutions are being profoundly challenged,” he said. “But the realistic social critique of Charles Dickens rings true for us even now: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ . . . Don’t worry! Be happy!”
The installation drew a large crowd for the cathedral, including 150 bishops who streamed in together in white-and-red clerical garb. There were at least 75 “watch parties” of Episcopalians across the country, church spokeswoman Neva Rae Fox said.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S.-based part of the global Anglican Communion, one of the largest Christian communities in the world. Its membership, about 1.8 million, was never large, but until recently was home to a disproportionate number of the United States’ business and political elite. Culturally it was considered a proper part of U.S. society, with a refined and orderly worship style. Although that is a somewhat outdated image, Curry’s installation drove home the change as clergy processed to powerful Native American drumming music and an intense rendition of the black spiritual “Wade in the Water.”
Michael Bruce Curry was elected and confirmed as the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City on June 27, 2015. He was previously elected as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina on February 11, 2000. He was consecrated on June 17, 2000, in Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 13, 1953, Bishop Curry attended public schools in Buffalo, New York, and graduated with high honors from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, in 1975. He received a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from Yale University Divinity School. He has also done continued study at the College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary, and the Institute of Christian Jewish Studies.
Bishop Curry was ordained to the diaconate in June 1978 at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, by the Rt. Rev. Harold B. Robinson and to the priesthood in December 1978, at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by the Rt. Rev. John M. Burgess.
He began his ministry as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1978 and was rector there 1979-1982. He next accepted a call to serve as the rector of St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights, Ohio, where he served 1982-1988.
In 1988 he became rector of St. James’, Baltimore, Maryland, where he served until his election as bishop.
In his three parish ministries, Bishop Curry was active in the founding of ecumenical summer day camps for children, the creation of networks of family day care providers and educational centers, and the brokering of millions of dollars of investment in inner city neighborhoods. He also sat on the Commission on Ministry in each of the three dioceses in which he has served.
During his time as Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Curry has taken the Diocese into 21st-century Galilee, the complex modern world that churches must engage in order to continue spreading the Gospel. He instituted a network of canons, deacons, and youth ministry professionals dedicated to supporting the ministry that already happens in local congregations and refocused the Diocese on The Episcopal Church’s Millennium Development Goals through a $400,000 campaign to buy malaria nets that saved over 100,000 lives. Throughout his ministry, Bishop Curry has also been active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality.
Bishop Curry serves on the boards of a large number of organizations and has a national preaching and teaching ministry. He has been featured on The Protestant Hour and North Carolina Public Radio’s The State of Things, as well as on The Huffington Post. In addition, Bishop Curry is a frequent speaker at conferences around the country. He has received honorary degrees from Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, Yale, and, most recently, Episcopal Divinity School. He served on the Taskforce for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church and recently was named chair of Episcopal Relief and Development’s Board of Directors. His book of sermons, Crazy Christians, came out in August 2013, and his second book, Songs My Grandma Sang, came out in June 2015.
He and his wife, Sharon, have two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.
Source: Washington National Cathedral website: http://www.cathedral.org/staff/PE-7CHH8-380004.shtml
Source: Wikipedia: Click here for a list of the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presiding_bishops_of_the_Episcopal_Church_in_the_United_States_of_America
The Episcopal Church’s first black leader — and its ‘tortuous’ path toward integration
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey October 15
Bishop Michael Curry vividly remembers growing up in segregated Buffalo in the 1950s and ’60s, where on one bright morning in 1963, he crossed Main Street from East Buffalo to West Buffalo to attend an integrated school.
As an Episcopal priest and civil rights activist, his late father, Kenneth Curry, helped lead the boycott of the city’s segregated public schools. And yet, like the larger culture at the time, worship in the Episcopal Church he so loved was largely segregated. As leader of a black congregation in Buffalo, he never would have been called to the pulpit of a white Episcopal church.
Five decades later, Kenneth Curry probably would never have imagined that his son would be chosen to lead the entire denomination.
On Nov. 1, Michael Curry — who was elected
this summer just one week after the shootings at a historic African
Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C. — will be installed as
the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church at Washington
National Cathedral. He will replace Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts
Schori, who was elected the church’s first female presiding bishop in
In many ways, Curry’s tenure will be a continuation of what his father taught him: In God’s eyes, all human beings are equal and deserve to be treated as such. “I grew up seeing that Jesus of Nazareth has something to do with our lives and has something to do with how we structure and order our society,” said Curry, 62.
Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina since 2000, was elected with an overwhelming majority, the third black candidate for presiding bishop in the church’s history.
“Most black Episcopalians interpret this as catching up, as something they should’ve done before,” said Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Blacks make up 6.3 percent of the church’s membership, compared with 86.6 percent for non-Hispanic white members, according to church data.
But as presiding bishop, Curry will face membership challenges that extend far beyond race. Like other mainline denominations, the Episcopal Church — the historic home to U.S. presidents and the nation’s elite — has struggled to fill its pews. It has lost more than 20 percent of its members since it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, and new statistics suggest that membership continues to fall, dropping 2.7 percent from 2013 to about 1.8 million U.S. members in 2014.
Progressive on social issues
On Tuesday, Curry and other church leaders gathered at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria to consecrate a chapel to replace the one that burned down in 2010. Curry was like a rock star to many of the seminarians, making faces for selfies.
Ian Markham, dean of the seminary, noted that the founders and faculty from the institution once owned slaves and that its new chapel has a plaque noting its past segregation in worship. “We have to recognize the sins of our past and repent of them,” he said.
Curry has a clear passion for evangelism, something he calls “the Jesus movement,” though not a formal movement within the church. He is also progressive on social issues and was one of the first bishops to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in North Carolina churches.
As bishop in North Carolina, Curry was involved in the grass-roots Moral Monday demonstrations in Raleigh, challenging local and state governments to address the poor and marginalized.
“The work of evangelism and social justice must go together, because it’s part of the whole gospel,” he said.
Observers note Curry’s desire to keep his installation service simple and his focus on people on the margins — almost like a Protestant Pope Francis who could help change the face of the church. His friends point to his boisterous preaching style as he moves around the pulpit and gestures with his arms, more Baptist than Episcopal in some ways.
The father of two adult daughters with his wife, Sharon, Curry is known for his infectious laughter and self-deprecating humor. He is an avid reader, a Buffalo Bills fan and a self-described “certified NFL grief counselor,” and a lover of music who took up the violin about seven years ago.
Curry said he was deeply shaped by his Baptist grandmother, the daughter of sharecroppers and granddaughter of slaves. While he was in middle school, she stepped in after Curry’s mother went into a coma brought on by a cerebral hemorrhage.
“My grandmother couldn’t imagine Barack Obama in the White House, and I know she couldn’t imagine her grandson as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church,” he said.
As a family, they would pray every night, and Curry jokingly said he would secretly hope that his father would pray so it would be a shorter one. “If it was the Baptist prayer, it would go on forever,” he said.
His mother, who grew up Baptist, switched to the Episcopal Church after she read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. His father, who was a licensed Baptist pastor and came from a line of Baptist preachers, followed her.
Curry remembers the denominational bantering between his father and grandmother.
“They would tease each other. She would say, ‘How do you know if someone in your church has the Holy Spirit?’ He’d say, ‘You all got too much Holy Spirit in your church.’ ”
Ending the battles
Curry’s down-to-earth style and gift for bringing people together should prove valuable as he leads a church riven by divisions in recent years over issues from gay rights to how to read Scripture. However, many of its more theologically conservative churches have left the denomination after having been involved in multimillion-dollar lawsuits over the right to church properties.
Part of Curry’s challenge will be to put those battles over social issues fully in the past, said Ryan Danker, a church historian at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.
“If he can bring some peace and healing, maybe end the lawsuits, have discussion and dialogue with various parties, I think he’ll be very successful,” Danker said.
Jefferts Schori, the outgoing presiding bishop, said Tuesday that the Episcopal Church is no longer “the establishment church” in the United States, which she considers to be a good thing.
“We’re more focused on the people of the margins,” she said. “We’re willing to go be with, rather than do for, and I think that’s healthier spiritually.”
The Rev. Sandye Wilson, rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion Episcopal Church in South Orange, N.J., and a friend of Curry’s, said he is uniquely able to address the range of Episcopal Church members.
“He is comfortable with kings and princes but doesn’t lose the common touch,” Wilson said. “He is as comfortable with people who are very wealthy and comfortable with people in prison.”
The Episcopal Church is affiliated with the larger worldwide Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian denomination, which is discussing whether it can remain unified amid divisions over sexuality and other issues. A large percentage of Anglicanism is thriving in the developing world, where more-conservative leaders have been unhappy with the Episcopal Church.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who attended Tuesday’s chapel consecration in Alexandria but declined interviews, has called Anglican leaders to a special meeting in January.
The Episcopal Church voted this summer to let gay couples marry in the church’s religious ceremonies, which Welby said “will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith resolutions.”
January’s gathering of leaders includes a review of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s future.
Some believe that Curry’s election as presiding bishop could help lead the way into that future, in which the membership of the global church will probably keep growing more diverse.
“It could change the face of the Episcopal Church, which is — at least in the eyes of many — a largely white, upper-class denomination of people in power,” said the Rev. Adam Shoemaker of Church of the Holy Comforter in Burlington, N.C. “It will be significant now that we have a nonwhite presiding bishop to represent us to the rest of the church.”
November 29, 2015 - December 24, 2015
Setting the Stage For Our Advent Journey, Even Before It Begins.
Getting in Touch with Myself One of the best ways to prepare for the very special season of Advent is to "get in touch with ourselves." It may sound odd, but one symptom of our contemporary lives is that we can often be quite "out of touch" with what is going on in our very own hearts. We are about to begin our Advent, right at the time our Western culture begins Christmas preparations. It is a busy time, and our heads are filled with details to remember. And, it is a time of emotional complexity that is part of this holiday season - with all of the expectations and challenges of family and relationships: who we want to be with and who we struggle to be with. So, our hearts are a bit tender, if not completely defended from experiencing anything deeply.
We are about to hear some very powerful and stirring readings from Isaiah, the Prophet. We will re-enter the ancient tradition of a people longing for the coming of a Savior. We may remember the days of our childhood when we longed for Christmas to come, because it was a magical time of receiving gifts. As adults, we have to ask ourselves: "What is it I long for now?" The answer won't come easily. The more we walk around with that question, and let it penetrate through the layers of distraction and self-protection, the more powerfully we will experience Advent.
Salvation From We are about to read and pray about the expectant hope of Israel, as expressed through Isaiah. The images we will be using are about darkness and gloom - about thick clouds covering the people - and about hunger and thirst. They are images that attempt to capture a sense of what we feel when we are distant from our God. There are many images about war and conflict. They express the powerlessness and anxiety we experience when we feel vulnerable and defense-less. Most of all, there are images of a future day - a day that can only be called the Lord's - when all the tears will be wiped away, when there will be plenty to eat and drink, and when there will be no more conflict and no more war. God's salvation will be made known. God's victory will be complete.
These are very precious days for us to come into intimate contact with our own need for salvation. It is a time to make friends with our tears, our darkness, our hunger and thirst. What is missing? What eludes my grasp? What name can I give to the "restlessness" in my heart? What is the emptiness I keep trying to "feed" with food, with fantasy, with excitement, with busyness? What is the conflict that is "eating at me"? What is the sinful, unloving, self-centered pattern for which I haven't asked for forgiveness and healing? Where do I need a peace that the world cannot give?
Coming to know where
I need a Savior is how I can prepare for Advent I am preparing
to listen to the promises, listen to these rich texts announcing the
liberation I can truly long for. When my heart is open, when
my hands are open, when my mouth is open and ready to ask for freedom,
healing and peace, then I am ready to begin Advent.
Lord, Jesus. Come and Visit Your People.
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; the abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus. A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.Isaiah 35 from: New American Bible
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017
Preparing Children for AdventPreparing Ourselves First
The first, and most important thing we can do to prepare our children for Advent is to prepare ourselves first. After all, if we are impatient and crabby - pressured by all the busyness of this season - we won't be very good at teaching our children anything about quiet, expectant waiting. If they never hear us talk about what we long for from the Lord, how will they learn about this kind of longing? And, if they hear "the coming of Jesus" talked about at church, and perhaps at school, but never hear us talk about the meaning of the coming of Jesus for us, what kind of message will we be giving them?
Of course, our children will be watching us and listening to us - what we say and do, and what we fail to say and do. So, the first thing we can give our children is our own commitment to enter Advent as deeply as we can. We want to clear our own spirits so that we can be present to theirs. The graces we receive can be the graces we share with them.
with Our Children
We don't have to criticize everything in our contemporary culture's preparation for and celebration of Christmas. But, what we tell them about Advent, will help temper the materialism and consumerism involved in the marketing of Christmas to children.
Now the way the people made someone a king was to pour a bit of oil on their head. The one who was "anointed" this way with oil became the king. Well, the prophets began to tell the people that God would send them "an anointed one" (the word they use to say "anointed one" in Hebrew is "Messiah.") In fact, they said that this Messiah would be called "Emmanuel", which in Hebrew means, "God is with us."
So, the message of the prophets was about a promise - that God would save his people from all that they were suffering. The prophets use such wonderful images to tell the people that they could expect and hope for a day when "every tear would be wiped away." It would be a day of great peace - "the lion would lie down with the lamb" and the people will beat their spears into hooks to prune trees with. And, the most unbelievable promise of all: "death will be no more."
We all know now that what God was preparing his people for was the coming of Jesus, the Christ (Christos in Greek means "the anointed one.")
Then, of course, we can tell them about Zachary and Elizabeth and about Joseph and Mary. We can tell them the story from Luke's gospel first. What is so surprising about the story is that he comes, not like a king, but in great simplicity and poverty. Our God is truly with us, as a little baby. He knows what is like to be a child - everything.
We can tell this story to our children in so many ways. We can let them tell us what it means to them. Through all this conversation, the message will come through. During these weeks of Advent, we want to look forward to celebrating his coming to live our life and to set us free - free from our sins and free from death itself.
We want to open up Advent for them, so that they can get ready for - look forward to - Christmas in a different way. We want to introduce them to faith-filled meanings for light/darkness, hunger/thirsts, and all the other images of Isaiah. We want them to really know the meaning of "the Christmas story."
We can involve children in preparing food for others. If there is a pre-Christmas party with friends or family, or even a "pot-luck" event we have to go to, we can involve the children in preparing something for the party. And, for Christmas dinner itself, we can tutor the children in making food for others to be happy and full and grateful. We can show them recipes they can make, and let them "in" on the big plans for the whole thing.
We can make plans to visit someone who is homebound or in a nursing home at this time. We can prepare our children for how to go there, how to be there, how to be grateful for the experience.
We can take an Advent or Christmas song, and copy it for our family reading - perhaps a prayer to be read, over and over. We can talk about what the words mean.
With older children, we might find a time to prepare food for a meal program for the homeless or go there to help serve and meet the families there. We may even be able to get them to tell the younger children about the experience, and why it fits so well with preparing for Christmas.
And, as we make these special family traditions during Advent, we will come up with others, that fit our family well.
“Taken from Praying Advent, on Creighton University's Online Ministries web site:
Used with permission.”
How is money a spiritual issue for you?
Who helped you think differently about money and faith?
How does giving reflect your values?
What do you value about your faith community?
What are the challenges, choices and outcomes of intentional and proportional giving?
How is giving a practice of transformation, or an offering of thanksgiving?
How has intentional and proportional giving strengthened your relationship with Christ?
"Traces of the Trade" program encourages conversations, listening, and action
See a full report and pictures at this link:
Clergy and laypeople from around the diocese filled historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston on Tuesday for the first diocesan “Traces of the Trade” event and an opportunity to bring open minds and hearts to conversations about the legacy of slavery and racism.
Participants at Tuesday's session said they were glad they took part in the conversations, and encouraged others to attend the remaining programs being offered this week in Hilton Head Island, Conway, and North Charleston.
“This event sheds light, so that others can light their candles by it,” said Joe Frazier, Senior Warden of Calvary. “It’s a worthwhile opportunity for people to come and participate.”
Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook, a retired educator and lecturer who attended the session, said events like “Traces” were a way of beginning to address the need for better education. “So much of the problem of communication between the races is due to a lack of knowledge,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to learn how each group is feeling – to lessen the gap.”
Bishop Charles vonRosenberg opened the gathering by recalling his first experience with Dain and Constance Perry, the couple who are visiting Charleston to facilitate the programs. The Bishop had invited the Perrys to East Tennessee several years ago, when he was bishop there. “That began a process that is ongoing, and we hope the same will be true here.”
Tuesday’s program consisted of a screening of the Emmy-nominated documentary “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” followed by a time for people to share their own stories. Introducing the film, Dain Perry spoke of growing up in Charleston. He attended Porter-Gaud School. His father was rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Charleston for 13 years; and his grandfather was James DeWolf Perry III, the 18th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, who died in Summerville in 1947.
The DeWolf family was the pre-eminent slave trading family in United States history, playing a role in bringing more than 10,000 enslaved people from Africa to the Americas. Mrs. Perry, meanwhile, introduced herself as a descendant of slaves from North Carolina and Virginia – states in which Dain Perry’s maternal ancestors once were slaveholders.
Mr. Perry told the audience that on June 16, the couple had just confirmed their plans to come to Charleston to facilitate the “Traces” program. The following day, June 17, the Emanuel AME shootings occurred.
“We were struck down to the depths of our hearts,” he said. Under the circumstances, he said they almost expected a call from the diocese asking to postpone the “Traces” program. But Bishop vonRosenberg’s response was different, Mr. Perry said: that the events at Emanuel made this kind of conversation more important and necessary than ever. “We were just awed by that,” he said.
Reflecting on the reaction to the tragedy by the people of Mother Emanuel and the people of Charleston, he said, “I haven’t ever been more proud of Charleston. You all did a remarkable job, and you’re continuing to do a remarkable job. You are bringing the gospel right to where the gospel needs to work the hardest.”
Events like the four “Traces” programs being offered by the diocese are not about blame or guilt, he said. “It’s about getting a better understanding of how we’ve gotten so terribly stuck where we are today, so we can begin healing.”
The film traced the journey of 10 of the DeWolf family descendants, including Dain Perry, as they uncovered the family’s historic involvement with the slave trade that bought and sold human beings, sugar, rum and ships in a triangular route from Rhode Island to Ghana in West Africa, to Cuba, and back to New England.
After watching the documentary, people gave one-word descriptions of their feelings. Some of the words they used were: understanding and respect, sadness, shame, guilt and sorrow; hopefulness and gratitude; desire for action; impatience for change and healing; despair and hope, disappointment, and urgency. They elaborated on these words by sharing some of their personal stories and experiences with racism.
Conversations like these are “a very holy time, a time of handing over these feelings to God,” Constance Perry said. And they are not times for debate, but a time to speak and listen with open hearts.
A devotion to the Passion of Christ which recalls a series of events at the end of Jesus' life from his condemnation to his burial. The Way of the Cross imitates the practice of visiting the places of Jesus' Passion in the Holy Land by early Christian pilgrims. The first stations outside Palestine were built in Bologna in the fifth century. This devotion was encouraged by the Franciscans, and it became common in the fifteenth century. The number of stations for prayer and meditation in the Way of the Cross has varied, but it typically includes fourteen stations. Each station may have a cross and an artistic representation of the scene. The stations may be erected inside a church or outdoors. The BOS includes the following stations in the Way of the Cross: 1) Jesus is condemned to death; 2) Jesus takes up his cross; 3) Jesus falls the first time; 4) Jesus meets his afflicted mother; 5) the cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene; 6) a woman wipes the face of Jesus; 7) Jesus falls a second time; 8) Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem; 9) Jesus falls a third time; 10) Jesus is stripped of his garments; 11) Jesus is nailed to the cross; 12) Jesus dies on the cross; 13) the body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother; 14) Jesus is laid in the tomb. The BOS notes that eight of the stations are based on events that are recorded in the gospels. The remaining six (stations 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13) are based on inferences from the gospels or pious legends. The BOS allows these six stations to be omitted from the Way of the Cross. The BOS provides opening devotions and the Lord's Prayer. There is a versicle and response, a reading, a prayer, and a collect for each of the fourteen stations. Concluding prayers before the altar follow the fourteenth station in the BOS service. The hymn Stabat Mater has been associated with the Way of the Cross. Verses of this hymn traditionally have been sung between each of the stations when the devotion is done by a congregation. The Stabat Mater appears as "At the cross her vigil keeping," Hymn 159 in The Hymnal 1982. The BOS suggests that verses of this hymn be sung as the ministers enter for the Way of the Cross and as they approach the first station. The BOS also suggests that the Trisagion be chanted as the procession goes from station to station. The Way of the Cross is a popular devotion that is often done on Fridays during Lent. However, it should not displace the Proper Liturgy for Good Friday. Some have questioned its disassociation of Jesus' death from his resurrection.
Why do the Stations?
The most important reason for reviving the practice of making the Stations of the Cross is that it is a powerful way to contemplate, and enter into, the mystery of Jesus' gift of himself to us. It takes the reflection on the passion out of my head, and makes it an imaginative exercise. It involves my senses, my experience and my emotions. To the extent I come to experience the love of Jesus for me, to that extent the gratitude I feel will be deep. Deep gratitude leads to real generosity and a desire to love as I have been loved. First, just a note about the history of the stations:
From the earliest of days, followers of Jesus told the story of his passion, death and resurrection. When pilgrims came to see Jerusalem, they were anxious to see the sites where Jesus was. These sites become important holy connections with Jesus. Eventually, following in the footsteps of the Lord, along the way of the cross, became a part of the pilgrimage visit. The stations, as we know them today, came about when it was no longer easy or even possible to visit the holy sites. In the 1500's, villages all over Europe started creating "replicas" of the way of the cross, with small shrines commemorating the places along the route in Jerusalem. Eventually, these shrines became the set of 14 stations we now know and were placed in almost every Catholic Church in the world.
How to do the Stations?
Making the stations is easy. And, we tried to make this online experience of them an easy adaptation of what one would do, if doing them in a church before real stations.
The first point to note is that this is prayer. It isn't an intellectual exercise. It is in the context of my relationship with God. I could read through the text of each of the stations, and look at the pictures, but that wouldn't necessarily be prayer. This is an invitation to enter into a gifted faith experience of who Jesus is for me. It becomes prayer when I open my heart to be touched, and it leads me to express my response in prayer.How to:
Just go from one station to another. When "arriving" at a station, begin by looking carefully at the image itself. Click on the image there to enlarge the photo. See who is in the scene. Look at how they are arranged and what the artist who created this image is trying to tell us about the drama there.When to do them:
The beauty of the online version is that I can do the stations whenever I like. The only guide we'd offer is to not rush through them. Just reading through them is not making them, any more than walking around a church to look at them is making them. It could be a wonderful prayer experience to do them as only one or two stations a day for one or two weeks. It can also be powerful to do all 14, very prayerfully, over the course of 40 minutes to an hour, in a single evening, or to do seven one night and seven the following night. Finally, it can be wonderful to return to the experience several weeks or months later, and discover that because of some struggle or difficulty I am experiencing, the stations become a different experience and a fresh experience of consolation.
The First Station: Jesus is condemned to die.
Jesus stands in the most human of places. He has already experienced profound solidarity with so many on this earth, by being beaten and tortured. Now he is wrongfully condemned to punishment by death. His commitment to entering our lives completely begins its final steps. He has said "yes" to God and placed his life in God's hands. We follow him in this final surrender, and contemplate with reverence each place along the way, as he is broken and given for us.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
As I view the scene,
I become moved by both outrage and gratitude.
This is for me.
That I might be free. That I might have eternal life.
The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross.
Jesus is made to carry the cross on which he will die. It represents the weight of all our crosses. What he must have felt as he first took it upon his shoulders! With each step he enters more deeply into our human experience. He walks in the path of human misery and suffering, and experiences its crushing weight.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I contemplate the wood
of that cross. I imagine how heavy it is. I reflect upon all
it means that Jesus is carrying it.
This is for me. So I place myself with him in this journey. In its anguish. In his freedom and surrender. In the love that must fill his heart.
With sorrow and gratitude,
I continue the journey. Moved by the power of his love, I am drawn
to him and express my love in the words that come to me.
The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time.
The weight is unbearable. Jesus falls under it. How could he enter our lives completely without surrendering to the crushing weight of the life of so many on this earth! He lays on the ground and knows the experience of weakness beneath unfair burdens. He feels the powerlessness of wondering if he will ever be able to continue. He is pulled up and made to continue.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I stare at the weakness
in his eyes. I can look at his whole body and see the exhaustion.
This is for me.
In grief and gratitude I want to let him remain there. As I watch
him stand again and gain an inner strength, I accept his love and express
The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother.
Jesus' path takes him to a powerful source of his strength to continue. All his life, his mother had taught him the meaning of the words, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord." Now they look into each other's eyes. How pierced-through her heart must be! How pained he must be to see her tears! Now, her grace-filled smile blesses his mission and stirs his heart to its depth. Love and trust in God bind them together.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
As I watch them in
this place along the way, I contemplate the mystery of love's power to
This is for me.
Such incredible freedom. The availability of a servant. I find
the words to express what is in my heart.
The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross.
Jesus even experiences our struggle to receive help. He is made to experience the poverty of not being able to carry his burden alone. He enters into the experience of all who must depend upon others to survive. He is deprived of the satisfaction of carrying this burden on his own.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I look into his face
and contemplate his struggle. His weariness and fragility.
This is for me. So I feel anguish and gratitude. I express my thanks that he can continue this journey. That he has help. That he knows my inability to carry my burden alone.
I say what is in my
heart, with deep feeling.
The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus.
Jesus' journey is at times brutal. He has entered into the terrible experiences of rejection and injustice. He has been whipped and beaten. His face shows the signs of his solidarity with all who have ever suffered injustice and vile, abusive treatment. He encounters a compassionate, loving disciple who wipes the vulgar spit and mocking blood from his face. On her veil, she discovers the image of his face - his gift to her. And, for us to contemplate forever.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
What does the face
of Jesus hold for me? What do I see, as I look deeply into his face?
The veil I behold is
a true icon of his gift of himself. This is for me. In wonder and
awe, I behold his face now wiped clean, and see the depth of his suffering
in solidarity with all flesh.
The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time.
Even with help, Jesus stumbles and falls to the ground. In deep exhaustion he stares at the earth beneath him. "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return." He has seen death before. Now he can feel the profound weakness of disability and disease and aging itself, there on his knees, under the weight of his cross.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I contemplate Jesus
brought very low. As I behold him there on the ground, with all the
agony taking its toll on him, I let my heart go out to him.
This is for me, so
I express the feelings in my heart.
The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem.
The women of Jerusalem, and their children, come out to comfort and thank him. They had seen his compassion and welcomed his words of healing and freedom. He had broken all kinds of social and religious conventions to connect with them. Now they are here to support him. He feels their grief. He suffers, knowing he can't remain to help them more in this life. He knows the mystery of facing the separation of death.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I look at their faces.
So full of love and gratitude, loss and fear. I contemplate what
words might have passed between them.
This is for me.
So, I let this scene stir up deep gratitude.
The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time.
This last fall is devastating. Jesus can barely proceed to the end. Summoning all this remaining strength, supported by his inner trust in God, Jesus collapses under the weight of the cross. His executioners look at him as a broken man, pathetic yet paying a price he deserves. They help him up so he can make it up the hill of crucifixion.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I pause to contemplate
him there on the ground. The brokeness that makes me whole. The surrender
that gives me life.
As I treasure this
gifted experience, I express what is in my heart.
The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped.
Part of the indignity is to be crucified naked. Jesus is completely stripped of any pride The wounds on his back are torn open again. He experiences the ultimate vulnerability of the defenseless. No shield or security protects him. As they stare at him, his eyes turn to heaven.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I pause to watch the
stripping. I contemplate all that is taken from him. And, how
he faces his death with such nakedness.
As I look at him in
his humility, I know that this is for me, and I share my feelings of gratitude.
The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross.
Huge nails are hammered through his hands and feet to fix him on the cross. He is bleeding much more seriously now. As the cross is lifted up, the weight of his life hangs on those nails. Every time he struggles to pull himself up to breathe, his ability to cling to life slips away.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I make myself watch
the nails being driven through his flesh. And I watch his face.
This is for me.
Nailed to a cross to forever proclaim liberty to captives. What sorrow
and gratitude fill my heart!
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies On The Cross.
Between two criminals, a mocking title above his head, with only Mary and John and Mary Magdalene to support him, Jesus surrenders his last breath: "Into your hands I commend my spirit."
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I stand there, at the
foot of the cross, side by side with all of humanity, and behold our salvation.
This is the hour to
express the deepest feelings within me.
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross.
What tender mourning! Jesus' lifeless body lays in his mother's arms. He has truly died. A profound sacrifice, complete.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I behold this scene
at the foot of the cross. I contemplate touching, caressing his body.
I remember all his hands have touched, all who have been blessed by his
For me. That I might love as I have been loved. I pour out my heart to the God of all mercies.
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb.
They take the body of Jesus to its resting place. The huge stone over the tomb is the final sign of the permanence of death. In this final act of surrender, who would have imagined this tomb would soon be empty or that Jesus would show himself alive to his disciples, or that they would recognize him in the breaking of bread? Oh, that our hearts might burn within us, as we realize how he had to suffer and die so as to enter into his glory, for us.
you, O Christ, and we bless you.
I pause to contemplate this act of closure on his life. In solidarity with all humanity, his body is taken to its grave.
I stand for a moment outside this tomb. This final journey of his life has shown me the meaning of his gift of himself for me. This tomb represents every tomb I stand before with fear, in defeat, struggling to believe it could ever be empty.In the fullness of faith in the Risen One, given by his own Holy Spirit, I express my gratitude for this way of the cross. I ask Jesus, whose hands, feet and side still bear the signs of this journey, to grant me the graces I need to take up my cross to be a servant of his own mission.
Modern liturgists have emphasized that devotion to the Passion is incomplete without reference to the Resurrection and have thus fostered the addition of a "fifteenth station," the Resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus, your friends were devastated in their loss. Their darkness couldn't have been any deeper. As we find ourselves in Winter, it can seem like life has given out on us. Yet we know that it is impossible to snuff out the life God has given. Even when all seems lost, your Resurrection gives us new hope!
As a child, sometimes I feel sad. I can think of those who have died and how much I miss them. I can worry about many things.
As an adult, I can despair when I think of family members and friends who have died. I can forget that you died and rose again in order to save them and prepare a place for them.
Help me remember that, through Baptism, I have become a child of God. I am united with Christ, with those who live around me, and with those who have died as well. Jesus suffered all the difficulties I must face, so I know you understand my challenges and walk with me as I face them. I know I must face certain difficulties. Even though I don't like them, help me feel your presence with me.
LET US PRAY
God, you so loved the world that you gave your only son, who died and rose for all of us. Help me be thankful for the eternal life promised me. Help me approach you often for the forgiveness I need, the forgiveness Jesus won for me through his passion, death and resurrection. Help me use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to face all the challenges that confront me. I know that sin, suffering and death have been overcome by the resurrection of your son. Help me share in the joy of all who have been redeemed, that I may be renewed, made more perfect, and cry out with joy with all your people
Source: Pictures are from http://ourladyswarriors.org/prayer/stations.htm