Response - Secular Franciscan Order in Western Canada
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A Lenten Reflection
From Gospel to life and life to Gospel From prayer to action by Andrew Conradi, ofs
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis St Francis Fraternity
A Lenten Reflection Via sacra - Sacred Way Via crucis - Way of the Cross Via dolorosa - Way of Sorrows
Stations of the Cross
This presentation is about the History & evolution of the Way of the Cross. It shows the relationship between the OFS Rule, The Tradition of Franciscan Prayer, Lectio divina, the Divine Office & A Scriptural Reflective Way of the Cross in solidarity with the minores
What do you know about the Way of the Cross? What is it? Why, when and where did it start? Who started it? How many stations? How does it fit into the Franciscan Tradition of prayer? How and why has it evolved?
What, why, when & where? It is a prayerful devotion commemorating and reflecting on the Passion of the final hours of Jesus and its artistic depiction in pictures, sculpture or drama and song, whether in church, on stage or outdoors. If we cannot go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem we can bring Jerusalem to us. Early Christians started it in Jerusalem.
• In Jerusalem the early Christians and pilgrims would follow in the actual path of Christ’s Passion and stop to reflect and pray along the way at particular places. • The first Way of the Cross outside Jerusalem was set up in Italy in the monastery of Santo Stefano in Bologna in the 5th century. • The Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa is part of the traditional Easter customs in Jerusalem. • The route was formalised by the Franciscans in the 14th century.
Stations of the Cross The Way of the Cross is also called the Stations of the Cross, and was first called that by William Wey, an English pilgrim who visited the Holy Land in 1450 and 1462. Perhaps we should call him “Wey of the Cross”!
As chapel or church devotion, the tradition really gained momentum with St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) who also started the tradition of the Nativity crèche. He was an innovator and used his imagination! The Franciscans took over custody of the shrines in the Holy Land in 1342, and they saw it as part of their mission to encourage devotion to the events and places of the via crucis.
During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate the locations and commemorate events in the Holy Land. The number of stations varied between seven and thirty; seven was common. In 2012 Franciscans International published a scriptural reflection entitled “The Seven Last Words of Jesus.”
SOME DATES In 1686 Pope Innocent XI granted Franciscans the right to erect stations in all their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan priest erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. The number of stations was fixed at fourteen.
The chief promoter of this devotion was Leonard of Port Maurice, ofm (+ 1751) who set up 572 sets of stations in Italy. Most famous was the one in the Coliseum, Rome. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.
Although the number of stations was fixed at fourteen in 1731, modern liturgists have emphasized that devotion to the Passion is incomplete without the Resurrection and have thus fostered the addition of a fifteenth station “the Resurrection of Jesus.”
Recent evolution of the form Bl John Paul II introduced a new form of this prayer, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that form thereafter in the Colosseum in Rome. It could be said that this form is actually more in keeping with the OFS Rule which “adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times.” (n. 3) and which also tells us to go “from gospel to life and life to gospel” (n. 4)* N.B. We are on our third rule
A digression - does this evolution of the Way of the Cross remind you of the Rosary? The traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary were standardized, based on long-standing custom, by Pope St Pius V in the 16th century. The mysteries were grouped into three sets: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. In 2002 Bl John Paul II announced a new set of five mysteries - the Luminous Mysteries or Mysteries of Light. There are scriptural forms of the Rosary also.
Different sets of Stations Comparison of Bl John Paul II’s 1991 set and Benedict XVI’s 2007 set
The Traditional Stations of Francis followed by Bl John Paul II, 1991 1. Jesus is condemned to death (5) 2. Jesus is given his cross (7) 3. Jesus falls the first time 4. Jesus meets His Mother 5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross (8) 6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus 7. Jesus falls the second time 8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem (9) 9. Jesus falls the third time 10. Jesus is stripped of His garments 11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross (10) 12. Jesus dies on the cross (13) 13. Jesus’ body is removed from the cross 14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense (14)
Traditional form of Benedict XVI, 2007 1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, 2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested, 3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin, 4. Jesus is denied by Peter, 5. Jesus is judged by Pilate, (1) 6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns, 7. Jesus takes up his cross, (2) 8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross, (5) 9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, (8) 10. Jesus is crucified, (11) 11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the good thief, 12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other, 13. Jesus dies on the cross, (12) 14. Jesus is laid in the tomb. (14) *
Continuing evolution of the Papal Form: It is not rigid and can and will be changed Each year a different person is invited to write the meditation texts for the Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum in Rome. Past composers of the Papal Stations include several non-Catholics. Now let’s relate lectio divina with the Franciscan tradition of prayer
Benedict XVI - Verbum Domini The stages of lectio divina or reading a biblical passage Lectio (read) : 'what does the text mean'? Meditatio (meditation): 'what does the biblical text say to us'? Oratio (prayer): 'what do we say to the Lord in response to his word'? Contemplatio (contemplation): 'what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us'? Actio (action): Putting it into practice.
Lectio divina - the Franciscan Tradition • In 1548 a Franciscan Friar, St Peter of Alcántara, published a water-shed book in the area of lectio divina called "Treatise on Prayer and Meditation". It became popularly known as the "Golden Book or Booklet” or “Golden Treatise” and was an early attempt to propose a scheme for lectio divina. • After this book was published, many saints – e.g. St Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St Alphonse Ligouri, wrote their own schemes for lectio divina. Thanks to Bro Gerry Clyne, OFM for bringing The Golden Booklet to my attention
Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office Let us look at the scheme proposed in the Golden Booklet and ask ourselves: is it not also a good way to approach not just lectio divina as a stand alone practice but also the biblical readings in the Divine Office as well as the readings in a Scriptural Way of the Cross?
If so then it can be said that meditation in the Stations and meditation in lectio divina and going from gospel to life are a wonderful fit with Franciscan tradition and the OFS Rule.
Structure of Lectio divina in The Golden Book
1. Preparation of self for prayer 2. Reading 3. Reflection - Form a mental picture of what is read - if the passage lends itself. Use your imagination - but don't get too caught up in detail that might distract. Draw out a lesson for your life. Create a resolution based on the lesson* 4. Thanksgiving 5. Offering - Offer self to God* 6. Petitions * (an action as Benedict XVI might say?)
Benedict XVI: "The process of 'lectio divina' is not concluded until it arrives at action ('actio'), which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity.” And we Franciscans can say this is similar to Clare’s final stage in her path to prayer.
Franciscan Prayer As Sr Ilia Delio, osf, reminds us about Clare’s path of prayer in Franciscan Prayer :
gaze, consider, meditate, imitate we are called to engage in society by imitating Christ through action after reflection or meditation on the reality we see around us. This requires us to become aware of what is happening around us (signs of the times) and to pray about it.
Ilia Delio, osf “To know God is to know the world as it truly is in the depth of reality.” (p15) “As Francis deepened his life in prayer, his understanding of himself and the world around him began to change. The grace of God turned him in a new direction, ….” (p31)* Compassion – Living in the Spirit of St Francis, St Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, 2011 *In scriptural prayer with reflection on present day JPIC situations this can also happen to us
Through JPIC action stemming from prayerful meditation we can unite and bring to fruition all the following seven articles from the OFS Rule by the process of “See, judge, act” through Lectio divina and following Clare’s path to prayer leading us to imitate Christ
– SEE - going “from gospel to life and life to gospel” (n. 4) – JUDGE - “so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do” (n. 8) – JUDGE - “Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly” (n. 19) – ACT - “we give birth to Him through a holy life” (or activity/work?) (Prologue: Exhortation of St Francis) – ACT - “strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ” (n. 13) – ACT - “be in the forefront in promoting justice” (n. 15) – ACT - “respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which bear the imprint of the Most High” (n. 18)
How can we integrate all this through prayer? One way is to pray a scriptural Way of the Cross. How many of you have prayed a scriptural Stations of the Cross in solidarity with the minores and peace and creation so dear to Franciscans’ hearts? Franciscans International published a scriptural Way of the Cross a couple of years ago. The Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada has one also and so do other congregations. . Let us pray one today!
In the Solidarity Way of the Cross that we are about to pray, the story of the passion of Jesus is placed in a contemporary context and “adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times.”( OFS Rule n. 3) so as to go “from gospel to life and life to the gospel” today (OFS Rule n. 4). It’s a powerful critique of social sins and structural injustice in our own times – sins that mirror those of the powers responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. We, who would be disciples, are called to apply the message of the sacred story in our own lives, times and places (OFS Rule nn. 13, 15, 18, 19).
We are eyewitness to the destruction of our Earth. We have stood by as natural resources have been exploited and wasted. Because our planet and all creation are gifts from God, we must care for them and see the beauty of God through them. As Franciscans we have a kinship with creation as Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures” and Bonaventure’s concepts of the “Book of Creation” and “contuition” and Clare’s path to prayer attest.
“Cry of the Earth, cry of the Poor” Eco-justice links sustainable care of creation with justice and peace. We can sign a Development and Peace declaration of solidarity with farmers in the global south. Following are two slides that can help us understand
Ecological Justice: The integration of sustainable stewardship of the earth with the struggle for justice for the poor In other words: to practice ecological justice is to listen to the “cry of the earth and cry of the poor” and then act accordingly
D&P affirmation and solidarity message
We affirm our responsibility to future generations to seek genuine solutions to the problem of climate change that are viable, truly sustainable and do not sacrifice the poorest people on the planet. By signing this card, you are expressing your solidarity with small-scale farmers who urgently request the promotion of agricultural models that will enable them to feed their communities, participate in the fight against climate change, and improve their living conditions.
The following Solidarity Way of the Cross is an adaptation by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace of one by the Maryknoll Sisters and follows the stations first chosen by St Francis of Assisi with the addition of the Resurrection. The scriptural passages and reflections follow the theme of the “Cry of the earth, cry of the poor are one.”
From the OFM, a reminder why we pray a Scriptural & Reflective Way of the Cross : “The journey undertaken by Jesus during his Passion can inspire communities to discern connections between world events and what Jesus suffered with so much patience and dignity.” Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada
How? by going from gospel to life by reflecting on actual situations of injustice by listening to the cry of the poor & cry of the earth by prayer and engaging in concrete actions in solidarity with the poor and creation
But first another relationship: with the Eucharist From Yvonne Bergeron 49th Eucharistic Congress, Québec 2008
THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS • Jesus said: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” • Remembrance of what?
Jesus’ entire life was marked by: • Profound solidarity with the marginalised • Denunciation of the unjust social, economic, political and religious conditions • Refusal to accept injustice that created divisions in society • Human relationships based on love, liberty and dignity • Preaching of authentic worship • Willingness to confront the powerful
Two paths for meeting Jesus •Sharing with the poor (reality and oriented toward practice) •The Eucharist (real and directed toward an expression of faith) •These two Paths are inseparable (I would add like Contemplation and Action) Try to remember when we receive the Body of Christ : “Behold what you are, Become what you receive.” (St Augustine)
Remembering Jesus of Nazareth leads us to imagine the future differently The Eucharist confirms the invitation to commit ourselves to the continuous movement to reorganize society so that it more closely resembles the Kingdom.
First Station Jesus is condemned to death Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Second Station Jesus carries His cross Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Third Station Jesus falls the first time Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Fourth Station Jesus meets his mother Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Fifth Station Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Sixth Station Veronica wipes the face of Jesus Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Seventh Station Jesus falls the second time Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Eight Station Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Ninth Station Jesus falls a third time Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Tenth Station Jesus’ clothes are taken away Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Eleventh Station Jesus is nailed to the cross Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Twelfth Station Jesus dies on the cross Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Thirteenth Station The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Fourteenth Station Jesus is laid in the tomb Response: We long for justice that protects the whole Earth community. We believe that another world is possible.
Fifteenth Station The Resurrection of Christ Raphael, 1502 Response: Loving God who provides for all people at all times, we are frightened by the signs of ecological crisis, encouraged by signs of hope, and compelled by the urgency of both. Thus, we commit ourselves to the works of repentance – to reparation, redress, revaluing. We commit ourselves to an ongoing journey – a living faith, a sign of freedom, a mark of discipleship. In the spirit of community, mindful of truth ever exceeding knowledge, we covenant to live in a manner explicitly informed by the Gospel we proclaim. Amen.
Share Lent Next Sunday is Solidarity Sunday when the SHARE LENT collection is taken for Development and Peace. • Please be generous and consider also Share YearRound – monthly giving • Development and Peace’s monthly giving program allows you, for only a few cents a day, to make a real difference in the struggle our partners face in the Global South. • By becoming a Share Year-Round member, you help the most marginalized people of the world take control of their lives and build a better future. • At Development and Peace, every donation is important and it goes directly towards helping to achieve justice and peace in the world.
Pax et bonum - Thank you - Merci