Tag Archives: prayer

[Full text] Fr. Thomas Euteneuer statement regarding departure from Human Life International

For the past week I’ve been observing internet speculation and calumnies directed at Fr. Thomas Euteneuer over his mysterious departure from Human Life International. Below is Fr. Euteneuer’s personal statement entitled:

Statement of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer: setting the record straight

From LifeSiteNews

Note from Editor: When asked if Fr. Thomas Euteneuer had permission to release a statement, the diocese of Palm Beach informed LifeSiteNews that the diocese was aware that Fr. Euteneuer may release publicly a statement regarding the circumstances of his departure from ministry. Bishop Gerald Barbarito believes it best given the present circumstances that Fr. Tom Euteneuer should himself disclose the details of his case. The bishop said he is very happy to hear that Fr. Euteneuer is expressing contrition in this statement.

The following is the complete text of Fr. Euteneuer’s statement. The above title was provided with the statement:

January 31, 2011

It is with great sadness, but also with a certain measure of relief, that I can now respond to the many inquiries about my departure as president of Human Life International (HLI) at the end of August 2010. It has been painful for me to remain silent in light of the ongoing speculation, particularly when much of it assigned blame to those who were, in fact, blameless.  I am thankful to be able to set the record straight so that speculation can stop and blame can be placed right where it belongs – with me.

The circumstances that led to my departure from HLI were related exclusively to my own decisions and conduct within the ministry of exorcism that I carried out independently from my responsibilities at HLI. The vast majority of my decisions and conduct, both personally and in this ministry, were morally sound and consistent with all standards of pastoral care of persons.  Moreover, they were all motivated exclusively by my desire to give priestly assistance to people in great spiritual distress. I must acknowledge, however, that one particularly complex situation clouded my judgment and led me to imprudent decisions with harmful consequences, the worst of which was violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.

I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it. I offer no excuse for my professional or moral failures, nor do I shift the blame to anyone else. I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions.  I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed.  I am saddened beyond words for my fall, not only because of the harm done to my priesthood and my family, but also because of the harm done to all others who are affected, to the faith of those who placed so much trust in me and our Church, and to the pro-life movement so populated with heroic, faithful people. I must face and make amends for the disappointment I have caused.  I have, of course, asked for God’s forgiveness and I have confidence in his boundless mercy.  I am now grateful to be able to publicly ask for all of yours as well.

As to my departure from HLI, Church officials are completely without blame, having dealt in a timely and appropriate manner with a crisis that was not of their making.  I offer this statement as a matter of justice to vindicate Church officials who have been unjustly criticized by those writing and speaking in ignorance of the facts.

While I would much prefer to allow this public act of contrition to stand alone, I regret having to address the malicious falsehoods that were published this past week on various internet sites. I can only say that I am shocked to the depths of my being at the malicious efforts by supposedly faithful Catholics to destroy a priest who has served the Church faithfully for 22 years. The campaigners have made intolerable attempts to contact my family, to defame innocent co-workers and even to solicit and to persuade others with whom I have prayed that they are victims despite their unequivocal statements to the contrary.  Some have even claimed falsely and maliciously that there is a possessed person living in my family’s home. No one should have to endure such malevolence or such treatment of innocent family members.  Despite the rhetoric of justice and truth-seeking, the sinful campaign has not made one single positive contribution to the resolution of this difficult situation that has already been handled appropriately by Church authorities for nearly six months.

While I would otherwise willingly suffer calumnies in silence to atone for my sins, and knowing how pointless it is to respond to every crackpot with a website, I cannot remain silent when such falsehoods threaten to damage the Church, the priesthood, and other innocent persons and organizations that are or have been linked to me.  I therefore affirm and will never deviate from my affirmation that the following are true:

  • My violations of chastity were limited to one person only, an adult woman;
  • The violations of chastity happened due to human weakness but did not involve the sexual act;
  • The accusation that I “targeted” vulnerable women or otherwise sought them out for spiritual direction is utterly false and a serious defamation of my character and ministry;
  • With rare exceptions, my exorcism/prayer ministry was always conducted with prayer helpers (third parties) present; situations where prayer or pastoral care occurred without helpers present were exceptional situations where I believed it was necessary for me to act quickly in order to help the afflicted person; while not proper protocol, these departures from the norm were never done with a motive to be alone with vulnerable women;
  • I repudiate any allegations of financial impropriety in conducting my prayer/exorcism ministry; I never, under any circumstances, solicited money for the ministry other than travel-related reimbursements, nor did I use HLI donor funds to carry out this work; any gifts offered to me were unsolicited and only accepted so as not to offend the giver and in most cases immediately given to those more needy than myself;
  • I have no knowledge of any persons who received any financial settlement in this matter, nor have I asked for that to be given.

I pray that my two decades of faithful priestly ministry and my efforts in the defense of life will be seen in the light of the good fruits they have produced and not denigrated because of my moments of weakness in a most challenging ministry. I also wish to state that I have never entertained even the slightest thought of leaving the holy priesthood or the Roman Catholic Church as a result of my failings. Currently I am under obedience to my bishop who has allowed me to make this statement and in whose hands I leave all questions of continuing priestly ministry. I conclude with an expression of deepest gratitude for the prayers of the many generous supporters of my priesthood and of the prolife movement.

A voice crying out in the desert– Lent: Season of Penance, Season of Hope By Fr. John Corapi

 

An excerpt from Father Corapi‘s book, Letters.

Another Lenten season will be upon us soon. Although Lent is a season of penance; it is a season of hope more than anything. For as surely as Easter Sunday follows Good Friday, so the hope of Lent gives way to the fulfillment of that hope which is the Resurrection.

It seems to be a law woven into creation that there must be sacrifice before there can be victory. There must be a dying to sin and self before there can be a rebirth in Christ. As we walk the path of Lent we should use this graced time to exercise discipline in the small things of life. There can be no victory in anything: sports, business, military, or life in general, without self-discipline.

Examples of this discipline are many. They can be first and foremost in the area of charity to others, and this begins at home. Perhaps there is someone in your life that rubs you the wrong way, your “hair shirt”. Deny the inclination to bicker and complain. Love the person whether you feel like it or not. Do some small act of kindness for them.

Pray the Rosary every day (or once a week, or 3 times a week, etc.) of Lent, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. If you love chocolate, exercise discipline and don’t eat it through the days of Lent, offering your sacrifice to Jesus through Mary for the salvation of souls.

Assist at holy Mass herhaps one or more days during the week as a preparation for the great gift of the Paschal mystery which unfolds during Holy Week. Discipline yourself to be more recollected and reverent at the Eucharist, realizing that this is nothing less than the same sacrifice of Calvary offered in a sacramental manner.

The discipline of Lent always opens the door for the bright light of Easter. The pain of Good Friday is at once the joy and triumph of the holy Cross. No passion and death, no Victory. In Jesus we walk through the trials and frequent darkness of this life to the unending joy and light of heaven. It is the Cross that wins that victory we know as Easter.

May this Lent be a time of true hope for you, a time of self-discipline and spiritual battle that leads to great personal triumph in Jesus Christ at Easter. Dying He destroyed our death, rising He restored our life, come, Lord Jesus, come!

With God’s blessing,

Fr. John Corapi, SOLT, STD

Ghosts: I’ve had a cataleptic somnambulism, you probably have too — The Seven Kinds of Ghosts

 

Click Image For Story.

EDITOR:

To bury the dead is a corporal act of mercy. It’s also a spiritual act of mercy to pray for the souls of the dead; those we know and love, as well as those forgotten souls who have no one to pray for them. The object of such prayer, of course, is not to contact the dead, but instead to pray for their entrance into the eternal beatitude of God—Heaven.

Before my wife’s Grandmother passed away, her husband had died. And she use to tell us that following her husband’s death, he appeared to her and comforted her in the living room of their home…

It shouldn’t have surprised me then, that on the night that my wife’s grandmother died in the hospital, I was awakened by the passing presence of a spirit through the bedroom my wife and I slept in that night. We were in my wife’s Grandparents bedroom:

I sat straight up in the bed, and thought to myself, ‘Oh, no, she’s died…’ And the phone rang in the dark moments later.

The hospital confirmed what I already knew…

This account of mine, as you’ll learn within the following article, is a ‘common experience many have of which can be described in technical jargon as a cataleptic somnambulism. a sensed or visual phantasmic perception. And I have no doubt that many who’ll read this post have had the same, or similar visitation experiences. Or perhaps, knows someone who has. 

While such visitations appear true, without forgetting that (if authentic) they are a gift of God for the grieving, and call to prayer, there still remains the reality of powerful forces of an evil nature at the level of spirits. It’s not a good thing to be messing around with spiritism, in fact, it can be outright dangerous to both body and soul.

As the Halloween season approaches, I’ve decided to share this great article as both a spiritual warfare aid and call to remember the dead in your prayers. God is spirit, and we must worship in spirit and truth, and if you’re praying properly you yourself can be a great aid to both those you love and so too those wandering forgotten souls who have none to pray for them. Note: The most powerful prayer on behalf of souls on earth is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So, I encourage you this upcoming All Souls Day , November 2nd, 2010, to visit any Catholic Church for the purpose of helping souls attain Heaven… Links for personal prayers will be found at the end of the page following the article… jme

Seven Kinds of Ghosts (Revised)
by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM

I. What the Bible Says about Ghosts

A. Seeking out Ghosts

We begin this discussion with an examination of some of the Scripture verses that give us clues on this subject.

Scripture does not have much to say about this and certainly God has made it clear that this is an area we are not to seek out:

*Lev. 19:31 tells us to not turn to mediums or to seek out spiritists.

*Lev. 20:6, 27 equates the seeking out of mediums with prostitution (doing so is an act of infidelity to God that is not just adultery, but involves a prurient interest in the occult things equating it with prostitution — a medium also is “hired” which is also an image of prostitution).

*Deut. 18:10-11 Gives a whole list of prohibitions involving the occult and spirit world.

Whatever Ghosts are or are not, it is clear that we are not to seek them out in any way.

B. What do We Know About Ghosts?

1. Composition of Ghosts

*What are ghosts composed of? Well, we have a little hint of that in Luke 24:39 where the Resurrected Jesus is mistaken for a ghost. Jesus says “a ghost does not have flesh and bones”.

Thus we can know that whatever ghosts are, they are spiritual beings without flesh and bones.

2. Ghostly Visitations during Sleep

*Is there an example of a ghostly visitation during sleep? Job 4:15 “A spirit glided by my face and the hair on my body stood on end”

This “spirit” was most probably an angel, but it does give us a clue of the human experience of meeting a spiritual entity and that such entities can and do come to us in that vulnerable time of twilight and dreams. This account is very close to the common experience many have of which can be described in technical jargon as a cataleptic somnambulism with a sensed or visual phantasmic perception.

Also in 2 Maccabees 15:12-16 is a passage about a dream (vision) of the Jewish leader Maccabeus. In this dream the ghosts of the high priest Onias and the great prophet Jeremiah appeared to him and encouraged him concerning the battle to come.

Maccabeus told this dream to his men which encourage his men greatly. Maccabeus and his men afterward defeated blasphemous Nicanor and his men who thought to destroy the Jewish people.

3. Human spirits in Ghostly Form?

*Can a human being’s spirit be transported? We know from accounts of Padre Pio that bi-location is possible, but those are yet unverified — But what about in Scripture. Well, there are a couple of verses that indicate this. One is in Rev. 21:10 (17:3) where John was “carried away in the spirit”. But the most direct notion of this is in 2 Corinthians 12:2 “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know — God knows.”

From this we know it is possible for man’s spirit to be apart from even his living body at God’s discretion. In the occult world this is called Astral Projection.

*Can a person’s body be transported spiritually? Acts 8:39, after Philip was miraculously running up along the chariot of the Ethiopian, and after Philip baptized him, Philip then disappeared. “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again…”

This episode appears to be a bodily transport in the spirit, but I suppose it could also be a corporeal bi-location too. Who knows?

4. Other examples of ghostly visitations

*1 Samuel 28 The Witch of Endor. In this story Saul goes to a medium asking her to contact the dead Samuel. She apparently succeeds and Saul talks with Samuel and Samuel prophecies. The Scripture specifically states that “Samuel said”. There is no indication at all that this was a demonic impostor.

*Sirach 46:20. Again Samuel prophecies from the grave.

*The Transfiguration Matt 17:2 Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus to Peter, James, and John

*The Rich Man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31 In verse 25 Abraham says that there is a great chasm between him and the Rich Man that cannot be crossed. This is not talking about a chasm between the earth and hell; it is a chasm between Abraham’s bosom (which, in principle can be likened to heaven), and that of hell. Those in hell cannot come to the place of the saved, and the saved cannot reach down with compassion to those who are lost. It is in the next request from the Rich Man that we have a possible clue. The Rich Man wants Lazarus to go to his brothers to warn them of hell. Abraham says that there is no point in doing so. v.31 “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead”.

This passage implies the possibility of at least Lazarus being able to go to the living (it implies the Rich Man in hell cannot), but Abraham refuses the request not because it is impossible to do so, but because there is no point in doing so.

C. Conclusion *So what do we have?

  1. We know that ghosts do not have flesh and bones. (Luke 24:39)
  2. We know that the dead can communicate with the living. (1 Sam 28; Sirach 46:20)
  3. We know that at least in some context allowed by God, the dead can be conjured in some fashion. (1 Sam 28)
  4. We know that it is possible for the dead to appear on the earth (Matt 72; 1 Sam 28)
  5. We know that is may be possible for the dead to not only appear on the earth, but appear to people and talk with them (Luke 16:27-31; 1 Sam 28)
  6. We know that it is possible for the living to bi-locate (Rev. 17:3; 21:10; 2 Cor 12:2)
  7. We know that it is possible for spirits to communicate in dreams and the person to have a bodily reaction to the visitation (Job 4:15)

II. Comments from Peter Kreeft

Now, let’s take a look at what Peter Kreeft says about this. He wrote at least two books that mention this subject, “Angels (and demons): What Do we Know About Them?” and “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven”. His comments stem from his study of Thomas Aquinas, Philosophy, and other Catholic saints and observers on this subject.

Kreeft makes mention that many very reputable people, such as C.S. Lewis, have reported seeing a “ghost” of their wives. There are many instances from reputable sources of experiences that do not have ANY flavor of the demonic.

Based upon these anecdotal accounts Kreeft and others talk about identifying three kinds of ghosts. I would add a fourth and a fifth category (from Kreeft’’s material that he talks about but doesn’t categorized) and a sixth and seventh type from my own thoughts and observations.

III. Seven Kinds of Ghosts

1. GHOSTS OF THE FIRST KIND: The first kind Kreeft calls the “sad ones” or “wispy ones”. These Ghosts seem to be working out some unfinished business of some sort, or suffering some purgatorial purification.

He says that these Ghosts would seem to be the ones who just barely made it into Purgatory, who feel little or no joy yet and who need to learn many painful lessons about their past lives on earth. God, in his compassion, may realize that to allow the person to get through Purgatory that it may be useful for them to learn some lessons on this earth.

2. GHOSTS OF THE SECOND KIND: A Second kind may be some of these purgatorial ghosts who might have been so material minded in their earthly life that they can’t detach themselves from these Material places or possessions. God may allow them to remain attached as they work out their need to “let go”.

3. GHOSTS OF THE THIRD KIND: A third type might be those who don’t yet realize they are dead. Again, in God’s compassion, I can see why He would allow a spirit to linger for a short while so that they may realize their fate before leaving this world completely. In both the “second kind” and “third kind” God could, of course, force the person to let go of the material place or to come on through the “gate” and not linger. But a compassionate Father can also allow for a “little” tolerance to help the person to adjust.

4. GHOSTS OF A FOURTH KIND: A Fourth type are the malicious and deceptive spirits. These are the one who probably appear at séances and the like and are most likely from hell. And most likely are demons disguised as dead loved ones and not the human persons themselves.

5. GHOSTS OF A FIFTH KIND: A Fifth type are the bright, happy spirits of dead friends and family who appear unbidden at God’s will, not ours, with messages of hope and love. They seem to come from heaven. These type may come to a loved one to say goodbye or to comfort them after a funeral, for example. Or these type may come to a relative or friend in “great” need. God may allow these dead relatives to come to the bedside of a loved one just before death. This would be an act of compassion to comfort the person as they pass from this life to the next. There are very trustworthy empirical and psychological evidence for these phenomena.

6. GHOSTS OF A SIXTH KIND: (updated: 9/4/08) A sixth type involves the ghost performing a certain scene repetitively. For example, a ghost of this type may go from the top of the stairs to the bottom and then disappear. This may happen over and over again. It never changes. The Ghost never interacts with anyone, and we cannot interact with it. It never changes facial expression nor does it ever acknowledge anything around it.

There are many theories to explain this phenomenon, but no real explanations. A popular notion is the concept of a “Residual Ghost”, which I originally posited in 1999. Since that time, after a more careful study of physics changed my position on this. The notion of a Residual Ghost is well expressed recently by Jason Hawes of the Atlantic Paranormal Society: that “A residual haunting is like having an impression made in time. The entity may seem to be lost in a time warp. The spirit really isn’t even there, only the energy is.” The Glossary on their website gives a more formal definition:

Psychic imprint of a scene which is repeatedly played out, where the witness of such phenomenon essentially is peering into the past. The ghostly participants of these time-displacements often seem unaware of their living observers.

There are significant problems with this theory. The physics of matter and energy makes this theory nearly impossible. Cody Polston, Founder and President of the Southwest Ghost Hunter’s Association, gives a very good and succinct scientific explanation of why the Residual Haunting is implausible in his article, Residual hauntings, a flawed hypothesis.

Ockham’s razor (“All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best”) advises us to avoid complex explanations. The theory of Residual Ghosts creates all sorts of problems that must be resolved before it can be plausible. A more plausible and simpler explanation is that “residual ghosts” are actually demonic in origin.

We know from cases throughout the history of the Church that one of Satan’s tactics is to instill an unhealthy curiosity into things concerning the paranormal. To experience a “residual ghost” usually creates an interest and curiosity on the part of the experiencer in the paranormal. Sometimes the experiencer will further explore contact with the spirit world or other dangerous explorations into the paranormal. God warns us of the danger to our soul by trying to contact the dead. Our Lord calls these activities an abomination (Deut. 18:9-12). Satan would love to inspire such curiosity and to lure a person into his sandbox.

7. GHOSTS OF THE SEVENTH KIND: Some “apparent” ghostly apparitions or effects may be the bi-location of the living…the Astral projections of living people. This can be postulated from scriptural evidence (Rev. 17:3; 21:10; and 2 Cor 12:2), and from verified reports of bi-location of people like Padre Pio.

IV. What should our demeanor be toward “any” ghostly event?

READ THE REST FROM THE SOURCE: St. Michael’s Scriptorium & Library

Catholic Online: Prayers

 

END OF POST

Wreck on the Highway: Praying for the Living and the Dead

The Most High, Our Father in Heaven himself, is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. And so, we ourselves must be merciful, just as Our Father is merciful…

I would first like to send my condolences and continued prayers to the family who suffered through a terrible car accident two days past on Rockydale Road, in Cave Junction. I was at the scene of the accident shortly after it happened and spent the entire time praying The Divine Mercy Chaplet on behalf of all the victims, and particularly for the children. It was not until yesterday morning after arriving at work that I was told the accident resulted in the death of one of the children, Larry. It was not easy for me to hear as a parent…

I will not speculate on the cause of the accident or any guilt that might be associated with the crash. I simply due not have the facts, it’s a small town prone to rumor, and only God is capable of reading the history of our hearts and souls in every circumstance of life we’ve each experienced. I mention this because as I made my way around town today I realized within conversations concerning the accident the (natural) tendency to try and explain the tragedy– even to the point of judging… But, for Christians we understand, (or should), that over 2000 years ago there was another day of infamy when a death occurred on a cross at around the 3 O’clock hour, the hour in which divine mercy triumphed over justice for the sake of all men and ages—including ourselves and this age, in this moment.

Historically, the spiritual works of mercy we Christians are called to carry-on within the world not only include correcting sinners and counseling those in doubt, but also–

consoling the sorrowful,

bearing wrongs patiently,

forgiving wrongs willingly,

along with Praying for the living & dead…

I don’t know if the family is spiritual or not, but nonetheless I will be offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this coming Sunday for all their corporal and spiritual needs at this time. I ask my readers to join me in the same with the sure knowledge that nothing is ever truly lost to God…, be they the living are the dead… As he is not the God of the dead, but of the living…

Blessed be his holy name.

jme

World Youth Day is time to pray for religious fidelity: By Bishop Robert Vasa

Catholic Sentinel 07.18.08

BEND, OREGON — While you are reading this I hope to be in Australia. Sydney to be more precise. World Youth Day to be exact. The Diocese of Baker is being represented by more than forty individuals who have made the commitment to make this pilgrimage to be with the Holy Father on the occasion of this worldwide youth event. I must confess that I have not yet attended a World Youth Day event and I have been rather cool to the idea of doing so. My experience in Washington, D.C. on the occasion of the recent Papal visit, however, has significantly raised my level of positive expectation. I can recall years ago being a bit amazed at the popularity of the older and more frail Pope John Paul II among the young. He was popular among them to the pop star level. The question which was always in the back of my mind, however, was whether that popularity translated into personal religious fidelity. Over the years millions of young people have flocked to these papal appearances and I pray that the effect remains with them. I pray that they are faithful to Mass attendance, to keeping the Commandments, to prayer and to the teachings of the Church. Is not this fidelity, in many ways, the measure of the ultimate effectiveness of these international papal events?

Pope John Paul II was charismatic and he had a wonderful way to connecting with the youth. He preached a firm and consistent message and he always preached it with great love. The same can be said of pope Benedict XVI. During his trip to the United States he was most gracious and kind and yet there were strong messages in his words. Recall especially his words to Catholic educators. In effect, he said, “You cannot teach what you do not live!” There are volumes spoken in this simple admonition. While Pope Benedict XVI was well received in the United States I do question whether the enthusiasm of the reception he received translates into personal religious fidelity. Perhaps a part of that question comes from a recollection of an interview with a “man on the street.” When asked what he thought of Pope John Paul II he indicated that he thought he was wonderful, great, even splendid. When asked what he thought of his teaching the response was entirely negative. I hope that there were many in our U.S. culture who were not only positively impressed with Pope John Paul and with Pope Benedict but who actually took their words to heart. My fear is that the heart of Catholic America is so encrusted with secularism, relativism and materialism that the message of truth which these popes speak is not readily allowed to take root, much less germinate, much less grow, much less bear fruit. Do not misunderstand me, I do recognize that there are significant conversions which take place on the occasion of these events and many of those conversions are genuine and long lasting. Pray ardently that the youth who travel to Sydney have wonderful and positive religious experiences but pray especially that these experiences are translated into zealous, personal religious fidelity.

There seems to me to be a disconnect when someone insists that they have a personal appreciation for the person of the Holy Father while adamantly rejecting the very things which he is teaching and upholding. Pope Benedict made reference to this during his visit. He talked about the impossibility of separating our private life from our public life. Consistency between what we believe and what we do is essential. Remember the politicians of a decade or two ago who were straddling the fence on abortion. Their standard line: “I am ‘personally opposed’ to abortion but I would not impose my view on anyone.” They seemed to recognize the need to present a pro-life private life while maintaining a pro-abortion public life. Now they feel no such need. Now even Catholic politicians, not all of them certainly, seem to have no qualms of conscience about making public declarations that they will always act, in their public life, to defend and protect, not the life of the child, but the right of the mother to kill that child, while maintaining that they are Catholics in “good standing,” not excommunicated, and communicants. There does not even seem to be any vestige of “personal opposition” to abortion left. Indeed, this is not surprising. It is simply not possible to hold to a so-called “personal opposition” and to act, in a public or external fashion, in a way which consistently undermines that “personal opposition.” Perhaps the spiritual progression would look like this:

• Personally opposed but publicly supportive of abortion while working to restrict abortion to those times when the life of mother is at stake or in cases of rape and incest.

• Then personally opposed but publicly supportive of abortion while working to minimize the number of abortions or the need for abortions.

• Then personally opposed but publicly supportive of abortion while working to assure greater access to abortion.

• Then personally opposed but publicly supportive of abortion while working to ensure the right to abortion even up to and including the day of birth.

• Then personally opposed but publicly supportive of abortion while working to overturn the ban on partial-birth abortion.

• Then a Catholic in “good standing” but publicly supportive of abortion as a woman’s Constitutional right to choose.

• Then a Catholic in “good standing” who thinks the Church needs to rethink its centuries old opposition to abortion.

• Then a Catholic in “good standing” who personally likes the Pope but who rejects everything the Catholic Church holds to be true, right and good.

• Then a Catholic who is not excommunicated and thus not forbidden to receive Holy Communion.

• Then a Catholic who has been informed that he or she should rethink their position on abortion or refrain from receiving Holy Communion.

• Then an oppositional Catholic who maintains that the Bishop has no right to tell them how to live or what to do.

• Then an excommunicated Catholic who publicly defies the excommunication by continuing to receive Holy Communion.

• Then a “Catholic” who must answer to our Lord who will simply say: “That which you did or failed to do for the least of my brothers, you did or failed to do for Me.”

Lenten Prayer For Christian Unity: The Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary

      our_lady_of_sorrows.jpg  

In the Byzantine tradition, one of the oldest and most revered expressions of Marian devotion is the hymn “Akathistos” – meaning the hymn sung while standing. It is a literary and theological masterpiece, encapsulating in the form of a prayer, the universally held Marian belief of the primitive Church. The hymn is inspired by the Scriptures, the doctrine defined by the Councils of Nicea (325), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451), and reflects the Greek fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. It is solemnly celebrated in the Eastern Liturgy on the Fifth Saturday of Lent. The hymn is also sung on many other liturgical occasions and is recommended for the use of the clergy and faithful.  

In recent times the Akathistos has been introduced to some communities in the Latin Rite(261). Some solemn liturgical celebrations of particular ecclesial significance, in the presence of the Pope, have also helped to popularize the use of the hymn in Rome(262). This very ancient hymn(263), the mature fruit of the undivided Church’s earliest devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, constitutes an appeal and invocation for the unity of Christians under the guidance of the Mother of God: “Such richness of praise, accumulated from the various forms of the great tradition of the Church, could help to ensure that she may once again breath with “both lungs”: the East and the West”(264).  

THE AKATHIST HYMN
TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

[The entire service is either sung or chanted, preferably sung, to traditional melodies. If the melodies are unknown, a chanting ‘recto tono’ will suffice, though much of the grandeur will be lost.]—–  

[LEADER]: BLESSED IS OUR GOD, ALWAYS, NOW AND FOREVERMORE. AMEN.  

– O HEAVENLY KING, COMFORTER, SPIRIT OF TRUTH, YOU ARE EVERYWHERE PRESENT AND FIT ALL THINGS. TREASURY OF BLESSINGS, AND GIVER OF LIFE, COME AND DWELL WITHIN US, CLEANSE US OF ALL STAIN, AND SAVE OUR SOULS, O GRACIOUS ONE!  

– HOLY GOD, HOLY AND MIGHTY, HOLY AND IMMORTAL ONE, HAVE MERCY ON US. (Three times)  

– O MOST HOLY TRINITY, HAVE MERCY ON US! O LORD, CLEANSE US OF OUR SINS! O MASTER, FORGIVE OUR TRANSGRESSIONS! O HOLY ONE, COME TO US AND HEAL OUR INFIRMITIES FOR YOUR NAME’S SAKE!  

– LORD, HAVE MERCY. (Three times)  

– GLORY BE TO THE FATHER + AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND FOREVER, AMEN.  

– OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME, THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US, AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL.  

– FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FATHER +, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER AND FOREVER. AMEN.  

– LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.  

[RESPONSE]: Lord, have mercy!  

PREAMBLE

As soon as the angel had received his command, he hastened to Joseph’s house and said to the ever-virgin: “Behold, heaven was brought down to earth when the Word Himself was fully contained in you! Now that I see Him in your womb, taking a servant’s form, I cry out to you in wonder: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!”  

FIRST CHANT

An Archangel was sent from heaven to greet the Mother of God, and as he saw you assuming a body at the sound of his bodiless voice, O Lord, he stood rapt in amazement and cried out to her in these words:Hail, O you, through whom Joy will shine forth!
Hail, O you, through whom the curse will disappear!
Hail, O Restoration of the Fallen Adam!
Hail, O Redemption of the Tears of Eve!
Hail, O Peak above the reach of human thought!
Hail, O Depth even beyond the sight of angels!
Hail, O you who have become a Kingly Throne!
Hail, O you who carry Him Who Carries All!
Hail, O Star who manifest the Sun!
Hail, O Womb of the Divine Incarnation!
Hail, O you through whom creation is renewed!
Hail, O you through whom the Creator becomes a Babe!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

Knowing that she was a virgin, the blessed one courageously answered the angel: “Your surprising words seem hard for my mind to accept: how can you speak of a birth that is to come from a conception without seed? And why do you cry, Alleluia?”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

SECOND CHANT

Trying to grasp the meaning of this mystery, the Virgin asked the holy messenger: “How is it possible tha a son be born from a virginal womb? Tell me.” And he answered her with awe, crying out in these words:Hail, O hidden Sense of the Ineffable Plan!
Hail, O Belief in Silence That Must Be!
Hail, O Forecast of the Marvels of Christ!
Hail, O Fountainhead of truths concerning Him!
Hail, Celestial Ladder, by whom God came down!
Hail, O Bridge leading earthly ones to heaven!
Hail, O Wonder, ever-thrilling to the angels!
Hail, O Wound, ever-hurting to the demons!
Hail, O you who gave birth to Light ineffably!
Hail, O you who told no one how it was done!
Hail, O you who surpass the wisdom of the wise!
Hail, O you who enlighten faithful minds!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

When the power of the Most High overshadowed the one who had never known the nuptial bed, her fruitful womb conceived, and she became for all a delicious field: for those who wished to reap salvation by singing “ALLELUIA!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

THIRD CHANT

Pregnant with God, the Virgin hastened to Elizabeth, her unborn child rejoiced, immediately knowing her embrace. Bouncing and singing, he cried out to the Mother of God:Hail, O Tendril whose Bud shall not wilt!
Hail, O Soil whose Fruit shall not perish!
Hail, O Tender of mankind’s loving Tender!
Hail, O Gardener of the Gardener of Life!
Hail, O Earth who yielded abundant mercies!
Hail, O Table full-laden with appeasement!
Hail, for you have greened anew the pastures of delight!
Hail, for you have prepared a haven for the souls!
Hail, acceptable Incense of Prayer!
Hail, Expiation of the whole universe!
Hail, O you Favor of God to mortal men!
Hail, O you Trust of mortals before God!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

Filled with a storm of contradictory thoughts, the wise Joseph was greatly disturbed: until then, he had seen you a virgin, and now he suspected you of secret guilt, all-blameless one! Learning that your conception was of the Holyl Spirit, he cried out: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

FOURTH CHANT

The Shepherds heard the angels singing hymns of praise tot he coming of Christ in the Flesh. And running to Him as to a shepherd, they saw Him as a spotless lamb, grazing at Mary’s breast. They sang a hymn to her and said:Hail, O Mother of Lamb and Shepherd!
Hail, O Fold of rational sheep!
Hail, O Protection against unseen foes!
Hail, O Key to the Doors of Paradise!
Hail, for the heavenly rejoice with the earth!
Hail, for the earthly meet the heavens in song!
Hail, the Unsilenced Voice of the Apostles!
Hail, the Undaunted Might of Martyrs!
Hail, O Steadfast Foundation of Faith!
Hail, O Shining Emblem of Grace!
Hail, O you through whom death was despoiled!
Hail, O you through whom we were clothed with glory!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

When they saw the Star moved by God, the Magi followed its glittering light. Using it as a beacon, they found through it the Mighty King, and reaching the One Beyond All Reach, they rejoiced and cried out to Him: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

FIFTH CHANT

The Sons of Chaldaea saw in the Virgin’s hands the One whose hands had fashioned men: and acknowledging Him as the Master, although He had taken the form of a servant, they hastened to honor Him with their gifts and cried out to the Blessed One:Hail, O Mother of the Star Without Setting!
Hail, O Radiance of the Mystical Day!
Hail, O you who quenched the flame of error!
Hail, O Light of those who search the Trinity!
Hail, O you who unthroned the Enemy of Men!
Hail, O you who showed forth Christ the Lord, Lover of Mankind!
Hail, O you who cleansed us from the stain of pagan worship!
Hail, O you who saved us from the mire of evil deeds!
Hail, O you who made cease the cult of fire!
Hail, O you who guide the faithful toward wisdom!
Hail, O you, Delight of all the Nations!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

The Magi, become God-bearing heralds, returned to Babylon, conforming to your command, announcing You, the Christ, to all, and leaving Herod as a fool who did not know how to sing: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

SIXTH CHANT

Illuminating Egypt with the Light of Truth, you cast away the darkness of error. For the idols, unable to stand your might, fell down, and those who had been delivered from them cried out to the Mother of God:Hail, O Resurrection of mankind!
Hail, O Downfall of the Demons!
Hail, O you who crushed the error of deceit!
Hail, O you who exposed the fraud of idols!
Hail, O Sea who drowned the symbolic Pharaon!
Hail, O Rock who quenched those who thirst for Life!
Hail, O Pillar of Fire who guided those in darkness!
Hail, O Shelter of the World, wider than the clouds!
Hail, O Food who took the place of Manna!
Hail, O Handmaid of holy delight!
Hail, O Land of the promised good!
Hail, O you who flow with milk and honey!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

As Simeon was about to leave the present deceitful world, You were entrusted to him as an infant, but You made Yourself known to him as the perfect God. Wherefore he marveled at your wisdom beyond words, and cried out: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

SEVENTH CHANT

The Creator displayed a new creation to us who had come from Him: He came forth from a womb that had received no seed, and He left it intact as it had been, so that at the sight of this marvel, we would sing to her and cry out:Hail, O Blossom of Incorruption!
Hail, O Crown of Self-mastery!
Hail, O you who shone forth as a Sign of Resurrection!
Hail, O you who displayed the Life of Angels!
Hail, Fruitful Tree from whom believers feed!
Hail, Shady Glen where many are sheltered!
Hail, O you who have born the Guide of the Lost!
Hail, Source of Life to the captives’ Release!
Hail, O you who unsettled even the Just Judge!
Hail, Indulgence of many who have fallen!
Hail, O Stole for those who lack freedom to speak!
Hail, O Tenderness who exceed all desire!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

Now that we have seen this strange birth, let us estrange ourselves from the world and turn our minds to heaven: indeed, it is for this that the God Most High appeared on earth as a lowly man, desiring to draw up to heaven those who cry out to Him: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

EIGHTH CHANT

While fully present amid those below, the uncircumscribed Word was in no way absent from those above: for what happened was a divine condescension, and not a moving from one place to another: and it was a birth from a Virgin inspired by God, who heard these words:Hail, O Space of the Spaceless God!
Hail, O Gate of the Sublime Mystery!
Hail, O Message unsure to men without faith!
Hail, O Glory most certain to those who believe!
Hail, O Sacred Chariot of the One above the Cherubim!
Hail, Perfect Dwelling of the One above the Seraphim!
Hail, O you who reconciled opposites!
Hail, O you who combined maidenhood and motherhood!
Hail, O you through whom Paradise was opened!
Hail, O Key to the Kingdom of Christ!
Hail, O Hope for the Ages of Bliss!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

The whole order of the Angels marveled at the great work of your becoming a man: for they saw the One Inaccessible as God become a Man accessible to all, living with us and hearing us cry out: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

NINTH CHANT

O Mother of God, we see the best of speakers become as mute as fish in your regard, for they could not explain how you could give birth while remaining a virgin. As for us, while marveling at the mystery, we cry out to you with faith:Hail, O Container of God’s Wisdom!
Hail, O Treasury of His Providence!
Hail, O Reproof of foolish philosophers!
Hail, O Confusion of speechless wise men!
Hail, for you perplexed the inquisitive minds!
Hail, for you dried up the inventors of myths!
Hail, for you ripped the Athenians’ meshes!
Hail, for you filled the Fishermen’s nets!
Hail, O Retriever from the Abyss of Ignorance!
Hail, O Lamplight of Knowledge to many!
Hail, O Ship for those who seek Salvation!
Hail, O Harbor for the Sailors of Life!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

Desiring to save the world, the Creator of All came down to it of His own will. Being at the same time our Shepherd and our God, He appeared among us. And so the like called upon the like, and as God He heard: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

TENTH CHANT

O Virgin Mother of God, you are the strength of Virgins and of all those who have recourse to you. For the Maker of heaven and earth covered you with His shadow, O Pure One, and came to dwell in your womb, and taught us all to cry out to you:Hail, O Pillar of Virginity!
Hail, O Gateway of Salvation!
Hail, O Principle of the New Creation!
Hail, O Dispenser of God’s bounties!
Hail, for you restored those born in shame!
Hail, for you gave sense to those who had lost it!
Hail, O you who stopped the corruptor of minds!
Hail, O you who bore the Sower of Chastity!
Hail, Holy Chamber of virginal wedlock!
Hail, O you who join the faithful with God!
Hail, O gracious Foster-Mother of virgins!
Hail, O Bridesmaid of holy souls!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

Because He wished to grant release from all the ancient debts, the One who pays men’s dues came down Himself to those who had spurned His grace; He tore up their obligations, and heard from all of them this cry: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

TWELFTH CHANT

By singing praise to your maternity, we all exalt you as a spiritual temple, Mother of God! For the One Who Dwelt Within Your Womb, the Lord Who Holds All Things in His Hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all men to sing to you:Hail, O Tabernacle of God the Word!
Hail, O Holy One, more holy than the saints!
Hail, O Ark that the Spirit has gilded!
Hail, Inexhaustible Treasure of Life!
Hail, Precious Crown of rightful authorities!
Hail, Sacred Glory of reverent priests!
Hail, Unshakable Tower of the Church!
Hail, Unbreachable Wall of the Kingdom!
Hail, O you through whom the trophies are raised!
Hail, O you through whome the enemies are routed!
Hail, O healing of my body!
Hail, O salvation of my soul!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

[RESPONSE]: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!  

KONTAKION

O Mother worthy of all praise, you who have given birth to the Word, the Holiest of the Holy, accept this present offering, deliver all men from every affliction, and save from the future punishment those who cry out to you: “Alleluia!”[RESPONSE]: Alleluia!  

Gabriel was rapt in amazement as he beheld your virginity and the splendor of your purity, O Mother of God, and he cried out to you: “By what name shall I call you? I am bewildered; I am lost! I shall greet you as I was commanded to do: ‘Hail, O Woman full of Grace!'”  

DISMISSAL

– GLORY TO YOU, O CHRIST, OUR GOD AND OUR HOPE: GLORY BE TO YOU![RESPONSE]: GLORY BE TO THE FATHER +, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND FOREVER AMEN. LORD, HAVE MERCY! LORD, HAVE MERCY! GIVE THE BLESSING!  

MAY CHRIST OUR TRUE GOD (If a Sunday or the Easter Season: WHO IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD) HAVE MERCY ON US AND SAVE US, THROUGH THE PRAYERS OF HIS MOST PURE MOTHER AND OF ALL THE HOLY, GLORIOUS, AND ILLUSTRIOUS APOSTLES, THROUGH THE PRAYERS OF ST. (N) WHOSE MEMORY WE CELEBRATE TODAY, AND OF ALL THE SAINTS, FOR HE IS GRACIOUS AND LOVES MANKIND!  

[RESPONSE]: AMEN!  

Source  

The Via Crucis and the Via Matris: Lent 2008

Lent

124. Lent precedes and prepares for Easter. It is a time to hear the Word of God, to convert, to prepare for and remember Baptism, to be reconciled with God and one’s neighbour, and of more frequent recourse to the “arms of Christian penance”(134): prayer, fasting and good works (cf. Mt 6, 1-6. 16-18).polenov23.jpg

Popular piety does not easily perceive the mystical aspect of Lent and does not emphasize any of its great themes or values, such a relationship between “the sacrament of forty days” and “the sacraments of Christian initiation”, nor the mystery of the “exodus” which is always present in the lenten journey. Popular piety concentrates on the mysteries of Christ’s humanity, and during Lent the faithful pay close attention to the Passion and Death of Our Lord.

125. In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which are used in the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday. The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance. The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God. Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during Lent. The faithful who come to receive ashes should be assisted in perceiving the implicit internal significance of this act, which disposes them towards conversion and renewed Easter commitment.

Notwithstanding the secularisation of contemporary society, the Christian faithful, during Lent, are clearly conscious of the need to turn the mind towards those realities which really count, which require Gospel commitment and integrity of life which, through self denial of those things which are superfluous, are translated into good works and solidarity with the poor and needy.

Those of the faithful who infrequently attend the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist should be aware of the long ecclesial tradition associating the precept of confessing grave sins and receive Holy Communion at least once during the lenten season, or preferably during Eastertide(135).confession-1862-giclee-print-c12067722.jpg

126. The existing divergence between the liturgical idea of Lent and the outlook of popular piety need not prevent an effective interaction between Liturgy and popular piety during the forty days of Lent.

An example of such interaction is to be seen in fact that popular piety often encourages particular observances on certain days, or special devotional exercises, or apostolic or charitable works which are foreseen and recommended by the lenten Liturgy. The practice of fasting, characteristic of the lenten season since antiquity, is an “exercise” which frees the faithful from earthly concerns so as to discover the life that comes from above: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (cf. Dt 8,3; Mt 4, 4; Lk 4,4; antiphon for the first Sunday of Lent).

Veneration of the Crucified Christ

127. The journey of Lent ends with the Easter Triduum, initiated by the celebration of the Coena Domini Mass. During the Triduum, Good Friday which is dedicated to the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, is eminently suited for the “Adoration of the Holy Cross”.

Popular piety tends to anticipate the cultic veneration of the Cross. Throughout Lent, every Friday is observed, since very ancient times, as a commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and the faithful easily direct their devotions towards the mystery of the Cross.

They contemplate the crucified Saviour, they sense more easily the great suffering which Jesus, the Holy and Innocent One, suffered for the salvation of mankind. They understand his love and the effectiveness of his redemptive sacrifice.

128. The various and numerous devotions to the crucified Christ acquire a special significance in those churches dedicated to the mystery of the Cross or where authentic relics of the true cross are venerated. The “invention of the Cross” in the early fourth century, and the subsequent diffusion throughout the Church of particles of the true Cross, gave notable impulse to devotion to the Cross.

Devotions to the crucified Crist contain many elements usually found in popular piety: hymns and prayers, acts such as the unveiling and kissing of the Cross, processions and blessing with the Cross. These can lead to the development of pious exercises often containing many valuable formal and material elements.

cross-of-christ-sublimity.jpgDevotion to the Cross, however, sometimes requires a certain enlightenment. The faithful should be taught to place the Cross in its essential reference to the Resurrection of Christ: the Cross, the empty tomb, the Death and Resurrection of Crist are indispensable in the Gospel narrative of God’s salvific plan. In the Christian faith, the Cross is an expression of the triumph of Christ over the powers of darkness. Hence, it is adorned with precious stones and is a sign of blessing when made upon one’s self, or on others or on objects.

129. The Gospel texts of the Passion are especially detailed. Coupled with a tendency in popular piety to isolate specific moments of the narrative, this has induced the faithful to turn their attention to specific aspects of the Passion of Christ, making of them specific devotions: devotion to the “Ecce Homo”, Christ despised, “crowned with thorns and clothed in a purple cloak” (John 19, 5), and shown to the multitude by Pilate; devotion to the five sacred wounds of Christ, especially to the side of Christ from which flowed blood and water for the salvation of mankind (John 19, 34); devotion to the instruments of the Passion, the pillar at which Christ was scourged, the steps of the Praetorium, the crown of thorns, the nails, the lance that pierced Him; devotion to the Holy Shroud.

Such expressions of piety, often promoted by persons of great sanctity, are legitimate. However, in order to avoid excessive fragmentation in contemplation of the mystery of the Cross, it is always useful to emphasise the whole event of the Passion, as is the case in biblical and patristic tradition.

Reading of the Lord’s Passion

130. The Church exhorts the faithful to frequent personal and community reading of the Word of God. Undoubtedly, the account of the Lord’s Passion is among the most important pastoral passages in the New Testament. Hence, for the Christian in his last agony, the Ordo untionis informorum eorumque pastoralis curae suggests the reading of the Lord’s Passion either in its entirety, or at least some pericopes from it(136).

During Lent, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, love for our Crucified Saviour should move the Christian community to read the account of the Lord’s Passion. Such reading, which is doctrinally significant, attracts the attention of the faithful because of its content and because of its narrative form, and inspires true devotion: repentance for sins, since the faithful see that Christ died for the sins of the entire human race, including their own; compassion and solidarity for the Innocent who was unjustly condemned; gratitude for the infinite love of Jesus for all the brethren, which was shown by Jesus, the first born Son, in his Passion; commitment to imitating his example of meekness, patience, mercy, forgiveness of offenses, abandonment to the Father, which Jesus did willingly and efficaciously in his Passion.

Outside of the liturgical celebration of the Passion, the Gospel narrative can be “dramatized”, giving the various parts of the narrative to different persons; or by interspersing it with hymns or moments of silent reflection.

Via Crucis

131. Of all the pious exercises connected with the veneration of the Cross, none is more popular among the faithful than the Via Crucis. Through this pious exercise, the faithful movingly follow the final earthly journey of Christ: from the Mount of Olives, where the Lord, “in a small estate called Gethsemane” (Mk 14, 32), was taken by anguish (cf. Lk 22, 44), to Calvary where he was crucified between two thieves (cf. Lk 23, 33), to the garden where he was placed in freshly hewn tomb (John 19, 40-42).elgreco46.jpg

The love of the Christian faithful for this devotion is amply attested by the numerous Via Crucis erected in so many churches, shrines, cloisters, in the countryside, and on mountain pathways where the various stations are very evocative.

132. The Via Crucis is a synthesis of various devotions that have arisen since the high middle ages: the pilgrimage to the Holy Land during which the faithful devoutly visit the places associated with the Lord’s Passion; devotion to the three falls of Christ under the weight of the Cross; devotion to “the dolorous journey of Christ” which consisted in processing from one church to another in memory of Christ’s Passion; devotion to the stations of Christ, those places where Christ stopped on his journey to Calvary because obliged to do so by his executioners or exhausted by fatigue, or because moved by compassion to dialogue with those who were present at his Passion.

In its present form, the Via Crucis, widely promoted by St. Leonardo da Porto Maurizio (+1751), was approved by the Apostolic See and indulgenced(137), consists of fourteen stations since the middle of seventeenth century.

133. The Via Crucis is a journey made in the Holy Spirit, that divine fire which burned in the heart of Jesus (cf. Lk 12, 49-50) and brought him to Calvary. This is a journey well esteemed by the Church since it has retained a living memory of the words and gestures of the final earthly days of her Spouse and Lord.

In the Via Crucis, various strands of Christian piety coalesce: the idea of life being a journey or pilgrimage; as a passage from earthly exile to our true home in Heaven; the deep desire to be conformed to the Passion of Christ; the demands of following Christ, which imply that his disciples must follow behind the Master, daily carrying their own crosses (cf Lk 9, 23).

The Via Crucis is a particularly apt pious exercise for Lent.

134. The following may prove useful suggestions for a fruitful celebration of the Via Crucis:

  • the traditional form of the Via Crucis, with its fourteen stations, is to be retained as the typical form of this pious exercise; from time to time, however, as the occasion warrants, one or other of the traditional stations might possibly be substituted with a reflection on some other aspects of the Gospel account of the journey to Calvary which are traditionally included in the Stations of the Cross;

  • alternative forms of the Via Crucis have been approved by Apostolic See(138) or publicly used by the Roman Pontiff(139): these can be regarded as genuine forms of the devotion and may be used as occasion might warrant;

  • the Via Crucis is a pious devotion connected with the Passion of Christ; it should conclude, however, in such fashion as to leave the faithful with a sense of expectation of the resurrection in faith and hope; following the example of the Via Crucis in Jerusalem which ends with a station at the Anastasis, the celebration could end with a commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection.

135. Innumerable texts exist for the celebration of the Via Crucis. Many of them were compiled by pastors who were sincerely interested in this pious exercise and convinced of its spiritual effectiveness. Texts have also been provided by lay authors who were known for their exemplary piety, holiness of life, doctrine and literary qualities.

Bearing in mind whatever instructions might have been established by the bishops in the matter, the choice of texts for the Via Crucis should take a count of the condition of those participating in its celebration and the wise pastoral principle of integrating renewal and continuity. It is always preferable to choose texts resonant with the biblical narrative and written in a clear simple style.

The Via Crucis in which hymns, silence, procession and reflective pauses are wisely integrated in a balanced manner, contribute significantly to obtaining the spiritual fruits of the pious exercise.

The Via Matris

136. As Christ and Our Lady of Dolours were associated in God’s saving plan (Lk 2, 34-35), so too they are associated in the Liturgy and popular piety.

ft0000035f_fig18.jpgAs Christ was the “man of sorrows” (Is 53, 3) through whom it pleased God to have “reconciled all things through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross” (Col 1, 20), so too, Mary is “the woman of sorrows” whom God associated with his Son as mother and participant in his Passion (socia passionis).

Since the childhood of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s life was entirely lived out under the sign of the sword (cf, Lk 2, 35). Christian piety has signalled out seven particular incidents of sorrow in her life, known as the “seven sorrows” of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Modelled on the Via Crucis, the pious exercise of the Via Matris dolorosae, or simply the Via Matris, developed and was subsequently approved by the Apostolic See(140). This pious exercise already existed in embryonic form since the sixteenth century, while its present form dates from the nineteenth century. Its fundamental intuition is a reflection on the life of Our Lady from the prophecy of Simeon (cf. Lk 2, 34-35), to the death and burial of her Son, in terms of a journey in faith and sorrow: this journey is articulated in seven “stations” corresponding to the “seven dolours” of the Mother of Our Saviour.

137. This pious exercise harmonises well with certain themes that are proper to the lenten season. Since the sorrows of Our Lady are caused by the rejection of her Son (cf. John 1,11; Lk 2, 1-7; 2, 34-35; 4, 28-29; Mt 26, 47-56; Acts 12, 1-5), the Via Matris constantly and necessarily refers to the mystery of Christ as the suffering servant (cf. Is 52, 13-53, 12). It also refers to the mystery of the Church: the stations of the Via Matris are stages on the journey of faith and sorrow on which the Virgin Mary has preceded the Church, and in which the Church journeys until the end of time.

The highest expression of the Via Matris is the Pietà which has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Christian art since the middles ages.

Taken from Popular Piety and Divine Worship.