Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lourdes: The Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross
Thursday, September 23, 2010
10:30 a.m.

The church had a printed schedule of events for the day (yay! I love having things written down!), so I took one, and Rose, my English-speaking guide, walked back with me to the statue where we first met.

I had a lot of questions about events I heard of but were not on the schedule, and she answered many of them. I wanted to know where the Grotto was, how to get holy water, and any information about the baths.

So, she walked with me to the Grotto, which was sort of on the side of and below the cathedral. Past that were the baths, and I could see women waiting there. She described where to find the water from the spring.

Then she had to go to her next job, and I needed to find Fr. Patrick if I wanted to do the Way of the Cross.

Five of us joined Fr. Patrick for what I think of as the Stations of the Cross. He asked if we wanted to do the High Stations or the Low Stations. I didn’t know the difference.

Turns out, high and low were literal terms. The High Stations are on a mountain, so you walk up high. I didn’t get a chance to find the Low Stations, but I assume there is not as much climbing involved.

We started up the hill. Fr. Patrick is from Ireland and full of stories and jokes. We reached the first station and stopped there.

The stations are beautiful gold sculptures and a bit modern. They are positioned on the hill above the path. This first one had steps leading up to it, and I saw women on different steps, kneeling, praying, and then WALKING ON THEIR KNEES to the next step. On the next step, they stopped to pray, and again, walked on their knees to the next step.

On one hand, I kind of hoped he wouldn’t ask us to do that. There were more steps than I could count, and we’d be doing stations until dinner if every stop was like this. On the other hand, I’m still the person who believes that extra credit is part of the test, and I wanted to see if I could do it.

Well, we didn’t do the steps, we stayed at the bottom of them. Father Patrick started the pattern he would continue for all the stations: Read a brief passage from his book about that station, then tell a modern-day story of what that station means to him.

I remember one in particular right now. For the station where Jesus was nailed to the cross, he said that it makes him think about people in wheelchairs, or hooked up to machines. They can’t leave those, and are basically nailed to them.

He asked us to do the walk in silence, and gave us this prayer as a suggestion for reflection while we walked:

Alone with you, O Lord, I journey on my way.
What need I fear when thou are near
O King of night and day.

As we walked, I couldn’t seem to remember the words. I was feeling a little inept.

At some point during the stations, I always start to cry, and this was no different. Now I had no prayer, and tears. Ugh.

The last two stations are on the downhill slope. The station depicting where Jesus is buried is literally in front of a cave in rock in the hill. Not only is it quite moving, I thought it was cool that the topography worked out that way. And the final one, where Jesus is risen, also uses the natural rock in the hill.

At this point we were done, so I asked Fr. Patrick one more time for the words to that prayer (and wrote them down), we said our goodbyes and returned on our own.

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