Meditating….on me!

JesusMary

I went to the Way of the Cross last night, but I had to apologize to the Lord for my attitude.

Until about two years ago, the nearby parish used a beautiful, scripturally based version of the Stations of the Cross.  The priest led the opening prayer for each station, and that was followed by a beautiful meditation from the Old Testament, and then a prayer addressed to Jesus, in which His Suffering along the Via Dolorosa was remembered.  Each station ended with the traditional Stabat Mater.

Then we got a new pastor.  He introduced a contemporary format of the Way of the Cross.  To put it quite simply: It is dreadful.  Instead of meditations on the Sufferings of Jesus, we are led to focus on a  lesson from the Life of Jesus as applied to our own lives.

For example, it is briefly mentioned that Jesus was cruelly treated, but the meditation is on how we treat others, and is followed by a prayer that we might be more charitable, etc.

This in itself is not a bad thing.  But somehow it does not draw me into thinking about all Our Lord suffered for me and my sins.  And, I really want to think about that.

I remember often being moved to tears when using our former Way of the Cross booklet.  Last night, instead, I was actually annoyed the entire time, and found myself not even wanting to pray along with the congregation, for the prayers were all about us, and I so wanted to think about Jesus.

Even the words of the beloved Stabat Mater were changed to be in keeping with the “me” theme.

My husband did not accompany me last night.  He stopped going two years ago, after about two weeks of the new Way of the Cross booklet.

I realize that a better person than I would have done their best to keep their eyes on Jesus no matter what.  I know that I could have offered up my dislike of these particular stations. But, I am so very tired of everything having to be about us, and so little about God. Couldn’t we at least focus on Jesus, and Jesus alone when commemorating His Passion?

And, I have noticed the dwindling numbers who now attend. The rich passages from the Old Testament which were used in our former booklet were such food for meditation, and anyone, at any stage of prayer or the spiritual life could have found meaning and beauty in them.

After last night, I realize that I must drive an hour to our parish in the city, and attend the Stations there next Friday. I know they will be about Jesus, and not you and me… and my husband will once again attend as well.

Does anyone else have this problem? What form of the Way of the Cross does your parish use?

My favorite will forever be my Catholic School booklet by St. Alphonsus Liguori, with the beautiful color pictures of Jesus.

I can still hear our hundreds of children’s voices echoing:  / I love You, Jesus, my love; / I repent of ever having offended You. / Never let me separate myself from You again. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.

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22 thoughts on “Meditating….on me!

  1. I sympathize with you! The first week of Lent I solved the problem myself by attending a Polish Stations of the Cross in our parish and brought my own book. Perfect!
    Has anyone made a suggestion to the pastor about changing the books?

    • Cindy, now that’s an interesting solution! You weren’t distracted by the Polish recitation in the background? Geee.,the lengths we have to go to just to recapture a bit of reverence and focus on our Suffering Jesus.

      I don’t know if anyone has said anything about the “new” pamphlets. It’s kind of awkward for me. I live in the parish boundaries, but we aren’t registered members. We maintained membership in our previous..and more traditional parish..when we moved 14 years ago.

  2. Yes, Patricia…I know exactly what you mean. All the meditations now seem to dwell on how we should act in our lives. I understand the intention behind it…and yet you make a very good point about bringing the focus back to ourselves {like we aren’t introspective enough!}.

    Maybe you could find a traditional one to pray right in your own home with your husband…just a thought.

    Have blessed days this week.

    • Hi Theresa, yeah, how about that…like we really need more self-reflection! Seriously, I think most people who care enough to come to the Stations during Lent are already trying to apply Christian principles in their lives. But, they come to spend time meditating on Our Lord’s Passion and Death. What’s so frustrating is that the former book was great…beautiful Scriptures from Isaiah and the Psalms.

      Yes, we could just pray them at home, but the Church has Mass first, and we used to attend that, followed immediately by the Stations, and sometimes we would eat the Lenten meal sold afterward by the youth group, etc. It was a beautiful Lenten Friday evening. Hurts to lose that…

  3. I do love the traditional Stations but for private devotion, I have come to love a version published by the Marian Fathers at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. Each station contains a Biblical verse pertaining to the Passion as well as excerpts from St Faustina’s diary. I think the important feature of both versions is the focus on Christ’s sufferings and what I did to cause His anguish. I, too, would be wary of any version that did otherwise. I didn’t get to Stations this week but the two previous weeks I actually attended the Maronite-Rite version, prayed half in English and half in Aramaic. Different but no less a reminder of the great price paid for our ransom from sin. How sad that you have to travel so far because of the perhaps well-intentioned but seriously misguided actions of the pastor. The fruits of Vatican II, at work again! Have a blessed and peaceful Sunday my friend. Joyce

    • Joyce, you are blessed to have so many choices in your area! You are always going somewhere different and interesting but wonderful! I love St Faustina’s Diary, and I can imagine that any version of the Stations based on that would be very beautiful and meaningful.

      I’m sure the pastor means well. In the beginning, about three years ago, he said that we would try rotating different versions of the Stations…so maybe someone else had complained about the old ones. But, they never got rotated at all, and we just got stuck with the “me” ones. They are so uninspiring. I guess it’s especially disappointing, after so many years of beautiful Lenten Fridays which my husband shared with me.

      I think I’ll be doing my Stations at home tomorrow though…still not over this bug yet. Soon…hopefully. xo

  4. O I HEAR YOU, MY FRIEND. I hear you loud and clear. In my area, this type of “horizontal approach” has been problematic (getting better over the last several years, thank God). Everything “must” relate to me and us. As one friend (in another country) said of how the liturgy is celebrated in her parish: “we celebrate each other so well.” I have been to “parish missions” where Our Lord was barely mentioned. Everything was about US. To me, this is like the horizontal part of the Cross without the vertical. Which is not a cross at all. Such would only be a horizontal beam. In effect, a minus sign. Only when the horizontal relationship of us-to-us is firmly anchored on the vertical relationship of Christ to me – and Christ to you – do we have a Cross. Which is, as we know, the greatest plus sign the world has ever known. Sorry for a post length response – but this is something I have grieved over, at times and in varying circumstances, for years!

    • Nancy, I appreciate your heartfelt response so well. Those of us who lived through the 70’s and 80’s in particular, were simply immersed in this “me” kind of thinking. It certainly has gotten better over the last 20 years or so. I still remember going to Mass one Saturday morning in the 70’s and finding the sanctuary decorated with balloons. I was astounded.

      But, as you mentioned, it’s still out there to some extent. Sadly, I rarely attend parish missions around here, because they usually ARE based in the psychology/sociology genre. So many contemporary Catholic books are the same way. And then…I won’t even mention the architecture of churches built in the last 50 years!!! Now, THAT really breaks my heart. When my son got married in another city last summer, I had to ask the priest WHERE the Blessed Sacrament was! He directed me to a side room closed off from the main body of the church, and if you just looked in, you still couldn’t see the tabernacle. You had to enter and turn left, and there on the left wall was Jesus. It was a lovely tabernacle with a veil, but no one knew it was there.

      Still, I am grateful that I can now find wonderful, beautiful silent retreats, tune into EWTN on TV and radio and order books from places like Ignatius Press, and read wonderful Catholic blogs like yours. Now, if we could just get them to bring back St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Stations in our parishes!

      PS I love your observation that the horizontal beam alone is a “minus sign.” Exactly! 🙂 xoxo

  5. Patricia,

    The version by St. Alphonsus Liguori has always been one of my favorites! His words of prayer are so heartfelt! I don’t like the version that my parish uses, either, so my family and I pray our own stations at home. I do have a new favorite, though. It was written in the 1950’s (I believe) by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, the priest who started the Handmaids of the Precious Blood. It’s called “The Holy Face in the Way of the Cross.”His words are deeply moving and I especially love his 6th station where he writes: “Sorrowful Mother, lift my soul as a Veronica’s veil to the outraged face of Jesus. Beg him to leave thereon the image of His Holiness and Beauty so clearly impressed that the beauty of creatures may not draw me from my allegiance to the beauty of Christ.”

    The book is out of print; I found a used copy on amazon. Someday I’l scan it and share it on the blog, maybe during Holy Week.

    Thank you for your beautiful words here Patricia!

    • Anne, thank you so much for sharing…and going to the trouble of posting the links. I went first to the artwork and was simply captivated. What a beautiful idea..to meditate on the Face of Jesus at each station. I am going to use those pictures to make my Way of the Cross tonight. They are beautiful. I have a friend who is an artist, and she has great devotion to the Holy Face. She will die when I send her this link.

      I am going to look more into the book as well, and perhaps order it. I love the quote you gave about lifting our souls like Veronica’s veil. How exquisite!

      I truly hope everyone who reads through these comments will at least click on the link to the artwork and view the various “faces” of Jesus as He travels on the Road to the Cross.

      Thanks, Anne, for this treasure! God bless you!

  6. Patricia,

    I am guessing you suffered a lot during those Stations of the Cross. Perhaps you could just join your suffering with that of Jesus. Maybe those Stations could turn out to be more valuable than you imagined. I know it is not easy though. I have often suffered and been frustrated during Masses that have been changed beyond recognition. I find it very difficult to keep my head down and concentrate on Jesus. I find the same thing happens with certain types of Church music.

    I am sorry to hear you had such a hard time.

    God bless!

    • Sue, of course you are right! But, I didn’t suffer well; I was annoyed instead. Funny…this didn’t bother me as much last year. I think I thought they would go back to the original books this year, and I was just so disappointed that they hadn’t. Also, I miss my husband going with me, and he dropped out as soon as they started using this version.

      I’m sorry you are having similar experiences. Usually, if you live in a big city in the U.S., you can find at least one parish which is pretty traditional. That’s one thing I love about traveling…finding all kinds of beautiful churches and reverently celebrated Masses. We visited Charleston, South Carolina for several days two summers ago, and we found a lovely church, only a couple of blocks from our hotel,l which had noon Mass everyday. This was so unexpected, because Charleston does not have a high Catholic population. I think the church was protected by some kind of historical society or something 🙂

      One of my favorite finds is a large shopping mall/office building in Boston which has a nice little chapel with at least four daily Masses, and adoration and confession all afternoon. What an unexpected jewel in a busy, bustling place!

      But here, where I live…not so much. It’s hard to make daily Mass here. But, we do have a perpetual Adoration Chapel about 15 minutes from my house, and I’m ever so grateful for that! God bless you too! I’m excited about the conclave beginning Tuesday!

  7. Hi Patricia, it would take the focus off of Jesus if the reflection was about applying it to us. I have done one similar to that when visiting a homebound parishioner. It was beautiful and moving but I don’t think it would be a good fit in church. In front of the stations needs to be all about Jesus. God bless you!

    • Hi Noreen…forgive my delay in responding. I’ve been sick, but am on the mend..thank You God.

      I agree. It’s definitely not a good “fit” in church, before the big crucifix, and the Most Blessed Sacrament…and even the Stations on the wall are rather traditional looking. To be honest, I don’t think I would even use the “me” ones for private devotion. I think the Way of the Cross is such a beautiful devotion for meditating on the Passion of Christ. There are lessons for us in everything Jesus did, but sometimes, it just seems appropriate that the focus should really be on Him. Like Nancy mentioned above, sometimes it seems like we are always “celebrating each other…” We are so good at that 🙂

      Thanks so much for commenting, Noreen. May the remainder of Lent be a real blessing to you!

  8. Ugh! I feel for you my friend! I never get much out of devotions that take the focus off Jesus. There’s a huge difference between a rich, scriptural meditation on passages from Isaiah, the Psalms and the Gospels and the current day focus on ourselves. I also don’t like books with “daily meditations” that take the focus off of Christ. We are self-centered enough these days. True sorrow for our sins (along with other graces) comes through meditating on what HE did for us.

    God bless!

    • Mary, I agree completely. I don’t like those “daily meditation” books either. I know that for me to even have any hope of practicing charity or kindness, etc., to my neighbor, I really need to spend time thinking about Jesus first. We have to start with Him. He is the Source. It’s so difficult these days to hear homilies, etc., that essentially sound like Jesus really just came to show us how to be nice to one another. And, we all hear those…

      I have my great aunt’s confirmation prayerbook from 1901. There is so much in that tiny little book….you should see the print. Can’t believe that 30 years ago I could actually read it without glasses! Anyway, it was meant for a child, but the prayers and hymns and little poems etc., are so rich in beauty and devotion and are entirely appropriate for anyone of any age who loves Jesus. Some things speak to the soul, and really span all ages.

      God bless you, Mary….loved Sue’s post about you 🙂 xoxo

  9. Patricia, this has been the situation at our parish, too. I have that St. Alphonsus Liguori booklet..
    The one they used was so childish.. I thought someone must have made a mistake in ordering or something.
    Makes me think of Heb 5:12-14

    ‘ By now you should be teachers. Instead, you still need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food. All those who live on milk lack the experience to talk about what is right. They are still babies…’

    I’m still looking around ..
    Love, blessings and+

    • Caroline, I have my St. Alphonsus booklet somewhere too…in very aged condition though. But I have to look for it.

      Thank you so much for sharing that Scripture. Before I read your comment, I kept thinking of “pablum.” (Do they still call it that?) 🙂

      I really believe most people are hungry for so much more. I remember as a little child, being so moved by those Stations…..and especially how seriously I took them, and with what trembling I repeated: “….and then do with me what Thou wilt.”

      I think a lot of people kept that booklet from childhood, because of the deep encounters with Jesus experienced while repeating those words every Lent throughout Catholic school. I hope our new pope will make a way to get the “meat” to us.

      May God bless you in your search for more…. Love and hugs!

  10. This is just so typical of so many things these days. “Meditation” that is no more than thinking about your own feelings and state of mind, for example. The one I experience often and really struggle with is the 1970s faux-folk or 1980s pseudo-Broadway songs sung at Mass. It’s really trying going up to communion while the congregation is singing, “We come to tell our story…” We should be singing about (and to!) Jesus! Why does everything have to be about us?

  11. Oh Connie, are they still singing the folk songs in your parish? My goodness….they should have moved on by now! I laughed when I read: “We come to tell our story….” I remember that one well.

    I was in the Kumbaya sp? generation. They would actually sing that at Communion time. The worst was on the Sunday before July 4th when the cantor led everyone in America the Beautiful at Communion time!!

    Of course we should be singing TO Jesus, and praising and thanking HIM. It’s so frustrating. We usually have the cantor singing a solo during Communion. She is singing better songs, but they aren’t addressed to Jesus. I don’t understand either.

    Maybe I’ll print out all these comments and mail them to our new pope…when we have one 🙂

    It’s nice to know were aren’t alone in our frustration…we all have each other! At least the Mass translation is better now. Maybe the rest will catch up eventually.

    Thanks for visiting Connie….you made me smile with your comment 🙂

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