As of yesterday, there were just the right number of days to go through the Stations of the Cross before Easter.
So... as a little end-of-Lent project, the children and I will be going through each of the Stations, one per day, for the next two weeks ending on Holy Saturday. In the spirit of Lenten recollection, then, instead of posting as usual, I thought I'd share the stations each day and some links along with some discussions we'll have to go along with each station.
Monday, Fifth Week of Lent:
The First Station:
Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die
...and having scourged Jesus, delivered him unto them to be crucified.
And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. ...Jesus he delivered up to their will.
Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth.
-John 19:16Things to talk about with the children for the first station:
This point made in St. Francis of Asissi's Stations (below): In order to remain a friend of Caesar, Pilate delivers Jesus into the hands of His enemies. O fearful crime, to condemn Innocence to death and to displease God in order to please men.
This dovetails into a discussion of the dangers of human respect
What are the dangers of "human respect"? Human respect sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? Everyone wants the respect of others -- but even the popes warn us of its dangers. Pope Leo XIII (Vi è ben noto, 1887), for instance, encourages thus: "We ardently exhort you, venerable brethren, devote all your care and zeal to kindle among those committed to your charge a strong, living and active faith, and to call on all to return by penance to grace and to the faithful fulfillment of all their duties. Among such duties, considering the state of the times, must be reckoned as paramount an open and sincere profession of the faith and teaching of Jesus Christ, casting aside all human respect, and considering before all thing the interest of religion and the salvation of souls."
So, what exactly does human respect mean in this context? In a nutshell, it refers to our concern of what others think of us. And, just like there's good and bad pride, there are good kinds and proper degrees of human respect. For instance, we should always try to maintain a common dignity before our fellow man; we should try to preserve our good name as examples of Christianity, by living the Commandments, the precepts, and the beatitudes. And in this way, we're respectable before man, but more importantly, we're pleasing before God, too. But there can be a problem with "human respect" when degree and priority are askew. The children can understand the bad side of human respect if we call it "peer pressure."
Think about peer pressure in the context of Christ's passion. Would Pontius Pilate have condemned Jesus if he weren't afraid of what the crowds would do or of what the Roman authorities would think if he didn't? Was he guided by human respect instead of by his own conscience? He knew he was doing the wrong thing and even tried to was his hands of the whole matter. Think about St. Peter's caving in to peer pressure when he denied Christ three times. Think about the Apostles' fear from Our Lord's arrest in the Garden of Olives until the time of the Pentecost. How would they have acted differently if they hadn't been affected by peer pressure -- human respect?
What historical or literary figures can the children think of who had a bad end because of peer pressure? How do we see it in Animal Farm, for instance? How about peer pressure in Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer tales? How were people influenced by peer pressure during the Nazi takeovers in Europe? Or during the French Revolution? The Protestant Revolt? How has our society caved in to bad trends -- like alcoholism, smoking, the belief in evolution -- because "every one does it" or "everyone thinks it's so?"
Now, let's bring the topic home. How do (we and) our children suffer from the ill-effects of human respect? When my teenage daughter chooses an outfit, does she sacrifice modesty in order to "fit in" -- in order to look cool? When my athletic older sons play basketball, do they imitate the foul language sometimes used by their oponents in order to live up to some worldly "macho" standard? Do my grown children see movies they know they shouldn't so they won't be left out of the conversation when 'hot' movies are the talk among the FB set? When my preteen daughters meet up with their little girlfriends, do they go against their Mommy's instructions and try to set up impromptu playdates? Do I choose what to blog about according to what I really think is important or what I think people want to see, what will secure readership?
When does our moral integrity suffer due to human respect?
The Stations of the Cross by St. Alphonsus de Liguori:
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing
All His bitter anguish bearing
Now at length the sword has passed
The Stations of the Cross by St. Francis of Asissi:V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Jesus, the most innocent of beings, is condemned to death, yes, to the shameful death of the cross. In order to remain a friend of Caesar, Pilate delivers Jesus into the hands of His enemies. O fearful crime, to condemn Innocence to death and to displease God in order to please men.
O innocent Jesus, * I have sinned and I am guilty of eternal death; * but that I may Live, * Thou dost gladly accept the unjust sentence of death. * For whom then shall I henceforth live * if not for Thee, my Lord? * If I desire to please men, * I can not be Thy servant. * Let me, therefore, rather displease the whole world * than not please Thee, O Jesus!
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
The Stational Churches of Rome
(A fun study to do with the children and just cool to check out.)An explanation and list of the traditional Stational Churches For Lent can be found here, as well as links for a virtual tour of each church. Here is the short explanation given on this site:
Countless parish churches around the world have Stations of the Cross during Lent. Rome has its station churches. Visiting these station churches has been a central feature of Christian life for at least 15 centuries.
The faithful make their way to a different church each of the 40 days of Lent for Mass and the singing of the Litany of the Saints. The pilgrimage to the shrines of the apostles and martyrs is an opportunity to pray for the Church through the intercession of the saints.
The practice of visiting the particular station churches dates back to the pontificate of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604). Pope St. Gregory standardized the churches throughout Rome that would be used for the "statio," or stations, during the liturgical year. With time, the stations were moved to the Lenten season, but the list of churches has mostly remained the same since the time of Gregory.
The practice of the Lenten stations declined in the late Middle Ages and was revived after the Council of Trent in the 16th century. They became popular again in the past century, even though the Popes have ceased to preside over the daily stations.
Sunday's Stational Church in Rome was St. Peter's in the Vatican! For virtual tours of the basilica, you can go here.
Other Activities to Acompany the Stations of the Cross
* Go here to find links and pictures of the Stations of the Cross where they actually took place in Jerusalem!
* The history and practice of the Stations of the Cross may be found at the Fish Eaters website.
* You can download a free Stations of the Cross coloring booklet from CatholicMom here. Or find black and white engravings of the fourteen stations here.
* To purchase a pocket-sized children's stations of the Cross (in color or in B&W to be colored), run over to Catholicartworks.com.