I made it up to Stations of the Cross at St. Francis by the second station. I came out of work to a flat tire. It keeps going low, probably a leaking valve. I'll get it fixed soon. Meanwhile there is some compressor thing in the warehouse that I can easily use and I just lose a few minutes.
I have attended Stations at other churches once or twice in my life. But I'm not good with change. I always come back to Father Mahoney. This is not to say that things don't change there as well. There is a part at the beginning of each station where the priest says "We adore you Oh Christ and we praise You." and the reply used to be "Because by Your Cross & Resurrection you have Redeemed the world" This was was changed to "Because by Your Cross & Resurrection you have saved the world". It was changed about 10 years ago, maybe more. I've just about got the hang of it. LOL
There have been other changes. When I was in grade school, the upper Church would be packed during the 3 pm service with all my fellow students and others who preferred an afternoon service. When I was an adult I went to the 7 pm service. As you can imagine attendance has declined over the years. In some ways I am sorry and in others I am not. Many of those who are not there didn't want to be in the first place. They didn't really participate and in some cases distracted.
During Stations you are supposed to contemplate the suffering Christ endured for our sins. It's easier to do so with less ambient noise.
A few years ago Stations was moved down to the smaller Chapel under the Church. It's much harder to sneak in late, lol. But I am beyond getting in trouble for being late. Father knows I travel a good distance to be there and after being close to me for over forty years....he is no longer surprised by my occasional tardiness. I hope he knows that I make more of an effort for him that for nearly anyone else.
Normally Stations is a very pleasant contemplative time for me. I cherish the rituals of my Church. I love looking up and seeing Father Mahoney, just as I did in 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 and tonight. As he has aged and I see how he suffers from painful arthritis, sometimes my heart simply aches for him. There he is, carrying on for us, when at his age and in his condition, no one would blame him for taking an easier path.
So there I was in the front pew, taking a moment to settle in for the third station. To feel the familiar surroundings envelope me. I am home again in a safe, secure place. I always feel good, no matter what problem weighs on my mind outside those doors. I let go and I go with the words and the genuflecting and the standing and the kneeling. I hear and speak about Christ's suffering. I am encouraged to think of His suffering when I have problems of my own.
Stations is easily my favorite thing in the Catholic Church. Not Christmas. Not Easter.
And then I start to cry. Just a little. Nothing embarrassing. Although I am completely horrified by my lack of control. My crying is not noticeable to others. But I am crying steadily and I can not stop. I keep my head down, When Father Mahoney passes in front of me I pretend to read the booklet. I don't need to, I know the responses. Normally I would look up and meet his eyes and smile. Normally I am happy and grateful and warm.
But the words are getting to me. The words to bear my suffering and hardships like Christ. To remember His suffering in light of our own minor problems.
The words are making me face it. I haven't been good. I haven't been kind. I haven't tried to model my behaviour after His.
I can't turn away. I can't ignore it. I have not been good or kind or understanding. I certainly haven't been patient.
Father Mahoney has always been able to look at me and see everything. If I raise my head and he sees my eyes, I will be lost.
Then Stations ended and the Benediction began. Father moves up onto the Altar. The Altar server is holding the thurible. The fragrant cloud is settling over us. I have to concentrate on my Latin and this gives some other part of my brain the chance to pull itself together.
I don't hang to say "Hi" to Joan or other people I know. I get to my car as quickly as possible and let the sound of the rain on the roof calm me.
I certainly didn't pop down to see my parents.