How can we be Easter People in a Good Friday/Holy Saturday world?
The challenge to be Easter People
A Good Friday World
Some 75 years ago a great catechist, Johannes Hoffinger, asked: if we are Easter People, why do we so often go around looking like people in need of an aspirin? At first glance, the question is easy to understand.
Who among us is not suffering? The sufferings of the body of Christ today are very real. There are those that make our daily headlines. Others are uppermost in our personal and family lives be it chronic illness, addiction, lack of a job or other opportunities, etc..
A Holy Saturday World
On that first Holy Saturday, despair and confusion were profound for those who had been following Jesus. They now found themselves in a world without Jesus and hope.
But how different is that from the multitudes who live with despair and confusion today. Sometimes it is rooted in poverty but growing numbers are dealing with the loss of what gave them meaning and a reason for living – a sense of belonging and identity. Not yet having experienced the resurrection of Jesus they could not hope. Even when they did they had to learn to recognize him when he appeared unexpectedly and in contexts they did not expect.
Accepting the challenge to become Easter People
Pope Francis and other Popes have spoken of a “culture of death.” Where can we find signs of hope and resurrection today? To some degree, it becomes a question of what we look for and focus on. Let me suggest a little known way to discover, focus on and deepen an awareness of signs of the resurrection in our lives today.
Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis)
There is a little known tradition called the Stations of the Resurrection. It goes significantly further than just adding a 15th station to the stations of the cross. Not many people are aware of it being recommended in the 2001 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy authorized by Pope John Paul II.
Following the model of the Via Crucis, (in the Via Lucis) the faithful process while meditating on the various appearances of Jesus – from his Resurrection to his Ascension – in which he showed his glory to the disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14, 26; 16, 13-15; Lk 24, 49), strengthened their faith, brought to completion his teaching on the Kingdom and more closely defined the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church.
- Jesus Rises From the Dead (Matthew 28:1-7)
- The Disciples Find the Tomb Empty (John 20:1-9)
- The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)
- The Risen Lord Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27)
- The Risen Lord Is Recognized at the Breaking of Bread (Luke 24:28-35)
- The Risen Lord Appears to His Disciples (Luke 24:36-43)
- The Lord Gives the Power to Forgive Sins (John 20:19-23)
- The Lord Confirms the Faith of Thomas (John 20:24-29)
- The Risen Lord Meets His Disciples on the Shore of Lake Tiberias (John 21:1-13)
- The Risen Lord Confers the Primacy on Peter (John 21:15-17)
- The Risen Lord Entrusts to His Disciples the Mission to the World (Matthew 28:16-20)
- The Risen Lord Ascends to the Father (Acts 1:6-11)
- Waiting for the Holy Spirit With Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14)
- The Risen Lord Sends the Holy Spirit Promised to the Disciples (Acts 2:1-13)
In practice, there is no official list. People often just read the Acts of the Apostles looking for parallels in their own lives. However, the Catholic News Agency offers a detailed booklet.
The stations of the resurrection with a Vincentian twist
St. Vincent de Paul often tells his companions to “honor” this or that mystery of the life of Christ. He asks us to see how our experience mirrors an experience of Christ in the Gospels. It means discovering the echoes of the situations of Christ’s life in our experiences today.
Why not try praying some of these stations looking through the newspapers of your life to see echoes of these stations.
Visit VinFormation to Journey with the Risen Lord in the Company of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
A few quick examples
- When has someone walked with me and helped me see something in a new way?
- When did I not recognize Jesus because I was not expecting to see him?
- When did I eat a meal with Jesus and only later realize it?
- When did Jesus meet me in the depths of my doubts and ask me to put my hands in his wounds?
- What mission has Jesus entrusted to me?
- When was I surprised by the power of he Spirit?