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Via Crucis - Via Lucis

on Saturday, 15 March 2008. Posted in Bishop Peter Ingham

Via Crucis - Via Lucis

Any Catholic worth his or her salt knows about the Via Crucis - the Way of the Cross.   We Catholics follow Jesus on his journey to Calvary, not only during Lent, and especially on Good Friday, but also at other times when our personal devotion inspires us.

I personally had not come across the Via Lucis until I read about it in my advance copy of the Vatican's valuable publication "Popular Piety and the Liturgy" published in 2002.   It is available through Pauline Books.

The Via Lucis (Way of Light) follows the model of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) with 14 Stations or stops, so that those processing may meditate on the various appearances of Jesus after his Resurrection up to his Ascension and then his sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.   This is the period in which Jesus revealed his glory as the Risen Saviour and Lord to his disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit.   Jesus said, "... the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you." (Jn 14:26)

"But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from himself, but will say only what he has learnt and he will tell you of the things to come.   He will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine." (Jn 16:13-14)

Formation of the Twelve

During this period between his rising from the dead at Easter and his return to the Father when he ascended into heaven, Jesus strengthened the disciples' faith, completed his teaching on the Kingdom of God and more closely defined the Church's sacramental and governance structures, eg:

  • "Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved." (Mk 16:15-16)
  • "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you." (Mt 28:18-20) (Baptism)
  • "As the Father sent me, so I am sending you." After saying this, he (Jesus) breathed on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit.   If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained." (Jn 20:22-23) (Penance)
  • "Now while he was with them at table, he took the Bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them.  And their eyes were opened and they recognised him" (at the Breaking of Bread). (Lk 24:30-31; 35) (Eucharist)
  • "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?"  "Feed my lambs"; "look after my sheep"; "feed my sheep". (Jn 21:15-17) (Pastoral mandate for Peter to govern)
  • "Go out to the whole world proclaim the gospel to all creation." (Mk 16:15)
  • "So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.   You are witnesses to this." (Lk 24:46-48) (To the Twelve)

When we make the Stations of Light or the Stations of the Resurrection, we are recalling the focal event of our faith: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the fact that you and I are saved, redeemed, forgiven and drawn into communion with the God of love through the Paschal Sacrament of Baptism.   This is our personal passover from the darkness of sin and evil to the bright radiance of the light of grace. St Paul tells us:  "(God) has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the Kingdom of the Son whom he loves, and in him (Jesus), we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins." (Col 1:13)

"You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.   Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, having nothing to do with the futile works of darkness, but exposing them by contrast.   The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light." (Eph 5:8-14)

Both Aspects of the Paschal Mystery

For centuries the Via Crucis has involved us, and our forebears in the faith, in the first aspect of the Paschal Triduum, namely Jesus' condemnation, suffering, death and burial.   A more recent Vatican edition of the Stations published in the 1970s begins with the Last Supper and finishes with the Resurrection, omitting Stations with no strict scriptural allusion.

Resembling the concept of the Via Crucis, the Via Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can convey a living understanding of the second aspect of the Paschal Triduum - Jesus' triumph over death when he rose from the dead.

The Core of the Gospel

The Via Lucis helps us emphasise the central core-message of the Church's proclamation of the Gospel -  that Jesus Christ died on the Cross and was raised to life for us, so that we might be saved, redeemed, forgiven and drawn into communion with the God who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Sadly this crucial, central core-message, right at the heart of the Gospel, is not always seen for what it is, and, at times, can become just one element of teaching the faith among many others. Yet everything else we believe, as Catholics, flows from the Paschal Mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour.

When we proclaim this central core-message with faith, it can evoke a response in the hearts and minds of those who listen to it.  "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the Word of Christ." (Rom 10:17)

There is an old Latin dictum or saying: per crucem ad lucem (through the Cross to the light).   So the two-edged Via Crucis and Via Lucis devotions have the potential to teach us what is at the very centre of our faith.

A Culture of Life

The Via Lucis moves us from the Via Crucis experience of Christ's sufferings, which find an echo in our own times of physical, mental, moral and emotional suffering to the hope of coming to the true purpose of our lives, the freedom, joy and peace that we will find in God, the one Being who can completely satisfy every yearning we have.

Via Lucis can stimulate us to restoring a "culture of life" that is open to the hope and certitude offered by our faith in Jesus our Saviour, in contrast to a "culture of death and despair" that so often characterises elements of our secular society that would reject all religious and moral principles as if these were the obstacles preventing human society from progressing.

VIA LUCIS

1st Station

Jesus Rises from the Dead (Mt 28:1-7)

2nd Station

The Disciples Find the Tomb Empty (Jn 20:1-9)

3rd Station

The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:11-18)

4th Station

The Risen Lord Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-27)

5th Station

The Risen Lord is recognised at the Breaking of Bread (Lk 24:28-35)

6th Station

The Risen Lord Appears to His Disciples (Lk 24:36-43)

7th Station

The Risen Lord Gives the Power to Forgive Sins (Jn 20:19-23)

8th Station

The Risen Lord Confirms the Faith of Thomas (Jn 20:24-29)

9th Station

The Risen Lord Meets his Disciples on the Shore of Lake Tiberias (Jn 21:1-13)

10th Station

The Risen Lord Confers the Primacy on Peter (Jn 21:15-17)

11th Station

The Risen Lord Entrusts to his Disciples the Mission to the World (Mt 28:16-20)

12th Station

The Risen Lord Ascends to the Father (Acts 1:6-11)

13th Station

Waiting for the Holy Spirit with Mary the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14)

14th Station

The Risen Lord Sends the Holy Spirit Promised to the Disciples (Acts 2:1-13)

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