As part of the Vigil (=a holy hour that lasts more than an hour) on Friday evening, we prayed the Stations of the Cross. While the overarching theme of the three days has been The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World, each day has had a sub-theme. Like the main theme, these have been drawn from the International Eucharistic Congress, taking place in Quebec, Canada in 1 months time. The sub-theme for Friday was the Passion and Death of Jesus - hence the praying of the Stations of the Cross.
The meditation for each station was constructed as follows:
a short Scripture text, drawn from the Book of Isaiah
a story of a contemporary situation that reflects the meaning of the station
a prayer relating to the contemporary situation, followed by an invocation
a verse of "Were you there when they crucified my Lord", with the words adapted to suit the particular Station.
This structure was intended to allow each station to reflect the overarching theme of Jesus as the Gift of God who gives life to the world today. The contemporary situations included alcohol addiction, an unplanned teenage pregnancy, a young person being offered drugs at night club, domestic violence, a mother whose son had stopped going to Mass, a pupil with a stammer being bullied at school, the killing of Jimmy Mizen (my meditation implictly linked Jimmy's mother's statements about not feeling any anger towards the family of her son's killer to the Virgin Mary receiving Jesus in her arms at the foot of the Cross).
The image below shows the meditation for one of the stations. As you will see, it shows how each meditation was the result of the electronic version of "cut and paste" rather than any original writing on my part.
"Were you there when they stripped Him of His clothes" was the verse sung at the end of this meditation.
One lady who was present has thanked me, saying how many of the meditations were relevant to situations in her own life and family. A catechist from a neighbouring parish has taken a copy of the meditations to use with her confirmation candidates. Another parishioner telephoned me earlier this evening to thank me for "the feast I had laid before them".
The meditation for the 15th Station, the Resurrection of Jesus, will give you some idea of the power of some of the meditations. This meditation was followed by silence, rather than by any singing.
It was quite extraordinary what such a small child could feel and notice, and how we could tell what she felt. It became clearer and clearer what her little soul was going through, and what she had to communicate to us. As her body grew weaker, it became more and more strongly an expression of her soul. That became powerfully clear to us in the hour of her death.
The last few days our child was given to live among us were hard for the human heart to bear, yet extremely great and powerful, filled with promise because of the nearness of Christ.
It was remarkable that each time we interceded for Emmy Maria and gathered ourselves inwardly, the powers of death withdrew, and she revived. Whereas before she lay there apathetic and unresponsive, with half-open eyes, shallow breath, and very weak pulse, she would suddenly open her eyes, look at us, cry, and drink, moving her hands and turning her head when she was gently touched. Sometimes such a transformation came within seconds.
There was a special atmosphere of love in her room. It went out from her and filled the whole house, and united us in special love to each other.
Just before the end our little one opened her eyes wide, wider than they had ever been in her life. Then, with a clear, shining, otherworldly gaze, she looked at both of us for a long time. There was no sorrow and no suffering left in those eyes, but a message from the other world, a message of joy. She could not tell us anything in words, of course, but her eyes bore witness to the heavenly splendour and unspeakable joy there is with Christ.
With this gaze, our dearly beloved child took leave of us. We shall never forget those radiant eyes.