Stations of the Cross
Tonight I attended a community Stations of the Cross. RCIA was invited to join in & we met in the day chapel with about 20 others from the parish. There were so many of us, people overflowed into the darkened sanctuary. We began with a prayer & the Penitential Act, a couple readings from scripture & then grabbed our booklets & headed for the sanctuary. We had to pass the tabernacle & the altar on the way out. I was nervous about being so close (its where the consecrated Host is kept)... The Sanctuary light was burning in the red glass & I watched to see if people knelt or bowed or crossed themselves as they passed by. Some did, some didn't. I didn't kneel, bow OR cross myself, but lowered my head & looked away, praying all the while for forgiveness. I passed by both the tabernacle & the altar in this way, feeling a strange mixture of fear, shame & longing.
Two little girls led the way with candles & I caught up with the group at the first station. Father took us through a brief meditation & we responded by kneeling briefly, repeating a prayer & singing a hymn together. The Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be were optional prayers we did not include. This went on for all 14 stations & then we returned to the chapel to continue Mass. When the time came to get in line, I thought about bolting out the door & going outside to cry... I felt overwhelmed, trying to assimilate it all. Instead, I remained in line, received my blessing & returned to my seat.
Doing the Stations in community was a little surreal. I felt like we were on a tour bus of sorts, leaning out the windows at each stop & then quickly moving on to our next destination. I wished we could have taken more time with each meditation... but I suppose that can be done well enough in private. The overall experience was admittedly kind of jarring. I wasn't really sure what to expect as folks rattled through their prayers like the alphabet... Clearly they had done this before. Me, I always felt a step behind. But no one gave me the stink eye or called me a heretic. After Mass, I walked over to the fellowship hall & slurped soup with friends.