Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 36:
Lichfield 4: Mother

‘Mother’ … Station 4 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus meets his mother Mary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In my meditations and reflections in Lent this year, I am being guided by the Stations of the Cross from three locations. The idea for this series of morning Lenten meditations came from reading about Peter Walker’s new exhibition, ‘Imagining the Crucifixion,’ inspired by the Stations of the Cross, which opened in Lichfield Cathedral last month and continues until the end of Lent.

Throughout Lent, my meditations each morning are inspired by three sets of Stations of the Cross that I have found either inspiring or unusual. They are the stations in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, at Saint John’s Well on a mountainside near Millstreet, Co Cork, and in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield.

In my meditations, I am drawing on portions of the Stabat Mater, the 12th century hymn of the Crucifixion (‘At the cross her station keeping’) attributed to the Franciscan poet Jacopone da Todi. Some prayers are traditional, some are from the Book of Common Prayer, and other meditations and prayers are by Canon Frank Logue and the Revd Victoria Logue of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Lichfield 4: ‘Mother’

For these last two weeks in Lent, I am looking at the 14 Stations of the Cross in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield. Since the age of 19, I have regarded this chapel as my spiritual home.

The Fourth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus meets his mother Mary.’ But in the Fourth Station in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, instead of a traditional full description, there is one simple word in plain capital letters: ‘Mother.’

It is a silent moment of love and pathos. They gaze into each other’s eyes, but seem to say nothing. She touches him with both hands placed on his beating heart, signalling the embrace she cannot offer; he touches her with one hand, resting his hand loosely on an arm of his cross.

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs,
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Meditation:

Mother and child. Madonna.
Joseph has died. There is no angelic choir.
No shepherds. No wise men.
Gone are the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Mary sees her battered son through a veil of tears.

Prayers:

Son of God, son of Mary, the crowd heaps scorn and turns the blade that pierces your mother’s own soul. Grant us the grace to see those in needless suffering and to reach out to them showing the love you wanted to show to your mother Mary as you stumbled toward Calvary. This we pray in the name of Jesus, our crucified Lord, the King of Glory, the King of Peace. Amen.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

Jesus, you feel so alone with all those people yelling and screaming at you. You do not like the words they are saying about you, and you look for a friendly face in the crowd. You see your mother. She cannot make the hurting stop, but it helps to see that she is on your side, that she is suffering with you. She does understand and care.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

Holy God,
Holy and mighty Holy immortal one,
Have mercy on us.

Tomorrow: ‘Simon’ … Station 5 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross.

Yesterday’s reflection

The entrance to Saint John’s Hospital on Saint John Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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