Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 42:
Lichfield 10: Stripped

‘Stripped’ … Station 10 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus is stripped of his clothes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This is Holy Week and the last week in Lent. Throughout Holy Week, there are special services in each of the churches in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes. This evening, this service is the Late Evening Office at 8 p.m. in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert, Co Kerry.

Throughout Lent, my meditations each morning are guided by three sets of Stations of the Cross that I have found either inspiring or unusual. These 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.

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.

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 10: ‘Stripped’

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 I was a 19-year-old, I have regarded this chapel as my spiritual home.

The Tenth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus is stripped of his clothes.’ But in the Tenth 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: ‘Stripped.’

In this Station of the Cross in Saint John’s, the Cross is not to be seen. The solider stripping Christ of his clothes seems to be embarrassed as he places his left hand on Christ’s right shoulder, almost in a gesture of doomed solidarity, while Christ lifts his left hand to his heart, almost in a gesture of forgiveness.

Did these two exchange any conversation, any words, in the course of this encounter?

Did they realise how each other was exposed and vulnerable in this moment?

Was there a mutual understanding of the embarrassment each other is going through?

How often do we seek to cover ourselves in ways that cloak and disguise our embarrassment and our feelings of vulnerability?

Yet, as Saint Paul reminds us, ‘we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it’ (I Timothy 6: 7).

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Meditation:

Despised. Rejected.
Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani?
My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
From top to bottom the veil in the Temple is torn in two.

Prayers:

Lamb that was slain, as you cried out to your Father from the cross we learned how deep was your suffering, how complete was your sense of abandonment. Be present with us when others betray us or forsake us that we may find ourselves in your eyes and not theirs. 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.

The soldiers notice you have something of value. They remove your cloak and throw dice for it. Your wounds are torn open once again. Some of the people in the crowd make fun of you. They tease you and challenge you to perform a miracle for them to see. They are not aware that you will perform the greatest miracle of all!

The Collect of the Day (Tuesday in Holy Week):

O God, who by the passion of your blessed Son made
an instrument of shameful death
to be for us the means of life:
Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ,
that we may gladly suffer pain and loss
for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lenten Collect:


Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

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

Tomorrow: ‘Nailed’ … Station 11 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Yesterday’s reflection

Inside the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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