Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Stations of the poor

The Stations of the Cross is a Catholic devotion through which we follow Jesus in fourteen stations on his way from his condemnation by Pilate to his entombment. In the last few decades a fifteenth station – the Resurrection – has been added.

Last year Padre German challenged the people in the Dulce Nombre parish to take the Stations out of the church and into the streets of the villages. I was glad, since my experience in El Salvador in 1992 included Stations in the streets of the villages. I also appreciated the Good Friday tradition at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames to walk the Stations of the Cross on the Iowa State University campus.

Simon carries the Cross - at ISU

Today in the meeting of the parish’s Zone 2 – the St. Michael Zone – I asked about the stations. I was very pleased to hear that at least in one village they stopped for a station outside the houses of a few sick people. What a witness – to draw near to the sick so that they can hear the prayers of the Stations and connect their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ. What a simple way to accompany the poor in their suffering.

On the way back from the meeting, I saw a stooped old woman on the side of the road dragging about five large pieces of firewood. I stopped and put the limbs in the bed of the truck. She then got into the truck – with a broken arm.

In the meantime, someone ran up and asked for a ride to Dulce Nombre. “Just hurry up,” I said.

I talked with the young woman who carried a large 15 month old child. I asked if she were Catholic and if there were base communities in the village. Yes, she said. I then urged her to have the base community to see what they could do to bring wood every day to this 77 year old woman.

She then told me that she had carried wood for her the other day.

I told her that that is a great thing to do – yet it would be better if a base community helped here every day.

There are base communities that take on these challenge of solidarity among the poor.

But it is a challenge for some base communities who will respond to needs but are sometimes not organized enough to see what they can do together or are too focused on getting others (especially political leaders or non-governmental organizations) to help.

The need of the old woman and the act of kindness of the young woman touch me today, perhaps because of the first reading from today’s Mass, Isaiah 58: 9-14:

If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like noonday…

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