The Stations of the Cross are a Catholic devotion, accompanying Jesus from his condemnation by Pilate to his burial in the tomb. A few years ago I walked the original Way of the Cross in Jerusalem, but each year I usually accompany some communities with the Stations in the streets of their villages.
This year the Dulce Nombre parish celebrated the Way of the Cross in the street of Dulce Nombre de Copán. Several hundred people from all over the parish gathered for the four hour procession, followed by Mass.
|The cross of alcohol abuse|
This year has been a hard year for the parish. The economic situation is poor, especially due to the roya that affected much of the coffee crop. The security situation has worsened with a large number of murders (usually targeted) in the parish. There has been one kidnapping recently. There is a lot of concern about alcohol and drugs. A number of young people have left to try to get to the US to better the lives of their families and several have been deported back to Honduras. Padre German is trying to help the parish reorganize in order to have strong faith formation and functioning base communities – and it has not been easy. Some people have been a bit upset (since their power was threatened.)
Therefore it was good to see so many people to come to pray the Stations.
For the stations we edited a text describing the station, and then added a scripture quotation and a quote from martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Then we had three petitions, which were based on the reality of the parish.
Padre German had also asked people to bring crosses with the photos or names of people who had been murdered in the parish. The village of Montaña Adentro brought four crosses, three with photos. There were two crosses from Zone 3 of the parish with about 10 names.
At the twelfth station, Jesus dies on the cross, we left a time for people to mention those murdered. After the names on the crosses were read, we asked others to add names. There must have been about eight to ten more names of murdered, at least one from a few years ago.
I found myself greeting a lot of people, but I especially spent time hugging or standing near people from Montaña Adentro, including the wife and sons of one person killed (whom I knew) and the mother and brother of a seventeen year old who had been killed. All I could do at one time was to put my arm around one of the young men as his eyes filled with tears. This was a small way to accompany them in their sorrow.
Padre German was clear in his remarks at each station in his condemnation of violence and what causes the violence. He spoke very strongly about domestic violence.
But he also spoke of the importance to maintain the risen Lord as a source of hope in the midst of all this sorrow and tribulation.
The Mass was very simple, celebrated outside on the steps.
|Children from Bañaderas with the Black Christ of Esquipulas|
Children from the village of Bañaderas brought a crucifix that had been donated for the church. It is the image of the Black Christ of Esquipulas. In a society that is racist and classist, it moves me to see that image.
The families from Montaña Adentro brought the four crosses commemorating their dead and placed them in front of the altar.
It was a moving and prayerful morning – and I am so glad I could be there with the people.
I’ll be with another community on Good Friday morning for their celebration of the Way of the Cross. We’ll again use the stations we prayed today – since Padre German has asked the villages to use the stations in their Good Friday prayer.
More photos of the Via Crucis can be found here: