S. MICHAEL HUTCHESON
Good Friday is one of the most important days of the Catholic liturgical year. It is arguably the most meaningful day to appreciate and contemplate the Lord’s sacrifice. Catholics from all over the world devote themselves to prayer and meditation on the way of the cross. This meaningful devotion and contemplative prayer on the passion of Christ is the vision which Clara Bauer, the director of the Living Stations production, hopes to bring into reality.
“For the people who come to watch (the Living Stations), it’s an hour- and a-half time period where they can pray and just enter into a down-to-earth interpretation of what you would see in the stations,” said Bauer. It is an opportunity to meditate on the reality of what the crowds actually saw that day and what it was truly like for Jesus to go through, she explained.
As meditative music plays in the background, every station is acted out in a brief performance by the Living Stations team in a way that conveys the emotion of the scene. According to Bauer, the actors are “not there to be theatrical” so much as they are there to draw people into the mystery of Jesus’ sacrifice. Every station is also followed by readings and prayers that turn one’s mind and heart towards the Lord.
Overall, for the 25-plus years that Christ the King Chapel has been hosting the Living Stations, the experience has always been one of sincere spirituality and appreciation of Good Friday.
“You could pray the stations of the cross every Friday, but this is … the day to pray the stations of the cross, and it’s the most augmented way to pray it,” said Robert Palladino, director of chapel ministries at Christ the King Chapel. “It draws you in meditatively.”
One of the things that sets the Living Stations production apart from most other events on campus is the emphasis that is placed on immersion in the Lord’s passion. Far from being a mere drama to sit back and observe, the Living Stations are intended to be a powerful spiritual experience and a time to appreciate the sacrifice of the cross in greater depth of feeling. “If you were to talk to anyone from the Living Stations itself, they don’t even like to say it’s a play,” said Palladino. “It’s a prayer.”
Bauer emphasized that many of the students that volunteered for the Living Stations were not even actors, and they were not there to put on a show. “For them it was just like a way to pray through the semester and through Lent,” she said. She also noted that although auditions were no longer being held, anyone interested in joining the team and helping to bring the stations to life would be welcome to come to their next rehearsal. The Living Stations production rehearses on Sundays at 7 p.m. in the Fireside Lounge, located on the top floor of the J.C. Williams Center.
In a departure from previous years, however, the Living Stations will be held in the Finnegan Fieldhouse this year, due in part to the large numbers that attended the event in previous years. The prayer will begin on April 19, the morning of Good Friday, at 9 a.m.