Category Archives: Easter, Ascension & Pentecost

Via Lucis (Way of Light): The Stations of the Resurrection

CL Via Crucis 2009.jpgAll Catholics are familiar with the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), the best known devotion on Fridays in Lent following the Lord to His death on the cross. It must be said it’s a very appropriate devotion each Friday through the year. On Good Friday there’s usually a mega-observance of the Way of the Cross in parish churches, in the Roman Coliseum with the Pope or in New York City sponsored by Communion & Liberation.

As we know Pope John Paul II was big on the Via Crucis as a daily spiritual exercise; other spiritual giants did the same and I think we all would benefit from keeping the Cross in front us by praying the Via Crucis. What is little known is that John Paul also advocated a devotion called the Via Lucis (Way of Light): The Stations of the Resurrection. The Via Lucis is an apt way to recall the saving events of the Paschal Triduum. While there are no physical objects called “Stations of the Resurrection” to follow in our churches (at least not yet) there is no reason why we can’t create them. Let me say from the outset, the Via Lucis is not merely a nice thing to do in the Easter season but an essential practice for getting to know the Lord better so as to live the Christian faith more intensely because we are the witnesses to the world of the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus.

The Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2001) says:

A pious exercise called the Via Lucis has developed and spread to many regions in recent years. Following the model of the Via Crucis, the faithful process while meditating on the various appearances of Jesus – from his Resurrection to his Ascension – in which he showed his glory to the disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14, 26; 16, 13-15; Lk 24, 49), strengthened their faith, brought to completion his teaching on the Kingdom and more closely defined the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church.

Through the Via Lucis, the faithful recall the central event of the faith – the resurrection of Christ – and their discipleship in virtue of Baptism, the paschal sacrament by which they have passed from the darkness of sin to the bright radiance of the light of grace (cf. Col 1, 13; Ef 5, 8).

For centuries the Via Crucis involved the faithful in the first moment of the Easter event, namely the Passion, and helped to fixed its most important aspects in their consciousness. Analogously, the Via Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can effectively convey a living understanding to the faithful of the second moment of the Pascal event, namely the Lord’s Resurrection.

The Via Lucis is potentially an excellent pedagogy of the faith, since “per crucem ad lucem”. Using the metaphor of a journey, the Via Lucis moves from the experience of suffering, which in God’s plan is part of life, to the hope of arriving at man’s true end: liberation, joy and peace which are essentially paschal values.

The Via Lucis is a potential stimulus for the restoration of a “culture of life” which is open to the hope and certitude offered by faith, in a society often characterized by a “culture of death”, despair and nihilism. (153)

The Via Lucis

Lucis.jpg1. Jesus Rises From the Dead (Matthew 28:1-7)

2. The Disciples Find the Tomb Empty (John 20:1-9)

3. The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)

4. The Risen Lord Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27)

5. The Risen Lord Is Recognized at the Breaking of Bread (Luke 24:28-35)

6. The Risen Lord Appears to His Disciples (Luke 24:36-43)

7. The Lord Gives the Power to Forgive Sins (John 20:19-23)

8. The Lord Confirms the Faith of Thomas (John 20:24-29)

9. The Risen Lord Meets His Disciples on the Shore of Lake Tiberias (John 21:1-13)

10. The Risen Lord Confers the Primacy on Peter (John 21:15-17)

11. The Risen Lord Entrusts to His Disciples the Mission to the World (Matthew 28:16-20)

12. The Risen Lord Ascends to the Father (Acts 1:6-11)

13. Waiting for the Holy Spirit With Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14)

14. The Risen Lord Sends the Holy Spirit Promised to the Disciples (Acts 2:1-13)

Is there evidence for the Easter event?

Good question. Read Tim Drake’s article “Easter Evidence.” What is under-estimated is the credibility of the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Establish the witness then you can speak of the authority of the Church which in turn leads to the biblical texts, etc. Without the witness of the apostles do we have anything to go on?

Easter Vespers II and the Eastertide Marian Antiphon

And it is finished…the sacred liturgies of the Easter Triduum…

And looking up they saw that the stone had been rolled back, for it was very large, alleluia.

O God, on this day through Thine only-begotten Son has overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life, do Thou follow with Thine aid the desires which Thou does put into our minds and by Thy continual help bring the same to good effect.

The Marian Antiphon concluding Compline during Eastertide is the Queen of Heaven Rejoice.

V. Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia:
R. For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
V. Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Let us pray:
O God, who by the resurrection of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant, we beg You, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through Christ our Lord.

Read about this prayer here; it has an interesting history.

The sacred Liturgy follows the biblical pattern of prayer: sundown to sundown. You will notice that our Jewish brothers and sisters do the same. So one’s following the liturgical life of the Church needs to remember that telling time is a bit different in that a liturgical day does not begin with sunrise to sundown. Consequently, the sacred Triduum we’ve just celebrated started with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and ends not with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday but at second Vespers on Easter Sunday. This is a topic some family and friends don’t easily comprehend.

The essay “Liturgical Time and Space” in The Handbook for Liturgical Studies (in 5 vols) edited by Anscar J. Chupungco, OSB is an excellent resource for these matters liturgical.

Urbi et Orbi of Pope Benedict XVI, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world,

Resurrection Tintoretto.jpgFrom the depths of my heart, I wish all of you a blessed Easter. To quote Saint Augustine, “Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra – the resurrection of the Lord is our hope” (Sermon 261:1). With these words, the great Bishop explained to the faithful that Jesus rose again so that we, though destined to die, should not despair, worrying that with death life is completely finished; Christ is risen to give us hope (cf. ibid.).

Indeed, one of the questions that most preoccupies men and women is this: what is there after death? To this mystery today’s solemnity allows us to respond that death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end. This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. This proclamation is at the heart of the Gospel message. As Saint Paul vigorously declares: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” He goes on to say: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:14,19). Ever since the dawn of Easter a new Spring of hope has filled the world; from that day forward our resurrection has begun, because Easter does not simply signal a moment in history, but the beginning of a new condition: Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because he himself lives in us, and in him we can already savour the joy of eternal life.

Christ & St Mary Magdalen.jpgThe resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, that has opened a “new way” between heaven and earth (cf. Heb 10:20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. In fact, at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, Peter and John found the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene and the other women encountered the risen Jesus. On the way to Emmaus the two disciples recognized him at the breaking of the bread. The Risen One appeared to the Apostles that evening in the Upper Room and then to many other disciples in Galilee.

The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live. I am referring particularly to materialism and nihilism, to a vision of the world that is unable to move beyond what is scientifically verifiable, and retreats cheerlessly into a sense of emptiness which is thought to be the definitive destiny of human life. It is a fact that if Christ had not risen, the “emptiness” would be set to prevail. If we take away Christ and his resurrection, there is no escape for man, and every one of his hopes remains an illusion. Yet today is the day when the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection vigorously bursts forth, and it is the answer to the recurring question of the sceptics, that we also find in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Ec 1:10). We answer, yes: on Easter morning, everything was renewed. “Mors et vita, duello conflixere mirando: dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus – Death and life have come face to face in a tremendous duel: the Lord of life was dead, but now he lives triumphant.” This is what is new! A newness that changes the lives of those who accept it, as in the case of the saints. This, for example, is what happened to Saint Paul.

Conversion St Paul Caravaggio.jpgMany times, in the context of the Pauline year, we have had occasion to meditate on the experience of the great Apostle. Saul of Tarsus, the relentless persecutor of Christians, encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and was “conquered” by him. The rest we know. In Paul there occurred what he would later write about to the Christians of Corinth: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Let us look at this great evangelizer, who with bold enthusiasm and apostolic zeal brought the Gospel to many different peoples in the world of that time. Let his teaching and example inspire us to go in search of the Lord Jesus. Let them encourage us to trust him, because that sense of emptiness, which tends to intoxicate humanity, has been overcome by the light and the hope that emanate from the resurrection. The words of the Psalm have truly been fulfilled: “Darkness is not darkness for you, and the night is as clear as the day” (Ps 139 [138]:12). It is no longer emptiness that envelops all things, but the loving presence of God. The very reign of death has been set free, because the Word of life has even reached the “underworld”, carried by the breath of the Spirit (v. 8).

If it is true that death no longer has power over man and over the world, there still remain very many, in fact too many signs of its former dominion. Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love. This is the message which, during my recent Apostolic Visit to Cameroon and Angola, I wanted to convey to the entire African continent, where I was welcomed with such great enthusiasm and readiness to listen. Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations, and from the growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease. I shall repeat the same message emphatically in the Holy Land, to which I shall have the joy of travelling in a few weeks from now. Reconciliation – difficult, but indispensable – is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My thoughts move outwards from the Holy Land to neighbouring countries, to the Middle East, to the whole world. At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope. Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s Resurrection. For as I said earlier, Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra! The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place, especially where Christians suffer persecution because of their faith and their commitment to justice and peace. She invokes the hope that can call forth the courage to do good, even when it costs, especially when it costs. Today the Church sings “the day that the Lord has made”, and she summons people to joy. Today the Church calls in prayer upon Mary, Star of Hope, asking her to guide humanity towards the safe haven of salvation which is the heart of Christ, the paschal Victim, the Lamb who has “redeemed the world”, the Innocent one who has “reconciled us sinners with the Father”. To him, our victorious King, to him who is crucified and risen, we sing out with joy our Alleluia!

Love is stronger than death

Pope incenses Resurrection icon.jpgChristians understand: yes indeed, in the resurrection, the Son of God has emerged as the Light of the world. Christ is the great Light from which all life originates. He enables us to recognize the glory of God from one end of the earth to the other. He points out our path. He is the Lord’s day which, as it grows, is gradually spreading throughout the earth. Now, living with him and for him, we can live in the light.

But once Christ is risen, the gravitational pull of love is stronger than that of hatred; the force of gravity of life is stronger than that of death.

(From Pope Benedict XVI’s Easter Vigil Homily, 11 April 2009)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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