It is fundamental for our faith and our Christian witness that we proclaim the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a real, historical event. His resurrection was not a simple return to existence, but an entrance into a new dimension of life meant to transform every human being, all history and the whole cosmos.
Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 15 April 2009
All 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
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)
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?
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.