Monday, March 29, 2010

Fr. Vincent Morgan, Jesuit Missionary (1918-2010) - The Way of the Cross

Father Morgan served more than 50 years in India

This morning, Jesuits in the Toronto area will gather at St. Ignatius Chapel on the grounds of Manresa Spiritual Renewal Centre for the funeral of Father Vincent MORGAN, who died at the nearby Rene Goupil House, on March 25, in his 92nd year and 70th of religious life.

Father Morgan was born in Hamilton, Ontario on September 11, 1918 and entered the Jesuit Order in 1940. Assigned to the Jesuit mission in Darjeeling, India in 1944, he was ordained there in 1953 and, until returning to Canada in 1996, taught in various institutions there.

Shortly after I had been ordained bishop and moved to Mississauga in 1995, the Sisters at Carmel Heights Monastery in Mississauga were seeking a chaplain at the same time that I was asked whether I knew of a place where Father Vince could do light pastoral ministry.

It was a good match of availability and need; he exercised his ministry there until increasing deafness prevented his being of service, at which point he retired to the Jesuit Infirmary.


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The WAY OF THE CROSS (Fourth Station): Jesus Meets His Mother

As early as the 4th c., Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land would walk the route that Our Lord walked as He made His way to Golgotha for our salvation. When Muslims captured Jerusalem and it became too dangerous to make this pilgrimage, Christians replicated the sites back home in Europe, and there developed the "Stations of the Cross" devotion (also known as "Way of the Cross," "Via Dolorosa," or "Via Crucis").

The devotion consists of meditating on 14 events--that number being fixed in 1731 by Pope Clement XII--which took place during Christ's Passion, from His being condemned to His burial. Franciscans popularized the devotion, which was originally made outside, often along roads to shrines or churches. The Way of the Cross can still be made outside, of course but is usually made inside nowadays, especially during the Season of Lent and most especially on Good Friday.

If you enter a Catholic Church and look along the walls of the nave (where the parishioners sit), you should see 14 representations on the walls which depict 14 events of Christ's Passion that have been singled out for contemplation. It is at these blessed artistic representations, these "stations"--a couple of which are depicted in a blog series that began on Saturday and will continue until Holy Saturday--which can be painted, carved, engraved, of wood, metal, paint on canvas, etc., topped with a wooden Cross--that the Way of the Cross is made during public liturgy. The Way of the Cross can also be made privately, even at home, with or without "visual aids."

When the Way of the Cross is made in groups, each person first makes the Sign of the Cross, makes an Act of Contrition (i.e., expresses penitence through prayer) and mentally intends to gain indulgences, for himself or another. Then, typically, at each station: a) the leader will announce the name of the station; b) the leader will lead with a statement of praise, such as "We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee"; c) the people will respond, with, for example, using the above acclamation, "Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world"; d) the leader will read a meditative reading, upon which all should meditate in penitence, thanking God for His sacrifice and uniting himself with that sacrifice (often by identifying with Mary); e) all pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be; f) traditionally, between the stations, successive stanzas of the hymn called Stabat Mater are sung--a hymn known since at least 1388 A.D. and possibly written by Pope Innocent III who died in 1216 A.D.

The meditations and prayers may vary, but the general outline above is pretty standard. The most popular way of making the Stations of the Cross is to use the meditations written by St. Alphonsus Liguori (A.D. 1696-1787).

The WAY OF THE CROSS (Fifth Station): Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

Making the Way of the Cross carries with it a partial indulgence under the usual conditions. To gain a plenary indulgence, the following norms must be followed, in addition to the usual conditions:

The pious exercise must be made before stations of the Way of the Cross legitimately erected.

For the erection of the Way of the Cross fourteen crosses are required, to which it is customary to add fourteen pictures or images, which represent the stations of Jerusalem.

According to the more common practice, the pious exercise consists of fourteen pious readings, to which some vocal prayers are added. However, nothing more is required than a pious meditation on the Passion and Death of the Lord, which need not be a particular consideration of the individual mysteries of the stations.

A movement from one station to the next is required. But if the pious exercise is made publicly and if it is not possible for all taking part to go in an orderly way from station to station, it suffices if at least the one conducting the exercise goes from station to station, the others remaining in their place.

Those who are "impeded" can gain the same indulgence if they spend at least one half an hour in pious reading and meditation on the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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