|The path to Melbourne Cathedral|
The past two weeks I have spent visiting more churches than normal during Lent due to the fact that I am not in West Wales where most of the churches are locked up during the day in case anyone decides they want to get religious.
Here in Melbourne the city churches, at any rate, are open and available but I have yet to see anyone indulging in the Stations of the Cross; I would expect that London or Cardiff would be much the same.
The 'Stations' is one of the most moving and spiritual of our prayers and may be completed without a prayer book of any kind (although I do normally use the CTS purple booklet which is excellent).
Each station automatically brings its own prayer and one only has to genuflect, remember that? And to utter the words: "We adore Thee O Christ and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world" - then say one Glory be, one Hail Mary and an Our Father before moving on to the next station. It takes about 30 minutes to complete all 14.
Today (Maundy Thursday) I completed the Stations in St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. The Cathedral was busy with tourists, locals wishing to be shriven of their sins, people just wanting to meditate and pray, workmen and cleaners and about 10 coachloads of Chinese visitors who appeared both amused and perplexed at my attempts to pray the Stations. By now I expect photographs of me trying to focus on the Via Dolorosa to be in many a household in Beijing or Chengdu or wherever they came from. I wonder what they really thought of my efforts.
But the real point is, who does say the Stations today?
Have they gone the way of Benediction, Forty Hours Devotion, Corpus Christi Processions?
Or do hordes of parishioners descend upon their churches after dark in order to carry out this devotion in secret?
Answers on a postcard please!