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The Southern Cross : February 2012
Page 14 February 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au Stational Masses Background Archbishop Wilson introduced the custom of Stational Masses into the Archdiocese of Adelaide in 2003 thereby giving the faithful an opportunity to join with the Universal Church. The practice of making the pilgrimage of Stational Masses is an excellent preparation for participation in the Easter Triduum: we are reminded of our baptismal call; we acknowledge the many cultures that make up the Church; and we welcome new catechumens and candidates who will join us in the Sacraments of the Church at Easter. History Our modern observance of the stational liturgy traces its roots back to the practice of the Bishop of Rome celebrating the liturgies of the church year at various churches throughout the city, a tradition dating back as far as the late second or early third century. One reason for this was practical: with the Church in Rome being composed of diverse groups from many cultures, regular visits by the bishop served to unify the various groups. Another reason, particularly following the legalisation of Christianity in AD 313 which permitted public worship, was to commemorate certain feast days at churches with a special link to that celebration. Therefore, Good Friday came to be celebrated at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem and Christmas at St Mary Major, where a relic of the manger was venerated. In time, the original churches in the city took on an additional significance as the places that held the relics of the martyrs and the memory of the early history of the church in this city. As time passed, the schedule of these visits took on a more formalised structure. By the last half of the fifth century, a fairly fixed calendar was developed, with the order of the places at which the Pope would say Mass with the church community on certain days throughout the year. In the weeks before the beginning of Lent, the three large basilicas outside the walls were visited, forming a ring of prayer around the city before the season of Lent began. During Lent, the various stations were originally organised so that the Masses were held in different areas of the city each day. During the octave of Easter the stations form a litany of the saints, beginning with St Mary Major on Easter Sunday and continuing with St Peter, St Paul, St Lawrence, the Apostles and the martyrs. Over the last several centuries, two of the original stations have been lost, although most older liturgical books still list their name as the station for their original day. The church of St Augustine has taken the place of St Tryphon, an older church which once stood on a nearby site. The second lost church is that of St Cyriacus, which originally stood near the Baths of Diocletian. Having fallen into ruin, its stational day was transferred to Santa Maria in Via Lata, possibly because a monastery, also dedicated to St Cyriacus, once stood behind this church. The other churches have not passed the centuries without their difficulties either: many have been destroyed and rebuilt; some fell into ruins, being saved only when on the verge of final collapse; all have been modified in various ways throughout the ages. Yet what remains through all the changes is the memory of those past Christians who worshiped at these places. While other cities, such as Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Milan once had similar stational liturgies, Rome is the only city in which these continue in some regular form. Therefore, just like the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the art of the early Christian era, the stational cycle comes down to us as a monument of the early church, a living connection to those days when the witness of the martyrs was still fresh and the echo of the apostles' voices could still be heard in the city's streets. The Rome pilgrimage This pilgrimage follows the custom of the Pope in the early centuries. The Pope (or his legate) would celebrate solemn Mass in one after another of the four greater and the three minor basilicas during the 4th and 5th centuries (the seven churches or Sette Chiese --- St John Lateran, St Peter, St Paul Outside the Walls, St Mary Major, the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, St Lawrence, and the 12 Apostles). Other churches were added to the list as needed for various liturgical occasions, bringing the total number of churches to 45, with the last two (Santa Agatha and Santa Maria Nuova, called Santa Franciscan Romana) added by Pope Pius XI on March 5, 1934. On the day of the station, the faithful would gather in one church (church of the collecta or gathering) and in procession singing the Litany of the Saints or psalms, they would go to the church where the Mass was to be celebrated: there they met the Pope and his clergy. This was called "making the station". Such a Mass was a "conventual Mass" (or community Mass) of the city and the world. This old custom reminds us that Rome is the centre of Christian worship, from which we received our faith and our liturgy. The stational procession and Mass have been restored at Rome, especially in Lent when each day has its proper Station and Mass. On Ash Wednesday the station at Santa Sabina Church is the most important of all, because the Pope still gathers there and distributes ashes to the people. The processing from church to church demonstrates our earthly pilgrimage to our eternal home. This universal Christian practice also reminds us of our Roman heritage, and helps us pray as one body, encouraging and praying for one another, worshipping together as a universal community. The Seven-Church Walk Another more modern tradition is the seven-church pilgrimage. This has its roots in the latter half of the 16th century, and originated with the Oratory movement founded by St Philip Neri. On the Wednesday of Holy Week, Philip and his companions would set out to visit the four major basilicas of Rome, as well as the three more significant minor basilicas. They would pack picnic lunches, sing songs, and pray litanies along the way, stopping occasionally to rest, and pausing at each of the seven basilicas for catechesis and prayer. In our modern age, several different groups make the pilgrimage. The Pontifical North American College sponsors a Seven-Church Walk every alternate year. Following the 7am Stational Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, a group sets out to visit the traditional seven basilicas, stopping for lunch on the way, and completing its journey around 6pm that evening . The Adelaide pilgrimage In the Archdiocese of Adelaide we will make the pilgrimage in the Archdiocese of Adelaide this year by linking with the pilgrimage in Rome in three ways: • The call to heed our Baptism promises by the Archbishop using the scriptural theme of each Gospel for each Station • The Archbishop will welcome the candidates for Full Communion of the Catholic Church, using the Sprinkling Rite to remind us all of our Baptism. The candidates will be officially welcomed into the Diocese by the Archbishop signing the special book for candidates who are preparing for Reception and the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter time • The Archbishop will lead the pilgrimage with as many multi-cultural symbols, choirs and customs to show our connection with the Universal Church centred in Rome. A pilgrimage for Lent Archbishop Wilson invites parishioners to undertake a pilgrimage this Lent by joining him in the celebration of Mass with the people of the deaneries in seven churches, in preparation for the Easter Triduum. In this special feature we look at the history of this ancient custom of the Roman Church and provide details of the Adelaide pilgrimage, including a map showing how it will unfold. Parishioners across the Archdiocese are invited to join the Archbishop in this pilgrimage, for at least one or more of the Stational Masses. The first Stational Mass will be held at the historic St Agnes Church, Marrabel, in South Australia's mid-north on Febuary 23.