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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Living Stations.....

is a dramatic production akin to medieval Mystery and Morality Plays meant to both teach and entertain the spectators. People act out the different scenes from the Stations of the Cross and read meditations in the voice of the characters they are portraying to bring to life the Biblical narrative of Christ’s Passion and Death. At my own dear St. Joseph’s Parish, all those who had volunteered to participate in The Living Stations 2012 congregated at the church on the Friday preceding Good Friday. After weeks of preparation, prayer, and plain hard work, it was finally show time and all of us were very excited. I was going to be playing the part of St. Veronica, the woman attributed with wiping the grimy sweat and blood of Jesus’ face as He carried His cross through Jerusalem. According to pious legend, a miraculous image of Our Lord's face appeared on her veil.
    It's amazing how time seems to wind down into slow-motion when one is nervous. The movements of my friends getting into their Biblical robes (former curtains and bedspreads, I assume) and family members gleefully taking snapshots of us seemed to enter into a state of suspended animation. My friends Lizzie and Jennifer (the latter being the youth director of the production) and I were in charge of the musical preludes and interludes, so after the group shot picture was taken in the church library, the three of us tromped off to the head of the church and took our positions behind the mic stand.

    It was then that I noticed my pocket book sitting in one of the pews in front of us. The situation would not have been urgent if not for the fact that my penny whistle was stashed within! I needed it for the interlude verses of "Stabat Mater" and was uncertain if I would be able to get it once the production was under way. I turned to Lizzie, who was going to sing harmony, and whispered, "My bag is out there." "Oh, well, you better go get it!" she insisted. Swiftly, I darted out from behind the stand just as the piano music for our first number began to be played. I nabbed my pocket book and dashed back to stand just in time to start singing my part along with the others.

    We sang "O Sacred Head Surrounded", a traditional favorite, "Via Dolorosa", a beautiful song about Christ carrying His cross, and "Let the Wind Blow", a haunting hymn set on Good Friday, for the introduction. And then the action began. The actors and actresses went out to the front of the church and played their solemn parts in succession. We saw friends and acquaintances become Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, Barabbas, Herod, the Centurion, the Roman guards, Mother Mary, Veronica (yours truly), Mary Magdalene, and Salome, among others. Indeed, I believe that we entered into a deeper level of meditation through the recreation, and I think the audience joined us in it.

    Richard "Super Sound Man", the young gentleman in charge of the sound systems, helped us get rigged up in our mics which clipped onto our collars. This task initially sounded much simpler than it actually was, since our Biblical attire was long and rather clumsy, making it necessary to run the mic extension cords down through our costumes in order to stuff the remote controls into the pockets of our clothing underneath. The situation was complicated by the fact that we only had two clip-on mics to work with and had to keep switching them from one person to the next between scenes! Another "minor" detail was that we had to flip the control switch on six seconds before we read are meditation in order to give them the chance for the electrical juices to flow.

    When my cue came, I pushed through the "crowd", wiped "Jesus’" face with my veil, revealed the miraculous picture on it, and began to read my lines. It was only after I started that I realized I had forgotten to turn on my mic at all! Not wanting to make a scene, I fumbled with my robes, desperately hoping I would be able to locate the switch before my whole meditation was swallowed up by the very dead sound of the church building. Praise be, I found it, switched it on, and waited for what seemed like forever for the echo to enhance me. At long last, it did, and I finished off the meditation in a way that everyone could hear.

    At the end of the performance, as the actors and actress came out and took their final bows, my friends and I returned to the mic stand where I sang melody, Lizzie sang harmony, and Jennifer played the flute for a contemporary Lenten song called "Above All". It was a lovely way to end the production. Everyone put out a lot of time and effort, and I believe God helped us to smooth out the kinks and emerge with a renewed sense of the true meaning of Lent. To summarize, if our faith is based in truth, Christ is God, and God deigned to come to earth and die and excruciating death to redeem us from our sinfulness. It was the greatest gesture of friendship ever extended in history. Now the question is: Do we embrace it?

Above all powers, above all kings.
Above all nature and all created things.
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began.

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones.
Above all treasures the world has ever known.
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what You're worth.

Crucified, laid behind a stone,
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground,
You took the fall and thought of me
Above All.

Porta Croce
The Carrying of the Cross


  1. I would loved to have been there to see your performance. It sounds as if it was very moving & powerful. Btw, I could tell you a few funny stories about clip-on radio mics :-)

  2. Thanks, I wish you could have been there, too!

    I'd love to hear about your own clip-on mic experiences. Please do elaborate!

  3. A great anecdote, Pearl! I wish I could have been there to see it :-)

    A blessed Easter season to you,

  4. Thanks for reading over my saga, Mary :-)

    Gosh, I should have arranged to bus in some of my loyal followers from the blog! They probably would have made the best audinece for the performance...LOL!

  5. I'm glad that everything went well, Pearl~besides a few small "mishaps"!(Guess they just serve to make your production all the more memorable;-)~~I would love to hear you play the penny whistle sometime!

  6. Indeed, Meredith, the "mishaps" did make things especially memorable! What's a production without some chaotic interludes anyway? Boring (yawn)! Thank you for your kind comment. How was your Easter?