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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Imposing the Cult of Man in the Stations of the Cross

Imposing the Cult of Man in
the Stations of the Cross

Margaret C Galitzin 

The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress draws thousands of Catholic educators throughout the country every year. They come to the nation's largest annual gathering of Catholics to listen the Church's most progressivist speakers, attend the most outlandish workshops and take part in the most un-devotional devotions to be found; in short, it is a gala event of all things un-Catholic.

When it was under the direction of the notorious Card. Roger Mahony (from 1985 to 2011), we came to expect the worst, which was always delivered.

Sad to report, but now sponsored by the supposedly “conservative“ Archbishop of Los Angeles José Horácio Gomez, a member of Opus Dei, nothing has changed and some things have even gotten worse. As in 2015, also in this year of 2016 an unbridled creativity in liturgies was offered to the around 40,000 participants: These include Liturgies of the Church on the Margin, Black Culture, and the Care of the Earth, as well as a Compassion Mass and the standard Youth Pop Rock Mass.

Then, there is the “Sacred Space.”

The so-called Sacred Space, on the third floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, is where participants go to “refresh their spirit” by walking the labyrinth, reflecting on art, listening to music and “experiencing“ the Stations of the Cross. Everything but prayer seems to be in fashion there. Praying the Rosary, as Our Lady requested at Fatima, was certainly not on the schedule.

The Stations of the Cross to which all were invited to “experience” was titled “A Garden of Dreams“ and the focus was on victims of human trafficking. At each “station“ participants “contemplated“ artifacts from the "survivors" (those who have escaped the trafficking ring): photos, letters, art pieces, all considered “sacred.“


la religious ed stations
Viewers of the Stations are invited to contemplate the sufferings of man, not of Christ
stations 2016 la religious ed congress
For example, at one station, the participants were invited to ponder a single black brassiere set on a display block under a poster of a woman whose mouth is covered with a red scarf. We are left to guess on how a piece of underwear figures in the Passion of Christ…

But then, viewers were not being invited to contemplate the suffering of Christ, but rather the human misery caused by man. “Our first aim,” said LA's religious education representative Giovanni Perez, “is to raise awareness and consciousness of the nature of human trafficking and the damage it cause the victims.” It is not an unworthy theme to inspire Catholic action, but it borders on blasphemy when the sufferings of Christ are casually replaced with those of man.

This kind of man-centered Stations is precisely what religious educators around the country are being encouraged to repeat in their own parishes and youth centers. As the centerpiece of the “Sacred Spaces” at the country's largest Religious Education Congress, this new kind of Stations is meant to influence the faithful to give more importance to the misery of man than the suffering of Christ.

This “experience” induces Catholics to think that the Stations of St. Alphonsus Liguori are old-fashioned and passé, out of step with the solidarity for the suffering and marginalized the present Pope is constantly asking Catholics to embrace.


labyrinth sacred space 
 Participants walk the labyrinth to find inner illumination
It is worth noting that this year, for the first time, the 15,000 teens who assisted at the Youth Day were invited to spend time in the so-called Sacred Spaces, “mindfully reflecting” on their lives as they “journey to the center of the labyrinth to find inner illumination,” and standing in prayerful solidarity with the victims of human trafficking rather than meditating on the suffering of Christ and their sins.

How is this Congress “educating” these youth? By teaching them that the only real sins are those committed against human rights.

Migrants Stations on display at Christ Cathedral

Another man-centered Stations of the Cross on display this Lent was found at the Christ Cathedral Cultural Center in the Diocese of Orange in Southern California. If possible, it was even more “cutting edge” because it focused on the plight of Mexican migrants en route to the promised land of the US. Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann was so enthused with the “Migrants Stations,” as they are called, that he was tweeting photos of the exhibit.


migrants stations 
The Migrants Stations at Christ Cathedral Cultural Center 
Each supposed station is wood post surrounded by a pile of junk collected by “artist” Deborah McCullough along the US-Mexico border. These “sacred artifacts,” as she calls them – a term parroted by the clergy – include dirty clothing and tennis shoes, old toothbrushes and combs, worn out blankets and backpacks discarded by persons illegally migrating from Mexico to the United States.

The titles of the Stations have also been renamed to follow the plight of immigrants, thus mimicking the episodes Our Lord suffered on his way to the Crucifixion. Here are the 14 Stations of “A Journey of Hope along the Migrant Trail: A Via Crucis” that Orange County Catholics were being called to contemplate this past Lent:

First Station: Poverty Imposes the Cross of Migration
Second Station: Stranger in a Strange Land
Third Station: Human Rights Ignored
Fourth Station: Mother of Sorrows, the Sorrows of Women
Fifth Station: Arrested and Helpless
Sixth Station: Veronica; the Woman with Humanitarian Aide
Seventh Station: Falls
Eight Station: Jesus and the Women
Ninth Station: The Suffering Jesus
Tenth Station: Another Fall Eleventh Station: Denial and Stripping Away Human Rights
Twelfth Station: Death through Crucifixion
Thirteenth Station: Compassion
Fourteenth Station: Hope Endures

The pile of junk being venerated as “sacred artifacts” along this mock Way of the Cross should be gathered up and placed where it belongs, in the garbage bin. Replacing the Passion of Christ with a hyperbolic drama of illegal immigration is to politicize the Via Crucis of Our Lord; it is blasphemous.

This kind of Stations of the Cross follows the gospel of Marx, not the Gospel of Our Lord that was given to man to save his soul.

migrants stations of the cross
The discarded belongings of migrants decorate the Station