March 5, 2008
And More on Stations of the Cross
ROME, MARCH 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of
Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the
Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: During Sundays and weekdays of Lent, is it permissible to use
one of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation rather
than one of the usual four Eucharistic Prayers? -- L.N.,
A: The inclusion of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation,
along with those for Various Needs and the special ones for
children's Masses, in the new Latin Missal means that these
Eucharistic Prayers now form a stable part of the Church's
treasury of liturgical prayer.
Previously, these prayers were technically approved by various
ad hoc or experimental measures, although usually with no
established time limit. They had been already included in some
official translations of the full Roman Missal, such as the
Spanish and Italian versions.
Regarding the use of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation,
the rubric in the Latin Missal notes the following.
These prayers may be used in Masses in which the mystery of
reconciliation is particularly emphasized to the faithful. These
include the Mass formulas for such needs as promoting social
harmony, reconciliation, justice and peace, in times of war and
social unrest, for the remission of sin, for the promotion of
charity, the mystery of the Holy Cross, of the Holy Eucharist,
and of the Precious Blood. Also included are Masses during Lent.
Although these Eucharistic Prayers have their own proper
preface, it is permissible to use them with another preface that
refers in some way to the themes of penance and conversion, for
example, with the prefaces of Lent.
From the aforesaid, it is thus clear that these Eucharistic
Prayers may be used during Lent.
The rubrics make no distinction between weekdays and Sundays,
and so there is no reason why their use would be restricted on
the Lord's Day, provided that one respects the proper prefaces
that must be used on certain Lenten Sundays.
As well as the Masses suggested in the rubrics, these
Eucharistic Prayers often prove useful during retreats and
spiritual exercises when the time comes to foment reconciliation
with God and discover his mercy.
* * *
Follow-up: Crosses on the 14 Stations
Several readers asked further questions regarding the practice
of the Via Crucis (see Feb. 19 column), such as if there were
any norms regarding alternative stations and the extension of
the indulgence. Some of these questions were addressed in our
columns of March 1 and 15, 2005.
An Ohio reader wrote, "Each year on Palm Sunday and Good Friday,
my older students present the Living Stations of the Cross for
the parish. This consists of individual meditations on the 14
stations read by the pastor or a lay leader while the students
silently portray the stations. I am very pleased that the
students take the project seriously and they have received many
compliments on their maturity and the quality of their
"My question: The cross is present for all 14 stations -- would
this qualify for the indulgence? One of my focuses in my
ministry is to acquaint the children with traditions that have
faded ... introducing them to indulgences would be something new
for this year."
The Enchiridion, No. 63.2, requires 14 crosses for a legitimate
Way of the Cross to be set up. But No. 63.5 grants the
indulgence to those who, legitimately impeded, meditate or
engage in spiritual reading on the Passion for about 15 minutes.
Any legitimate impediment is sufficient, such as not having
reasonable access to a legitimate Via Crucis. For example, in
one of his apostolic visits Pope John Paul II made his habitual
Friday Way of the Cross in a helicopter during the trajectory
from one meeting to another.
No. 63.6 says that other approved pious exercises commemorating
the Passion, and divided into 14 stations, also qualify for the
The practice described by our correspondent, and similar public
Via Crucis, would fall within either of the above-mentioned
categories for the sake of obtaining the plenary indulgence.
A reader from Malta asked if the Resurrection may be added as a
15th station. While this is not required, it is a possibility.
The Directory for Popular Piety (No. 134) specifically states
that "the Via Crucis is a pious devotion connected with the
Passion of Christ; it should conclude, however, in such fashion
as to leave the faithful with a sense of expectation of the
resurrection in faith and hope; following the example of the Via
Crucis in Jerusalem which ends with a station at the Anastasis,
the celebration could end with a commemoration of the Lord's
There might be days, such as Good Friday, when adding such a
specific station commemorating the Resurrection could be less
appropriate, due to the specific character of each moment of the
* * *
Readers may send questions to email@example.com. Please put the
word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include
your initials, your city and your state, province or country.
Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great
number of questions that arrive.