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Way of Cross includes prayers for the Earth

Green Way of the CrossWhen Jesus died on the cross, nature responded. 

The land fell dark, the earth quaked, and the rocks split, says the Gospel of Matthew. 

While these details certainly add dramatic effect, this account more aptly demonstrates how the story of Salvation is intimately tied to all of creation. 

Redemption and salvation happen within the context of the natural world and are intended for all of creation, not just for humankind, says Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans. 

With this in mind, Christians in the United States developed An Environmental Stations of the Cross, prayers that raise awareness of the ways in which the Earth is being scourged and exploited. 

Christians traditionally pray the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, the day when they remember the suffering and death of Jesus.

Coincidentally, this year, Good Friday falls on Earth Day, April 22.

Earth Day has been observed on April 22 in the United States since 1970, and internationally since 1990. Good Friday is a moveable feast day. The date changes from year to year, according to the historical practice of determining the Paschal full moon. 

An Environmental Stations of the Cross, which is attached, was developed as an ecumenical tool and is being promoted by the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism’s Green Church Program in both English and French. 

It is offered here as a resource for Catholic parishes that wish to incorporate their own prayers for good stewardship of creation in their Way of the Cross this year.

Important to note: it is an abbreviated Way of the Cross, with only nine stations instead of 14. As well, the document, first written in 1993, will surely need updating. Local parishes may wish to replace American environmental concerns with recent Canadian or Quebec concerns. 

In addition, some themes would necessitate changes in order to better represent Catholic teaching. For example, Station Four seeks to raise awareness about overpopulation and the suffering of children. For Catholics, suffering and poverty are not the consequences of overpopulation but of an unjust distribution of the world’s resources. 

An Environmental Stations of the Cross draws on Scripture, as well as on the prayers of the Catholic priest Fr. Henri Nouwen and on the creation spirituality of Episcopal priest Matthew Fox. The authors of the prayer suggest the ideal setting for this “green” Way of the Cross is outdoors, weather permitting.

By Laura Ieraci


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