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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

DIES CINERUM

One of the great traditions of the Roman Church in Her observance of Lent has been praying at the Stational Churches of Rome. The term "stational church" (not unlike "Stations" of the Cross) comes from the Latin term statio which is a military term meaning "an outpost; a watch." What are we watching for? We are observing and watching the mysteries of our salvation play out in this Holy Season. But in watching, we are to also enter into the mystery along with the whole Church--the Saints and Martyrs, the Poor Souls in Purgatory and one another in the Church Militant here on earth. Pope St. Gregory the Great (6th century AD) began the practice which was to visit the churches of Rome--i.e., the Stational Churches--and offer prayers and devotions. The practice was to include a procession and a recitation of the Litany of the Saints. This very ancient practice of the Church of Rome declined during the Middle Ages but was restored after the Council of Trent in the 16th Century. Although the Popes no longer lead the devotional practices at each of the stational churches as Gregory the Great once did, every Pope since Blessed John XXIII has offered Mass and presided over the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday (Dies Cinerum) at the first stational church: S. Sabina.

If you wish to spiritually make this devotion a part of your Lent, I recommend the following prayers--coupled with the Litany of the Saints--to aid with your devotion.

For our Readers in Rome: Indulgences are granted for piously making this devotion under the usual conditions. (Cf. Enchiridion Indulgentiarum; and here Englishly.)

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