Way of Cross progresses silently in spring sunshine
FOR some it was their first time; for others, it's an annual tradition.
But for all, it appeared to be a deeply peaceful experience as they followed the simple wooden cross winding its way around the Phoenix Park.
From the Wellington monument to the Papal Cross, around 500 pilgrims walked in silence amid the much-welcome spring sunshine, following in the footsteps of Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in the Way of the Cross ceremony organised by the Catholic lay group Communion and Liberation.
In a note to participants written in the prayer misselette handed out among the crowd, there was a warning that there would be noise in the Phoenix Park and "possibly confusion".
But in the end there was not. With the city in holiday shut-down mode, there was little traffic and only the occasional squawk of a child and the sound of tramping feet in the boggy ground of the Park broke the silence.
Even the frankly curious gaze of tourists from open top buses seemed to fail to disrupt the feeling of tranquility as the timeless Gregorian chant rang out, sung by the Liberation choir.
Stopping at five stations on the way for prayer and hymn singing, Dr Martin, dressed in his ceremonial vestments and wearing his silken hat, delivered a series of reflections on the passion of Christ.
He spoke of the new Pope, Francis I, who wishes to teach us "what humility and simplicity mean".
"He is not talking about the simplicity and the humility of those who are weak and of those who compromise," he explained.
"It is the humility of Jesus, a humility of strength because it is the simplicity of what is essential and necessary and authentic rather than the sham of the spin doctors.
"The spin doctors – in all their various forms – can offer an answer for the day, a hope that lasts for a few hours. But next morning you wake up as you were before," he added.
He also mused on what it is that repeatedly happens to people when they attain power and lose their humanity, saying: "We see it in our own days, in corrupt regimes, in unscrupulous financial dealings, in those who abuse those in their care.
"It is not only that power can corrupt, it can lead into a false world in which everything can somehow be justified," he added.
Patricia Whelan from Palmerstown in Dublin brought her four children Miles (4), Seamus (6), Faith (10) and Gretta (12) by bicycle to do the Way of the Cross.
"It was really lovely – they have all enjoyed it," she said, adding that it was also good for the children to get some exercise ahead of the Easter "chocolate fix".