Religion and ceremonies

I’m not a religious person, but two or three times a year my wife drags me to church. I love the rituals and the ceremonials.

At Easter the local Roman Catholic church on Good Friday enacts the ritual of the “Stations of the Cross”. Whatever one might think of religion, the ceremonials add a dignity to the institution of the church and I like this one.

The celebrants face in order one of the “stations” which is a depiction of one of the stages in the progress of Christ to the cross and thence to his entombment. At each station a fairly free-form prayer or verse is sung.

I find the ritual moving, but I don’t know why! As I said, I’m not religious, but the re-enactment of this religion’s pivotal event is engaging. I suspect that I would experience similar feeling if I experienced a similar re-enactment of another religion’s similar event.

Reenacting the Stations of the Cross in Jerusa...
Reenacting the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa from the Lions’ Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a non-believer I’m bemused as to why I feel moved by the ritual. I should recognise it as such and discount it, but rituals such as this, and the marriage ritual do move me. Even if the ritual is supposedly secular as in many marriages.

Ceremony and ritual are so necessary to human social interactions that we invent them if there aren’t any there already – a good example is the POTUS, the President of the United States. So many rituals surround him, and they were invented just for him.

The stations of the cross supposedly started with St Francis of Assisi, and this is interesting, since “Francis” is the name chosen by the current and recently elected Pope. It will be interesting to see how far this apparently humble man can extend his concern for the poor throughout his church. Interestingly, he has included women and non-christians in his “washing of the feet” ritual for Maundy Thursday.

Pope Francis washes feet
Pope Francis washes feet
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