Via Crucis/Climb to Calvary (up the hill to El Faro)

We were very, very fortunate today to be able to join a group of terrific young Mazatlecos, climbing up the hill to the lighthouse. It was a warm, clear, glorious day, with flowers in full spring bloom.

A few weeks ago a gentleman named Pepe Zataraín had commented on our blog, telling us about PAJUMA Mazatlán (Pascua Juveníl de Mazatlán) and inviting Danny to join him. We joined their Facebook group, and from there we ended up at the blog of the Diocesís de Mazatlán, which is written by Father Francisco Javier Huizar Ibarra. At this blog we saw that there was a Vía Crucis at 1:00 today, Saturday. We were not sure what to expect: a costumed reenactment, a lot of older ladies from the Diocese climbing El Faro hill? We were curious, so, we dropped Danny off for his Scout event at the Red Cross Hospital and Greg and I went over to the lighthouse, not quite knowing what to expect.

We arrived about 12:40, and took a seat at the foot of the path. We climbed up the path a bit and found a hand-painted canvas: the first Station of the Cross. That was reassuring. We walked up to find a second, and then back down to wait for others to arrive. Two separate groups of young people showed up, gathered around the coconut seller and the taco cart, and we figured they were there for the Via Crucis. But there was no priest, no apparent adult leader. Hmmm… Then, about 1:30 or so, down the hill come walking (and sweating) our neighbor Judith with Father Francisco. They had been hanging the canvases and setting things up for our journey. They both seemed very pleased to see us, and eager to have us join the group. Judith was especially happy to see that I had brought a camera, so I primarily do this blog so quickly for her.

We all gathered by the coconut seller’s at the base of the hill for a commencement prayer and a song. One young man had a battery-powered acoustic guitar, and Father Francisco had a battery-powered microphone with speaker. Immediately we felt blessed, as Fr. Francisco’s prayers were so topical and practical: promoting peace in society, strengthening our families, treating others with dignity and respect. We began with an Act of Contrition.

Regardless of your religion, or (this is for you, Eric) even if you feel religion is the root of most all evil, it was a sacred journey in which we were able to join. It was also a peek into a side of society and culture here that is not as visible as I would like: the people in our community who are constantly behind the scenes doing good. Not as sensational as violence, but definitely more constructive.

We began our climb. It turns out this was an event for the team of young adults that organizes and conducts the PAJUMA. They had hand-painted the Stations of the Cross the previous week. Members of the group took turns reading the prayers at each Station. After each Station’s prayer Father Francisco gave us a short sermon, which were all quite powerful. Then we would repeat the pattern of saying several prayers: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Hail Holy Queen. Then between Stations we meditated as we walked.

Station #1: Jesus is Condemned to Death
This station was positioned inside the archway, at the first turn in the path. Basically we were overlooking the water treatment facility, but also Olas Altas rocks and the port. For those of you who have not climbed to the lighthouse before, I trust my photo log will give you an idea of the climb, from near sea level to high on the hill overlooking the city.

Station #2: Jesus is Given his Cross
In this photo you can see on the right that the ocean is getting a little farther away…

Station #3: Jesus Falls the First Time
The paintings the young people had done were simple but quite powerful, I felt. It felt so good to be making this journey with young adults who were so passionate, and who we know will be devoting a week of their lives to teaching younger kids during Semana Santa in the stadium. If you have children and you are going to be here during Holy Week, be sure to sign your kids up to attend!

Station #4:  Jesus Meets His Mother
Here the short sermon was about how we treat our parents, and how that is the fundamental relationship in society. The idea that if we maintain the strength of families it echoes out in waves strengthening the rest of society.

Many of the cactuses were in full bloom, and their green contrasted so beautifully with the blue of the ocean. It was definitely an afternoon filled with awe and wonder.

Station #5:  Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross
Here the short sermon was about how we help others; when do we take it upon ourselves to do what is not required of us, to reach out and love others, show them mercy?

Station #6:  Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Building on the idea of random acts of kindness, we reflected on when we reach out to wipe the brow of another, to lessen or ease their load.

Station #7: Jesus Falls the Second Time
You can see how the vegetation has changed, indicating the change in elevation already. We started with cactus, and now we see trees.

Station #8: Jesus Meets the Daughters of Jerusalem

Station #9: Jesus Falls the Third Time

Station #10: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Station #11: Crucifixion: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Station #12: Jesus Dies on the Cross

The climb gets steeper and steeper. In most places it’s just dirt with rocks peeking through, but in a few of the steeper places there are stairs, or cement, and thankfully a rock wall beside you against the drop off.

Station #13: Jesus’ body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)

Station #14: Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense. We entered the upper gate, nearing the lighthouse proper. As we walked into the open space where the view is so beautiful, we saw an incredibly gorgeous sight: a very large handcarved and painted crucifix, mounted looking over our city of Mazatlán.

For this Station we celebrated the Eucharist. It was such an honor and a thrill to be able to celebrate a Mass in the open air, and particularly on such a gorgeous day, with a spectacular view, in the presence of so many incredible young people. An added bonus for us was that as we waited at the top a few minutes for Fr. Francisco to finish preparing for Mass, our friend Trini showed up. It seems she climbs the lighthouse every week for exercise and relaxation. So, she was able to join in the Mass as well. There were quite a few tourists at the top, and one young boy about seven who was just fascinated with everything going on.

The first reading.

The second reading.

The Gospel.

The sign of the peace.