Integrating Ritual: An Exploration of Women’s Responses to Woman-Cross
In the liturgical devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, Christians try to enter more fully into the suffering of Jesus. Traditionally, 14 stopping places or ‘stations’ around a church are offered, visual art at each stimulating prayer and reflection upon the road to crucifixion. It is an imaginative act. But the suffering journey of a first-century Jew to death but also beyond it can resonate powerfully with all who are treated unjustly and long to roll away the stone of dis-empowerment. There is much here which holds rich potential for reimagining, potential which I claimed at a time when postgraduate study was sharpening my feminist sensibilities. How might this liturgy look when reimagined from a feminist perspective? What sort of re-imagining would render the ‘liturgical “truth”’ of the Stations of the Cross, ‘an engaged, embodied and particular truth’1 for women in my own faith-community? In response to such questions, I created for Womenchurch2 a liturgy called Woman-Cross and so found myself playing a part in the ‘emerging sense of ritual empowerment on the part of women’,3 which has characterized the feminist liturgical development of recent decades.