I dropped into the Chapel of Christ Triumphant the other day. It is the main chapel on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin, in Mequon, a modernist chapel on a modernist campus. Yet it is an impressive and beautiful chapel nonetheless, equipped as it is with a larger than life crucifix above the high altar, two side altars, confessional booths, and a complete set of the traditional fourteen stations of the cross in statuary form. Unfortunately, unless I am mistaken, the confessionals are used as storage closets, a missed opportunity for the campus pastor to provide pastoral care, that is, to be a campus pastor. Each of the two side altars have upon them, not crucifixes or statues or images of some sort, but a plain brass cross, with an IHS in the middle. The north altar, in fact, is partially blocked by the cords and equipment for what seems to be an amplified musical set up. Yet I have always appreciated the imposing crucifix which commands one's attention from virtually any perspective in the chapel. And most unusual of all for modern Lutherans is the wonderful opportunity and devotional potential we have with the beautiful Way of the Cross along the south and north sides of the chapel.
The Way of the Cross can be prayed on any day of the week, though Friday is particularly appropriate, and it can be prayed in any season of the year, through Lent is particularly appropriate, and within Lent it becomes even more timely as we move toward Passiontide, that is, the last two weeks of Lent. Yet, amazingly, what I found was that the stations of the cross are completely hidden by dark veils. I find it bizarre, unfortunate, and inexplicable that just when the Church most encourages the use of the Way of the Cross, that is, in Lent, it is inaccessible on a major Lutheran university campus.
The idea, one supposes, was that the chapel would observe the traditional practice of veiling the statues during Lent, however, a needed correction is in order. First, it is only in Passiontide that this veiling takes place. That is, the veiling begins with First Vespers of the Fifth Sunday in Lent, and ends prior to the Paschal Vigil on Holy Saturday, the exception being that the altar crucifix is unveiled on Good Friday. Second, the veiling includes all statues, crucifixes, and other images, but specifically excludes the stations of the cross.
Please, Pastor Smith, unveil those stations.