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Clowns turn sad to tell of day Jesus suffered ("The Way of the Cross in the Company of Clowns")
The Evangelist ^ | March 15, 2007 | PAT PASTERNAK

Posted on 03/23/2007 10:03:00 AM PDT by NYer

Twenty years ago, a few clowns decided to change from making people laugh to making them cry.

With the help of a transitional deacon who had been nurturing the idea of a clown ministry, "The Way of the Cross in the Company of Clowns" was born.

They perform around the Albany Diocese only during Lent, with a poignant look at the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus, and during Advent, when they celebrate the birth of Jesus.

First tries

"People loved it," Jack Ablett said of the early performances. He and his wife Rita are among the original founders of the ministry at St. Patrick's parish in Ravena. 

"The initial [three] clowns had all trained at Hudson Valley Community College," in Troy, she explained. "Coincidentally, they were all parishioners at St. Patrick's. They had been talking about using their clowning talents in some kind of ministry. At that time, we had a transitional deacon at our parish, and he had written a script for the Way of the Cross with clowns as the participants."

The little troupe began their ministry in their own parish; within a few years, however, they were filling requests to perform in nearby parishes.

Changes

Over the years, the ministry has revised the script, added music and lighting, included mimes, and expanded the number of clowns, who range from children to senior citizens.

Initially, the group performed only on Friday evenings during Lent, the traditional day for Stations of the Cross.

By 1993, however, they were so overwhelmed with requests for performances that they decided to start performing on Wednesdays as well.

Story

The premise of the story is that one clown, Marmelduke, is sad because he can't make people laugh anymore. As a result, he has lost his faith, and his friends have deserted him. A spirit comes to him and convinces him to follow Jesus through His passion and death.

As the journey winds its way through the Stations in a darkened church, the clown begins to understand the meaning of Jesus' life and death. At the last Station, his sadness turns to rejoicing, and as other clowns reflect his conversion.

"People usually are crying by the end of the performance and often, so are the clowns," Mrs. Ablett said.

Special night

Recalling a recent performance in front of developmentally disabled young adults, she said, "While we were getting ready for the performance, the group assembled themselves around a large crucifix at one end of the church. As we went out to begin, the church was all dark, except for a light highlighting the group. There they were, all assembled around the cross, waiting to watch us perform the Way of the Cross. We all began weeping when we saw them. There wasn't a dry eye in the church.

"There is so much joy in this ministry. We give a lot to those that come to watch us perform. On the other hand, we all get so much out of performing. When you see the look on people's faces at the end of the Stations, and feel the joy and love that is there, you know that the prayer of the Stations has been deeply felt and absorbed. It really touches people's hearts."

(Check the calendar page or parish bulletins for presentations of "The Way of the Cross in the Company of Clowns.")


TOPICS: Catholic; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: albany; clowns; ny

1 posted on 03/23/2007 10:03:04 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
There is so much joy in this ministry. We give a lot to those that come to watch us perform.

Perform - that's the keyword. Our Lord's Passion was not a performance.

Last night, my pastor led a small group of Catholics in a Lenten ‘gospel soiree’. It’s usually held at the home of a very elderly couple who can’t drive at night. The group included 3 devout Roman Catholics who enjoy these gospel studies. After reading the Gospel of the Blind Man, we had a wonderful discussion that lasted nearly 2 hours. The elderly couple then shared coffee and refreshments with all in attendance. One of them mentioned having attended Stations of the Cross with clowns. Father looked perplexed … “clowns?” … he asked. The guest repeated the word and remarked that even she was surprised at how reverent they had done this. Father did not want to offend these solid Catholics so he explained how he would use the movie “The Passion of The Christ” (with editing) to convey His suffering to children. He then went off on a lengthy tirade about those who minimize the Truth to qualm consciences. Wait ‘til I tell him tonight that these Clown Stations are for adults.

Mercifully, I am spared all this nonsense in the Albany Diocese. I was truly surprised at the reaction of such devout Catholics. It simply confirms what I have said for many years that when you are immersed in this nonsense, it eventually begins to make sense.

2 posted on 03/23/2007 10:05:31 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
At the last Station, his sadness turns to rejoicing

I'm gonna guess they've added a station to the customary number.

3 posted on 03/23/2007 10:31:27 AM PDT by siunevada
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To: NYer

4 posted on 03/23/2007 10:36:45 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: NYer
Over the years, the ministry has revised the script, added music and lighting, included mimes, and expanded the number of clowns, who range from children to senior citizens.

Christ casted out demons, so I guess they fit into the production somewhere....

5 posted on 03/23/2007 10:38:54 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: NYer

WHY? WHY? WHY????


6 posted on 03/23/2007 10:49:49 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: Rutles4Ever; NYer
WHY? WHY? WHY????

Because Elvis has left the building.

7 posted on 03/23/2007 10:54:16 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

If you go to Las Vegas, you can have your wedding done by an Elvis impersonator.


8 posted on 03/23/2007 11:03:03 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Some things defy comment. Just amazing.


9 posted on 03/23/2007 11:09:12 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: Alex Murphy

Remember, a mime is a terrible thing to waste.


10 posted on 03/23/2007 12:56:28 PM PDT by irishtenor (Save the whales. Collect the whole set.)
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To: irishtenor
"She Never Told Me She Was a Mime" lyrics by "Weird Al" Yankovic

When we first met she seemed perfectly normal
I never dreamed she'd make my life so hard
You see, my baby, she started to change
Started lookin' kinda strange
Wearin' all that white makeup and those black leotards
Well, I guess she kept her little secret pretty well
Now ever since I learned the horrible truth, you know my life has been a
living hell
That's right, you see...

She never told me she was a mime
She never told me she was a mime, oh no
Now she's actin' like she's trapped inside a big glass box all the time
She never told me, she never told me she was a...
Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mime

I wish we both could just talk it all over
But my baby won't even make a sound
Now she makes everybody sick
Doin' that pantomime shtick
Even our old friends have stopped coming around
Well, my parents can't stand her and the neighbors hate her guts
She's really, really embarrassing me... this silent treatment's driving me nuts
You see...

She never told me she was a mime
She never told me she was a mime, oh no
Now, she's actin' like she's trapped inside a big glass box all the time...
what a crime
She never told me (she never told me) she never told me she was a mime

She walks against the wind everywhere we go
Stops at every corner, gotta put on a show
Carries 'round a picture of Marcel Marceau
Always was the quiet type, but how was I to know?

She never told me she was a mime
She never told me she was a mime, oh no
Actin' like she's trapped inside a big glass box all the ti-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yime
She never told me, she never told me she was a mime

11 posted on 03/23/2007 1:28:30 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

If you shoot a mime, do you have to use a silencer?

If a cop arrests a mime, does he have to tell him he has a right to remain silent?


12 posted on 03/23/2007 1:46:38 PM PDT by irishtenor (Save the whales. Collect the whole set.)
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To: irishtenor

If a tree falls on a mime in the forest, and there's no one else around to hear him, does the mime make a sound?


13 posted on 03/23/2007 1:55:16 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: NYer

The headline alone gave me waves of creepy chills.


14 posted on 03/23/2007 1:56:31 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: dead
The headline alone gave me waves of creepy chills.

What until you see how they serve Communion...


15 posted on 03/23/2007 1:58:44 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: irishtenor

16 posted on 03/23/2007 1:59:15 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: NYer; WKB

I hate clowns to begin with. They always scared me as a kid.

This business of clowns in church, however, is was over the line, IMO.

Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead, preached the Gospel. He wasn't part of a troupe, for cryin' out loud. The Gospel isn't about entertainment and music and theater *ministries* aren't real ministry.

***rant off***


17 posted on 03/23/2007 2:31:16 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: dead

That picture always makes me laugh... I think that same guy is always leaving messages on my voice mail.


18 posted on 03/23/2007 4:06:00 PM PDT by Sopater (All of the evidence supports the truth!)
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To: metmom; WKB; Kolokotronis
I hate clowns to begin with. They always scared me as a kid.

Me too! The family could never understand it because clowns are supposed to make us laugh. Well, several years ago I heard a discussion about clowns that finally helped me to understand the fear. The heavy makeup they wear masquerades them, providing a shield against their true personality. We are accustomed to 'reading' a person first, by their facial expression. In the case of clowns, the expression is 'painted on', preventing you from seeing the real person. It intrigues me that so many people are not bothered by those phony expressions. Perhaps, we are realists?

I just returned from the Stations of the Cross at my parish. The prayers Father reads at each station are introspective. It is our sins that Christ bore on His way to Calvary and their weight caused Him to fall. Consider that when they stripped Him of His garment, it had adhered to his skin by the open wounds so this caused excrutiating pain as his skin was torn off with the garment. That's a thought I can and will ponder during Lent and throughout the entire year. After hearing about the Clown Stations and the 'performance' that so many in the Albany Diocese enjoy, I was even more remorseful. How cleverly the minds of my fellow Catholics have been twisted into accepting such a scandalous approach to prayer, during one of the holiest seasons of the year. Our Lord's Passion was anything but a performance.

God bless my holy priest!

19 posted on 03/23/2007 5:37:57 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

I visited some friends in Bogota some years ago and there they have a place where the stations of the cross are lifesized. The name escapes me at the moment, but seeing like that really gives it a fresh perspective.

I always thought the thing that bothered me about clowns was that they look almost human but not quite. There's something about the distortion of the human image that unnerves me. Now things like the robots in Star Wars (C3PO) is different, but that's not the same.


20 posted on 03/23/2007 6:33:40 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: NYer

I googled it. I believe it was Monserrate. This link gives a little idea of where it's located and what it's like but doesn't show or mention the stations of the cross.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monserrate


21 posted on 03/23/2007 6:38:18 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom

"The Gospel isn't about entertainment and music and theater *ministries* aren't real ministry."

What is this "ministry" stuff, anyway? This "ministry" and that "ministry"...just looks to me like an excuse to allow people who aren't priests to act like priests.


22 posted on 03/23/2007 10:14:28 PM PDT by dsc (There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. Edmund Burke)
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To: NYer; tutstar; trillabodilla; GrandEagle; del4hope; duckbutt; Fiddlstix; somniferum; ...

Baptist ping


23 posted on 03/24/2007 4:11:42 AM PDT by WKB (It's hard to tell who's more afraid of Fred Thompson; The Dims or the rudibots.)
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To: dsc

In Protestant or evangelical denominations, *ministry* is doing things to help people and meet their needs. For example, food pantries, clothing give aways, missions trips to help a small church in a third world country build a building to worship in.

Now there's been this trend lately to have *puppet ministries* or *dance ministries* or whatever kind of theatrical feel good kind of stuff they can call it. They raise support and travel around giving performances and a gospel message. It's mostly entertainment for these people they're *ministering* to, to *encourage* them.

The problem I have with it is that it doesn't require any sacrifice, doesn't really help the people they go perform for in any tangible way, doesn't provide food, clothes, health care, teach them basic health care, how to farm more effectively, repair old houses,... Nothing in the manner of Jesus.

Jesus met people's physical needs in a concrete way while He went around. He didn't put on shows or dances and provide clowns for entertainment. His commands to us are to take care of widows and orphans in their distress, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit those in jail. Things that take time and effort and put others ahead of ourselves.


24 posted on 03/24/2007 6:10:54 AM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom

Yes, I think you're right. I might take the criticism a bit further, but...


25 posted on 03/24/2007 1:13:53 PM PDT by dsc (There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. Edmund Burke)
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To: NYer

Assclowns.


26 posted on 03/24/2007 3:00:51 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (] Tagline Under Construction [)
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To: Jeff Chandler; metmom; dsc; Sopater; Alex Murphy; Huber; Kolokotronis; Tax-chick
You've got that right! Insidious and disgusting. Pitiful and worthless. The worst display of this kind, occured a few years ago in NYC when an Episcopal Church offered up a Clown Mass. You can watch the video (assuming you can stomach it) at the following link.

CLOWN MASS

If this doesn't send you over the edge, then you are hopeless. What a sad and disgraceful representation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

27 posted on 03/24/2007 4:46:51 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

Somehow I doubt there has ever been a clown version of the Divine Liturgy of +John Chrysostomos. This is really a disgrace, NYer.


28 posted on 03/24/2007 5:11:52 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: NYer

That picture is more than enough for me. I couldn't even imagine watching any more of it.


29 posted on 03/24/2007 5:59:45 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: NYer

I'd have got up and walked out.


30 posted on 03/24/2007 6:00:08 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: Kolokotronis
Somehow I doubt there has ever been a clown version of the Divine Liturgy of +John Chrysostomos. This is really a disgrace, NYer.

Do the Orthodox do the Stations of the Cross?

31 posted on 03/25/2007 6:02:40 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
"Do the Orthodox do the Stations of the Cross?"

No, that is a Latin devotion unknown in Eastern Christianity except under Latinizing influence. On Friday evenings in Great Lent we Orthodox chant the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos. That said, the Stations are an absolutely wonderful, powerful and spiritually enriching practice in my opinion. It is the Stations, among other practices, which points out the difference in focus of the Church in the East and the Church in the West. As Metropolitan Methodios of Boston said in praising Gibson's The Passion of The Christ, the West is The Church of The Crucifixion, the East is The Church of The Resurrection.

In Orthodoxy, the Passion is summed up in this icon called "Extreme Humility":


32 posted on 03/25/2007 6:30:29 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: NYer
"Oh yes . . . they float . . . they float. And when you're down here with me, you'll float too!"
33 posted on 03/25/2007 6:56:23 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Hinneh, 'Anokhi sholeach lakhem 'et 'Eliyyah HaNavi'; lifnei bo' Yom HaShem HaGadol veHaNora'.)
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