Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Earlier this week, I walked into our church around 7:45am to hear confessions and I noticed several people quietly making their way around the church while silently praying the Stations of the Cross. It is very moving to see the faith, love, and devotion that is so present in the many people at our parish. It is a beautiful witness and truly a gift for this pastor to see this love for Our Lord day after day and year after year. That “walk” of course, recounts Our Lord’s journey to the cross to satisfy the debt of our sinfulness.
Their devotional journey often takes me back to my experience as a Catholic grade school student when I prayed with my family or with my classmates on Fridays during lent. It also reminds me of being a pilgrim in the Holy Land when I walked the streets of the old city in Jerusalem praying the Stations of the Cross with other pilgrims. It is an intense experience today as many of the stations are in located in chaotic parts of the city. In addition, in such an intensely multi-religious city, most walk by swiftly and unmoved--that is, unless they wish to sell a few cheap souvenirs.
I’ve often suspected that during the actual crucifixion, it wasn’t all that different. For a crucifixion wasn’t a particularly significant event. It was just another harsh day in the Roman Empire that some avoided, while others watched seemingly for entertainment or just out of curiosity.
The Stations of the Cross are displayed in most all Catholic Churches for personal and communal prayer and devotion. They can be as simple as a little cross or elaborate works of art that show the particular station in detail. Each Station is meant to represent one of fourteen various “moments” along the way of Our Lord as he walks to Calvary to be crucified on the Cross.
Interestingly, the Stations of the Cross were only displayed in Churches starting in the 17th Century. The number of stations varied, depending on the intention of the artist or the community that displayed them. Of course, to discover where this devotion began we must travel to Jerusalem. The Via Dolorosa as it is known, was reverently marked out from the earliest times. It has been a devotional goal of pious pilgrims since the days of Constantine.
Tradition asserts that the Blessed Virgin used to visit the scenes of Christ's Passion every day. In the 4th Century, St. Jerome wrote about the crowds of pilgrims from all countries who visited the holy places in his day. Monasteries, which were often places of pilgrimage, also erected meditative chapels for monks and the spiritually curious alike. Today, perhaps the most widely attended Station’s service takes place at the Coliseum in Rome, the last of which is often observed during Holy Week by the pope.
We pray the Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent at 7:00pm. Of course, you are also invited to come to church and pray them yourselves or as a family. We have a variety of Stations of the Cross booklets that can be found in our gift shop but you can also just print one off of the internet. It is a way to bring our Lord’s passion more real. It is a way to more fully realize the tremendous love Our Lord has for each of us as he walked that road to Calvary nearly 2000 years ago!BACK TO LIST