Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri my sisters and I attended St. Bernadette’s Catholic School. Just like thousands of other students, we said the Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent. This was a normal Lenten practice for all of us.
Fast forward some years, and for a long time, I would find myself too busy or tired from a long day at work to even think about attending The Stations. The actual journey to the Cross was something I would only focus on for Good Friday. Due to that day’s schedule, it may have limited it only to a short prayer between meetings or phone calls. Somewhere along the way, the opportunity to spend time with the Stations represented itself to me, and each year since, it has enhanced my Lenten journey. God is so good!
Tradition traces this loving tribute to our Lord back to the Blessed Mother’s retracing her son’s steps along what became known as the Via Dolorosa (the Sorrowful Way) on His way to His Crucifixion at Calvary in Jerusalem. Pilgrims to the Holy Land commemorated Christ’s Passion in a similar manner as early as the 4thcentury. Later it became a way of allowing those who could not make the long, expensive journey to Jerusalem a way to make a pilgrimage of prayer. Today, we have 14 Stations, these are meant to be “stopping points of reflection” along the way for prayer and meditation.
1. Jesus is condemned to death.
2. Jesus carries His cross.
3. Jesus falls for the first time under His cross.
4. Jesus meets His sorrowful Mother.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His cross.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus falls for the second time.
8. The women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus.
9. Jesus falls for the third time.
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments.
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross.
12. Jesus dies on the cross.
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross.
14. Jesus is laid in the Sepulcher (the Tomb).
This year the Station that is extremely powerful to me personally is Station #11 – Jesus is nailed to the Cross. I find myself reflecting on this often. I see the ugliness of my sinfulness, and can see each one of my sins nailed to His cross. What added weight He must have felt. Thoughts of my own pettiness, wrongful pride, being small minded, unkind thoughts or actions, lack of willingness to forgive, these and so many others caused my Lord so much pain. Yet He endured it, for you and me, so that we can have our sins forgiven and eternal life in Heaven.
If you have never been before, now is the time to participate before your Lenten journey ends. Don’t be anxious on how to participate, you will be given a pamphlet to follow. To give you an idea of what you will experience, here is how it typically is presented:
Ø There is a beginning prayer with a response.
Ø Each station will be announced and there is a response exchanged between the reader and the attendees
Ø A reading of the Holy Gospels is presented that goes along with the Station
Ø The reader provides a short reflection
Ø Other prayers are said during the Stations – the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be will also be prayed.
I hope this article peaks your interest to attend the Stations of the Cross, especially if you have never had the opportunity before in the past. I pray that it will enhance your Lenten journey and allow you to become closer to our Lord during his sorrowful Passion. May God bless you now and always.
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