As I was growing up, one of my fondest memories of Lent was praying the Stations of the Cross. Every Friday during Lent, the entire school would line up and walk from the school to church in quiet reverence to pray the Stations. And once I was old enough to be an altar server, the experience was amplified whenever I was asked to carry the cross or one of the candles and to walk from station to station with our priest as we collectively recalled Jesus’ journey to His own death.
For many Christians, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (especially during Lent) to walk the route that Jesus walked is a powerful way to connect to these important events in our Christian beliefs. These pilgrimages bring faithful followers of Christ in closer relationship to God.
Unfortunately, not everyone can journey to the Holy Land. It is widely believed that the Stations of the Cross was modeled after the Blessed Mother’s tradition of visiting the locations of our Lord’s passion each day. The devotion has evolved over time. In the fifth century, an interest developed in the Church to “reproduce” the holy places in other areas so pilgrims who could not actually travel to the Holy Land could do so in a devotional, spiritual way in their hearts.
At the end of the 17th century, the creation of stations in churches became more popular. In 1686, Pope Innocent XI, realizing that few people could travel to the Holy Land due to civil conflict, granted the Franciscans (who had been charged to guard over the various locations of Jesus’ passion in the Holy Land) the right to create stations in all of their churches and that the same indulgences
would be given to the faithful for practicing the devotion as if on an actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Currently, there are 14 traditional stations: Pilate condemns Christ to death; Jesus carries the cross; the first fall; Jesus meets his blessed Mother; Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross; Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; the second fall; Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem; the third fall; Jesus is stripped of His garments; Jesus is nailed to the cross; Jesus dies on the cross; Jesus is taken down from the cross; and Jesus is laid in the tomb. Because of the intrinsic relationship between the passion and death of our Lord with His resurrection, several of the devotional booklets now include a “fifteenth” station which commemorates the resurrection. We often pray the fifteenth station in our church. Praying the Stations is a powerful way to embrace Lent and prepare for Easter. If you have not already done so,
I encourage you to join us each Friday during Lent at 5:30pm to “walk” in Jesus’ footsteps.
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC