The Stations of the Cross

Every Friday during Lent  most Catholic parishes celebrate the tradition of Lenten devotion by prayer and reflection through the Stations of the Cross. Though I have known about this service, this last Friday was my first time experiencing this liturgy at St. Norbert. My sister Norma and I were both spiritually moved by the beautiful service. As each station was announced, I’d close my eyes and imagine what our Lord endured. The Via Dolorosa, also known as The Way of the Cross, is the most famous of all the holy sites in the Holy Land.

For years our ministry had dedicated and sacrificed to travel to the Holy Land to reenact the Carrying of the Cross down the Via Dolorosa. It was never easy to get our finances to make this annual trip. It took a lot of prayer and, after traveling over 20 years to the Holy Land, people did not understand why we had to go every year. I could never explain my calling other than it was part of my Christian obligation to participate in this historic pageant. After so many years of service, our director decided to step down and hand me the role of Mary, the Blessed Mother. So I know by heart and sight all the Stations of the Cross.

Accepting Our Crosses

At the First Station of the Cross Jesus is condemned to death. At the Second Station of the Cross He accepts the Cross. Life could not exist without trials because it is the manner in which we handle our crosses that we grow. I’ve had my share of crosses, but just when I’m ready to give up, the Lord comes to help me carry it. My burdens are lighter because of prayer, but that does not necessarily mean that I will be free of my crosses. In my Christian walk I’ve come to the realization that the closer I get to the Lord, the bigger the crosses. God has a plan for all of our lives. Once we master carrying the small crosses of life, He trusts us with the bigger crosses, the ones that make us stumble because of  their weight and size. It is never easy or comfortable to carry a cross because it’s a training in your Christian growth. Most of us don’t realize that we are in training because we are burdened with our crosses.  Some of the most difficult crosses to bear are conflicts with family members and co-workers. This can manifest in many ways with sibling rivalry, a difficult  in-law, and problems in  marriages.

The Third Station: Jesus Falls The First Time

At the Third Station just before Jesus meets His Mother on the Fourth Station of the Cross, He falls. We all fall when carrying our crosses. At this point, you have a decision to make: are you going to get up, or allow the cross to hold you down? If you decide on the latter, you will get stuck in blaming others for your cross. God gives us a free will to choose, and if you choose to stay down, your cross will eventually become part of your daily routine, something that you’ve made a crutch. You will use the cross as an excuse not to get up and finish the Via Dolorosa.

Me, as the Blessed Mother and Jim playing Jesus.

We all  struggle with people in our lives who cause strife. And unless you understand how to accept and love that difficult person, you are keeping them and yourself in a spiritual prison. We think of hurtful things that were said; we play them over and over in our heads. Or if you get a mean-spirited text message, you read it over and over again. We need to stop this behavior because it can keep us from receiving blessings. If someone in your life does not like you, move on and leave it to the Lord. If you get caught up in the drama, this little cross will hinder your spiritual growth. Pray for them and ask God to help you through this.

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

The Fourth Station of the Cross is where Jesus meets His Mother. As I prepared for this small role, my friend Jim took the role of  Jesus. In the real life scenario Jesus has just gotten up from His first fall. His face is bloody and his body is covered with welts from all the beating. As Mary, I would gently touch his chin and turn it toward me and ask, “Why are they doing this to You?” I looked toward the crowd of onlookers and said, “Look what they have done to my Son! He is innocent, please help Him!” My dialogue was always improvised, but my tears were real. I could never fill the Blessed Mother’s sandals, but I believe that she would not have remained silent in the agony of seeing her Son in such pain. Jesus’ Mother Mary was there to support her Son, all mothers must follow her example by loving their children, even those who are difficult and hard to love.

The Fifth Station:  Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

At the  Fifth Station of the Cross Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross. We are surrounded by Simons of Cyrene; they are our friends and family members who feel our burdens and come alongside us in prayer. They will spiritually help us carry our crosses in life because they love us and want us to be free. That does not mean that the cross no longer belongs to you; it simply means that, at times when it is the hardest, God will send down the Simons to help us endure the pain of the cross. We are never abandoned on this lonely path; the Lord is there every step of the way.

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

After Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross, the Via Dolorosa transitions to a much narrower steep path. Many of the shops have boarded their doors to make way for the crowd. The Cross becomes heavier, Jesus’ face is covered with His blood and His vision is impaired. At the Sixth Station of the Cross, Veronica wipes His beautiful face. This is what we are to do to help our loved ones who are in so much pain that they cannot think or see clearly. The original Veronica’s Veil is believed to be stored in the Church of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, where it is displayed daily.

Closeup of the Holy Face in the church in Manoppello, Italy
The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time
In the Old City of Jerusalem, the Seventh Station of the Cross is located in a busy intersection where two cobblestone streets meet. After Jesus has ascended the wide steps to reach the Seventh Station, He falls again. When we carry the same crosses for a long distance, our bodies are weakened by the weight; we know the journey is half way over, but we cannot see any signs of relief. Prayer will strengthen us to see what the Lord has for us. Jesus knew what He had to endure; His journey to Calvary was only halfway completed.
I will continue with the other Stations of the Cross next week!
My Prayer
Dear Lord, there are so many suffering from broken hearts caused by anger and hatred. We are all lost without Your love. Teach us to forgive and not look back at our ugly sins. Cover us, Lord, with a blanket of  Your love; keep our minds from sinning against You. During this Lenten season please free us of all that holds us back from being complete in You. Lord, we give You all of our crosses, life threatening illnesses, disappointments, and the inability to forgive, and allow You to pour out Your gentle spirit upon us.
Lord, we continue to pray for all of Ukraine; protect this country and its people and end this war. Lord, continue to encourage Your people and offer them hope. Amen.


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