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When we began our journey through the Easter season, we talked about focusing on the value of fasting, especially during the first twenty days of Lent. After that, it was recommended by the Sisters of Carmel that we shift our focus toward the Passion of Jesus Christ.
My earliest recollections of the Passion are being in church with a catechism class. We were there to see the Stations of the Cross, fourteen wooden plaques depicting the sorrowful events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The church, usually very comforting with sun streaming through its stained glass windows, felt very somber. As is the custom during Lent, all the statues were draped with purple and the church was darkened.
The Stations of the Cross are on the walls surrounding the large sitting area of the church and are usually designed to complement its architecture. I’ve seen them as wood carvings, plaster-castes, large free-standing statuary, paintings and stained glass windows.
When meditating on the stations in a church, the practice is to stand before the first station, on the left wall as you face the altar near the front pews. Focus on the event depicted and move toward the back of the church a few pews to each station. The second half of the stations are on the opposite wall with the fourteenth being opposite the first.
Many churches lead a full ceremony of the Stations of the Cross once a week during Lent. The power of the group energy at the devotion before each station, the music and prayers is a special experience that can be carried into a meditation at home.
When in Jerusalem I walked the Way of the Cross, the path that Jesus Christ followed to his crucifixion. In the dark, narrow passageways of the Old City there remains a sense of the agony and pain experienced by Jesus Christ as he and compassionate helpers carried the cross–and the weeping of his followers. These are the feelings we seek to embrace when meditating on the Stations of the Cross.
You’ll find a beautiful presentation of the Stations of the Cross at http://fisheaters.com/stations.html
fish eaters Stations of the Cross meditation includes background on this practice, prayers and pictures of each of the stations. The presentation is 14 pages, but don’t be daunted by its size. You can tailor a meditation by selecting one or two stations that resonate with you or commit to do all of them. At least one time, try to do the Stations of the Cross in a church. The experience is worth the effort. You’ll notice that the Stations of the Cross do not include the resurrection.
On Palm Sunday, April 17th, our blog will feature the “Women of Jerusalem,” those who were among the dedicated followers of Jesus Christ: Mary, his mother; Mary Magdalene; and Veronica and a description of their role at the resurrection.
Have a prayerful Lent,
P.S. Please refer to the article by the Pope in the last blog. It clarifies a long-held misinterpretation of the language used in the gospels that refer to the passion and death of Jesus Christ.
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