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Stations of the Cross

One of the common devotions of the Catholic Church, especially in Lent, is the Stations of the Cross.  In praying the Stations of the Cross, we remember what Jesus went through during his final hours for us.  Some of the Stations have specific scriptural origins (click here for a table) and some come from tradition.

Generally, the Stations of the Cross can be found hanging on the side walls in most Catholic Churches.  They may be portrayed by simple Crosses or elegant artwork.  When praying the Stations, one walks from station to station as they pray, meditating on the final steps of Jesus.  I am especially fond of outdoor Stations of the Cross.  I like the outdoor Stations for two reasons.  First, simply I like to be outdoors in the beauty of God’s Creation.  Secondly, when found outside, the Stations are generally spread out over a much greater distance than in church.  So, the symbolizes of walking those final steps of Jesus is much greater.

Today, I would like to offer some brief thoughts on each of the Stations.

The First Station – Jesus is Condemned to Death

Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death.  He had not done anything wrong.  Those who had him arrested simply didn’t like what he was saying because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.  Jesus willing gave up his life so that our sins would be forgiven.  Are we willing to really listen to what Jesus has to say?

The Second Station – Jesus Accepts His Cross

Jesus willingly accepted his Cross but not just the literal Cross but the suffering he endured on the Cross.  When suffering comes our way, do we willing accept it (and seek God’s help) or do we do everything we can to avoid a cross?

The Third Station – Jesus Falls the First Time

That wooden Cross was a very heavy burden to carry, especially for Jesus because he had already been beaten and scourged. So, he falls.  When we are given a cross to bear, how often do we fall under the weight of the cross?

The Fourth Station – Jesus Meets His Mother

The disciples all abandoned Jesus when he was arrested.  But Mary, his mother, never abandoned him.  Do we feel abandoned by others when we need help?  Do we abandon others when they most need our help?

The Fifth Station – Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

Jesus could not carry the Cross alone.  Simon was forced to help him.  Who do we know that is bearing a cross and needs help?  Are we willing to be the one to help?  Or do we run away?

The Sixth Station – Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Jesus suffered greatly during his final hours.  There was nothing Veronica could do to change that.  She could not take his suffering away.  She could not suffer for him.  She couldn’t fix everything.  The one thing she could do was be there for Jesus and wipe his tears away in compassion.  When we know someone who is suffering we might feel like there is nothing we can do to help.  It is in that hour that all we can do is be there in compassion.

The Seventh Station – Jesus Falls a Second Time

Jesus falls again under the weight of the Cross but he does not give up.  He continues to his hour when he will be crucified.  When we face suffering, do we kept going in faith or do we give up?  Jesus never gives up on us.

The Eighth Station – Jesus Consoles the Women of Jerusalem

As Jesus carried his Cross, there were women along the way who were weeping and mourning.  Jesus stops to console them.  Jesus knows that he must be crucified but the women could not understand why.  Do we understand why Jesus had to die for us?

The Ninth Station – Jesus Falls the Third Time

How many times do we fall?  How often do we sin, falling into temptation and sin?  When we do, it is Jesus who helps us back up when we repent and seek his forgiveness.

The Tenth Station – Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Jesus is stripped naked in humiliation.  Jesus was completely exposed to the people.  Do we hide our sinfulness?  Do we think God doesn’t see our sins if we cover them up somehow?  We stand naked before God, all our sins and weaknesses exposed.  We cannot hide from God.

The Eleventh Station – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Such a painful death.  Imagine the pain of the nails driven into his hands.  It must have been awful.  Imagine hanging on the cross and how difficult it would be to breathe.  That’s how crucifixion kills – it is difficult to breathe, leaving one gasping for breath.  It is not a quick death.  Jesus was willing to endure this because he loves us.

The Twelfth Station – Jesus Dies on the Cross

It seems like utter defeat!  How could this happen to the Messiah?  But it is a victory over sin and death, paid at a great price.  Jesus loves us.

The Thirteenth Station – Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

The body is dead but it is does not became a meaningless lump of tissue.  The body must be respected.  So, Jesus is taken down from the Cross.

The Fourteenth Station – Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Recognizing that Jesus’ body must be respected because of the soul that had dwelled there, it must be given a proper burial.  It is not just left to rot away.  Out of respect, it is given a proper burial.  Do we try the bodies of loved ones with love and respect after they die?

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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