By Steve DeLaney, Asst. Director of Evangelization
The Stations of the Cross are a traditional way of meditating on the passion of Jesus, and are often prayed during the Lenten season. The faithful follow Jesus as he carries his cross, using a guided prayer and stopping before images of the Stations in the church. There are many variations on the Stations, and their beginnings are not known. Early Christian legend held that Mary walked the final steps of her son each day in Jerusalem. As early as the 3rd century, visitors to Bethlehem and Jerusalem were praying along sacred sites. The practice of the Stations, as we know it, really grew out of the political conflicts between European Christianity and the expanding Muslim empire across the north of Africa. The Holy Land was no longer easily accessible for Christians on pilgrimage from Europe, and so local shrines were developed, where the faithful could travel along “stations” and pray with Jesus on his journey to the cross. This tradition eventually developed 14 stations, which are found on the walls of Catholic churches today.
For centuries, Catholics have found deep solace in journeying with Christ in the Stations of the Cross. There are many written versions of the prayer, from St. Louis de Montfort’s classic version, to stations written about contemporary issues of justice, and stations written by Popes. Artists find the fourteen images of Jesus on the “Via Dolorosa” deeply compelling, and have blessed us with powerful images of suffering and grace. In Poland, the Catholic Church commissioned a series of Stations to reflect upon the suffering inflicted upon Poland during WWII and Soviet rule until the late 1980s. Built outdoors and sculpted in life size, the stations depict Jesus accompanied by the heroes and martyrs of the Polish church. It is a vivid display of how the Catholics in Poland saw Christ in their suffering. An example, seen here, shows the young priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, who was martyred by the communist regime. He is placed in the sixth station as Simon of Cyrene, who carries the cross while Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
Another recent example of a beautiful Stations of the Cross is by contemporary artist Virginia Maksymowicz. She created relief images in white plaster using the real faces and limbs of living people, giving a powerful meditation on the reality of the incarnation, and Jesus’ very human suffering. Of particular beauty is her image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she meets her son on the way of the cross (the fourth station). The image carries such grief, and such love.
We invite you to consider praying the Stations of the Cross this Lent. We offer several opportunities (details below), and we hope that you will explore this ancient and sacred prayer.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS at ICC
Enter into prayer with the Stations of the Cross led on most occasions by Dave Reeves (Diocesan Diaconate Formation program), and others as noted. There are multiple opportunities to attend throughout Lent:
Mon, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Mon, Mar 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Wed, Mar 16 at 9:00 a.m.
Fri, Mar 18 at 7:00 p.m.*
Fri, Mar 25 at 3:00 p.m.**
*Led and reenacted by the Senior Youth Group.
**Good Friday Stations led by Fr. Prince.