Stations of the Cross
Since its inception in the centuries following Jesus’s death and Resurrection, the Stations of the Cross underwent a transformation in the hearts and minds of many Christians. Likewise, the role that the devotional practice plays for believers also experienced trends and developments. The Stations of the Cross continue to help people around the world discover meaning in their own suffering and examine Jesus Christ in what is an important but too often ignored perspective.
The fourteen depictions of Christ’s final hours have continually adapted to the needs of those who follow them. The stations began as a form of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As Christians continued to move further from the birthplace of their religion, church leaders established stations continually closer to their parishioners, eventually setting them up inside the sanctuary where they can be seen today.
An additional change to the Stations of the Cross has been the benefits that church members get from observing this devotional. Originally people devoted time to the Stations of the Cross as a means for penance for their sins and the sins of others. However, Vatican II left many feeling like the Stations of the Cross were a relic of a bygone era. Once again, the Stations of the Cross adapted.
At first glance, I struggled to see the benefits of this practice. The Stations focus on Christ’s suffering (beginning with His condemnation at the hand of the Jewish council and ending with His burial). The Resurrection, along with the victory over death that it brings, seems a million miles away. However, I have come to appreciate the tenacity, humbleness, and dependence on my Lord and Savior that comes with suffering. In an article about her stage four colon cancer, Janine Denomme writes about how the Stations of the Cross help those suffering “find meaning…connecting to the broken and wounded person of Jesus, the human Jesus and finding solace there” (36). At times the hope of the Resurrection seems far away, but the Stations of the Cross remind us that Jesus too experienced the fear, suffering, and torment that precedes the Resurrection and that in Him we can find strength and solace.
Here’s a link to the Staions of the Cross Prayer: http://www.catholic.org/clife/prayers/station.php
Denomme, Janine. “Via Dolorosa.” U.S. Catholic 75.3 (2010): 36-38. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Aug. 2013.
More Catholic Prayers here.