Reflecting on the Stations of The Cross
It’s that time of year when the faithful make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. The Stations of the Cross have become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics and those of the Anglican faith. In the tradition, the meditation is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion. It is also about reminding the believer that the Christian journey is not supposed to be easy.
Held every Friday during the Lenten period, the traditional service that reflects the last hours of Jesus’life during the Lenten period is thought of as an extra series of services to attend during the season, but, it is much more than that.
Canon Basil Tynes, Rector at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, says Stations of the Cross are not just about walking around the church, singing and reading the Bible, and has its origins in a rich tradition that was transformed so that it could be accessible for everyone.
“Stations of the Cross was something that the early Christians did,”says the rector.”It was originally a pilgrimage taken by the early Christians who wanted to commemorate Jesus by walking in his footsteps. This was done every year by those who could afford it, but as time went on it became too expensive for many. So that everyone could participate in this important journey during this period, 14 stations were made that symbolize the different parts of Jesus’experience from Pilot’s house where He was condemned to death to the cross where He died.”
It is hoped that when every believer participates in Stations of the Cross they become closer to Christ and more understanding of His suffering before His death. Canon Tynes says this understanding is necessary in order to enter into Holy Week(Monday, April 18 through Easter Sunday, on April 24) fully appreciating the sacrifice that Christ made as an example for mankind.
“I believe that reenacting the drama of salvation is something that we as Christians need to do. Each station is a reflection of our own modern lives and we should see how each applies to our lives. For instance, in the first station where Jesus is condemned to death due to Pilot’s loss of integrity by giving a false judgement we should be looking at our lives and asking for forgiveness for times when we have been guilty of falsely judging others. The stations where Jesus falls should be seen as Him falling–not under the weight of the cross, but the weight of the sins of the world. We should be reflecting on how we often try to pick and choose which cross we want to bear and shy away from the task appointed to us. We should be praying for forgiveness for this and learn to bear what we must carry as Jesus did.”
Father Tynes says the stations are more than they seem and people should take the time to go on the journey and also see how their lives are lining up to the way of the cross.
During Stations of the Cross, believers should be reminded that the Christian journey is not supposed to be easy, says Father Alain Laverne, priest-in-charge of Our Lady’s Catholic Church.
“Performing the stations is for us to remember what Jesus had to go through to ensure our salvation,”says the priest.”During this season members of the Catholic and Anglican churches especially acknowledge the final hours of Jesus’life in this way. The stations remind us that we too have a cross to carry in our life and we need to ask for strength and endurance to carry it.”
Father Laverne says when participating in the stations, you are to remember that like Simon, who was forced to help Jesus carry His cross, you are helping Jesus carry His burden as well, but with a willing spirit.
“We need to remember this and live our lives accordingly. God gives us all a path and a burden and we should not complain or wish for anything else. This is the time the church is focused the most on suffering and learning how to bear it all, because in being a sharer of Jesus’suffering, you are also sharers in His triumph and glory.”
Father Laverne says that many people do not want to hear about suffering and only want to dwell on prosperity but this he says is not the Christian way and if you only know how to live and work in prosperity you will be lost when the hard times come.
“Many Christians forget this throughout the year and when faced with adversity they cry out’Why?’since they believe they are good people. But Jesus was the perfect person yet He died as a criminal. Dealing with situations like these that occur in everyday life is what the stations prepare the believer for. Experiencing what Jesus did allows the Christian to go forth in the world and face the worst there is knowing that joy will come in the morning.
Father Laverne encourages everyone, even children, to attend these special services. He says it is important to get children involved in the tradition so that they can appreciate its significance from an early age. While most churches may cater to the adult’s understanding there are some that have special stations of the cross that break down the text so that the younger children can understand what is happening and why it is relevant to them.
Father Laverne says participating in Stations of the Cross is a tradition that should not be lost with the generations to come.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
1st station–Jesus is condemned to death.
2nd station–Jesus receives the cross.
3rd station–Jesus falls the first time.
4th station–Jesus is met by His mother.
5th station–Simeon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His cross.
6th station–Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7th station–Jesus falls the second time
8th station–The women of Jerusalem wept for our Lord.
9th station–Jesus falls the third time.
10th station–Jesus is stripped of His garments.
11th station–Jesus is nailed to the cross.
12th station–Jesus dies on the cross.
13th station–Jesus is taken down from the cross
14th station–Jesus is placed in the tomb.