Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Personal Pilgrimage

One Wednesday evening during Lent, after we had observed the Stations of the Cross, one of the participants commented, “That’s a lot to take in. It’s hard to ‘wrap my head around’ all that I’ve just experienced.” That made sense, so I decided that, in addition to walking the stations with the group, I would work through them alone, one per day. I settled on the book The Challenge of the Cross: Praying the Stations by Fr. Alfred McBride. Its attractive layout and artwork, and its scripture-laden devotionals, appealed to me.

As I began my personal pilgrimage, I realized that each of the stations conveys profound truths and images that I can pay attention to throughout the day. For example, Jesus is Condemned to Death reminds me that he was denounced by fabricated claims. I know how it feels to be misunderstood. How much more did the Creator of the universe suffer from half truths and malicious lies? As I move to Jesus Takes His Cross, I am reminded that he told his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him. They wouldn’t take him literally—it’s a metaphor, right? How scandalous: Jesus slowly lifts his cross and begins his journey to Calvary.

I want to memorize the order of the stations, so I note that numbers four, six, and eight feature women. Fr. McBride points out that, when Jesus Meets His Mother, neither of them shows the least sign of resentment or bitterness toward his persecutors. Veronica’s kindness reminds me of Jesus’ humility, allowing a kind woman to care for him. And his message to the Daughters of Jerusalem reveals that Jesus is more mindful of their needs than of his own pain, exhaustion, and sorrow.

I get hints of how vulnerable he must have felt when Jesus Is Stripped of His Clothing. And the wounds, when Jesus is Nailed to the Cross, are a permanent reminder of his sacrifice. This station helps me keep St. Paul’s quest, “to know Christ . . . and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10), in mind.

I look forward to spending a day with each of the three remaining stations: Jesus Dies on the Cross, Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross, and Jesus is Laid in the Tomb. Writing those titles confirms that short phrases can communicate life-altering truths. All fourteen, put together, make the joy of the resurrection ever more glorious.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a clearer understanding of the Stations of the Cross from a lifelong Protestant!