By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Stations of the Cross, also referred to as the Way of the Cross, or Via Delorosa (Sorrowful Way), is a popular devotion most often prayed during Lent. It calls to mind the Passion of Christ and his journey from being condemned to death to his crucifixion.
Father Robert Lathrop, pastor of Church of All Saints in Keokuk, said the stations remind him that “it is only through humility that I can know God’s will. The stations give me strength to carry my own crosses each day. Reflecting on the Passion of Jesus reminds me of the immensity and extent of God’s love for each of us, and the extent to which we are to love one another.”
Jim and Veronica Demmel of All Saints have been participating in Stations of the Cross for about seven years, first in Marshalltown and now in Keokuk. “My suffering is mild, nothing like what Jesus went through,” Jim said. He thinks reflecting on the stations is a good practice and he feels indebted to Jesus. What attracted him to Stations of the Cross was learning of its history as an ancient practice from medieval times. Participating in the stations takes only about a half-hour, he said. “This is the journey of Jesus and I am humbled to walk along during the stations.”
Veronica said when she views each station she thinks of the deep sacrifice Jesus made for everyone. “To me, we walk the path of what Jesus went through. We have so much to give thanks for to Jesus for sacrificing his life for us.”
Brian McDevitt of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport has been a cross bearer and part-time reader for Stations of the Cross for more than a decade. “I have always felt the Stations of the Cross put the human aspect of what Jesus willingly, yet agonizingly went through, in full view. If one closes their eyes and imagines having to endure what he did, it puts things into perspective….When I think about what I ‘struggle’ with in my daily life, there is no comparison. I also like to glean things about each station. One of my favorites is the fifth station, where I have learned that I, and everyone, can be like Simon, helping others with their struggle, not merely our own.”
At Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, Father William Reynolds said, “I think that the stations are attractive to people because they are a traditional Lenten devotion. In addition, the stations invite and allow each person present to reflect more profoundly and to enter more deeply the event in the suffering of Jesus being remembered. Also, the closeness of the Blessed Mother to her son Jesus as he encounters each event recalled in the stations is popular with and for people who have a devotion to the Blessed Mother.”
His favorite station is the sixth station where Veronica wipes the face of Jesus and leaves an imprint of his face on her veil. “We are all called to similar service in those various occasions in life when we meet Jesus, often in the person of another individual in need. In responding in this way, we become a ‘ver-onica,’ that is a ‘true icon’ or a true representation of Jesus. We must all be a true image or a true icon of Christ for others.”
Sheri Benson of the Newton parish believes the stations are the “best place to meet Jesus at the cross. It is for me a place of thanksgiving, as I reflect that in this moment, this place, Jesus is carrying the weakest parts of me. He is carrying my lack of faith, my selfish ways, my greed, my indifference to my fellow travelers. But, he is not carrying it so that I can feel guilty. It is so that I can unburden myself and be free to spread the Gospel — Christ’s good news. What Christ does for me, Christ will do for any willing soul. It’s an exchange, and frankly I got the better part of the deal.” Benson, who has been participating in Stations of the Cross for 12 years, said this devotion is a great opportunity to wrestle with one’s own brokenness and to recognize that Christ is offering healing in those broken places.
Following Stations of the Cross on Feb. 19 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf, Carlos Valdez Leon Valarde of St. Mary Parish in Davenport said he chose to participate in the stations at Lourdes for a unique reason. He had attended a Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus meeting at Lourdes and saw a painting hanging on the wall in the gathering space. That painting featured Lourdes’ sister parish in Peru, Our Lady of Reconciliation, the church his mom attended.
So he and his mom participated in Stations of the Cross at Lourdes because of that connection. He is active in Stations of the Cross at St. Mary’s, having a role in the live stations offered there. “It is Jesus’ journey.” On Good Friday St. Mary’s presents the Stations of the Cross outdoors through the neighborhood and concludes inside the church.
There are various ways to participate in Stations of the Cross. The common thread is to open with prayer, then the leaders and/or congregation move from station to station. At each station a reflection and prayer are offered.
The stations are:
First station: Pilate condemns Jesus to die
Second station: Jesus accepts his cross
Third station: Jesus falls for the first time
Fourth station: Jesus meets his mother
Fifth station: Simon helps carry the cross
Sixth station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Seventh station: Jesus falls a second time
Eighth station: Jesus speaks to the women
Ninth station: Jesus falls a third time
Tenth station: Jesus is stripped of his garments
Eleventh station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Twelfth station: Jesus dies on the cross
Thirteenth station: Jesus is taken down from the cross
Fourteenth station: Jesus is placed in the tomb.
To learn more about Stations of the Cross, including prayers and reflections, visit the USCCB website at https://tinyurl.com/ybbynuud.