Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Stations of the Cross a Contemplative Journey

Stations of the Cross, is one of the more familiar Catholic devotional exercises, in which participants focus their prayer on representations of fourteen scenes of Christ’s Passion. The Stations of the Cross are commonly part of parish Lenten devotions. It origins are ultimately traceable to pilgrims’ visiting the various sites in Jerusalem associated with Christ’s suffering and death. Modern liturgist have emphasized that devotion to the Passion is incomplete without reference to the Resurrection and to this end have fostered the addition of a “fifteenth Station”.   

While the meaning of this exercise may vary from parish to parish, most participants will recognize its deeper message that not only does Jesus completely identify with our suffering he is totally present in every step of journey to wholeness. 

Recently a friend presented me with a unique contemplative application to bring us via the Stations of the Cross even closer to the suffering of Christ and that of own or someone we love.   This healing imagery could easily be adopted by any parish for reasons explained by this dear and anonymous friend.    

A Contemplative Journey

By way of introduction,  I would like to express my sentiments solely, that this reflection is not entirely about death of the body, but rather life of the spirit.  Let it be known however that suffering (sometimes even death) may be necessary to raise us to the next spiritual plateau. 

While sitting, in a quiet moment of reflection on Monday night at adoration, my friend Trebert suddenly came to mind.  He has been diagnosed with cancer and I was wondering if I could help him on his journey of discovery.  I looked around the church and noticed the first station of the Cross.  Jesus was on a journey (a mission if you like) to save all of mankind in a most unselfish act of sacrifice and love.  Then it hit me!  I could substitute the image of Jesus and replace Him with Trebert, or any of us for that matter. 

Jesus was condemned not so much for what He did but for what He didn’t do.  Trebert also did nothing to merit condemnation but found himself on the same journey.  Jesus accepts and takes up his cross and Trebert has done the same.  Jesus shows human weakness when he falls under his heavy burden and we shall do the same.  The important element here is not that we have fallen but that we are willing to get up.  As He is lying on the ground he gazes into a source of strength and resolve – His mother’s face who now knows this journey is both necessary and unavoidable.  She represents the goodness of all of humanity.  We too must become like Mary and assist Trebert on his spiritual Journey.  Jesus cannot carry his cross alone so Simon now carries it with Him.  The contrast here is that Simon and Jesus both need each other to accomplish the task at hand.  By compassion and caring we can also help Trebert along his journey. 

Jesus’ brow is wiped with a cloth by Veronica and His image is transformed onto it.  It is a lasting impression of what He will leave behind - His spirit of love.  Trebert has written many wonderful insights into church teaching and will no doubt continue to do so and this is what he leaves for us. 

Jesus falls a second time expressing failure in human existence.  It is part of our human frailty and we should be alright with that.  Again He rises!  He meets the women of Jerusalem who are crying and sobbing for his sake but Jesus enlightens them that they too shall carry a “cross” of their own.  Jesus falls a final time.  It is interesting to note that failure is part of our D.N.A but it is our resolve to “try” and to accept Gods will that is significant for our own spiritual journey. 

The soldiers now strip Jesus of His clothes and dignity.  But what do we need to be stripped of?  Jesus is telling us to rid ourselves of pride, prejudice, hatred, and judgmental attitudes and clothe ourselves instead with love, compassion, and understanding for all.  When Jesus is nailed to the cross it is the culmination of good and evil co-existing together – for a while. 

The evil of sin and the innocent Victim are bonded together by the nails of the cross.  They struggle incessantly until one is annihilated.  Jesus dies and it would appear that sin us victorious.  While Jesus’ body is still fastened to the cross, hanging lifeless and broken, His spirit has gone to the father.  His resurrection was imminent but not just yet, the three day prophecy had to be fulfilled.  Jesus is now taken down from the cross symbolic that good and evil go their separate ways.  For us, this could be the death of our own ego as we continue to “live” in our earthly existence.  Jesus is placed in the tomb until His resurrection.  Allegorically speaking we remain in the tomb unless transformation of our ego to God’s will is achieved.  If indeed this happens, then we too can resurrect as Christ did on Easter Sunday.  - Anonymous

The Stations of the Cross
1 - Jesus is condemned to death
2 - Jesus carries his cross
3 - Jesus falls for the first time
4 - Jesus meets his afflicted mother
5 - Simon helps Jesus carry his cross
6 - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7 - Jesus falls the second time
8 - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9 - Jesus falls a third time
10 - Jesus is stripped of his clothes
11 - Jesus is nailed to the cross
12 - Jesus dies on the cross
13 - Jesus is taken down from the cross
14 - Jesus is laid in the tomb
15 - Jesus rises from the dead on the third day

1 comment:

anjneil said...

Thank you for this understanding of a Catholic devotional. I am not of your Faith; and it has enlightened me immensely. Sincerely Sister Neil, missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I appreciate your insight.