Meatless Friday 2011: Part 1

Stations of the Cross

When you walk into most Catholic Churches, if you look on the walls you will find 14 plaques depicting Jesus' path from his condemnation to death until his burial.  You may know the Stations of the Cross better as "the Way of the Cross".  The Stations of the Cross didn't start until the 17th Century; however, "The devotion originated, historians suggest, with late 4th century Byzantine pilgrims who visited Jerusalem and its holy places"

I hadn't been to the "Stations" since I was little.  I'm not real sure if we made to go or not; I barely remember going.  Last Friday was my first time attending as an adult; I was a little nervous going in because I couldn't remember the routine.  But, once it started, I felt very comfortable.

The Stations begin with the priest in front of the altar for the Gathering Prayer.  He then moves to each plaque, which depicts a  Station.  At each one, the priest introduces the Station then begins with "We adore you, O Christ and we bless you."  The congregation then responds by genuflecting (kneeling briefly on one knee) and responding with "Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world."  The priest reads a passage from the Bible corresponding with the Station.  The congregation responds with another passage in the Bible corresponding with the passage just read.  (See, Catholics do read the Bible!)  The version that we use is just amazing.  It's a little longer than the ones I've seen online, but very meaningful and pertaining to today.  After the congregation responds with the Bible passage, a song is sung (Stabat Mater) as the priest and the servers move to the next station.  Our parish does a bilingual Stations of the Cross:  one station is in English, the next is Spanish.  After all 14 Stations have been "visited", the priest returns to the altar for the Resurrection. 

When you read the list of the Stations below, you may think, "Wait.  That's not in the Bible."  And, you'd be correct. These scenes probably came from the early pilgrims to Jerusalem.   We don't know that Jesus fell 3 times.  We don't know that Veronica wiped Jesus' face.  We don't know that Jesus talked with Mary, his mother.   The Bible certainly doesn't tell us those details.  But, the Bible does tell us that Jesus was weak carrying the cross.  Do you have any idea how much that thing must've weighed?  Since Simon's help was asked for, it only seems logical that Jesus would have fallen.   Mary was at the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27).  Wouldn't she have followed alongside her son?  Wouldn't Jesus have been allowed to speak to his mother for a few seconds?  As for Veronica:  Her story is told in 2nd century version of the Acts of Pilate.  Jesus cured her of a blood disorder, and she went to Pilate to plead Jesus' innocence at his trial. "Later versions of the story from the 4th or 5th century say that Veronica possessed a cloth imprinted with the face of Jesus. Western pilgrims returning to Europe passed her story on. As the Stations of the Cross developed in late medieval times, Veronica was remembered at the 6th Station: she wipes the face of Jesus on his way to Calvary and he leaves an image of his face on her veil. A healing relic, impressed with the image of Jesus' face, which came to be known as "Veronica's Veil," was honored in St. Peter's Church in Rome as early as the 8th century" .

This devotion is absolutely beautiful.  There is a lot of standing and kneeling, but it is just an awesome thing.  You feel Jesus' pain and the pain of his followers.  One of the few things I have of my maternal grandmother's is this plaque of the Stations:

The Stations of the Cross:

I      Jesus is condemned to death
II     Jesus takes up his cross
III    Jesus falls for the first time
IV    Jesus meets his mother
V     The Cyrenian helps Jesus carry the cross
VI    Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
VII   Jesus falls for the second time
VIII  Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him
IX    Jesus falls for the third time
X     Jesus is stripped of his garments
XI    Jesus is nailed to the cross
XII   Jesus dies on the cross
XIII  Jesus is taken down from the cross and handed to his mother
XIV  Jesus is laid in the tomb


  1. I love the stations of the cross. John Paul ii came out with a "new" version of the stations and they don't all match up with the ones on the wall, but they are all biblical. My parish ordered new booklets a few years ago, so now we have the "new" version. it doesn't make me much difference, but my teens preferred the traditional ones. Go figure.

  2. Mary, that plaque is amazing! This is the second stations of the cross plaque/cross that I've seen blogged about this week. I really need to get one for my own family.

    I use to go to stations all the time as a child. What a spiritual journey and hands on experience in order for us to come so much closer in understanding what He did for us. Through His passion and death He showed how much He loved us.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. We do a Stations of the Cross service during Easter....but what you described sounded awesome. Thank you for the explanation it was very helpful. Have a blessed Friday.

  4. Mary,

    Very informative post on The Stations! Having gone to Catholic School (K-12) from the late 60's through the 70's, I remember going across the street to the church for the Stations quite frequently. In grade school we did them on First Fridays throughout the year, EVERY Friday during Lent and of course, Good Friday.

    I don't recall going on First Fridays in Junior High or High School. Just Lent and Good Friday. It's been years since I've done them as well. Due to significant joint pain these days, I would probably have to figure out a way to sit in the pews as I went along.

    I have to admit that I hadn't thought about them for some time. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

    ~Mrs B

  5. Thank you. We've done the stations of the cross in church, but this is the first time I've felt like I really knew anything about it.

  6. I had never attended the Stations of the Cross until last Lent. A sweet little Nun told the Stations from the perspective of Mary. I bawled through the whole thing. I can't wait to go again this year!

  7. I love stations's often overlooked during Lent, but it really helps us focus. Thanks for sharing the list and that plaque is awesome!! Blessings on a peace-filled Lent!

  8. That plaque is beautiful; what a family treasure.
    Reading the stations of the cross again...just reminds me again WHAT HE went through...for US. Very humbling.

  9. Again, as a non-Catholic, the Stations were always mysterious to me. We lived on a military base and during Lent the post chapel had a lot of stuff about it that was mysterious on the Catholic side!

    I would be interested in seeing JPii's version. I wonder by making it more strictly biblical he was trying to reunite?

    Even with some of the stations being traditional though, I can see how it would be a very meaningful experience to just slow down and think of what it might have been like. I know some of my Catholic friends take great comfort when they're stressing from the rituals they learned in childhood -- and they don't have to THINK about it -- it just comes back to them.

    And I love the idea of the nun who told it from the perspective of Mary his mother. As a mom, I can only begin to imagine the pain of watching your son suffer so. I think I would have been telling God, "I know you said so, but he's MY son too! Now stop it!"

    But I'm very grateful that He didn't.

  10. I remember doing the stations when I was growing up; It is neat to see that that tradition has lived on to honor Jesus with what he did for us by his suffering and his death on the cross for my sins



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