The Stations of the Cross, or Way of the Cross, is a Catholic tradition that helps us contemplate the final moments of Christ’s life. We often practice this devotion during the Lenten season, with a special emphasis on Fridays to commemorate the day in which Christ died.
In the words of Piero Marini, Titular Archbishop of Martirano, "In the Christian West few pious practices are as loved as the Way of the Cross, a devotion which recalls with mindful affection the last stage of the journey that Jesus walked in his earthly life: from when he and his disciples, after psalms had been sung, left for the Mount of Olives, until the Lord was taken to the place called Golgotha, The Skull, to be crucified and then buried in a garden nearby, in a new tomb hewn out of the rock."
Dating back to the Middle Ages, Saints Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, and Bonaventure paved the way for the practice. Although it wasn’t until the 17th century that the present form, with the same fourteen stations placed in the same order was recorded in Spain initially in the Franciscan communities.
There are many versions of the Stations of the Cross available. At Scepter, St. Josemaria’s Way of the Cross is one of our most popular titles year round. It provides images for each station, a brief meditation as well as points for reflection for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross. (We also offer a shortened 'parish edition' that removes the points for reflection)
While each person and parish may have their own traditions, many classic renditions of the Stations of the Cross follow this format:
As Pope Benedict XVI said, "The Way of the Cross is… a school for the examination of conscience, for conversion, for inner transformation and compassion — not as sentimentality, as a mere feeling, but as a disturbing experience that knocks on the door of my heart, that obliges me to know myself and to become a better person."
Living this tradition can be an excellent way to prepare our hearts and minds for the death of Our Lord. It can be a way in which we, like Simon of Cyrene, help Him take up the cross. It can serve as an excellent reminder of what our sins and the sins of the whole world have done to the God who loves us dearly.
"Making the Way of the Cross, we, the followers of Jesus, must declare once more our discipleship: weeping like Peter for sins committed; opening our hearts to faith in Jesus the suffering Messiah, like the Good Thief; remaining there at the foot of the Cross of Christ like the Mother and the Disciple, and there with them receiving the Word which redeems, the Blood which purifies, the Spirit which gives life," Marini said.