The Way of the Cross
The early Christians set an example for us in their devotion to the Passion of our Lord. From the earliest days the actual sites associated with the Passion of Christ have been meaningful places for Christians to visit. As the moved from site to site they recalled the events that happened there and thanked God for the atoning work of Christ. Even today, the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of the Cross, in Jerusalem is still a significant place for pilgrims. Every Friday pilgrims walk the way of the Cross there in Jerusalem to remember the Lord’s death.
As time progressed, and it became increasingly impossible for all to make their way to Jerusalem to walk the way of the Cross. Soon, small images were developed to represent the fourteen stops, or “stations” on the way of the Cross and prayers were composed to be used at each station. These sets of images still adorn many churches today.
Praying through the Way of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross is a devotional journey. The stations are not explicitly recorded in scripture. This is an imaginative journey of prayer. It is an opportunity for us to take our “head” understanding of Christ’s Passion and contemplate it in our heart through prayer. This is a prayer, not an intellectual exercise. As we move through the stations and reflect, we open ourselves to what God would say to us as we meditate on Him. The practice is meant to bring us to a place of gratitude in our hearts for what Christ has done.
This is an imaginative exercise. Its purpose is not a historical examination of “what really happened” on that day in history. It’s about something far more profound. This is an opportunity to use this long standing Christian prayer to let Jesus touch my heart deeply by showing me the depth of his love for me. The context is the historical fact that he was made to carry the instrument of his death, from the place where he was condemned to die, to Calvary where he died, and that he was taken down and laid in a tomb. These exercises can allow me to imaginatively visualize the “meaning” of his passion and death.
You can pray through the stations accompanied by a Taize chorus of “Jesus Remember Me” by playing it below, and right clicking on the link to station one below, opening a new tab, and praying through the stations on that one, while letting the music play on the other.
I want to thank a good friend from seminary, Jeremy Sullivan, for sharing his worship resources with me, including a great deal of material on the Stations of the Cross. This particular prayer is taken mostly from an online version of the stations of the cross by Creighton found here.