Thursday, February 23, 2012

Via Crucis: The Stations of the Cross

The stations of the cross are an ancient devotion, reaching back to the earliest days of the Church when pilgrims would go to Jerusalem to visit the holy places. Small local versions were eventually constructed so that anyone contemplate the mysteries, even if you couldn't get to Jerusalem. There is a physicality to this devotion, the current edition of the Book of Indulgences (yes, such a thing still exists) notes that you don't get an indulgence for praying the stations unless you move from one to the next (exceptions made for infirmity or crowds!). God embodied suffered, so we similarly meditate on the mystery of the Passion with our bodies.

The third week of Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises are a meditation on Christ's passion and death, where the movements are spiritual, and the path is one that moves not only from scene to scene, but ever more deeply into the mystery. I found the third week to be physically exhausting, perhaps because in the end, I sat vigil in the chapel in between meditations. I can remember sitting in my director's office at the very end, clutching my cup of tea and quoting Robert Alter's translation of Psalm 69, "I have entered the watery depths and the current has swept me away. I am exhausted from my calling out. My throat is hoarse. My eyes fail from hoping for my God."

This year the Catholic Standard & Times is doing a meditation on the Stations for the Lent issue. Fourteen stations, from fourteen different churches in the archdiocese, arranged as a pilgrimage across two full pages, with a short reflection/point of contemplation for each station. Writing them led me right back into the currents of the Third Week.

Starting tomorrow and running through Lent, I'll periodically post these very spare meditations, for myself as a repetition of the contemplations that gave rise to them over the last few weeks. Walk with me....

Photo is from Wikimedia commons.


  1. Anonymous3:17 AM

    What does the writing mean ( in the background of the image)?

    1. "Tenet insanabile multo scribendi cacoethes"? It means "an inveterate and incurable itch for writing besets many" and is a quote from Satires of Juvenal