If you’ve recently walked inside a Catholic church, you may recall seeing 14 paintings or sculptures representing Jesus’ journey from the time he is sentenced to death until his body is laid in the tomb. These Stations of the Cross (also known as the Way of the Cross) draw us closer to Jesus as we reflect on the love he poured out for us in his suffering and dying.
Tradition traces this ancient form of prayer back to Mary, when she made her own journey retracing her Son’s last steps. Mary’s reflection on the events and encounters of Jesus on his way to Calvary is known as the Via Dolorosa, or the Sorrowful Way.
While this prayer has its roots that date back centuries, there is a depth and power to it that still resonates with us today. The movements of this prayer remind us that we are not bystanders to an historical event, but called to find ourselves in the story.
Can you see yourself as Simon? Do you relate to Veronica? Do you ever feel crushed by the weight of your own struggles? Wherever you see yourself, reflecting on the stations helps us understand that we are never alone. When we fall and when we feel like we are on the top of a mountain, Jesus is there — with a love so strong it endured the burden of the Cross.
Our team at Grotto invites you to reflect with us this Holy Week. You can pray the entire Stations of the Cross at once, or set aside time each day this week to sit with the various experiences and encounters.
Whichever you choose, our advice is to just be you — come to the Cross, just as you are! There is no need to be perfect, no need to have your life figured out. You don’t have to hide anything. Just be you. Jesus will meet you there. You don’t have to fix yourself first or hide the dark parts of your life — that’s the whole point of this prayer. It’s a way for us to walk with Jesus through the darkest moments he experienced.
The encounters you experience along his way will expand your heart, making room for his love to find a home in your life and give you the courage to make an impact in the lives of those who are experiencing their own darkness. As Pope Francis said, the Cross of Christ teaches us to “look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer.”
If you are a parish or other faith-based organization, and could use these stations with your community of faith, please feel free to do so. There is no charge — we only ask that you attribute our website (GrottoNetwork.com) where appropriate. If you need any clarification, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.