The Stations of the Cross

I've shared my story before on the blog, about how when I was in the 6th grade I started going to a Catholic middle school and from there went on to a Catholic high school.

Of course, I was a Church of Christ kid attending these Catholic schools and I was amply warned about all things Catholic. So while I was being exposed to Catholicism during these years I was wary and critical of it. I didn't have an open, inquisitive spirit.

Except when it came to one particular thing. The Stations of the Cross.

My first exposure to The Stations of the Cross was eye-opening. I found it profoundly moving. And disconcerting. I remember feeling shaken when the service ended with Jesus dead and laid in the tomb. Ending on that somber note was extraordinarily powerful and profound. I'd never been to a church service that ended in such darkness. And then we did it again. And again. And again. Each Friday of Lent my classmates and I would walk to the sanctuary go through the Stations of the Cross.

That repeated visitation of darkness marked me, deeply and emotionally.

In my experience, there is nothing quite like The Stations of the Cross in evangelicalism or low-church Protestantism. And I think we're the poorer for it. I know a lot of our churches are experimenting with Ash Wednesday and "giving up" something for Lent.

But for me, The Stations of the Cross are the heart and soul of Lenten observance.

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6 thoughts on “The Stations of the Cross”

  1. I love this, Richard. The twentieth century coC made our faith a very intellectual endeavour. We desperately need to reclaim the immense emotional power of these great liturgical practices.

  2. About 15 years ago, to commence a sabbatical, I went on a week-long retreat to a Jesuit centre near Liverpool. As the climax of the spiritual exercises I was given to do each day, my spiritual director sent me to spend the morning in the chapel with the Stations. It was an experience both deeply moving and profoundly shaking, evoking feelings not only of compassion and tenderness but also of Good Friday complicity, exposing the crucifying violence within me. Along with the debriefing with my spiritual director, it was an encounter with Christ and self that I shall never forget.

    For my church's Maundy Thursday evening worship that year, I downloaded some wonderfully suggestive abstract sketches of the Stations and had them translated into acetates which I then projected onto a screen at the front of the sanctuary. I linked the visuals with accompanying scriptures and short reflections, each Station followed by several minutes of silence. Even in this truncated form my congregation also found he Stations an inspiring-disturbing experience.

    Iconoclastic Proddies don't know what they're missing.

  3. I do chaplain ministry at Mercy Medical Center Northwest Arkansas where antique bas relief stations of the cross sculptures are located throughout the hallways. I have found the images and accompanying scriptures to bring me to a greater realization of the passion of Christ.

  4. I remember the post on this from last year..used the stations in the CofC youth class I was teaching at the time and have been using an app this Lent - very inspiring!

  5. For me, the Maundy Thursday service is the most powerful there is. From the meal together, the foot washing, the final Communion of the week, and the stripping of the altar where the sanctuary is left bare, deserted and dark . . . I haven't experience one yet where I wasn't overpowered.

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