One of the true joys of the Season of Lent is the common following of the Stations of the Cross. There is hardly a parish that doesn’t have a Friday night devotion of this type during Lent!
The Way of the Cross is a privileged way of entering into the Passion and Death of Our Lord. The Church attaches a plenary indulgence to it whenever it is made by moving from station to station at duly erected Stations. The Franciscans are charged with “duly erecting” the Stations throughout the Church because of their custody of the Holy Land and because St. Francis of Assisi invented the devotion. In the sacristy of every church is a “Decretum Erectionis” signed by a Franciscan for the Stations in that church. Thus, the Stations take us on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and into the heart of St. Francis.
Throughout this holy season, we read again and again in the gospels about how the People of Israel hated Jesus their Messiah and Savior. We tend to think of ourselves as far from this hatred. The truth is that we are like the High Priests and Pharisees whenever we commit any mortal sin. When we sin, we are responding to Our Savior as they did.
The Stations of the Cross are designed to be a direct antidote to this hatred. The Stations put before our minds and hearts very clearly Our Savior and His Love for us. Meditating on His Love, we respond almost naturally by loving Him. The Way of the Cross creates this encounter for us with our Loving Savior. During the remaining weeks of Holy Lent, let us pray well the Stations of the Cross so that we may grow in love for Jesus Christ. Only by loving Him can we be saved.
Fr. Joseph Previtali