Lenten devotion: Stations of the Cross
By Julie Filby
Photo by Roxanne King/DCR
In a mini-pilgrimage during Lent, the faithful can walk with Christ in his suffering and death when praying the Stations of the Cross.
Stations of the Cross services are available in nearly every Catholic church in the world during the penitential season of Lent; with many parishes offering the devotion on a weekly basis.
“There are few events in human history that have been contemplated more than the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Father Jason Thuerauf, V.F., pastor of St. Helena Church in Fort Morgan and St. Francis of Assisi Mission Church in Weldona.
In the Stations of the Cross, the passion and death of Jesus are commemorated usually by physically moving around a set of artistic depictions of 14 scenes, starting with “Jesus is condemned to death” and traditionally ending with “Jesus is laid in the tomb,” though some series add a 15th station depicting Christ’s resurrection.
Stations may be stone, wood, metal, sculpted or carved, or painted or engraved.
“In the Stations of the Cross, we’re active in commemorating the way in which Our Lord died for us,” Father Thuerauf said. “We’re not just passive watchers … so our kneeling and genuflecting should be a little bit hard on the knees and a little bit awkward.
“It was much harder on our Blessed Lord’s knees and much more awkward for his body to carry that cross.”
Giving till it hurts is not merely a financial notion when it comes to prayer and penance.
“We should give until it hurts,” Father Thuerauf said. “There should be a little sacrifice in time, and a sacrifice in the comfort of our bodies; we give that up by genuflecting, kneeling, and offering our voices as we pray and sing.
“All this is a gift to God and we should give until it hurts because God gave to us until it hurt.”
Attendance is strong at St. Francis in Weldona—with about half of the regular congregation attending the Stations each Friday—though Father Thuerauf has perceived less participation, in general, than in past generations.
“I’m confident this devotion is not going away,” he said. “We will continue to be devoted to the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
After several years of not having weekly Stations of the Cross, Good Shepherd Parish in Denver re-established the tradition in recent years on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. Parishioner Gregg Fanselau, a convert to Catholicism in 2001, is grateful.
“In past years it was just on Good Friday,” he said, mentioning that he has also attended noon Stations of the Cross at Holy Ghost Church in downtown Denver.
“It’s a great prayer that’s especially fitting for Lent for when we’re looking at our penance and observing what happened on Good Friday,” he said. “One of the great things for me as a convert is … (being) able to pray the way people have prayed for hundreds and hundreds of years.”
He also welcomes the chance to pray in community.
“It’s nice to have a prayer experience that’s not just solitary,” he said. “It’s good to be in prayer that includes other people as well,” adding that the weekly experience may also involve a community meal.
“We do a big parish fish fry, it’s a great event,” he said. “I want to encourage other people to go to the Stations of the Cross because they’re pretty much simultaneous (with the fish fry). When both are available, I encourage people to participate in both.”
Many parishes in the Denver Archdiocese offer Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. For more information contact the parish office.