Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Reason # 734 To Be Catholic:The Stations of The Cross

Once again Lent is upon us and Christ has given us many means of receiving his grace during this season through His Church. The Church asks us to use these 40 days for prayer, fasting and the giving of alms to the poor. Since the early days of Christendom, Lent has been a way that Christians can take up their cross to follow Him, spiritually speaking. After all, if Christ fasted and prayed for 40 days, how should we not participate in a season of prayer and penance with the goal of growing closer to Him?
   My favorite devotion at this time of year is praying the Stations of the Cross.  Most parishes pray the Stations each Friday of Lent until Holy Week. The stations are a mini-pilgrimage that replicate the steps that Jesus took during his passion. They have been practiced in Church since the 1500's and  before then, pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem to walk the steps of the Via Crucis.  Tradition has it that the Blessed Mother herself walked the path of her son's passion daily after his passion and resurrection.
     After returning to the Church in 2004, I was suddenly impressed with how much my sin caused his pain and suffering and the stations are a way to help me to revisit that each Lent and to ask for the grace to not sin again.  Directly below is an example of the first station. Note that this devotion as most Catholic devotion involves the physical act of genuflecting while visualizing a picture or sculpture for each station and praying the prayer. (Once again, Catholicism uses our physical / material world to impact our spirit.)

The First Station:
Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die

V: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. (Genuflect)
R: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. (Rise)
V: Consider how Jesus Christ, after being scourged and crowned with thorns, was unjustly condemned by Pilate to die on the cross. (Kneel)
R: My adorable Jesus, / it was not Pilate; / no, it was my sins that condemned You to die. / I beseech You, by the merits of this sorrowful journey, / to assist my soul on its journey to eternity./ I love You, beloved Jesus; / I love You more than I love myself. / With all my heart I repent of ever having offended You. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)

Each station contains prayers that  truly help us to reflect on his suffering that our sin caused and provokes us to seek the grace to repent and sin no more. What can be better than that in preparing to celebrate His resurrection?  Here's a link to Saint Alphonsus Ligouri's Stations which are my favorite.
The fact that the popes have participated in the stations of the cross in the Coliseum during Holy Week tells you just how important and powerful this spiritual devotion is. There has also always been indulgences that can be gained from praying the Stations, which is yet another great reason to participate. The indulgence doesn't forgive our sin and we don't work ourselves out of sin- only Jesus can take away our sin! But an indulgence as given to the Church by the merits of Christ purchased for us by his death and resurrection can free us from the temporal consequences of our sin. More on the biblical basis for indulgences here.

"The purpose of the stations of the cross is to remind us of the effects of sin and the salvation won for us through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. As we meditate on the Stations, we are moved to renounce sin and to accept Jesus as our Savior. "


Blogger Fr Levi said...

Hi Russ,
The stations are a wonderful devotion. It's great when the church has a good set, that acts as an aid to truly help one visualise the suffering of our Lord. I'm afraid I don't like some of the colourless, plaster-cast ones I see in some places ... I like even less avant garde, stylised versions of twisted metal where I have to squint to try to make out the figures & would have no idea what they were trying to portray were it not for the number of the station to act as a give-away. There's a church near where I live (the church where I made my first confession & Holy Communion, served as an altar boy, & was conirmed in as it happens) that has a large set done in oil on board that I like to visit to say the stations quietly on my own.
Every blessing & have a joyful and enriching Lent.

March 03, 2012 6:29 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Thanks for stopping by Father! In the parish I was reconciled back to the Church in, after 31 years as a Protestant, our stations were paper machie and impressionistic. The designer, God rest her soul, was a talented woman from the Bauhaus school of design and it heavily influenced her work. Unfortunately for us less artful folks, the stations were very difficult to identify and sadly I don't think captivated as much as they could have. The new pastor when he took over, removed them and put up illuminated window box/faux stained glass stations which unfortunately were even more garish. However, we had the booklets of St Alphonsus stations to guide us and each station had a beautiful mosaic picture that was able to capture the station reverently and beautifully. The beauty of our faith is that Jesus resides in every Parish around the world, regardless of how good or bad the aesthetics are! Praise God for the Universal Church! Have a great Lent Father and remember me and my family in a Mass if you wouldn't mind. Thanks

March 03, 2012 6:50 PM  

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