Stations of the Cross

During Lent, many denominations that stem from European Liturgical Christianity will focus on the stations of the Cross. It is common for churches to have the stations of the cross permanently displayed on the walls, one of the most striking being the stations depicted at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, currently under repair after a devastating fire.

But believers from non-Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptists, Evangelicals, or Methodist backgrounds may not be familiar with these:

The First Station: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die

The Second Station: Jesus Accepts His Cross

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother

The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

The Sixth Station: Veronica Offers Her Veil to Jesus

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

The Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time

The Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies Upon the Cross

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Placed in the Sepulcher

Liturgy is beautiful

It had been some time since I have attended a Stations of the Cross service, so I visited a Charismatic Episcopal church where my friend and former colleague Fr. Dennis Kubena was presiding. Another dear friend, Deacon Ralph Modgeska, was assisting.

This was a service heavy with liturgy and it immediately reminded me of the diversity of worship within the Christian church. Personally, I like liturgy, as it was something I grew up with Fr. Kubena read from a script. There was a lot of repetition, as the congregation was invited to participate in response.

The final hours of Jesus’ life before His death and Resurrection

The stations are recalling events in the final hours of Jesus’ life. We are reminded of His suffering. Evangelicals remember the events, but not in a ritualistic sense. It’s just different. The first nine stations are about Jesus on the way to the cross. The last five are at the cross. The Catholic Church developed the liturgy in the times of the Crusades, so it is a long established tradition.

Fr. Kubena’s church has a crucifix above the alter, whereas Evangelical churches have a cross. The distinction here is that Jesus is not on the cross, but at the right hand of God the Father, awaiting instructions to return to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is very much alive. He rose on the third day and walked out of the tomb.

Both ways are fine just different

There is no right and wrong here, just a difference in the way people worship. I recall standing at the back of a Catholic mass at a race track. It was a Sunday morning before an Indy Car race. I was standing next to a Methodist chaplain. He nudged me with his elbow and said, “I see you love the liturgy too.”

The priest was Fr. Phil DeRay, a lifelong friend of Mario Andretti. Fr. Phil once counseled a group of race car chaplains from various denominations. They were discussing how their organization could best serve the race car community.

He drew a cross on a piece of paper and asked, “Can we all agree on this?” Everyone agreed. “Good,” he said, “then we’re done.” I thought this to be a brilliant response. Jesus is the beginning and the end. There is nothing else we need to focus on.

Jesus is ALIVE!

When we go through the stations of the Cross, we must reflect on what happened, but understand why it happened and what it means for the world. Jesus died for our sins on that terrible Friday. BUT, Sunday came and He was ALIVE!