This prayer is ‘not comfortable,’ but the Stations of the Cross help bring hope during Lent

This prayer is ‘not comfortable,’ but the Stations of the Cross help bring hope during Lent

The Stations of the Cross, also called the “Way of the Cross,” or “Via Crucis,” refers to the devotional prayer practice that commemorates the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

The ancient prayer began when pilgrims to Jerusalem began retracing the actual steps of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. It “invites us to accompany Jesus on the road to Calvary and reflect on 14 of the most profound moments leading up to His death,” Sarah Shutrop, a writer at the Christian prayer app Hallow, told Fox News Digital via email. 

As the practice spread, it became commonplace to install paintings or sculptures of these 14 Stations of the Cross in churches, said the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

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While some denominations use slight variations of the 14 stations, the intent of the prayer is to encourage meditation on the last moments of Jesus Christ. 

“Like the good thief crucified next to Jesus, this prayer forces us to look upon Him, innocent and offered up for our sake,” said Shutrop. 

She continued, “Following Jesus as He makes His way to death is disturbing. This is not a comfortable prayer.”

This discomfort, however, serves a purpose.

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Thinking about Christ’s death on the cross in atonement for the sins of humanity serves to “challenge us by His example to be more loving, more generous, and more selfless in our response to the world around us,” she said. 

The act of praying the Stations of the Cross also invites Christians to pray with those who followed and knew Jesus. 

“Many Stations bring us face-to-face with those who remained close to Him in His final hours. We encounter Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as she follows her Son on the way to death. We witness as Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry Jesus’ cross alongside Him. We meet Veronica in the Sixth Station, who risks her own comfort to bring comfort to Christ,” she said. 

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The emotions felt by these figures are relatable during our own lives, said Shutrop. 

A person could be struggling with grief, as Mary was, or supporting someone in need, as Simon did, she said. 

“We might be called to courageously step out of our comfort zone — like Veronica,” Shutrop also said. 

“Wherever we may be, the men and women we encounter as we pray the Stations of the Cross offer us a blueprint for faithful discipleship, and serve to invite us to remain steadfast amid the shifting realities of our lives,” she said. 

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The Stations of the Cross is a reminder of a “hard truth,” said Shutrop. 

“We all suffer.” 

She added, “Each of us must pick up our crosses and push forward,” just as Christ did before His crucifixion. 

But, also, the Stations of the Cross are a reminder of another thing: hope.

The prayer “reminds us that we have a God who suffered before us. Even in the midst of darkness, we are not alone.”

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