We are all standing in front of a life-size image of Christ on the cross. For most of my life, the stations in churches I’ve visited have been small paintings or wall carvings placed at intervals, but at Xavier they’re much larger panels, and I find myself connecting with the scenes in a new way. In the spirit of St. Ignatius, I imagine all of us as extensions of the image before us, truly present at the foot of the cross, standing beside those depicted in the scene, wondering what it means and what is in store. We are all at different places in our journeys, but united somehow, true companions. The stations of the cross no longer seem like boring repetition but like something closer to a journey. Perhaps what’s always frustrated me about the stations is that they cut too close to some of the struggles in my own spiritual life: the desire to keep moving forward rather than be still; the desire to skip the process and try to jump straight to the end, to that resurrection moment, where we get to celebrate; the desire to ignore or avoid the suffering along the way.
At the fourteenth station, the image of Jesus being placed in the tomb, my eyes are drawn up, to a separate image high above the stations. It is one of dozens of people being crucified, stretched out along a road toward the horizon. It is the first time I’ve noticed it, as I rarely stand in this part of the church. The juxtaposition of these images is striking. As Christ is being taken down from the cross, below, in the image above, those who have chosen to follow him continue to suffer. They are taking up his work, taking on the cross. And as we stand there, our own group is included in that tradition, all of us part of a long line of people in love with, pained by, suffering for, and taking part in the church. There can be a strange beauty in suffering, but, more important, there is beauty in having a community that helps us overcome it, to move forward toward that resurrection.
—Excerpted from Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber
In the cathedral of my city, as soon as you enter the church, there is a life-sized Christ hanging on the cross with a purple velvet cloth covering his groin. As a child, I remember being very afraid (even horrified) whenever my mother will bring me in front of it to pray. The contrast of the deep purple cloth against Jesus pale body with gaping wounds and his disfigured face with the crown of thorns was too scary for a young child. Up to this day whenever I am in front of that cross, I still remember that childish fear. But now that I am old, I realize that the cross really showed me the sufferings that Jesus endured and His great love for us by dying for our sins. Now I am no longer that horrified child before a pale Jesus on the cross but a grateful sinner thankful for all He has done for me, for all of us.
Thank you for reminding me the importance of art.
Vision of Christ
In Balingasag, Misamis Oriental Philippines, where I raised up as a child, every time lent comes, my father would take us to the church to have our family joined in the community stations of the Cross inside the church.
I thought that Jesus is alive in the church and finally will also die inside in the church through the reflection of what was said dramatically on every stations that was hanged inside around the walls. All the while, I imagine the sculpture to be real and moving too. Well anyway, but I was just a child, and during those time my mind was full of impossible imaginings.
Yet, but ordinarily and even now, i am still a big fan to that sculptor artist. And I thought that the patron saint of Balingasag, Sta. Rita is so popular for it.
As I grow younger, the memory of that sculpture and the picture of Jesus would oftentimes reflect deep in my mind, and one day as i tried to paint it, many from my friends who recognized bought it, thinking that it was from a true artist who painted it. Truly, it did benefited good to help me in my necicities as a young girl during those times.
Today, now that i’m old, remembering the art has really become part of my spirituality, yet, no longer focused on the artist or on the craft but the reality of who Jesus was yesterday, today, and tomorrow in my life. Now i understand that even artist are made for us so we may know Him more, come closer to Him more, to love Him more dearly, serve him, and to the end, follow Him more nearly..
From now on, You oh Lord, has become of me the greatest artist of my life, You, who formed me, and saw me to be all yours. I praise and thank you oh Lord.
Ophelia Lacre, yours is one of the most moving, insightful reflections I have ever read. I’m copying parts of it in my journal to ponder as time goes by. I love how you viewed the Stations as a child which is how we should always. No wonder Jesus admonishes us to have faith as a child – such purity of trust is best found in a childlike faith. Then your last paragraph and prayer was thrilling, bringing joy to my heart and I’m sure to the heart of God. I pray that you be filled with the fruit of the Spirit every day of your life.
Your sister in Christ,
Thank you for such a beautiful reflection.
This is a beautiful reflection. Thank you.
This touched my heart …what you say is true. We avoid suffering with every fibre of our being… but it is one of life’s certainties..our focus as you suggest is to shift to being the church to others suffering and to take the support of the church on in our own suffering..a powerful invitation…
Thank you for sharing your great experience on the Stations to the Cross. I will be taking your experience to do mine! God bless us!
Thank you for sharing this insight on the Stations of the the Cross. This is one devotion that I really get to see the outpouring of Jesus love for Mankind, it make me look at my own selfish attitude, it allows me to take a good look at myself and to ask God for His special Graces to help me to become a more loving and caring person.
It also allows me to see the strength and love of our Blessed Mother Mary, I draw strength and courage from her and Jesus. Thank you for allowing me to share.
I am a retired citizen, feel tired walking and at times weak to do the things I wish to do for my love Jesus Christ. I admire young Catholics pushing themselves forward after Christ’s banner, the Ignatius way. I try to follow at the end with my daily prayers Thank you Loyola for all your assistance in this process. Joseph Francis
Thank you for sharing wit us your feeling about the stations of the Cross. It has been a long time since I have made the journey around the church doing the Stations of the Cross. With your insight the journey I am about to start does not seem so monotonous. It adds colour and life to the plaques hanging on the wall.
Thank you for showing us the value of the sacramentals and other thins that help our reflection as catholic.