During the season of Lent, traditional customs, prayers, and devotions have developed called the Way of the Cross or the Stations of the Cross as they are more commonly known.
The season of Lent calls us to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as a means of spiritual growth. Many traditional prayers, devotions, and customs have developed over time in order to aid our spiritual growth during the season of Lent. One of these traditional customs, prayers, and devotions is the Way of the Cross or the Stations of the Cross as they are more commonly known.
As early as the fourth century, the Spanish pilgrim Egeria walked in the footsteps of Jesus, pausing at various places along the way, remembering the incidents recorded in the Gospel accounts of Christ’s Passion. The stations took the form we recognize today under the influence of an eighteenth-century saint, Lorenzo da Porto Maurizio. For St. Lorenzo, the Way of the Cross was a journey of self-discovery, an examination of conscience. St. Lorenzo’s Way of the Cross asks us to pause at each station to contemplate Jesus’ Passion, and to take responsibility for it; to see our sins as the cause of Jesus’ suffering. Each station concludes with a prayer for forgiveness.
The fourteen stations made popular by St. Lorenzo, and made official by Pope Clement XII, include both scriptural and traditional events of Jesus’ journey to Calvary. Jesus’ encounter with his mother, his meeting with Veronica, and the three falls under the cross are not found in the Scriptures. Nonetheless, they still offer us important reflections on Jesus’ concern for others even while enduring his own suffering.
The Stations of the Cross can be prayed communally, as we do on Fridays during Lent, or individually. The Way of the Cross is a good opportunity to fulfill the call to prayer during Lent.