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A Sacramental ~ The Stations of the Cross

Lent is quickly coming and it is always a good custom to incorporate the Stations of the Cross as part of our prayers during this time.

As a family, we say the Stations of the Cross, in a condensed form, each night after the Rosary. We use this book, (we have collected many through the years…enough for the family and for visitors):

Each of us take a turn at reading a Station. We leave out the middle part (the “people” part and also the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.) We do sing the hymn at the end of each station. This makes the Stations of the Cross doable for us as a family and after the Rosary.

We also have the formal Stations of the Cross at Church on the Fridays in Lent. One can gain all the indulgences at this one.

And just a reminder to all of you with lots of little ones. It may not be the season in your life to incorporate this as a daily practice. Fridays would be good to make a point of it, then. Also, you may want to do the Stations of the Cross as your midday prayer so it doesn’t make a long prayer, like the Rosary, even longer.

by Father Arthur Tonne, The Big Book of Catholic Sacramentals

“And bearing the cross for himself, he went forth to the place called the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him.” – St. Mark. 19:17

The French call it “The Holy Road.” Not very long, it runs from the tiny town of Bar de Duc to the mighty fortress of Verdun, Verdun–which the German army in World War One wanted to capture at any cost, Verdun–which the French were determined to hold at any cost.

When the battle began the railroads were wrecked, and supplies for the French had to be hauled over the road from Bar de Duc to Verdun. Day and night for three cruel months 12,000 trucks rumbled up to Verdun, loaded with soldiers, food, guns and ammunition. And daily 12,000 trucks rumbled back, loaded with wounded and weary Poilus.

It is said that over this highway, more soldiers traveled never to return, than over any other road in the world. It was a road to death; it was a road to sacrifice; but it was a road to victory. France calls it “The Holy Road.”

Christianity also has its holy road, the path over which Christ carried His cross to Calvary. It is a road to sacrifice, a road to death, but decidedly a road to victory. At the end of that road Christ won a complete victory over the enemies of our souls. He saved us.

We Catholics like to think about the holy way that Jesus walked. The Way of the Cross is our holy road. Just as the French recall the sacrifices of their heroes whenever they think about “The Holy Road,” whenever they walk along it, so we think of the sacrifices of our Hero when we stop to think and pray before the fourteen scenes which mark the principal points along the path where Christ carried His cross.

This devotion is also called The Stations of the Cross from the stations or crosses before which it was made. These are usually attached to the inside walls of every Catholic church. These wooden crosses are the essential part of the Stations; they must be blessed before one can gain the indulgence.

The story of the Way of the Cross goes back to the first Good Friday, when Christ’s followers began to tread the very steps He trod for them. In the early centuries Christians from all over the world traveled to the Holy Land to visit the spots hallowed by the footsteps of our Lord. Particularly they wanted to walk along the holy road where Jesus walked.

But when Jerusalem fell into the fanatical hands of the Moslems, this devotion became dangerous, difficult, and often impossible. Mother Church decided that the same devotion could be performed in one’s own parish church.

From the very beginning the Franciscans promoted this practice. It was soon indulgenced by the Holy See, at first only for Franciscans and groups attached to our Order. In 1726 Pope Benedict XIII extended the indulgences to all the faithful.

Because for the past seven centuries the followers of St. Francis have been the official guardians of the holy places, they alone were permitted for several hundred years to erect the Stations officially. Today all bishops have this power.

With a very special permission bishops may delegate it to their priests. However, it is still customary to ask a Franciscan to bless each newly erected Way of the Cross.

There are two reasons for this: the burning love of St. Francis for the passion of Christ, and the seven centuries of labor, service, suffering and martyrdom render by the followers of the Little Poor Man as official keepers of the sacred spots in Palestine.

Although the number varied through the years, today there are fourteen stations. Most of these are described in the Gospels. A few are not, like our Savior’s falls, His meeting with His Blessed Mother, and the story of Veronica. These incidents have been handed down by tradition, a sound source of history.

The Stations may begin on either side of the church. If the figure of Christ faces the right, the Stations move toward the right. If Christ faces the left, they start to the left. Sometimes Stations are erected in the open air.

The indulgences of the Way of the Cross are some of the richest in the gift of Mother Church. Every time you make the Stations you may gain a plenary indulgence. A further plenary indulgence may be gained if the Stations are made on the same day one receives Holy Communion.

Or this plenary indulgence is gained if the Stations are said ten times in a month, with Holy Communion received once after completing the ten times. To gain these graces one is not bound to read a meditation or prayer at each Station.

The following is necessary: 1. One must move from station to station.

2. One must stop at each Station and think for a brief time about the passion of our Lord in general, or about the scene pictured or represented.

 3. If, on account of the crowd or physical inability, one cannot move about, it suffices to turn toward each Station slightly. In our country it is customary for the priest to go around the stations while the people remain in their pews.

So eager is Mother Church that everyone think of the Way of the Cross and gain its blessings, that she permits certain priests to attach the Station Indulgence to a crucifix of solid material. With such an indulgenced crucifix in hand, when for any reason one cannot make the Stations in church, the faithful may gain the indulgences by saying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be twenty times–fourteen for the Stations, five in honor of the five wounds of our Lord, and one for the intention of the Holy Father.

Printed pictures in a prayer book or on a chart cannot be used for the Way of the Cross.

This Holy Road is a holy sacramental. It gives the spiritually thrilling experience of walking with our Lord along the road to Calvary. It helps you think of what He went through for you. It helps you realize some of the love He showed in dying for you. It helps you return some of that love. Amen.

“It will not then matter to us what our work is; the smallest action will be performed as carefully as the greatest, and our life will be beautiful in the sight of God. Yes; it is not always what appears to us to be grand actions that are grand in the sight of God.” -Mother Mary Potter, Our Lady’s Love of Domestic Life

Sign up for the Lenten Giveaway at this link.

New! The Lenten Way of the Cross Picturesque and Prayer-Filled Cards with Handcrafted Wooden Card Holder ~ Family/Children Activity!

Help make Lent more meaningful for you and your family with the Lenten Way of the Cross Cards!

Follow along with your family and prepare your hearts for the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord each year at Lent and Easter using these special picturesque and prayer-filled cards to help keep your mind and heart focused each day There are 41 cards in total.

Keep the cards in a visible spot in your home as a reminder to you and your children.

Comes with the handmade wooden card holder. Cards are approximately 7″ X 4 1/2″. (The wooden card holder is made with the wood from 100 year old pews that were made by boys in a Catholic School in the 1800’s! *While supplies last on this one).

You can look up more details on the Lenten Way of the Cross here.

Timeless words from the pen of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen inspire the heart and imagination as readers embark on a Lenten journey toward a better understanding of their spiritual selves. Covering the traditional themes of Lent–sin and salvation, death and Resurrection, sorrow and hope, ashes and lilies–these 50 passages and accompanying mini-prayers offer readers a practical spiritual program as a retreat from the cares and concerns of a secular world view.

Father Weiser has here applied his winning formula to an explanation of the fasts and feasts of the Lenten and Easter seasons with equally fascinating results.

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