Dealing with a Prayer Desert

The last day of prayer of the Divine Mercy Novena is dedicated to “Lukewarm hearts.”

And sometimes I worry that it’s referring to me.

It comes and goes, stays for different lengths of time – days or months. There doesn’t seem to be any rhythm or particular trigger. It just appears on my heart without warning. A prayer desert. 

Ugh.

A prayer desert for me is when I’m just not “feeling it” when I pray. My prayers feel rote, my imagination wanders, and there’s a lack of connection. And it’s miserable.

Mother Theresa famously had a thirst for God that she couldn’t quench. 

Can you relate? If so, here are a few tools I use to find an oasis in the desert.

  1. Recognize where you are, and where you want to be. And tell God. And keep telling Him. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Be explicit in what you are experiencing.
  2. Go to confession/Adoration/Mass – Immerse yourself in spiritual experiences offered by the Church.
  3. Try a different form of prayer – The rosary, pick a novena, Lectio Divina, sing, silence, read the Psalms.
  4. Adult religious education classes/bible study – I love the adult education at my church because it not only gives me a chance to ask [dumb] questions, but I can surround myself with other people who are yearning to learn more. If your parish doesn’t offer classes, perhaps a nearby parish does.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone and serve. Soup kitchen, litter cleanup, retirement home, Big Brothers Big Sisters. Put yourself in situations to see Jesus in other people.
  6. Rinse and repeat – just do it. If worse comes to worse, slog it out. Don’t give up!

Have you ever had this experience? What do you do?

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One of the most difficult classes I took in college was Honors Religion. One concept that we discussed for weeks was “the numinous” – holy spaces – or more specifically – What is it about certain spaces that give them an aura of “holy”?

This discussion has stuck with me and gets dug up in my brain every time I encounter a place that rings the bell of “numinous” just so. Blue Cloud Abbey outside of Marvin, SD was one of those places.

Blue Cloud was founded in 1950 by a group of 40 Benedictine monks.

The monastery was a self-sustaining community with the mission of ministering to Native American tribes. Over the years, the brothers also successfully managed a popular retreat center for groups and individuals.

So a few years ago when the monks were shuttering the Abbey and relocating to different monasteries across the United States, it came as a particularly devastating blow.

Not only had we spent every Christmas Eve night well into Christmas morning (about 1:30 AM) at Blue Cloud, but we had seen the innards of the Abbey and the handiwork of the monks.

The Abbey had a smell to it, and sound quality that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. The long stone hall with the beautiful stained glass held my attention through hours of masses even as a very small child. The long lines of monks processing in before mass and singing hymns that echoed off the walls made of solid, massive, smooth stones – the effect was something so holy, and so tranquil that it has stayed with me all these years.

After Sunday Mass, we would all file down to the large dining room in the basement. I was mesmerized by the honey dippers in wooden bowls of honey – from bees on the grounds of the abbey and cared for by bee-keeping monks. We helped ourselves to cookies and juice, and while the adults talked we went exploring. We rolled down the grassy hills, stared in awe at the native art, and perused the gift shop at length until we knew the inventory by heart.

When I was older I discovered a treasury of fabrics and notions in a workroom where priests’ vestments were made by the monks. They kept cattle and gardens. The grounds were vast and supported the monks in their ministry.

So when news came that the monks could no longer support themselves and care for the grounds due to their aging population, the fact that they were selling Blue Cloud Abbey came as devastating news.

After what felt like years on the market (perhaps it was) a group of Catholic families banded together to buy the Abbey.

What a relief! They have methodically and painstakingly restored little bits of the Abbey at a time. And while the church has been decommissioned, the space maintains it’s numinous quality. The beautiful stained glass has been retained.

And while they are not allowed to call the facility Blue Cloud Abbey, The Abbey of the Hills has become a retreat center, concert hall, outdoor recreation center and so much more.

I am so proud of my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Rausch, and the other people who breathed life back into the Abbey. I am so grateful for the sacrifices they have made to do it.

So if for any reason you are in northeast South Dakota, or your looking for an excuse or a retreat, please consider visiting the Abbey of the Hills.

What about you? What is a numinous space in your life that has somehow gone through a transformation, but retained its holy quality?

Enrich your prayer life with a deep selection of Chaplets. This encyclopedia book lists over 170 chaplets and Rosaries with prayers.

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The school year for us is filled with a routine. Ours revolves around school and school activities. Our daughters are involved in a variety of activities ranging from theater to basketball to show choir. Needless to say, most of our weeknights are action-packed and many of the Saturdays are filled as well. During these busy months we try to always keep one constant – our Sunday morning mass at St. Therese Church. It may seem crazy at times, but during those crazy times it’s always nice to have our Sundays set aside for faith and family.

Then comes summer. (Cue Olaf’s In Summer!)

The summer months come along and structure is thrown out the window. There are family vacations, weddings, reunions, camps, etc, etc. Unfortunately during this time it’s easy to fall out of any type of routine.

Maybe you’re camping and are a long ways from a church. Maybe you were out late catching up with your high school classmates you haven’t seen in 20 years, so you miss another service.

Unfortunately, our routine gets broken up and we lose track of our Sundays. One week gets added to another and all of the sudden we’re done with summer and back to school.

We’ve tried to break that trend here. It doesn’t matter if we’re on a family trip or out with our former classmates, we have consciously tried to get to our Sunday Masses. We definitely don’t get to our home church each week, but then we get some variety. We go to our hometown church and then get to find some new churches that we may have never been too when we’re on a trip.

So here’s a few things we do to keep us on track:

  1. Sign up as a lector, server, usher, cantor etc. This is a time of year when your parish ESPECIALLY needs you. Families are flung to the winds and volunteers are scarce.
  2. Find a “backup” local Mass time. For us it’s the Sunday evening 6:00 service at another Catholic church a bit down the road.
  3. Plan for a nap. After a long night out on Saturday, that alarm clock is my worst enemy. It’s painful to wake up after a short night of sleep. However, since I know I have brunch and a nap waiting for me, keeping a date with an early Mass time becomes exponentially easier. Added bonus is that the earlier Masses seem (to me) to be quieter and more reflective than later times.
  4. Before leaving for vacation, make a list of churches with their addresses and mass times. And do it for multiple churches because plans change. I had a training in Vegas and one session ran late, so my planned Mass time was a no-go. Luckily I had the mass times and addresses for 2 different churches handy.

And finally, don’t stress out if you get a mass time wrong. I once checked Mass times online for the Cathedral in Austin (beautiful, btw). Unfortunately the posted times were wrong or I read them wrong and we walked in right before the Our Father. A priest friend of mine later assured me that one is able to receive communion if they have properly prepared their heart and mind.

What are some of the ways that you make sure you don’t miss a single Sunday in the summer time?

Our Lady of Grace Visor Clip

Our Lady of Grace Visor Clip

Keep an image of your favorite saint clipped to your visor to keep your faith top-of-mind when you travel. Shop our vast selection of visor clips to find the perfect one.

Auto rosaries with magnet clasps

Auto rosaries with magnet clasps

Our Auto Rosaries with magnetic clasps make it easy to put your rosary around your rear-view mirror, and to retrieve it when you want to use it. Magnet is quite strong.

 

 

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My husband will confirm that I’m not the most outgoing person. I get nervous in rooms full of strangers. The idea of introducing myself to people and starting a conversation from scratch gives me the heeby-jeebies. (Oddly, I love public speaking… but that’s beside the point.)

Pentecost is this Sunday and when I place myself in the position of the apostles in that house where the Holy Spirit filled them, those same feelings creep over me. I recognize that we are all called to evangelize… and that scares me. I think of all the ways that I am not following this call.

The Pentecost was a huge beginning for the apostles. Speaking in tongues they left for foreign lands to evangelize. Holy cow! Seriously! The transformation from timidity to strength and and faith was immediate. The gift of fortitude helped them to follow this calling.

[The seven gifts] make the soul capable of taking in the special lights and inspirations He sends in a much higher way than what is had in ordinary graces. We do not notice much of any effects from these Gifts until we have advanced rather far in the spiritual life, for great docility and purity of heart are needed. (EWTN)

It’s good to remind myself of these gifts. In case you need a refresher as well:

  1. Wisdom – desire to contemplate God and good things from Him
  2. Understanding – allows us to understand our Catholic faith
  3. Knowledge – guides us through life and helps understand God
  4. Counsel – guides what actions we should take
  5. Fortitude – strength to follow through through Counsel
  6. Piety – desire to worship and serve God
  7. Fear of the Lord – desire not to sin or offend God, acknowledge our dependence on Him

The trick is, that once these gifts are given to us, we need use them and hone them. In order for these gifts to be at their full potential in our lives, we need to keep growing in our spiritual lives.

And that’s where it gets tricky for me. When I’m feeling short on fortitude, it’s my own doing. I’m reminded of my need for the God in my life and all the ways I’m failing to abide in Him.

That’s why Pentecost makes me nervous. I could be doing SO MUCH BETTER.

This week I’m praying for counsel and fortitude. It is sometimes a long leap between the “should do” from Counsel to the “do it” of fortitude.

What gift of the Holy Spirit do you most identify with? Which do you wish was stronger? Comment below.

Novena to the Holy Spirit

Seven Swans Swimming Ornament (Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit)

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Ok, so this isn’t a true ode in terms of all the lyrical stanza, and it really doesn’t do justice to my mother.

I love my Mom. And I know that’s not a unique thing to say, but there are those who have life circumstances where that’s not an easy or true statement for them.

I am so blessed with my Mom. Thanking God for that gift every day doesn’t seem like enough. How is it that I can live my life in a way that shows Him how grateful I am for this blessing of a mother such as mine?

The earliest memory I have of my Mom is being outside in the garden with a red bandana holding her hair back while she worked. My mom is not one to sit around. Always “doing”, and doing something for the betterment of her family.

Because of her I had a childhood full of discovery and love. I was given room to make mistakes and test my limits. Sure, there were times when I wrapped up a sandwich and sweater, tied it up in a hobo bandana at the end of a stick and “ran away” (went and sat in the woods), but I always returned home, because that’s where the love was.

Mom embodies so many values and characteristics that I admire and want to wrap into my own life. The first of these that stand out is her grit and determination to make the world a better place whether it wants it or not. Fighting against tides of indifference and outright scorn, she has fought for as long as I can remember for her community and family.

And it’s all done out of love. You don’t make the sacrifices my mother has made without deep love. And that’s what sacrifice is – love. And all of these sacrifices were done so that we (her kids) could become the best possible version of ourselves, and follow God’s plan.

My mom and Our Mother Mary share some of these same things. I bet you can find some of these in your own mother.

Our Mother Mary made many painful sacrifices for her son. At the wedding of Cana she knew that by asking Jesus to perform a miracle she was asking him to begin his ministry, and knowing who her son was and what the prophets had said, she knew his ministry would not end in a ripe old age and natural death. She knew pain was coming.

However, she had a job to do as well. God had a plan. From the moment she said “Yes” to Him thirty years before that, she consciously became a target. She was pregnant, and not by her husband. Imagine the social implications that meant for her. Think of the fear she experienced when fleeing to Egypt with her husband and infant son. The panic when Jesus was lost for three days when he was hanging out in the temple in Jerusalem after everyone else had gone home, and the utter sorrow a the Passion. (Lectio Devina is a great way to place yourself inside scripture and prayerfully explore the personal experiences in the bible)

And today as the Mother of the World, she continues her love for us by turning our eyes toward her Son. She wants us to love Him, to see what He has done for us, and to follow Him and to “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

I strive to be like my mothers. All the good things they are, the strong, determined, make-this-world-better-come-what-may drive, and turn my eyes to what they should be focused on.

And for them I am eternally grateful.

 

 

 

Header image is photo of the Innocence plaque shown here.

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In a parish hall, a catechist patiently explains to a group of adults what the Eucharist is all about. In an office, a co-worker promises to include the intentions of his colleague in the current novena he is praying. At home, a mother patiently corrects her children and tells them the importance of obedience in God’s eyes.

These are a few examples of ordinary lay Catholics who, in their own little ways, contribute to the Church’s mission of evangelization. They may not be priests, nuns or religious, but that does not stop them from sharing and living out the Gospel in their day-to-day lives. Indeed, they are fulfilling the Great Commission — Jesus’ missionary mandate to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

 

The Laity’s Role

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (897), the laity is —

All the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church. That is, the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God…and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World.

The Church recognizes the importance of the laity, who make up most of the Church. In Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the role of the laity is further defined:

By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. They live in the world, that is, they are engaged in each and every work and business of the earth and in the ordinary circumstances of social and family life which, as it were, constitute their very existence. There they are called by God that, being led by the spirit to the Gospel, they may contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially by the witness of their life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they must manifest Christ to others.

Because the laity is found in every sphere of society, they have a special mandate to reach out to those in their own spheres, to take on that responsibility of bringing Christ to these areas. And it does not have to be in grand ways; rather, it is so simple and doable, and yet so amazing that the laity can “contribute to the sanctification of the world” by “fulfilling their own particular duties” as mentioned above.

An article in Catholic Digest even streamlined it in three steps: “Know the Faith. Live the Faith. Share the Faith” (http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/faith/trends/2013/04-03/what-is-the-new-evangelization).

 

Why a New Evangelization?

The term “new evangelization” was first coined by St John Paul II when he made a historic visit to Poland in 1979, proclaiming, “A new evangelization has begun, as if it were a new proclamation, even if in reality it is the same as ever.”

In his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, he said that “the new evangelization is very much tied up with entering a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians…respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of or time.”

This new evangelization is necessary because, although many people have been evangelized in the past, the pace and culture of the modern world has been influenced and inundated with such secularism that individuals need to be re-evangelized within that context.

 

Going Forth

By virtue of Baptism, one is brought into the Family of God with the duty to further His purposes on earth. It takes a process of growth and formation, all the while being among members of the Church, drawing ever closer to the Good News — Christ Himself.

How can you take part in this great work of evangelization? Where you are already gives a clue as to how to you can live it out.

 

 

Sources:

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Every once in awhile one of our customers will request engraving that hits me right in my heart. One in particular that I still tear up over when I think about it. 

It was for her granddaughter. She bought a St. Joan of Arc medal and on the back had engraved “You’re brave too. Love G-ma.”

Ugh. My eyes are doing it again. 

I love it when we get submissions like this. I wish I had the creativity to come up with these. But as I have learned, our customers are far better at this than we are.

So I’ve decided to get a few ideas from past submissions, and I’m hoping you can help us out. I’d like to create a free guide for our customers eventually.

Below is a starting list. What would you add?

Saint

Engraving

St. Joan of Arc

You're brave too

Maximilian Kolbe

There is hope

St. Anne or St. Joseph

You are mine

St. John of the Cross

Create!

St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Edith Stein

Always be learning

Padre Pio

Pray, hope & don't worry

Mother Teresa

Spread Love Everywhere

St. Catherine of Siena

Be who God meant you to be.

St. Catherine of Siena

Set the world on fire

St. Teresa of Avila

God alone suffices

St. Francis

Sow love

St. Ignatius de Loyola

Give. Don't count the cost

St. Clare of Assisi

Love God, serve God; everything is in that

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This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday, and it’s a doozy of a Sunday. It completes the Easter Octave and comes with an awesome promise: “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment…. Let no soul fear to draw near Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” (from St. Faustina’s diary – paragraph 699).

That’s huge. 

Mercy is Love. Simple formula, right? M = L

“Divine” is God, so Divine Mercy is God’s love for us, and help and blessings he extends to us because of that love.

St. Faustina is the one credited for bringing our attention to Divine Mercy and relaying to us the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena. She was a Polish nun who was also a mystic who experienced revelations of Jesus and kept meticulous records of these experiences in her diary. 

Even though St. Faustina lived very recently (1905-1938), Divine Mercy Sunday has been around since the very early traditions of the Catholic Church. St. Faustina re-emphasized the importance of the feast. Turns out, pretty much everyone had forgotten about it. Without Jesus’ revelations St. Faustina, Divine Mercy would not exist in its current form. By virtue of a Decree issued on May 5, 2000 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Holy See proclaimed the Second Sunday of Easter also as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The cool parts of Divine Mercy

There are many, and it goes beyond the complete forgiveness He offers on Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus will “pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the font of [His] mercy.” (Faustina’s Diary – paragraph 699).

The promises of Divine Mercy are many, and this list is not all inclusive.

  • The chaplet said by the side of a dying person allows God’s mercy to suround the soul
  • Whoever recites the chaplet “will receive great mercy at the hour of death”
  • Also for whoever says the chaplet: “It pleases [Him] to grant everything they ask of [Him] (para 1541)
  • “When hardened sinners say [the chaplet], I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one”  (para 1541)
  • The chaplet can be said by dying sinners as a last hope for salvation (para 687)
  • Praying at the Hour of Great Mercy (3:00 pm) – “I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion” (para 1320)
  • By praying the novena God “will grant every possible grace to souls” (para 796)
  • “Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask.”
  • Anyone who venerates the Divine Mercy Image “will not perish” (para 47)

The Chaplet and Novena

The Novena is a series of prayers said over 9 days. Traditionally the Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday and concludes the day before Divine Mercy Sunday, but can really be begun at any time. Each day of the Divine Mercy Novena brings a particular group of souls to God as dictated in Faustina’s revelations. They are as follows:

Day 1: All Mankind, especially sinners
Day 2: Priests and Religious
Day 3: Devout and Faithful
Day 4: Those who do not believe in God
Day 5: Those who have separated themselves from the Church
Day 6: Meek and Humble Souls, and Children
Day 7: Those who venerate and glorify His mercy
Day 8: Those in Purgatory
Day 9: Those who are “Lukewarm” – “Souls without love or devotion”

 

The Divine Mercy Chaplet can be said on a regular set of rosary beads as follows:

1. Make the Sign of the Cross

2. Optional Opening Prayers

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

3. Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

4. Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

5. The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

6. The Eternal Father

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

7. On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

8. Repeat Steps 6 & 7 for the remaining 4 decades

Saying the “Eternal Father” and 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion”

9. Conclude with Holy God

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

10. Optional Closing Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

 

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What Are The Seven Last Words?

A loved one is nearing the end of his life. In between struggling breaths he manages to say a few words. Those who surround him lean in, making sure that each word is not spoken in vain, that each phrase is recorded in their minds, its worth and meaning embedded in their hearts. More often than not, a dying man’s wish carries much weight, and those whom he leaves behind will make sure to treasure and fulfill his final instructions.

Such is the case with Christ and His Church. While He hung dying on the cross, that Friday on Calvary, He proclaimed what is now called The Seven Last Words.” These words, based on Gospel texts, were His final statements. They serve as a guide for deeper meditation and reflection on His Passion and Death.

Many Catholics and Christians have composed their own insights on The Seven Last Words, among them Venerable Fulton J Sheen. In his book, Life of Christ, he explains:

“Our Lord spoke seven times from the Cross; these are called His Seven Last Words. In His goodness, Our Blessed Lord left His thoughts on dying. He was representative of all humanity. In this sublime hour He called all His children to the pulpit of the Cross, and every word He said to them was set down for the purpose of an eternal publication and an undying consolation. There was never a preacher like the dying Christ; there was never a congregation like that which gathered about the pulpit of the Cross; there was never a sermon like the Seven Last Words.”

(You can read his reflections here.)

 

The Seven Last Words

Here are The Seven Last Words:

  • First Word: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” [Luke 23:34]
  • Second Word: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:43]
  • Third Word: Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.” [John 19:26, 27]
  • Fourth Word: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Matthew 27:46]
  • Fifth Word: “I thirst.” [John 19:28]
  • Sixth Word: “It is finished.” [John 19:30]
  • Seventh Word: Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” [Luke 23:46]

Jesus’ words reveal both His divinity and His humanity, His virtue of compassion alongside His feelings of abandonment, His longings and His surrender.

During Holy Week, the Seven Last Words are the subject of many sermons and retreats, as well as small group discussions. But you may also find it beneficial to meditate on these words on your own, discovering new spiritual treasures and most importantly, deepening one’s friendship with the Savior.

 

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Journey with Christ through the Stations of the Cross

Pilgrims carry a big, wooden cross — its upper, horizontal beam resting on the shoulders of those in front, and its vertical beam held by six or so hands on the left and right. It is winter, and these Catholics in heavy coats, along with those around and behind them, trace the final steps of Jesus in the old city of Jerusalem, mostly around busy, narrow streets now lined with tourist shops and some emitting the odor of a marketplace. This is the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Suffering” or “Way of Sorrows,” the path that Jesus took from Pilate’s praetorium all the way to His tomb. The procession consists of 14 stops, now called the Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross.

 

Origin

This popular devotion originated in the Holy Land. Tradition maintains that the Blessed Mother would make daily visits to the scenes of her Son’s Passion, and St Jerome (342-420), who lived in Israel in his latter days, confirmed that crowds of pilgrims from different countries would visit these holy places.

Many of the faithful longed to practice this devotion, but were unable to make the actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Thus, the Church saw it fitting to “reproduce” these sites. For example, as early as the fifth century, St Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, commissioned the construction of chapels at the monastery of San Stefano in Bologna to represent the more important shrines in the Holy Land, including several stations.

In 1342, the Franciscans were tasked as guardians of the holy places. And in 1462, an English pilgrim named William Wey described the manner by which these scenes were approached, calling them “stations.” By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, various reproductions of the Stations could already be found in different parts of Europe. Today, the Stations of the Cross can be found in parishes all over the world.


The Way of the Cross - Stations of the Cross Book according to St. Alphones Liguori

Carry this nail token to remind yourself of Jesus' sacrifice for us.


 

The Stations of the Cross

As stated earlier, the Stations of the Cross call to mind specific scenes from Jesus’ Passion and Death. They are the following:

  1. Jesus Is Condemned to Death.
  2. 2. Jesus Takes Up His Cross
  3. Jesus Falls the First Time
  4. Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
  5. 5. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
  6. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
  7. Jesus Falls a Second Time
  8. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus Falls the Third Time
  10. Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
  11. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
  12. Jesus Dies on the Cross
  13. Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross
  14. Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb.

The most popular version is the one developed by St Alphonsus Liguori, who includes a preparatory prayer, as well as prayers and meditations for each station. Also incorporated in each station is a verse of the “Stabat Mater” (a Catholic hymn associated with the Way of the Cross, which originated in the 13th century).

Various versions have also evolved in modern times, among them a Gospel-based version approved by Pope Paul VI in 1975, and another version written by Pope John Paul II.

 

Purpose

“The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make in spirit, as it were, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15569a.htm).

Archbishop Piero Marini writes, “Each step of Jesus is one step closer to the accomplishment of the plan of salvation…. Every new suffering of Jesus is a seed of future joy for humanity, every jeer, a premise of glory. Along that way of suffering Jesus’ every meeting — with friends, with enemies, with the indifferent — is a chance for one final lesson, one last look, one supreme offer of reconciliation and peace…in every episode which happened on that Way lies hidden a mystery of grace, a gesture of His love for [the Church].” (http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/documents/ns_lit_doc_via-crucis_en.html)

 

Part of Your Journey

The 14 Stations of the Cross are one of the well-loved devotions of the Church, most especially during the Lenten season. They provide enriching insights and a depth of wisdom to help devotees understand even more how the Savior sacrificed Himself for their sake, and how they, too, can offer more of themselves to Him.

Make the Stations of the Cross part of your Lenten journey this year, that you may draw closer to the heart of the Suffering Servant.

 

 

Sources:

On its history —

On the Way of the Cross by St Alphonsus Liguori —

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