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:
- Jesus Is Condemned to Death.
- 2. Jesus Takes Up His Cross
- Jesus Falls the First Time
- Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
- 5. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
- Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
- Jesus Falls a Second Time
- Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
- Jesus Falls the Third Time
- Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
- Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
- Jesus Dies on the Cross
- Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross
- 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.
“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.
On its history —
On the Way of the Cross by St Alphonsus Liguori —
We’ve been going through the 33 Days of Morning Glory Marian consecration at our church. One suggestion is that we wear a Miraculous medal once we are consecrated.
While I’ve seen the medal a hundred times, I haven’t fully understood its symbolism and purpose. So here is what we found out:
Mary’s Design: The Miraculous Medal
What would you do if Our Blessed Mother appeared to you one night and revealed to you her very own design of something you could actually wear?
This happened nearly 200 years ago to a young woman named Catherine Labouré, a novice with the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France.
On July 18, 1830, Catherine first sees the Virgin who tells her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.” A few months later, on November 27, 1830, Catherine has another vision of the Blessed Mother. Referring to the vision, the Blessed Mother tells Catherine, “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.”
Catherine then shares her experiences to her confessor. With the Church’s approval, the first medals are made in 1832. And in 1836, the apparitions are declared genuine.
The result is the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, now more popularly known as the Miraculous Medal.
The Design and Its Meaning
The front side of the oval medal shows Mary standing on a globe, recognizing her as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crushing a serpent depicts the defeat of Satan, in reference to Genesis 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Rays of light emerge from her outstretched hands, symbolizing the many graces that can be obtained through her. And around this scene are the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” which confirm her Immaculate Conception.
The opposite side displays a cross with a bar on its base, and a large “M” suspended on the bar. The cross refers to Christ and the salvation of the world, while the bar is the sign of the earth. The “M” is for “Mary” and “Mother.”
Below the “M” are two flaming hearts: the left with a crown of thorns, the right pierced by a sword. These symbolize the love of God through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The twelve stars encircling these elements refer to the 12 Apostles that signify the Church.
Miracles and Purpose
Since the distribution of the medals, miracles have been attributed to its use, including healings, protection from serious illnesses and a dramatic conversion of a former hater of Catholicism.
Today, many people have a devotion to Our Lady through the Miraculous Medal. Most important to note is what the Association of the Miraculous Medal declares: “There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a ‘good-luck charm.’ Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results.”
She was born blind, without any pupils in her eyes. But at seven years old, through the intercession of her Confessor, Padre Pio, she was then able to see — even without pupils. Her name is Gemma di Giorgio.
On October 13, 1917, as tens of thousands gathered near Fatima in Portugal, a phenomenal occurrence of the sun happened, coinciding with an apparition of Our Lady to three children.
He was once a persecutor of believers, but one day, had an encounter with Jesus that changed the course of his life. He then became the apostle to the Gentiles.
These three stories have one thing in common: they all are miracles. Miracles take on different forms — from signs and wonders in nature, to physical healings, to inner transformations. They supersede the natural realm, and thus are deemed supernatural.
The word “miracle” comes from the Latin word “miraculum,” from “mirari” which means “to wonder.” Miracles are “wonders performed by supernatural power as signs of some special mission or gift and explicitly ascribed to God” (Catholic Encyclopedia).
So what makes something a miracle?
Biblical Scholar John Paul Meier maintains that there are three basic parts that comprise a miracle, namely: 1) It must be an unusual event that can be observed by others; 2) It cannot be explained on a natural level; 3) It appears to be the result of an act of God.
Miracles may come directly through God’s immediate action, or through creatures as means or instruments. Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is an example of the former, while St Peter being delivered from prison through the aid of an angel is an example of the latter.
Today, miracles — especially physical healings — help in determining whether someone can be considered for sainthood. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints is responsible for this, requiring a verification process where the potential miracle has to be instant, complete and without scientific explanation, as well as attributed to the candidate’s intercession.
They then turn over their findings to the Consulta Medica, a board of doctors who scrutinize the reports. Upon declaration that there is no scientific explanation for the cure, a panel of cardinals and priests will come together to verify whether the healing took place because of the candidate’s intercession. Once proven, the incident is declared a miracle.
More than anything else, miracles are signs of God’s presence. They are not just meant for the individual’s welfare; rather, on a larger scale and greater purpose, they are meant to lead people to salvation.