Fog lay low, hanging in the tops of the gnarled, dark trees. Their branches reached like desperate hands up to the skies, while the trunks and roots clung into the earth.
The moon was barely visible, a pale sheen of light faintly glowing. The darkness lay on everything like a heavy, suffocating fear. Prone figures hid in the shadows of the trees, all of them sleeping.
All except one.
A man knelt in the garden, in what weak ribbons of moonlight had made it through the darkness.
His agonized eyes searched the heavens, and then closed as He accepted what was to come next.
The Lenten season brings an opportunity to reflect upon the sacrifice Christ made for all of human kind. People usually try to imitate Christ’s sacrifice in their own way, by giving up a food or activity they enjoy, and trying to remember not to eat meat on Fridays. While Lent is marked by an increased number of church obligations and some abstinence and fasting, it is also important to add something positive to our lives that may improve us spiritually. While, to many outsiders, these extra activities may seem to be either excessive or a cry for attention by the world’s dwindling faithful Catholics, these additions to our lives are to help us remember the sacrifice that Christ made.
One of the many additions to the churches schedule, as well as options for us to reflect upon the sacrifice Christ made for us, is attending a session of the Stations of the Cross. Most parishes offer a reflection upon Christ’s way to the cross, where we “accompany” Him during the last few hours of his life by remembering the suffering He endured because of His undying love for us. It is an uncomfortable thing to do sometimes. We never want to hear or think about a time when someone we care about suffered the consequences of our actions. It is distressing to dwell on how much we have caused pain to someone.
The mere fact that attending Stations of the Cross can be uncomfortable is exactly why we should do it!
The Stations of the Cross force one to face a lot of intense emotions such as guilt, sorrow and desolation. There is nothing quite as humbling as realizing mankind’s responsibility for bringing about something so terrible. However, more than just despair and negative emotions can be found while reflecting upon Christ’s journey. Throughout the Stations, one cannot help but be filled with an immense sense of gratitude and hope. The Stations remind us of the unconditional love that Christ has for us – despite full knowledge of our failings.
Hope is the most important emotion of all that the Stations of the Cross show us. Hope that despite every flaw we have, there was someone who loved us so much they were willing to die to prove it. Hope that through this remarkable love we are made new. As well as hope that no matter what trials we may endure, He will be at our side to endure them with us.
We too carry our own crosses as Christ did. While the cross Christ carried may be different in weight than our own, it is important to understand that Christ not only knows the burdens that we deal with, but will be at our sides to help us along the way. By reflecting on the Stations we can take comfort in the knowledge that even though Christ is perfect, He too understands what it’s like to endure trials. We are reminded that we are not alone when we face trials and afflictions in our own lives.
Our worth is found in the love, suffering and sacrifice of Christ crucified. By making the Stations of the Cross we have the honor of accompanying Our Lord along His journey, and standing by Him in remembrance of His suffering and death. In a Lenten season that is designed to bring us closer to Christ, what better way is there than to reflect upon his journey.
Co-written by Evan Hennelly & City Coordinator Justin Pedone