The Lenten devotion of praying the Way of the Cross put us in Jesus’ footsteps during his last hours on earth, says Fr. Clifford Hennings, OFM in this video.
In Catholic churches all around the world, and especially in Franciscan churches, Lent is a time in which we walk the Stations of the cross. That’s what we do in preparation for Holy Week, and maybe for some of us it’s just so ingrained in what we do for Lent that we never really sit back and think, Well, what does is all about? And where does it come from?
I mean, historically speaking, the Franciscans have a lot to do with how it became a cultural practice within the Church, to do this.
And predating the practice of Walking the Stations in the church, or maybe outside in a garden, predating that, people often actually went to the Holy Land, and millions of people still do to this day.
I think it reflects the sense that our faith isn’t just something that we think about, and our spirit isn’t something that is totally just in our hearts; but that we are physical beings that long to express our faith in physical ways.
It’s why we want to go to the Holy Land. We want to see where Jesus wept in the garden. We want to see the place where he was crucified. And we want to touch the place where he was buried.
It’s a part of who we are that just says, we may love a family member, we want to hug them and we miss their [voice, but] even talking on the phone doesn’t quite cut it. We want them to be here. And even just looking at a picture sometimes can be a lot more impactful on us than just thinking about them.
And so I think when we’re in the Lenten season and we’re recalling what Jesus has done for us, acting it out, walking the steps as a community helps put us in the physical presence a little bit more deeply. And the story of what Jesus has done for us becomes a little bit more real, and we can almost see it.
And so I think that’s why the practice of the Stations of the Cross is so important throughout the generations. Because even if times have changed, the fact that we are physical human beings who know what it is to suffer…we know what it is to fall down! We know what it is to have our friends leave us behind when we’re going through a hard time! And when we walk through that story, we can relate and put ourselves in that place with Jesus. Which in turn maybe makes him a little bit closer to us, in our experience.