And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.Matthew 27:31
I started praying Stations of the Cross when I was in Kindergarten. When I was in Catholic elementary school, the students and staff would gather in the church next to the school to pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent. I’d watch the priest and two altar servers process around the church. They stopped at 14 stations, and each one was painted in a tiny alcove. I listened to the older students read about each station from the ambo while I followed along in the little booklets that the teachers distributed. I looked at the simple illustrations as I let my mind wander. I imagined what each station would have looked like in person and I wondered what it would have been like to be there during Christ’s Passion.
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I grew to love praying Stations of the Cross. I even looked forward to meditating on the Stations and losing myself in this repetitive prayer. I prayed the Stations of the Cross consistently from Kindergarten through eighth grade on each Lenten Friday. When I went to high school and during the first few years of college, I didn’t go to Stations. My high school didn’t offer Stations of the Cross, and I didn’t really seek it out in my home parish. Until my junior year of college, I never attended Stations at the parish near campus. Because I took a somewhat unintended hiatus from Stations of the Cross, I spent Lent differently. I felt that something was missing and that I wasn’t getting the most out of Lent.
While preparing for Lent this year, I realized what was lacking. Praying the Stations of the Cross helped me get into the Lenten season and made my Lent so fruitful. Because of this, I resolved to pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent again. This Lent, I’m making an effort to keep this Lenten meditation. When I went to St. Peter’s to pray the Stations of the Cross, I was flooded with memories of praying it in Catholic elementary school. I remembered what a beautiful prayer it was and how much I loved it even as a child. I definitely appreciate it more now that I’m older, and I’m glad that my teachers and priests instilled this meditation into me and my classmates while we were young. I’m even more grateful that God granted me the grace to return to this prayer.
If you’ve never prayed the Stations of the Cross before, I highly recommend doing so at least once this Lent. It’s a beautiful prayer to practice during the Lenten season, and it really prepares your heart for the Easter triduum and for Easter Sunday. Allow yourself to reflect on Christ’s Passion. As you repeat “Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world,” remember that the Lord endured this suffering out of love for you and he longs for relationship with you.