While studying the New Testament during my sophomore year of Catholic high school, our teacher assigned us a project to make our own Stations of the Cross prayer book. We were to create a modern version of the Stations of the Cross by choosing pictures that reflect each station in contemporary times. I remember wanting to make the Stations of the Cross relevant to me as a high school student and looking for pictures of the Stations as they appear today.
I have always enjoyed history and for this project I found that the Via Dolorosa (Latin for “Way of Grief”) is the street found in the Old City of Jerusalem considered to be the route Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. I selected current images of where each station is believed to have taken place. The route is marked by nine of the fourteen Stations of the Cross with the last five Stations found inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Reflecting on the modern photo of each station helped me to create a sort of pilgrimage, creating a visual image of the path Jesus walked to his death.
Just as the Via Dolorosa gives us a glimpse of the visual path Jesus walked, we can relate to events and people of the past by associating with the current burdens of our world in order to promote deeper learning and engagement. Just as Jesus was wrongly accused and tortured, so are many around the world through persecution, violence, ignorance and injustice. When Jesus walked with the heavy cross on his shoulders, he carried the heavy burdening sins of others. We, too, can often find ourselves burdened with loads that we created for ourselves and others. We may fall under the heavy loads of work, family, relationships, financial issues or worry.
We must learn to graciously accept assistance and thank those who help us like Jesus when he let Simon help him carry the burden of the cross. Likewise, we must remember to help those less fortunate or reaching out to others in unexpected ways. When our egos, dignity and faith have been bruised, we experience the same agony and hurt as Jesus when he fell to the ground a second time. We need to ask God to help us practice the gift of humility. How can we put these reflections into action this Lenten season?
Taking just five minutes to pause and reflect on all that we are thankful for can help us understand how we are truly blessed. When I reflect on the Stations of the Cross, I ask God to help me love as I have been loved, to forgive as I have been forgiven and to be in continual awe of God’s marvelous works.
During this Lenten journey, I think it’s helpful to find the things in our faith that remind us of God’s love and help us reflect. My pocket Stations of the Cross helps me to do just that.
Dana Edwards is a recent graduate of the University of Florida. She currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida where she works as a Digital Strategist, and volunteers as a lector and with communication outreach at her local parish, Good Shepherd Catholic Church.