University dives into tradition of stations of the cross

BY LIZ KNAB

The Stations of the Cross devotion is most popular as a Lenten prayer. Come Ash Wednesday, people focus on the suffering of Christ and meditate on his journey to the cross.

For some Franciscan University of Steubenville students, this practice is not kept to the boundaries of a 40-day fast, but can be a fruitful aid in meditating throughout the year on the pains Christ endured to free mankind.

The concept behind the Stations of the Cross has been around since the early Christians who, fueled by love and a burning gratefulness, traveled across huge distances to retrace the last steps of Christ.

St. Jerome recounts that Christians from all countries embarked on pilgrimages to the Holy Land to visit the places that marked the scenes of Christ’s passion. This practice eventually led to the making of pictures, carvings or statues representing the same scenes. Instead of a physical pilgrimage, this allowed people to make a spiritual pilgrimage and go step-by-step with Christ through the scenes of his passion from their own homes or nearby churches.

The idea behind this devotion is simple. The stations are a devotion that helps bring Christians back to reality, and instill a proper gratefulness in hearts by remembering the great gift that was given to us.

Some households on campus embrace this devotion year round in their covenant. Women’s household Theotokos’ covenant centers around the carrying of one’s cross and remembering the way in which Christ carried his. Their commitments include a daily 3-minute meditation on the passion in addition to the Stations of the Cross every Friday at 3 p.m.

“We do the stations outside every Friday and it only takes about 30 minutes,” said Clare Murphy, a recent intent to the household Theotokos. “It helps me to reflect on the struggles of the week and remember that God has overcome it all. My spiritual journey has been reflecting on the passion and remembering Christ’s suffering for us. Doing it with my household sisters is a really special thing.”

For many people, the stations are a life-long devotion that re-orients them to what is truly important by keeping them ever-mindful of the sacrifice done for them and the freedom won by it.

To anyone wanting to start this devotion there are aids available on campus. There are stone stations going down the hill by the Portincola Chapel, and a set along the walls of every chapel across campus. At 3 pm every Friday afternoon during Lent, the stations are prayed in Christ the King Chapel.

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