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Posted : Mar-09-2021

A traditional devotion which we are encouraged to pray in Lent is the Stations of the Cross.

     The Way of the Cross originated from the practice of Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and following the path taken by Jesus from the house of Pontius Pilate to the tomb in which He was laid. This involved groups of pilgrims following a large cross which made periodic stops at relevant shrines associated with the Passion. In this form it is still practiced today by pilgrims in Jerusalem, and it is also popular among Catholics in places like Africa, the Philippines and the Ukraine.

     In the Middle Ages, the Franciscan order sought to bring this practice closer to the hearts of the faithful who were not able to make the Holy Land pilgrimage. They did this by placing depictions of the Passion tableau for viewing by the faithful to assist in their devotion. By the eighteenth century, the familiar series of fourteen paintings decorated most Catholic Churches and praying the Stations was a well established feature of Catholic piety.

     In the Middle Ages we also see the popular appeal of the Passion Play. This drama is still enacted in many countries, the most famous of which takes place every ten years at Oberammagau in Bavaria.

     Most of us will be familiar with the dramatic re-enactments of Jesus' Passion which feature in the Holy Week events in Spain. Large floats bearing figures of the suffering Christ and the Mother of Sorrows are carried around the streets by various confraternities wearing distinctive costumes.

     We are fortunate here at St Joseph's of now having an outdoor set along the northern wall of the church, by kind courtesy of the CWL. The Stations make a wonderful teaching tool for our little ones, and we can also pray them informally by looking at the pictures while saying a prayer of our choice.

     Let us make every effort to ensure that the Stations of the Cross form a regular feature in our personal Lenten program of prayer.                                             ~ Fr. Paul Dobson