“There is no practice more useful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion. Its supernatural efficacy is beyond compare” (Blessed Abbot Marmion)
Because the Saints and great spiritual writers remind us emphatically about the good work that is done in our souls by way of devotion to our Lord’s sorrowful passion, we should constantly be on the outlook for devotions that might have the ability to increase our love for our crucified Lord. Here is an ancient devotion of the Church, The Way of the Cross, which might be very helpful to many of us. After making The Way of the Cross in April of 2006, Pope Benedict XVI spoke these words:
“The Way of the Cross is not something of the past and of a specific point on earth. The Lord’s cross embraces the world, his Way of the Cross goes across continents and time. We cannot just be spectators on the Way of the Cross. We are involved.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the teaching of Pope Benedict, stating a point of capital importance:
“The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.” (CCC 1085)
When we walk with the Lord on the road to Calvary we are not merely reliving a past event! Far from it – the Cross of Christ is the very answer to the riddle of life.
There is a beautiful chapter in Blessed Abbot Marmion’s book, Christ in His Mysteries, about the incredible efficacy of The Way of the Cross devotion (Blessed Marmion, pictured below, died in 1923, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II). It is always helpful to get spiritual advice from a “Saint.” He says: “This contemplation of the sufferings of Jesus is very fruitful. After the sacraments and liturgical worship, there is no practice more useful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion. Its supernatural efficacy is beyond compare” (p.267).
Blessed Marmion elaborates that when “you accompany the God-Man along the road to Calvary, with faith, humility and love, with the true desire of imitating the virtues He manifests in His Passion, be assured that your souls will receive choice graces which will transform them little by little into the likeness of Jesus and Jesus Crucified” (270, my emphasis). Blessed Marmion then provides his own Way of the Cross meditations for all fourteen stations (see pages 271-284). These are powerful words from a great spiritual guide!
Here is a devotion you can do with your kids at Church utilizing the Stations of the Cross, or meditatively at home using the various devotional booklets on The Way of the Cross, the one by Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri being very popular. Don’t cast off this devotion of the The Way of the Cross as some ancient ritual no longer relevant to your walk with the Lord. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all need to practice walking with the Lord to Calvary, learning from the Lord how to embrace the crosses of our daily lives.
Photo Attribution: The lead photo above is by Unterillertaler, October 20, 2011, “Simon of Cyrene,” at Wikipedia under Stations of the Cross, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. The photo caption is: “Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross, Good Friday procession 2011 at Ulm, Germany.”
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