take up your cross

second week of lent

We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee,
for by Thy holy Cross you have
redeemed the world.

In 355 A.D. the emperor Constantine erected the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at the site where Jesus’ tomb was believed to have been. Soon after it was completed, pilgrims began to walk a route from the ruins of the Fortress Antonia to the church. This walk was accepted as the way Jesus walked as he suffered going to his death. It is known as the Via Dolorosa in Latin, meaning “Sorrowful Way”. The forerunner of modern-day Stations of the Cross was established by Franciscan Friars after 1342 A.D. when they were given custody of the holy sites in the Holy Land. Today the route winds through the crowded areas of Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Stations of the Cross are special during Lent because they help us to contemplate the suffering and passion of Christ. They offer us consolation as we turn to God to be renewed. In this intimate experience of Jesus’ unity with all humanity, we take up our cross daily knowing that we are not alone. Jesus is with us, he entered into our life’s experience completely…even suffering and dying. Meditating on the stations takes the reality of his passion out of our heads and puts it into our hearts. This experience of love for Jesus leads us to deep gratitude and a desire to love him more. By accompanying him on the way of the cross we gain his grace to learn to completely trust in God.
What matters most in the Stations of the Cross is to follow Jesus Christ on the road to Calvary and to see ourselves mirrored in him. We all bear the imprint of the cross when we are judged unjustly, when we fall, when we find life’s journey hard, and when we face death and recoil from it. Jesus offers us hope and transforms our reality of the evil we find hard to bear. We are challenged to live in a secular culture but not to become a product of it. We can find in this miniature pilgrimage to the Holy Places at Jerusalem, strength to continue to carry us through our Lenten practices.
SSJ Associate Marti Michael

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped; but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and was born in human likeness. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name. (Philippians 2:6-9)