I would like to offer the following idea to members for the Lenten season, something I have done and have recommended to clients in my counseling practice.
Consider making the Stations of the Cross personal. Begin by examining each station and put to writing how you can personally reflect or spiritually grow by imitating our Lord. Elaborate in your writing as needed, remembering this piece is important for your later reflection.
I also suggest you add a brief prayer after each station’s reflection, preferably asking God to help you grow or heal in a particular area.
Once you have done so, begin your reflections – either at home or, ideally, in the quiet of a church or anywhere you can peacefully meditate.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to begin. I have offered the following guide to prompt your thoughts and writing. Improvise as needed, but remember to personalize it as much as possible, as it makes the station more real.
1.) Jesus is condemned to death – Perhaps a reminder of our own mortality, a lesson in humility and acknowledgment of our total dependence on God…This is an open invitation to deeply ponder the sacrifice God made for you. Ask yourself the deep questions about your own spiritual journey. Are you really responding as God wants you?
2.) Jesus is given His cross – Where in your life is your cross? Have you embraced it – or are you fighting it along the way?
3.) Jesus falls the first time – Where have you fallen? Can you able to relate it to Christ’s fall? Did you remain humble in the fall or did you succumb to pride? Can you admit your own vulnerability and weakness that added to your fall?
4.) Jesus meets His Mother – Have you turned to Mary recently? Can you become child-like and simple to fully receive the love of a mother? What obstacles may be preventing such?
5.) Simon of Cyrene carries the cross – Are you humble enough to allow another to help you? Can you ask for someone’s help without letting pride get in the way? Perhaps we too can examine places where we are neglecting our neighbor instead of alleviating his or her burden.
6.) Veronica wipes the face of Jesus – How much risk do we take in helping others? Are you willing to get your hands dirty? Have you closed yourself off from someone? Veronica’s sole intent was to assist our lord with a simple gesture. How often do we over-think or weigh things out instead of just acting toward someone else’s need?
7.) Jesus falls the second time – A reminder perhaps that because of our fallen nature, we will repeatedly fall… Are you relying on God to pick you up when needed? Are there places in your life where you are overly relying on yourself –or others?
8.) Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem – Jesus reminded the daughters to properly direct their sorrow. We too may need to examine where we place our sorrows, frustrations and complaints. Is it rightfully directed? Where in my life can I better place my sorrow and efforts to help others?
9.) Jesus falls the third time – Indeed we fall again, perhaps even to the point of embarrassment. Are you still able to rely upon God or are you covering it up for fear of exposure to others? Where may pride be an obstacle? How can the cross that seems to be weighing me down actually lift me up spiritually?
10.) Jesus is stripped of His garments – Imagine Jesus’ embarrassment at this moment. Are we willing to risk anything close to this, to become totally vulnerable for the sake of another? Often when stripped” our true selves will show. Can we begin showing this true self to others without fear?
11.) Crucifixion, Jesus is nailed to the cross – Often it seems we are defeated with no way to regain our footing. This reflection can invite you to recall what was truly defeated on Jesus’ cross. If you focus on what is truly good and holy, you participate in what was won on the cross. What unimportant matters in my life can I let go?
12.) Jesus dies on the cross – A time of sorrow and mourning. In your own life here you may feel alone, even dead to the world. Try to relate these to Jesus’ sense of aloneness and remember you were created for eternity, not just our short time on earth.
13.) Jesus’ body is removed from the cross – Often just when you think we have accepted and dealt with one form of suffering, another comes along. This time we have even less control and feel external factors are determining our destiny. Perhaps this is a deeper invitation to trust God. Where in your life has this occurred or is still occurring?
14.) Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense – During a difficult period of trustful waiting, we need a great degree of patience. Where can you practice more patience in your life to better prepare you for future trials that will loom much larger?
15.) Resurrection of Jesus – At last you perhaps can experience Jesus’ triumph! Take the time to celebrate and express your gratitude. Consider where in your life you may not have been so gracious and act on it now! Commit to embrace the joy in your life.