Why do we pray the Stations of the Cross?
The Stations of the Cross is a devotional service commemorating the last journey of Christ from Pilate's house to his entombment. The custom of walking the Stations of the Cross came into usage in the Fifteenth Century as an outgrowth of the Christian Crusades to the Middle East. Pilgrims to the Holy Lands of the Middle East developed a custom of visiting the places sanctified by Christ's earthly life, particularly the path he took on Good Friday from his trial at Pilate's house to Golgotha, where he was crucified, and then on to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Upon their return to their homes in Western Europe, the pilgrims continued their commemoration of Christ's Good Friday journey by processing within the confines of their own parish churches. Done with great devotion, the service is typified by a procession that stops, or makes its station, at places within the church that are usually marked by a simple wooden cross or a pictorial representation of the event being commemorated at each particular station.
The Church has never prescribed official prayers for this service; it is only necessary for there to be movement from one station to another, with brief meditations on each station. Likewise, the number of stations has varied widely over the years, with some churches using only the eight stations that are directly recorded in the Gospels, and some churches using as many as fourteen stations, the additional six being scenes developed from Christian lore or legend.
At Good Shepherd, we use the service contained in The Book of Occasional Services, 2003, which has fourteen stations. Our stations were painted on mahogany by Susan Brush, a former parishioner, and the oil colors are diluted and rubbed into the wood.
The story behind Good Shepherd's Stations of the Cross icons
Please join us at 5:30 each Friday afternoon in Lent to pray the Stations of the Cross, followed by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.