Ways of the Cross: Fatima, Modern Martyrs and Passion Stations

I love the Stations of the Cross. I want to explain why, but first let me say that the Gregorian Institute offers the following three Stations of the Cross for your use … now with art added accompanying each station.

Passion of the Christ Stations of the CrossThe meaning of Christ’s sacrifice as presented in Mel Gibson’s film.

Modern Martyrs’ Way of the CrossSome of the most impressive stories of faith amid persecution are happening in our own lifetimes.

Stations of the Cross for SinnersInspired by the message of Our Lady of Fatima, these meditations look at the consequences of our sin and the possibility of redemption.

The Stations of the Cross and Me

Childhood memories being what they are, I sometimes still associate the Stations of the Cross with cold fish sticks with ketchup.

That’s what we would come home to the few times we made the Stations of the Cross during Lent at my parish as a child. I also remember standing and looking at people’s backs. I never understood why we all didn’t walk around to each station with the priest.

But now I usually associate the stations with the silence of an empty church, which is how I usually experience them today.

As an adult, I read a modern saint (was it Josemaria Escriva?) who said something to this effect: “Isn’t it sad that the Stations of the Cross in your church never get used? Why don’t you become the one to change that?”

Ever since, I have tried to say the Stations of the Cross every Friday, when possible.

There are many meditations on the stations available. The Vatican website collects theirs here. The U.S. bishops offer a scriptural version and a version “for vocations” here. I love Cardinal Newman’s … both the long and short versions are here.

I never wrote my own stations of the cross meditations until I read what lapsed-Catholic film critic Roger Ebert wrote about The Passion of the Christ.

“The screenplay is inspired not so much by the Gospels as by the 14 Stations of the Cross,” he wrote. “As an altar boy, serving during the Stations on Friday nights in Lent, I was encouraged to meditate on Christ’s suffering, and I remember the chants as the priest led the way from one station to another:

“At the Cross, her station keeping …

“Stood the mournful Mother weeping …

Close to Jesus to the last.”

“For we altar boys, this was not necessarily a deep spiritual experience. …. What Gibson has provided for me, for the first time in my life, is a visceral idea of what the Passion consisted of.”

His comments drove home for me of the power of the stations, and led to the three stations mentioned above and also available here.

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Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.