On this fifth Friday in Lent 2019 – that also happens to be a First Friday – let us look today for some more insights into the value of this ancient Christian devotion, the Stations of the Cross, according to the Benedictine, Blessed Columba Marmion. (Part 1 of this post is HERE)
Three Reasons the Stations of the Cross are especially fruitful spiritually
Dom Marmion continues:
This contemplation of the sufferings of Jesus is very fruitful. I am convinced that outside the Sacraments and liturgical acts, there is no practice more useful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion. It is of sovereign super-natural efficacy. Why is that?
1) First, because the Passion of Jesus is His work par excellence; almost all its details were prophesied; there is no other mystery of Jesus of which the circumstances were foretold so carefully by psalmist and prophets. . . . The Father is well-pleased by all these things done by Jesus. . . . And what is the reason for this? That Jesus during His Passion honours and glorifies His Father in an infinite measure, not only because He is the Son of God but also because He abandons Himself to all that justice and love of His Father asks of Him.
2) We also ought to love to meditate on the Passion because it is there too that Christ makes His virtues shine out. He possesses all the virtues in His soul, but the occasion for manifesting them came especially at His Passion. . . . When we contemplate Jesus in His Passion, we see the Exemplar of our life, the model – admirable and at the same time accessible – of those virtues of compunction, abnegation, gentleness, that we ought to practice in order to become like our divine head: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
3) There is a third aspect which too often we forget, but which nevertheless is of extreme importance. When we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus He grants us, according to the measure of our faith, the grace to practice the virtues He revealed during those sacred hours. How so?
When Christ lived on earth, there emanated from His divine person an all-powerful strength which cured bodies, enlightened minds and gave life to souls: “Power went forth from Him and healed all.”
Something analagous happens when we put ourselves into contact with Jesus by faith. Christ surely bestowed special graces on those who, with love, followed Him on the road to Golgotha or were present at His immolation. He still maintains that power now. And when, in a spirit of faith, so as to feel for Him in His sufferings and to imitate Him, we follow Him from the Praetorium to Calvary and take our place at the foot of the cross, He gives us those same graces, He makes us partakers of the same favours. Never forget that Christ Jesus is not a model who is dead and inert. Ever living, He produces super-naturally, in those who draw near to Him with the required dispositions, the perfection they behold in His person.
Praying the Stations regularly
Finally, Blessed Columba Marmion emphasises how spiritually enriching it is to pray the Stations of the Cross personally throughout the year, not limited to the Fridays of Lent:
That is why, if for several moments each day, suspending your work, abandoning your preoccupations, silencing in your heart the noise of all things created, you accompany the God-man on the road to Calvary with faith, humility and love, with a real desire to imitate the virtues He manifests in His Passion, then be assured that your souls will receive choice graces that will transform them little by little into a resemblance of Jesus, and of Jesus crucified. Now, is it not in such a resemblance that St. Paul places the whole of sanctity?
It is enough, in order to gather the precious fruits of this practice, as it is for gaining the numerous indulgences with which the Church enriches it, that you pause at each Station of the cross and there meditate on the Passion of the Saviour. No formula of prayer is prescribed, no form of meditation is imposed–not even meditation on the subject to which the specific “station” alludes. Full liberty is left to the taste of each person and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
(These excerpts are taken from ‘Christ in His Mysteries’ by Blessed Columba Marmion.)