It’s the First Friday of Lent.
So. You know what that means:
Ok, it means more than that. It also means Stations of the Cross.
This is a prayer that I am particularly fond of.
It speaks to me.
It combines my interest in art with my love of story.
I mean, as an art major in college and a folkore and lit major in grad school, what brings those two together better than the Stations of the Cross?? Well, in my not nearly humble enough opinion, nothing!
Every Catholic church has a set of the stations. And while I tend toward the more classical in my aesthetic, I always like to check them out. They are a visual story. An artistic storyboard…with all due respect. An illustrated art/prayer event. Sometimes antiquated, sometimes profound, sometimes dreary, sometimes modern or abstract. Sometimes they are even 3D. But, they are classic and installed in all churches, typically lining the perimeter interior walls.
Right, sorry, what are they: The Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis, Via Dolorosa? The Stations are a visual depiction of Christ’s Passion, from his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane to his entombment. They are a stationary, historical, art event….Mel did his own version in his famous difficult graphic hard intense sometimes controversial movie.
But they are also a prayer. Preferably, a communal prayer. And during Lent, most churches will have a communal time to come together to pray the Stations on Friday’s (right after the fish fry, no kidding). And the people gather in the evening and take the small hand sized books and follow the priest or prayer leader as a group. They walk from Station to Station, set around the church. And they pray together. And in doing so, they are meditating on Christ’s passion and what Lent is all about. Because it’s not only about the swearing off of chocolate or, um, swearing or drinking or whatever. Lent is about the person. Not us the person…. And the gift given, and hopefully turning our hearts back to the giver.
And in praying the Stations, even a small child, or I, can wander the aisles, gaze up, and follow this story. And wonder. And even in doing that, begin to pray.