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Father Muench Says...

The Stations: perfect prayer of gratitude

March 7, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

These past few weeks, the spirit of gratitude has been at the top of my thoughts.

As the days of Lent pass by so very quickly, the importance of gratitude has come to mind.  Lent always leads to Holy Week, even in the first weeks of the season.   Already Lent reminds me of the importance of walking with Jesus in his sufferings – and to stand at his cross – as he dies for us.  This certainly causes me to be intensely grateful.

Personally, thoughts of Jesus’ terrible sufferings actually saddens me a great deal.  I find it very difficult to accept Jesus’ sufferings and his crucifixion.  I wish he didn’t have to suffer.  I know that it is important to our faith that Jesus suffered and died for us.  I just find it so difficult to have happened.

So, each Lent, I pray to help me learn gratitude that Jesus was crucified.  His crucifixion did lead to the miracle of the resurrection.  Our salvation demanded that Jesus would suffer and die for us. 

Obviously, I should be grateful that Jesus suffered for me and my salvation.  I still feel so sad that his sufferings were so intense.  However, I do pray in thanks to the Lord: “Thank you, Jesus – you suffered so much for me.”

Among my Lenten prayers I continue to pray that the Lord helps me to recognize that the Lord has loved me so much.  Jesus loves us all as demonstrated by his suffering and crucifixion.  I want to learn to accept, I want to learn to love, this suffering Jesus.

In this regard, the best way to lead me to the proper spirit in accepting the suffering of Jesus is through the Stations of the Cross – a prayer of gratitude to the sufferings of Jesus.

The Stations are a journey with Jesus from Pilate to Calvary. In some places, like among Latinos, instead of walking around the Stations in Church, the people walk in procession around the parish streets, stopping before fourteen homes for the prayers and remembrance of each station.

Basically, the Stations of the Cross are primarily a personal prayer.  Doing the Stations means walking alone around the Church, visiting each station.  One possibility would be to read the prayers in one of the little books – or – simply, quietly, to stand before each station looking at the image and remembering the incident in Christ’s Passion.

This prayer, this visiting of the Stations of the Cross provides moments of gratitude as we remember these sufferings of Jesus and his crucifixion.  The Stations become a time of realizing how much Jesus accepted for us. 

I must admit that I still feel very upset that Jesus suffered so much, that my sins cost such suffering for Jesus.  My Lenten suffering should cost me some suffering also.  However, praying the Stations of the Cross remind and lead me – even just once a year – of all that Jesus went through in his Passion.

One more thing. Each time we complete the Stations of the Cross, we should continue our prayer in remembrance of the Resurrection of Jesus.  We believe with complete trust that the crucifixion of Jesus leads to his resurrection; the death of Jesus leads to new life in the Lord.  For as we recognize that we must be ready to suffer with Jesus and will die with the Lord, all of this leads us to new life. We will find resurrection with Our Lord.

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