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Footsteps to Follow: The way of the cross 2020

One thing that the Catholic Church is known for in our prayer life is devotionals. Simply put, a devotion is a way of praying that leads us closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

One devotion that takes center stage during the season of Lent is the Stations of the Cross. As we prepare our hearts for Easter, we remind ourselves of the path Jesus took for our salvation. These fourteen scenes of Jesus’ journey to Calvary come from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and have been passed down through the centuries.

They began with pilgrims to Jerusalem walking the Via Dolorosa, the Sorrowful Way. Each station is a meditation on Christ’s journey of suffering and death, along with His immense love for us. However, this year, these stations have taken on a much more beautiful and humbling contemplation.

This year my heart journeys over the year of 2020. The world stopped turning about this time last year, and our lives were affected profoundly by so many viruses. It was not only the COVID-19 virus.

There were the viruses of hatred, bigotry, prejudice, factions,and acts of selfishness, impurity, and idolatry. St. Paul would talk about them as sins of the flesh in chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians. All these viruses have been around for a long time, and there were 18 other past COVID viruses. This year, however, all these viruses bloomed and took over our world.

During the time of quarantine, we had the opportunity to pause and reflect on our lives, world, and our physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. Some of us turned closer to the Heart of Jesus to find comfort and consolation. Some entered into despair and moved further away from God, and others moved through fear, addiction, and hardening hearts. Some allowed the sickness to run its course and were filled with rage, hatred, entitlement, pride, and violence. Many people died, spiritually and physically.

This year was truly a Passion for so many people, and this is the point of our lives intersecting with Christ’s Passion.

In 2020, we carried a cross. These crosses were different for each person.

Some of us experienced the station of the Blessed Mother, where we could only watch someone suffer without being able to touch and console them.

Some of us experienced the station of Simon of Cyrene, who helped to carry the cross of another, through our nurses, doctors, and people of compassion.

Some of us experienced the station of Veronica, who bravely stood against the tide of hatred and despair and wiped the face of the suffering.

Some of us experienced the station of the women of Jerusalem, who wept over all the pain and suffering in the world and feared what would become of the next generation.

Some of us experienced the station of Christ’s death, where our loved ones have died.

The stations of falling, being stripped, being beaten down, nailed, and crucified have all been experiences where we have united the cross of our time to the Cross of Jesus Christ. In 2020, we entered into His Passion, and His Passion provides hope to our own.

The mystery of the Cross is that it is the Tree of Life, not of death. These stations of sorrow, for those who believe, lead to a journey of resurrection. This does not lessen the pain or suffering; rather, it does not give death the final word.

Without hope, 2020 would be meaningless. This Lent is a powerful reminder of hope.

Please continue to pray for each other as we walk this journey together.

Rev. Brian Van Fossen, pastor, St. Joseph the Worker Roman Catholic Parish

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