A Brief History of the Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross have formed part of Christian devotion at Passiontide for many centuries because they enable us to engage actively with the path of suffering walked by Jesus. They originated when early Christians visited Jerusalem and wanted to follow literally in the footsteps of Jesus, tracing the path from Pilate’s house to Calvary. They would pause for prayer and devotion at various points.
Eventually those pilgrims brought the practice back to their home countries and ever since then Christians of differing traditions have used this form of devotion. In the late fourteenth century the Franciscans were given the responsibility for the holy places of Jerusalem and they erected tableaux to aid the devotion of the visitors. These kinds of images are now commonplace inside churches, and occasionally outside them.
This Holy Week, we invite you to use this devotional as a daily guide for prayer and reflection. Every day, Monday through Saturday, there is a Scripture to read, some questions to ponder and a prayer to pray to connect our hearts to Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Monday, April 11 - The Garden
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’
This passage cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Jesus’ humanity is placed beside his divinity and the God man struggles and fights through this tension. Jesus experienced the depth of pain, agony and longing.
As you enter into this Holy Week, where does your heart hurt with longing? What are you bringing into your own garden experience? Where is there pain and loss? Where are there deep unmet desires? Bring all those things to God. Recognizing that Jesus understands your pain and the deepest longings of your heart.
Lord Jesus, you entered the garden of fear and faced the agony of your impending death: be with those who share that agony and face death unwillingly this day. You shared our fear and knew the weakness of our humanity: give strength and hope to the dispirited and despairing. To you, Jesus, who sweated blood, be honor and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.