A Different Kind of Stations of the Cross

Many thanks to Nadia Bolz-Weber for sharing the Stations of the Cross 2010 – Made Entirely From News Photos of the Haiti Earthquake that her church put together. Each of the stations is labelled with the familiar text — Jesus is condemned, takes up his cross, falls for the first time, and so forth — so that we see the traditional images in our mind’s eye while contemplating the contemporary photographs. It is powerful and moving.

Some might be scandalized by this because it is so untraditional: it doesn’t depict Jesus’ suffering at all. It shows other people suffering. If you think the via crucis is all about trying to comprehend the depths of the suffering that Jesus endured to pay for your sins, then this will seem entirely inappropriate.

What I find powerful and appropriate about it is precisely that it shifts away from a “Jesus suffered and died for ME” focus that, let’s face it, can get a little narcissistic at times, and bogged down in feelings of guilt rather than gratitude. Instead, it opens our attention and our hearts out to all the poor and suffering in the world today. It is a devotion that takes seriously the principle that we will find Christ among the poor, the suffering, the broken-hearted, the least of our brothers and sisters: this is the principle that grounds the preferential option for the poor. It takes seriously the church’s teaching that Jesus is with those who suffer, that God loves us enough that none of us ever suffer alone.

Most powerfully, it reminds us to see the face of Christ in the faces of those who suffer today. It moves our hearts to pity and compassion for them. In this way, it inclines our hearts to imitate the heart of Christ. What could be more appropriate than that?

If you are on a liturgy or worship committee, or looking for a fresh, peace-and-justice-oriented take on this traditional devotion, it’s definitely worth a look. It’s a great example of praying “with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other”.

If you will be praying the Stations of the Cross today or during Holy Week, I invite you to click through and pray with these images.

We adore you, Jesus Christ,
And we bless your holy name:
By your holy cross and passion,
You have redeemed the world.
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