We adore you O Christ and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have re- deemed the world.


One of the most stunning things about Holy Redeemer Church is that it is literally held aloft by the Stations of the Cross. In the morning and in the evening, the rising and setting of the sun blaze the power of Christ’s sacrifice for us to bask in all its glory. I can- not tell you the number of times I have been enthralled in its beauty.

I have been blessed in my life to walk the actual Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, in Jerusalem. To actually carry a cross through the narrow passageways of the holy city was one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring moments of my life. As we passed the cross from pilgrim to pilgrim we all felt like Simon of Cyrene, and we carried that feeling home whenever we helped another who was suffer- ing or aching. The Via ends,  unsurprisingly, on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and you then walk down to the Hill of Calvary, the traditional site of the crucifixion. From there you see the place where the body was prepared for burial and then you see the place of the tomb, the Edicule (the Little House), the traditional site of the resurrection. It is all quite stunning.

The history of the Way of the Cross, the Stations, is somewhat hazy. There is a tradition (which I would like to believe) that after Je- sus’ Death and Resurrection, his Mother Mary would visit the route he walked that fateful Good Friday. But there is very little evidence that the way of the Cross was an early devo- tion of the ancient church. As the centuries passed, there was a movement to replicate Jerusalem for Christians throughout the world. At the monastery of San Stefano at Bologna a group of connected chapels were constructed as early as the fifth century, by St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, which were intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem.

The earliest use of the word “Stations,” as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in 1458 and again in 1462, and who describes the manner in which it was then usual to follow the foot- steps of Christ in His sorrowful journey. It seems that up to that time it had been the general practice to commence at Mount Cal- vary, and proceeding thence, in the opposite direction to Christ, to work back to Pilate’s house. By the early part of the sixteenth cen- tury, however, the more reasonable way of traversing the route, by beginning at Pilate’s house and ending at Mount Calvary, had come to be regarded as the proper way.

Around the same time in Europe, places were set up to replicate the path of Jesus, even so far as to set out the ex- act distance he walked. In time, there were several different devotions to the way and not all of them were delineated by FOURTEEN different Stations. By the nineteenth century it became com- mon practice to erect the stations in churches and the devotion has remained ever since.

With all that being said, I wholehearted invite you to the Choral Way of the Cross this Sun- day at 3 pm in our church.  The choir from St. Francis Borgia Church will be singing and it should be a Way of the Cross like none other. Having read the narration that I will be vocalizing, it promises to be a powerful and spiritually enriching event.  This is truly a special event and will kick start the final weeks of the Lenten season in a wonderful way.

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