A perfect (and saintly) Lenten companion

One of the things I love the most about my home parish is the gorgeous, colorful, bas-relief Stations of the Cross that adorn both sides of the nave. Of German origin, they depict beautifully the passion and death of Jesus, from when he was condemned to death to when he was laid in the tomb. The stations provide lovely focal points for prayer and reflection, and they also are commanding enough to help those of us whose minds may occasionally wander during Mass to snap back into focus.

There is perhaps nothing more quintessential about Lent than praying the Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings or on Good Friday, especially. It’s a way that each of us, no matter how young or old, can enter into the remarkable event of Jesus’ death on the cross — a death he entered into willingly for the salvation of his people.

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Of course, we can do this simply by looking upon each station, and meditating and offering a prayer. Or we can use one of a variety of resources provided by Catholic publishers to walk us through each step. One of the newest of these offerings is a book by John Collins called “Every Step with Jesus: Following the Saints in the Way of the Cross” (Our Sunday Visitor, $7.95). There also is a shorter version made especially for parishes to purchase and share with their congregations called “The Way of the Cross with the Saints” (OSV, $3.95).

Both booklets make the familiar walk through Jesus’ passion and death just that much more meaningful by incorporating several saints, including St. John Paul II, St. Padre Pio, St. Thomas More, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Leo the Great, St. Therese of Lisieux, Dame Julian of Norwich, St. John Chrysostom, St. Faustina, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Augustine, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

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The biography and words of each holy man or woman is intended to help shepherd the reader through each station. Also provided within each chapter is a Scripture reading, a corresponding reflection and a prayer. Included is the traditional prayer for each station, “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”

If you are looking for a different way to pray the Stations of the Cross this Lent — and especially if you have a fondness for the saints — this is a great resource for you. To order, go to www.osvcatholicbookstore.com and click on “New Releases.”