What are the Stations of the Cross? Do all churches recognize them?
The Stations of the Cross are a primarily Catholic devotional practice that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. There are 14 stations, each one standing for an event that occurred prior to Jesus’ death. Commonly, plaques depicting each station are hung along the walls of a church. As a person makes his way past each station, he meditates and prays about that event.
This practice has been around since early Christians visited the Holy Land in the 400s. In the 1300s, the Franciscans began to promote this type of devotion in earnest in the Holy Land. Since then, it has become a common practice in Catholic churches. These are the stations:
These are the stations:
1. Christ is condemned to death.
2. The cross is laid upon him.
3. He has His first fall.
4. He meets His Blessed Mother.
5. Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross.
6. Christ’s face is wiped by Veronica.
7. He falls a second time.
8. He meets the women of Jerusalem.
9. He falls a third time.
10. He is stripped of His garments.
11. He is crucified.
12. He dies on the cross.
13. His body is taken down from the cross.
14. He is laid in the tomb.
I see no problem with commemorating the sacrifice that Jesus made. It does not seem that the prayers are being offered to the statues or depictions, but rather, the depictions are used as a reminder of the agony our Lord suffered. The only concern I have, and this is not just about the Stations of the Cross, is that the Catholic religion focuses more on the death of Christ than on His resurrection. It is through the resurrection that we can receive eternal life.
Anyone can die, and all people do—yes, Jesus laid His own life down, and for that I am eternally grateful—but only God can die and then rise from the grave, defeating death and then offering that same opportunity to all who believe in Him. I just wish that there were one or two more stations to commemorate the full picture of what Jesus did. But, that is consistent with the Catholic Church. Jesus still hangs on the crosses in the churches and around the necks of the people, which is such a shame, because if He
had stayed dead, we would have no hope!