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The Way of Lent

By: Peggy Mattson

As we journey through this Lenten season, we are asked to take time out to pray. It is an opportunity to deepen our relationship with our God and ask ourselves as a disciple of Jesus am I “acting justly and walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8); Am I staying the course (Acts 20:24)? In January I went on an overnight retreat at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos, California. The center has outdoor Stations of the Cross and a Rosary Walk similar to what we have at our National Shrine of St. Therese. There is a sign at the beginning of their outdoor stations that states: “Christ’s Way of the Cross Go Now Take up your Cross and with your life complete your Way.”

I had to stop and take a closer look. These words reminded me of the Beatitudes for Pilgrims that I encountered on my Camino Walk almost a year ago now. One of the statements is, “Blessed are you pilgrim if you search for the truth and make of the ‘Camino’ a life and of your life a ‘Way’ in search of the one who is the Way, The Truth and the Life.” I journeyed the Way of St. James for thirty-five days on Pilgrimage in Spain almost equivalent to a Lent. The Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross is one of the most observed Catholic devotions during Lent. It has been said that Mary walked the first Way of the Cross with Jesus from his condemnation to his death on Calgary. The Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows in Jerusalem is the most visited pilgrimage site in the Holy Land. At each station, a person recalls and meditates on a specific event from Christ’s last day. Specific prayers are recited and or sung at each station until all fourteen are completed. We have replicated these fourteen stations in our churches and retreat centers.

Many variations of The Stations of the Cross have evolved over the centuries. The one I prefer to reflect on is The Way with Mary.

Whenever I travel and visit a Catholic Church, I go and spend a moment at the Fourth station – Jesus Meets his grieving Mother. At our National Shrine of St. Therese, Station IV simply states, “Jesus and Mother.” The fourth Sorrow of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is the same, Mary meeting Jesus on the way to Calgary.

As we make our spiritual Pilgrimage contemplating the Passion of Jesus this Lent, may we walk with Mary and Jesus and take time out to pray and meditate as we each walk our own Way. May we offer kindness like Veronica and offer assistance like Simon and take up our crosses daily in following Jesus and proclaim our Resurrection song.

Peggy Mattson is a parishioner at St. Paul the Apostle in Juneau. She also works in the Diocesan Archives Offices and serves as the Co-Chair for the Southeast Alaska Catholic Conference.