March 25, 2016 by Alex Johannigman
For the past several years I’ve made an effort to pray the Stations of the Cross at my parish on at least one Friday during the Lenten season. As a Christian, I think there is great benefit to being reminded of the weight that Jesus bore for the sake of our salvation.
Yet, the story can often feel so far removed from our experience in the 21st century. I’ve never personally witnessed a criminal carrying a cross down a major road on the way to his or her execution. There is no Roman governor passing down sentences or releasing prisoners by popular demand. I may be able to watch The Passion of the Christ using my DVD player, but there is still an other-worldly feel to it as I watch characters who speak a different language than me and dress a different way than I do.
This year I was particularly moved when I discovered The Faces of Friday: Stations of the Holy Cross. This video series contains 15 short stories, most only about 3 minutes long, about the experiences of several homeless men and women. The narrator, Fr. Ronald Patrick Raab, C.S.C., describes encounters that he has had with a number of people who have sought help at the Downtown Chapel in Portland, Oregon. In each encounter, we are invited to experience suffering from a new perspective, through the eyes of those living in severe poverty in our own backyards.
I think the videos do an incredible job of connecting the suffering of these men and women to the individual Stations of the Cross where we see Christ journey on the way to his own crucifixion. If you would like to experience the Stations in a new way this year, I encourage you to spend some time watching and praying through this fantastic video series.