Today, Good Friday, let us pray Stations of the Cross together with a new appreciation of what is offered through it’s devotion. After all – today is the day that victory has been won. The physical body of Jesus Christ has met with death by surrendering to Life itself. Jesus Christ emptied himself as he gave of himself to the Father so that we could live. In doing so he claimed victory for all of humanity. A victory that offers all of God’s children, through all generations, an eternal life bathed in the bliss of Love. Jesus Christ did this out of love for all, and it is this love that we are invited to partake of.
While we can never understand the will of God, or his plan for the world, we can trust in his great love and receive the inheritance He has promised us by following the roadmap he reveals. The roadmap we are called to follow is the one Christ himself has modeled to us, a roadmap that many great saints and lovers of Christ have traveled on their journey towards Love before us. A roadmap guaranteed to deliver all that our hearts could ever desire. Jesus Christ, the one who came into the world and experienced the fullness of humanity, while simultaneously being fully Divine, calls us to share in the Father’s love by uniting our life with his just as he united his life with the Will of the Father. His earthly journey, which ended in a horrendous physical death, reveals to us the power in surrendering all for the sake of love, and it is in this love where we will find the power to surrender as Christ did.
A love that calls us to empty ourselves, to die to ourselves, so that we can fully live as our souls cry out for is a love that will sustain us in all of our trials just as it sustained Jesus Christ through his earthly trials. This surrender is promised to end in eternal bliss with Love enveloping us beyond our wildest dreams or imaginations. Yet we must also lay down our lives and carry our crosses before we can enter into the eternal bliss the divine roadmap promises. We must become free of our need to control our own lives as we give all control to God through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” – Matthew 16:24-26
Now the question becomes, how can we best carry our cross? How can we relinquish our need to control our lives and fully surrender to the will of the Father? First we must remember why Jesus carried the cross, being ever mindful that he did not carry the cross for the sake of the physical agony he endured. Jesus carried the cross so that he would secure the greatest prize of all – the salvation of all of God’s children! His goal of salvation for all could not be met through human control, it could only be met through the surrender to God’s control. Jesus surrendered to the suffering of the cross for the greater good, the greatest good of all – the unification of humanity with our loving Creator. His suffering was not in vain, his suffering served to produce eternal fruits of joy, hope and love. His surrendering yielded the greatest harvest of all.
In like manner we are called to follow Jesus Christ, to become Christ like, to surrender all control as Christ did, and in doing so we are called to utilize our suffering in such a way that it illuminates our roadmap towards the bliss of eternal agape love. To suffer for any other reason other than unification with God can create a false sense of martyrdom which in turn, threatens to confuse and mislead us away from our divine roadmap.
For example, many early Christians, in their zeal to more fully unite with Jesus Christ, actively sought martyrdom as a means of unification with Christ. Instead of surrendering control to God, they took control and actively chose the path of martyrdom when this was not the path God choose for them. While I certainly respect their zeal, it was their need to control their destiny that left them without the strength required for the trial. Instead of being filled with a sense of peace and countenance during the final agony of martyrdom, as did those who were divinely called into martyrdom, these individuals found themselves filled with panic and fear. They were fighting a battle they created, albeit out of the best intentions – union with Jesus Christ. However, this battle served to misdirect them from the unique roadmap God had for them. Of course God did, as he does today, call many into martyrdom and it can be said that our church was, and is, being built upon the blood of our martyrs. However, we are not all called to suffer or wear a martyr’s crown.
Today, the modern person can also misalign themselves with suffering in such a way that he or she comes to believe that their suffering itself offers freedom. However, freedom is not found in pain itself per say, freedom is found along the journey the pain offers. By looking at the pain in our lives and asking God to speak to us through it we can follow our roadmap and find our way towards him. After all, while we are all called to follow Jesus Christ, not everyone is called into martyrdom. Let us be ever mindful that Jesus did not carry the cross in vain, he carried it with a firm purpose and we are called to do the same. Our suffering and our pain are but stepping-stones on the divine roadmap leading us towards our great reward – eternal immersion in divine agape love. Being children in this fallen world we will all experience pain, we will all suffer – we will all carry our crosses. In the end, we are all called to bear our crosses and allow them to become our signposts ever directing us towards God.
How can we use our suffering as a divine roadmap? How can we know we are carrying our cross as God desires? How can we know we are surrendering control to him? The answer is relatively simple, as God does speak to us through simplicity. Deep in our hearts we will find joy, peace and love through our suffering when it is suffering God has called us into. If our suffering creates fear, worry, regret, self-loathing, or anger it is not suffering God has called us into. When we properly carry our cross and allow it to become our divine roadmap we will be fortified, we will be strengthened and we will come to more fully know Love. Our roadmap will become filled with divine tools, instructions and directions. God will place along our roadmap the people, the institutions and the steps necessary so that we can finish the journey of unification with Him.
Being Catholic we are blessed with an abundance of helpful tools guiding us along our way; Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, Novenas, Mass, the Sacraments and on and on the list goes. Today, Good Friday, we are especially called to pray Stations of the Cross. When we pray Stations of the Cross we are called into an intimate relationship with Christ through his suffering as we immerse ourselves in his love for God’s children. We are taught humility, perseverance, and love and we are privileged to glimpse a bit of what was offered when Christ surrendered all control to the Father.
A few weeks ago during his homily my pastor, Father Richard Doerr, shared his experience of witnessing parishioners praying Stations of the Cross. His heart was obviously touched as he spoke of the devotion these particular members of his flock held for our Savior. His words deeply touched my heart as they called me to develop a more full understanding of this particular roadmap towards God, so I did a little research.
Stations of the Cross, when prayed with deep heartfelt devotion promises much. Brother Estanislao (1903-1927), a Privileged Soul, received messages from Our Lord on this matter. In these messages Our Lord made the following promises to those who held a devotion to The Way of The Cross by praying Stations of the Cross. I thought I would share them with all of you here today, I hope you find comfort in the His promises.
Promises Offered by Our Lord to Those Who Pray the Way of the Cross
- “I will grant everything that’s asked of Me with Faith when making The Way of The Cross”.
- “I promise Eternal Life to those who pray from time to time, The Way of The Cross”.
- “I will follow them everywhere in life and I will help them, especially at the hour of death”.
- “Even if they have more sins than blades of grass in the fields, and grains of sand in the sea, all of them will be erased by The Way of The Cross”. Note: This promise does not eliminate the obligation to confess all mortal sins before we receive Holy Communion.
- “Those who pray The Way of The Cross often, will have a special glory in Heaven”.
- “I will deliver them from Purgatory, indeed if they go there at all, the first Tuesday or Friday after their death”.
- “I will bless them at each Way of The Cross, and My blessing will follow them everywhere on earth and, after their death, in Heaven for all Eternity”.
- “At the hour of their death I will not permit the devil to tempt them; I will lift all power from him in order that they will repose tranquilly in My Arms”.
- “If they pray it [The Way of The Cross] with true love, I will make each one of them a living Ciborium in which it will please Me to pour My grace”.
- “I will fix My Eyes on those who pray The Way of The Cross often; My hands will always be open to protect them”.
- “As I am nailed to the Cross, so also will I always be with those who honor Me in making The Way of The Cross frequently”.
- “They will never be able to separate themselves from Me, for I will give them the grace never again to commit a Mortal sin”.
- “At the hour of death I will console them with My Presence and we will go together to Heaven. Death will be sweet to all those who have honored Me during their lives by praying The Way of The Cross”.
- “My Soul will be a protective shield for them, and will always help them, whenever they have recourse”.
Sometimes I can’t believe how generous our Lord is with us… the promises he offers when we surrender to him are beyond our wildest dreams. Let us together pray Stations of the Cross with heartfelt devotion today and many other days. Such devotion will undoubtedly draw us deeper and deeper into His divinity where we become more like him.
“For in Him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.” – Acts 17:28
As we allow Jesus to speak to us through a devotion to the Stations of the Cross our need to control our own life will begin to slowly fade away, we will begin to die to ourselves and it is through this death that we will become fully alive – safely protected inside agape love. Then together my friends we will someday meet our Lord in paradise.
Sacred Heart of Jesus – Have Mercy on us.