God Direction
The passion of Christ is usually only thought of during lent and yet it is the story of our salvation. Through Christ's passion God fulfilled His purpose crowned by the resurrection. For that reason reflection and meditation on the passion is profitable at anytime of the year. The most popular is through the Stations of the Cross (also called The Way of the Cross, Via Crucis, or Via Dolorosa). This pilgrimage of spirit has always been associated with the Catholic Church but in recent years variations of it has emerged in other Christian denominations. Why now? I think we should first look at the history of the Stations.

It is unclear as to the exact time of the origins of the stations. It can be traced back to Jerusalem although in different forms. Tradition holds that Jesus' Mother visited daily the scenes of the passion and St. Jerome (around 400 ad) speaks of pilgrims from all countries who visited the holy places. There is no evidence of stations along the passion route at this time. Pilgrims speak of a "Via Sacra" (settled route for the passion) in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. It is believed that the stations began sometime after the Franciscans were granted guardianship of the holy places (1342). Sometime after, indulgences were attached to the holy places but there was still no set number of Stations along the Passion route. In the late 1400's and early 1500's there was an effort to set up representations of the Passion in Europe to allow believers, whom could normally not make the pilgrimage, to experience the Via Crucis.

In 1515 Romanet Boffin visited Jerusalem to obtain correct details for his set of Stations at Romans. He was told by two friars there should be thirty-one in all, but  the manuals of devotion given for use of those visiting the stations used 19, 25, and 37. There wasn't agreement even in the same location.  In 1584 Adrichomius gives 12 stations in his book which corresponds to the first of the 14 used today in the Catholic Church. This is believed to be the true origins of The Stations of the Cross. It wasn't until the end of the seventeenth century that the Stations became popular in each Catholic Church. For more in-depth information you can read about it in the Catholic encyclopedia.

Since  the Stations of the Cross weren't fully developed until after the Reformation and because indulgences were attached, I believe, these are the reasons that the other Christian denominations did not use the Stations. Today there is a push for unity among Christians and for this reason Christians are more open to understanding other denominations. Through curiosity merit has been found in using a devotion or meditation on the Stations of the Cross. The Catholic Stations contain 14 and are as follows:
  1. Christ condemned to death
  2. The cross is laid upon him
  3. 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. His second fall
  8. He meets the Women of Jerusalem
  9. His third fall
  10. He is stripped of His garments
  11. His Crucifixion
  12. His death on the cross
  13. His body is taken down from the cross
  14. Laid in the tomb
There is only eight of these fourteen that are mentioned in the Gospel accounts (1,2,5,8,11,12,13, and 14) the other six are based on tradition. While many Christians outside of the Catholic church believe it is wrong to include the six that are based on tradition, I will point out that there are many things done in our churches today that are based on tradition and are not biblical. Just because it isn't in the Bible doesn't mean that it can't be helpful for our study and meditation. For "... we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..."1

With these things in mind my favorite Stations of the Cross is a Catholic version call "Everyone's way of the Cross" by Clarence Enzler. There is an older version on the web called "Everyman's Way of the Cross." There is another version based on this same version in PDF called "Your Own Way of the Cross." There are Protestant versions out there. Most of them are found with history of and explanation for the use of the Stations. One such site has a worship service at the end. You can find this at "The Cross as a Journey."

Here is a version that I have written with the help of God. I pray that it will lead you to a deep relationship with God.
1The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 8:28). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Online Bible and Study Tools