Friday, March 6, 2015

Why I Abhor Adding a "15th Station of the Cross"

Adding the made up "15th Station of the Cross" (The Resurrection) is something I can hardly stand because it sends a terrible message.

One might counter - "Wow, you are a terrible person for saying that the Resurrection of our Lord sends a terrible message."

Obviously I do not think that the Resurrection sends a terrible message...I think INCLUDING the Resurrection of our Lord AS a Station of the Cross sends a terrible message.


The "Stations of the Cross" are a reminder that Christ Suffered, and still suffers in his brothers and sisters on Earth, and that he didn't RUN from that suffering.  Christ knew about the Resurrection too...but he still sweated blood!

Suffering doesn't always last a half hour - sometimes people suffer excruciatingly for many many years, and the "Stations of the Cross" are a devotion where we remember that Christ's sufferings didn't last twenty minutes either.

All the people starving in the world go to bed hungry and wake up hungry.  It doesn't just last a few minutes.  The imprisoned, tortured Body of Christ experiences suffering that is drawn out, and we ought to be able to acknowledge that suffering and the blinding and disorienting experience of suffering by not always needing to reassure ourselves of the happy ending.

The terrible hospital chaplains are the people who walk into a room where there is suffering and immediately try to make the suffering go away.  They say really asinine things that suggest everything is okay, but really what is going on is THEY don't want to join the patient in their suffering, so they tell the patient to cheer up, or remember that Jesus rose from the dead, or other such things.

Most of the time we CAN'T make the suffering people experience go away

The Resurrection of Christ is what everything everything is all about.  It is why we celebrate, it is the source and summit of the Christian life, etc.  We should all want to think about the Resurrection quite regularly.

If you want to pray and rejoice in the Resurrection, pray the Glorious mysteries or meditate on the relevant Scripture Passages.

But let the Stations of the Cross be the Stations of the Cross!  Let's show the spiritual maturity required to admit that our sufferings and Christ's sufferings were and are real, that suffering is often prolonged, and suffering is not something that is usually over in 25 minutes.

We do people a disservice when we do things to suggest that we can't handle suffering and death but have to have every moment of our prayer end happily.


  1. Is there really a movement afoot to add a 15th station, or is it just the usual flaky bric-a-brac you find in some quarters?

    I'd put this in the same category as avoiding crucifixes in the sanctuary in favor of a ressurected or ascending Christ (pejoratively known as "touchdown"). It seems innocent enough, but it can be a subtle denial of Our Lord's atoning sacrifice on the Cross, and by extension, a denial of the Mass as primarily a sacrifice. There are people, priests even, that vocally deny atonement. It's a hard teaching to be sure, but the worst thing we can do with a hard teaching is obscure its truth by trying to soften it.

    1. I wouldn't call it a movement, but the idea has been around for at least 45+ years. My parish uses a Stations of the Cross booklet which also includes this "15th. Station". It was printed in 1969.

  2. Excellent points Father! It reminded me too that "compassion" literally means "to suffer with".

    Complete and biblically-documented
    + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

    (1) FIRST STATION – Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
    (2) SECOND STATION – Jesus is abandoned by Peter and the Apostles.
    (3) THIRD STATION – Jesus is condemned to death by the Sanhedrin and Pilate.
    (4) FOURTH STATION – Jesus is scourged.
    (5) FIFTH STATION – Jesus takes up His Cross.
    (6) SIXTH STATION – Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene.
    (7) SEVENTH STATION – Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
    (8) EIGHTH STATION – Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
    (9) NINTH STATION – Jesus is mocked on the Cross.
    (10) TENTH STATION – Jesus promises the Paradise to the Good Thief.
    (11) ELEVENTH STATION – Jesus speaks from the the cross to His Mother and the Apostle John.
    (12) TWELFTH STATION – Jesus dies on the Cross.
    (13) THIRTEENTH STATION – Jesus’ side is pierced with a lance.
    (14) FOURTEENTH STATION – Jesus is buried.
    (15) FIFTEENTH STATION – Jesus descends to the dead and liberates the Faithful.
    “In the tomb with the body and in hell with the soul, as God, in paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit, wast Thou, o boundless Christ, filling all things!”
    [Ephesians 4:9, 1 Peter 3:19; the Byzantine Liturgy].
    The original Italian edition Via crucis – Completo e biblicamente documentato is based on the 15 stations of the Way of the Cross in Marija Bistrica, Croatia, on the Via Crucis – Venerdì Santo 1991, 1994, 1995, of Pope John Paul II, VATICAN.VA, and on the Byzantine Liturgy, SLAVXRIST.ORG; blessed by Bishop Virgilio Pante, I.M.C., Maralal, Kenya; published by Consolata Missionaries 6.12.2006. English edition: Consolata Missionaries, 2671 Islington Ave., Toronto, ON M9V 2X6 Canada CONSOLATA.CA 6.1.2007.