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".