Via Dolorosa … The phrase takes me back to early 90’s Sandi Patty. I was around 12 years old and in a new school. My English Teacher’s son worked as a DJ for a Christian Radio station, so she loaded me up with a pile of fantastic contemporary Christian music from Stephen Curtis Chapman to Michael W. Smith. It was pre-DC Talk days, so the selection was limited. Yet, it was my sanctuary. Getting lost in worship music, you know like normal 12 year olds. Scratch that – I was just weird. And what does my taste in early Christian music have to do with prayer?
Well, back up a few centuries to around 1462 AD. William Wey, an Englishman, had finished a trip to the Holy Lands and felt inspired to capture the journey of Christ from conviction to the cross. His idea was to set up stations or waiting places, where a person could pause, reflect on a drawing, and say a guided prayer with the purpose of experiencing Christ’ final hours. It was an exceptional idea that caught on like wildfire in the Catholic Church. It was given the name Way of Sorrows or in Latin Via Dolorosa.
As it was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, it was later named the Stations of the Cross. Through out the years, tradition has changed it, removing a few stations, adding different requirements, etc. But I believe for the experience of getting to know Christ more, the purpose remains the same. So, I invite you to take time this week to go through Stations of the Cross as an exercise in your prayer life.
How do you go through the Stations of the Cross at home? Perhaps the easiest way is to find an online tour. Yeah, the Church has caught up with modern technology. I’m not Catholic, so it’s difficult to say whether one version is approved or not. But I’m also not as concerned with the liturgy. Remember the ultimate goal of the disciplines is to experience God. So if one version is missing a station or slightly changes the verbiage of the guided prayer, it doesn’t bother me. That being said, here are a few options:
When I first walked through the stations, I wanted my kids to experience them as well. So I printed off pictures and with a bit of tape, created a walk through experience in my home. Here’s a few PDF version options for you to try as well:
Let me know what your experience is like!
Discipline of Prayer Series
Interested in reading more about prayer? Be sure to check out the other posts in the series:
- Spiritual Discipline: Prayer
- Prayer: Lens of Tradition
- Prayer: Lens of Tradition II
- Prayer: Lens of Reason
- Prayer: Lens of Experience