Living Stations in Bronze
Updated: Mar 14, 2018
I was on my way home from a Baptism this weekend, and I stopped at the Shrine of Christ's Passion in St. John, Indiana. It was a day with a clear, sapphire sky and a brisk, soft breeze; I couldn't not stop at the Shrine. As I begin walking through the trail, I can hear the seagulls and the wind whistling through each branch of the bushes. This was a moment by myself to close my eyes, take a pause from the long drive and crazy schedule of life, and really listen to the world around me, but also the world within me. How often do we ignore that? Christ walks with us in our daily journey of trials and triumphs; Lent is an opportunity for us to walk with him through the suffering that he endured for us.
At the Shrine, there are 40 bronze statues, and counting, that make up the Stations of the Cross. They are laid out on a chunk of land so that you walk what seems like this ever-winding path through each step of his passion, death, and resurrection. On the trail, there are speakers that play meditative music, and at each Station there is a button that you can push where a recording of that particular Station will play. Today, I just felt like walking in silence. I was completely alone, no one before me or behind me, which was a miracle because this place was packed with people of all ages! Each Station is made up of life-size, free-standing bronze statues. You interact with them by walking around each scene to get a full perspective, you can touch Jesus' hands and face, you can imagine the weight of the wooden beams of his cross he is carrying, you can put your fingers in his wounds.
These bronze Jesus statues have no filter. His emotions and reactions are so raw in the misery and pain he was encountering. Face to face, literally, with his agony, I got to peer into his eyes and hold his hand tight as I said a little prayer of silence. I was able to just be and to allow his pain to flood my heart. Oh how we suffer just as Jesus did--look at the homeless and the hungry. Look at the violence our world is experiencing. The Stations come to life as my heart pounds in torment. As I moved from Station to Station, I found myself holding Jesus' hands, caressing his face, kneeling with the weeping women, hugging Mother Mary close. I can't imagine what she would've gone through as a mother seeing her son braving through such a brutal death.
I made my way through each of the 14 Stations, and to exit you have to stroll back through the trail to the very beginning. Isn't that so true? Yes, Jesus died for us and rose for us, but we have to suffer just as he did over and over again to get to our death, purification, and resurrection moment. As I came on the 4th Station again, a father and his young son just finished listening to the speakers tell the story. The boy was touching Jesus' arm and the father was trying to explain how heavy the cross would've been. The speakers blurted out one last prayer, "As you walk this path with Jesus, is your heart moved with compassion?" Then there was silence. That sentence sums up my walk with Jesus today. My heart was truly moved through seeing the real anguish, despair, pain, love, and compassion.
I was almost at the exit when my way was completely blocked by a procession of a Polish group. They read, prayed, and sang the Stations in their native tongue. As they began to process to the next Station, each individual went up to the bronze scene to kiss Jesus or his cross. What a witness of tender devotion and love. They kiss Jesus in his suffering just as he embraces us in ours.
Be still my soul.
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