“Did you know they changed the Stations of the Cross?” my husband complained Friday evening after returning from our local parish church. “I didn’t like it and I’m not going back there.”

I don’t think that was the response our pastor was looking for with any change in things liturgical. Was this another case of out with the old and in with the new, I wondered. That is the problem when parish liturgy committees decide on updating hymnals, missalettes, devotions and decorations in the church – new is better, right? Are they hoping these “updates” will draw in the crowds of people who found out during the covid shutdown that they could get along just fine without a parish connection? 

There is power in tradition. The season of Lent brings out a semblance of Catholicism in most people: Ash Wednesday Mass is usually crowded; a few more people attend daily Mass; the confession line expands. Stations of the Cross may not be as popular as parish fish fries and soup suppers on Friday, but the short procession which visits each visual reminder of the last hours of Jesus Christ, the pertinent Scriptures and meditations all solidify the core of our belief in the Redemption. 

For years, most parishes around here have used the Purple Book, All of You Drink of This (the strange type font makes this hard to read), a Stations book put out by Liturgical Press in 1978. While the art work is angular and modernistic – tolerable in color but the black and white version is somewhat harsh – the prayers are timeless and meaningful as are the mournful words of the Stabat Mater sung after each station. The solemnity of salvation touches the soul.

And the replacement in our parish? It is a booklet, Come to Me, All of You – Stations of the Cross in the Voice of Christ, again by Liturgical Press in Collegeville, published in summer of 2023. After saying the Stations is a devotion of “great variety,” the Introduction mentions how people have walked the Stations in different venues and that “words we use and the places we walk perennially find new expression.” The author goes on to explain her particular version of Stations accompanies Jesus very closely – enough to imagine what he [sic]might have been thinking,…to wonder what echoes of Scripture he [sic] may have had in his [sic] mind and heart in these distressing moments.” She calls for the use of imagination. “Our imaginative prayer” takes us into “profound interaction” with Christ. There are short Scripture and Gospel passages, and psalm texts with a meditation on Christ’s possible thoughts as He suffers. The accompanying art made from hand-carved linocuts is stark.

Let’s just say none of this version of the Stations of the Cross is traditional with all of its imaginings. It could easily be a distraction from the goal of meditating on the actual last hours of Christ. In fact, my husband said he felt “blindsided” when the priest began the devotion. Nothing was familiar and he was so taken aback he couldn’t concentrate on what was going on.

I read the booklet. I cannot imagine using this version in a group setting; it seems more suited for individual use. It is the author’s personal prayer, as noted in the last pages of the booklet – arising from her circumstances, but perhaps not workable for others. 

In my opinion, you can take it or leave it, and my husband has left it behind.

This article, Imagining is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

Cindy Paslawski

CINDY PASLAWSKI earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota, back when truth and accuracy were prized. She has been active with the Wanderer Forum Foundation almost since its inception, while working as a reporter for The Wanderer newspaper. She has also worked on the front lines as a church secretary and most recently as a freelance book editor. As the Wanderer Forum Foundation/Bellarmine Forum's executive secretary and publication editor since 1995, she has overseen production of the Forum Focus and the Bellarmine Forum magazines, coordinated Regional and National Wanderer Forums, and saw to the publication of both Saving Christian Marriage (2007) and Slaying the “Spiritˮ of Vatican II With the Light of Truth (2017). She and her patient husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.

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