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It Is Finished

The Background and Use of

The Stations of the Cross Devotions

Since the legalization of Christianity in the fourth century, “The Stations of the Cross” have been prayed. Originally, Christians traveled to Jerusalem to walk the route that they assumed Our Lord took from the Praetorium (Pilate’s residence) to the tomb. Along the way, they would stop at certain places to pray or meditate.

When the Moslem Turks occupied the Holy Land in the late Middle Ages, Christian pilgrims were prevented from visiting its sacred sites. So the custom arose of constructing replicas of the Lord’s “Way of Suffering” where the faithful could continue their devotion. While the number of stations and the events commemorated may vary from church to church, by the sixteenth century (during the time of Blessed Martin Luther) the fourteen stations present in our church were erected and commonly observed in most European churches.

Each station commemorates an event along the way of Our Lord’s journey to death and the grave. This devotion affords time for Scripture reading, meditation, prayer and hymnic reflection. The artwork that adorns the church is also utilized to aid the devotion of the faithful. In 1761, Alphonsus Liguori articulated well the purpose of this devotion: “The pious exercise of the Way of the Cross represents the sorrowful journey that Jesus Christ made with the cross on His shoulders, to die on Calvary for the love of us. We should, therefore, practice this devotion with the greatest possible fervor, placing ourselves in spirit beside our Savior as He walked this sorrowful way.”

Following the theme of the Eighth Station (“Weep not for Me”), this devotion aims not to encourage mere sympathy for Our Lord but to allow the pious to ponder and meditate on what Our Lord had to endure to procure the soul’s salvation. In order to guide this devotion, excerpts from sermons by Blessed Martin Luther are included. May such meditation encourage increased appreciation for the Sacramental gifts presented in and through the Incarnate and Crucified One.

Texts and biblical citations are from, The Stations of the Cross, 1957, Order of St.Benedict, Inc., Collegeville, MN
as adapted for use in Evangelical-Lutheran churches and presented in: The Last Seven Words of Christ,
Zion Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Detroit, MI.

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