Making the Stations of the Cross Worthwhile,
Courtesy of St Alphonsus Liguori
Have you ever done the Stations of the Cross, but thought perhaps you had been reading an airline flight schedule? There are odd versions of the Stations out there. Whether they’re disjointed, sappy, or downright heterodox, some booklets have caused people to think of the Stations of the Cross as not being worthwhile. Why bother with the “Catholic calisthenics” when the underlying point behind them is misrepresented?
The solution to this problem can be found in the writings of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori. His popular The Way of the Cross has sold more than 324,000 copies in the TAN Books/St. Benedict Press edition alone—and for good reason. St. Alphonsus knows how to blend the awful reality of sin with the awesome reality of redeeming love. His Stations do not sugarcoat or gloss over evil, but they also recognize the superior power of grace.
This marvelous blend of genuine Catholicism is very attractive. I even knew a group of people who, despite having the most orthodox priest in their area, would venture to a neighboring parish on the Fridays of Lent. Why? Because that parish, unlike the first, used The Way of the Cross by St. Alphonsus. The first parish, despite its many outstanding liturgical and devotional practices, used a strange “homemade” Stations booklet that left people wishing for something more organized and balanced.
St. Alphonsus’ sensible presentation of Our Lord’s Passion can also be found in recorded format. David Phillips has produced an album titled—you guessed it—The Way of the Cross. The Stations are set to music that is both ethereal and engaging. After being taken through sad yet salutary reflections on Our Lord’s suffering, the album concludes with His triumphant Resurrection in a stirring Easter medley of songs such as Ye Sons and Daughters and Jesus Christ Is Risen Today. David Phillips’ work will rejuvenate anyone who has tired of praying the Stations, and it will even serve as motivation to pray them every Friday of the year.
Those looking for an improvement on their current conception of the Stations need look no further than St. Alphonsus Liguori. He has given us a trustworthy version of this devotion, and it is available in print and audio. No more excuses are left. We can all man the Stations now.
Trent Beattie’s latest book is called Fit for Heaven and features numerous interviews he has done with Catholic sports figures for the National Catholic Register. He is also the author of Scruples and Sainthood: Accepting and Overcoming Scrupulosity with the Helps of the Saints, and is the editor of Finding True Happiness and St. Alphonsus Liguori for Every Day.
Art: Partial restoration of Christ Carrying the Cross, artist unknown, before 1686, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; St. Alphonse Liguori, CSSR, undated, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less; both Wikimedia Commons.