Everyone's Way Of The Cross
Friday Book Pick: Everyone’s Way of the Cross
By Clarence Enzler
A few years back I had the honor of meeting Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga when I emceed a screening of his film “Forgiveness: The Secret of Peace” down at the Sheen Center in lower Manhattan. Fr. Ubald was a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who developed a powerful ministry of healing and reconciliation in the aftermath of the war until his untimely death from COVID this past year. In his work of leading others toward forgiveness and healing he often used his short documentary as part of his presentation. In the film, as he retraces the steps of his escape, as he describes the raging, mindless, mob seeking to murder him, and as he walks the path again, the viewer sees the grass, the narrow path, the bushes and the trees. The otherwise ordinary sights coupled with harrowing narration allow you to feel a small—very small—portion of the panic Father felt, and it is not at all difficult to imagine his terror as he fled imminent danger.
The centuries old practice of the making the Stations of the Cross is not unlike this dramatic retracing of steps that Fr. Ubald used in his documentary. Retracing steps, recalling milestones, remembering mercies and miracles of the past is not only important, but it is exceedingly important to God. He wants us to remember and remind one another and there are plenty of Scriptures in which He tries to drive this message home to us: “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children…” and, “You shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
Remembering is not in contradiction to forgiving; in fact, it is the opposite: we recount our sins so that they can be forgiven; we remember what happened so that we can let it go.
Fr. Ubald’s terrifying path led to escaping the execution that the mob had planned for him, and therefore, it led to saving his life. Jesus’ path led straight to the execution the mob had planned for Him, therefore saving your life and mine. Worth remembering? Worth reliving.
The Franciscan friar, Leonard of Port Maurice who lived at the end of the 17th century popularized the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, setting up more than five hundred sets of Stations during his lifetime. In the 21st century it is hard to imagine a Lenten Friday without making the Stations. And as we walk from scene to scene we try with our minds and our hearts to remember and relive with Jesus His last walk though Jerusalem—to His execution.
We sisters have the custom of making the Stations together on the Fridays of Lent. The sister leading gets to pick the meditations of her choosing, and as you know, popes and saints and scholars have all written their own versions of the 14 Stations of the Cross, so there are plenty to choose from. The particular meditations I recommend today, Everyone’s Way of the Cross, were penned by a layman. They are utterly simple, and they are profound in their simplicity. Each station offers words from Jesus directly to you and then words from you responding directly to Jesus. Clarence Enzler makes the Way of the Cross personal. And Jesus wants us to know that His offering was indeed personal—His gift of self, given personally for you.
Mother Clare, CFR
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”