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St. Anthony Messenger: The Franciscan Connection to the Stations of the Cross

“Why did Jesus have to die?” the pastor proposed after a tirade about the fallenness and brokenness of the human race. Those at the youth conference hung in the silence he manufactured. The pastor bent down, picked up a mirror, and turned it toward the audience, “You are why Jesus had to die.” He slowly turned the mirror toward every corner of the crowd, then pointed at the crucifix suspended behind him. “Our sin—your sin—is why Jesus had to die.”

Adults sat uncomfortably in the audience, as if knowing this shame-based message could not possibly be healthy for the formative teenagers who were entrusted to their care. And yet, was this not core Christian doctrine? Who could refute the pastor’s conclusion, however harsh his delivery?

Franciscans, as we will explore, have long had a different approach to the cross, one that comes into focus during the Lenten season. Their perspective and influence is most evident in the weekly liturgical practice of the Stations of the Cross, which the Franciscans played a vital historical role in establishing...

Click here to finish reading my feature story about the Franciscan connection to Stations of the Cross in the April 2023 issue of the St. Anthony Messenger.


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