Every Lent, it is a pious practice for Catholics to pray the Way of the Cross, or the Stations of the Cross.
The Way of the Cross is the devotional exercise of visiting and praying in front of each of the 14 stations of the Cross and meditating on the Passion of Christ.
Here are 3 reasons why the Way of the Cross is an important Catholic Devotion.
Following in the Footsteps of Mary
Tradition holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, set up stone markers at her home outside Jerusalem to prayerfully retrace the steps of her son’s Passion. By praying the Way of the Cross, especially during Lent, we follow in the footsteps of Our Beloved Mother. We pray with her, and console her while she contemplates the sufferings of her Son.
Contemplate the Sufferings of Christ
By praying the Way of the Cross, we contemplate more fully and deeply the sufferings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Meditation on the Passion and Death of Our Lord brings us much closer to Jesus. By contemplating on Our Lord's suffering more frequently, we are given the great gift of peace and strength to carry our own crosses in life. Our own crosses become lighter, because Jesus gives us the grace to carry our crosses with peace and joy - just like He did.
We Gain a Plenary Indulgence
Every time we pray the Way of the Cross, we gain a plenary indulgence. Whenever we gain a plenary indulgence, God grants us the gift of a complete remission of the entire temporal punishment for sin.
We must remember that even though God forgives our sins every time we repent and hear confession with a priest, the temporal punishment due to our sin remains. These are like dark spots on our soul which remain even after absolution in confession - spots which need to be purified in Purgatory.
When we gain a plenary indulgence, such as when we pray the Way of the Cross, we gain complete remission of the temporal punishment for sin, which means a shortened stay for us in purgatory in case we die.
Watch this video for more info about the beautiful devotion of the Way of the Cross: