This year, I have not entered Friday night Stations with the fatigue of a man who had spent a night in prison and a public trial in Pilate’s court. But I am amazed to feel, even without hunger pains, a kind of psychological weariness as we begin the Stations. “The First Station: Jesus is condemned to death. We adore you O Christ and we praise you….” There we stand, looking down a line of fourteen stations that end only in death and burial.
There we all stand, at the First Station, and we wonder how we will make it to the end. We might even wonder how Jesus—true God but also true man—how He felt as he looked down the long road to Calvary. Whether we realize that we are feeling as He has felt or not, we keep our heads down and we keep going. We stop counting the genuflections, the prayers, the Stabat Mater verses, and we enter into the Way of the Cross. It usually overtakes me by the Fourth or Fifth Station, and then without realizing it, I am walking side by side with Him. And a joy overcomes me, around the Seventh or Eighth Station, that I am not alone. I am walking this Way with Him, and with all these people around me. None of us walks alone, and nothing can defeat a people who walk together with the Lord. This is the irreplaceable fruit of any pilgrimage, and in particular of that brief pilgrimage we call the Way of the Cross.