I by no means appeared to have sufficient bug spray in Bolivia. Not that it actually mattered—the mosquitos have been supercharged. They’d chunk clear via my denims, and I’d have these welts up and down my legs. Mosquitos aren’t identified for taking part in pretty.
This is what I used to be targeted on once I ought to have been praying the Stations of the Cross. We trudged via the muck of the farming group—squelch, squirt, squelch—holding our flashlights as we moved from one residence to the following. It was darkish, my boots have been lined in mud, and the omnipresent buzz of the mosquito swarm hovered throughout us just like the Holy Spirit itself.
En el nombre del Padre…
The Stations of the Cross are a stupendous invitation to prayer and contemplation. They invite us into the story of Jesus’ journey to Calvary and problem us to stroll in his footsteps, to look to the group in hope and compassion and worry, and to undergo underneath the burden of the wooden of the Cross. There’s one thing uniquely Ignatian about this conventional prayer expertise; we see ourselves with Jesus within the story.
And every year, we ask ourselves once more: Am I Simon? Am I Veronica? Or am I one of many anonymous members of the group, too afraid to talk up, to achieve out?
But till that night in Bolivia, in that small farming group just a few hours outdoors of Santa Cruz, my expertise of the Stations had been confined to cozy chapels and air-conditioned church buildings. The most uncomfortable I ever felt was a knee on the exhausting marble—and that, for only a second.
Those Bolivian Stations set a brand new report.
At least there are solely 14, I believed, clutching my well-worn prayer booklet and shuffling to the following home. One neighbor after one other stepped out to the entrance porch, main us in prayer.
Here’s the factor, although: We didn’t cease at 14. We didn’t cease at 21. We blew proper previous 30.
“What’s this station?” I muttered. “Washington crosses the Delaware?”
The specific beats of the Passion story melted away into easy prayers. We not named a second from the lifetime of Jesus however fairly named the neighbor internet hosting our ever-growing, endless parade of pray-ers.
And the mosquitos buzzed, and my boots squelched, and I had fully sweat via my t-shirt. Eventually, I simply headed residence.
In the Third Week of the Spiritual Exercises, we’re invited to contemplate the Passion and Death of Jesus. We spend time strolling the identical highway to Calvary. And we’re invited to position ourselves within the story, to have interaction our pal Jesus as he struggles and suffers and finally dies.
The grace we ask for as we pray via the Way of the Cross is a crucial one: “sorrow with Christ in sorrow; a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears; and interior suffering because of the great suffering which Christ endured for me.” (Spiritual Exercises 203)
It’s private. Jesus isn’t dying within the summary; Jesus is carrying this burden due to the love he has for me. I’m a part of the story.
And my response—our response—shouldn’t be an train in navel-gazing however sorrow and tears for Christ. He seems to us; we glance to him. And we maintain that gaze.
As we stroll the Way of the Cross in our time and in our personal means, it’s very tempting to provide in to these distractions that hold us gazing inward: the buzzing mosquitos, the soiled sneakers.
“I just have to tend to this thing first; then I can be present to your need.”
But Jesus doesn’t need us neat and tidy, welt-free and air-conditioned on the highway to Calvary. We’re invited to sink into the second and the very actual issues we now have now—massive and small—as we accompany him to the Cross.
Because the highway, actually, is never-ending. We know from our lived expertise that the Way of the Cross isn’t 14 simple steps; it’s one heartache after one other, and the top is so usually nowhere in sight. We blow proper previous station 30 and simply hold going.
But if we now have the knowledge to search for and out and away from these buzzing irritations that scream for our consideration, we see a rising cloud of witnesses, accompanying each other, praying for each other, carrying each other alongside, gentle standing resolute in opposition to the darkness.
The sorrow Christ endured for me so seamlessly turns into the sorrow Christ endures for all of us, all over the place, all the time. And we make our response in love.
Image by uroburos from Pixabay.