by Michael Podrebarac
As an altar server in the early 1980s, one of my favorite times to serve was for Stations of the Cross.
In those days back home, there was only one server assigned to Stations, and he car- ried the processional cross.
There was nothing else the server did, save to carry that processional cross. It was a rather large wooden cross with a wood-carved image of our crucified Lord fastened to it. It didn’t rest on the floor like the other processional cross we used during the rest of the year, and so the server had to hold it steady during the entire but brief service.
I loved serving at Stations, especially because of this cross. It wasn’t heavy, so bearing it for 30 minutes wasn’t all that difficult.
But it was my opportunity to walk alongside Jesus and look upon his cross. The meditations we used were the then-popular “Everyone’s Way of the Cross.” Some folks think those simple meditations are perhaps lightweight in spiritual content. Maybe, but they were a crucial part of my formation in our daily vocation to bear our cross alongside Jesus, who bears his cross through us as we accept our often mundane sacrifices with patience and faith.
It is good to recognize that we are, in fact, Jesus’ “other self” as he calls us in those meditations. This is actually quite profound, for it was St. Teresa of Avila who told us that, here on earth, Christ has no other body — no hands, no feet, no eyes — but ours. Having learned to bear our own cross, we are equipped with the grace to help bear the cross of our neighbor, especially the poor, the sick, and the unloved.
On March 24, on the anniversary of his assassination, I watched the popular movie about Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose witness led to his being martyred on behalf of the poor. Afterwards, I found myself asking the Lord to give me a great cross to bear on behalf of others.
I was then reminded of what I learned at Stations when I was young. The Lord entrusts to each of us our own particular cross. It may seem no more important than to “pick up an object off the floor” for someone else. It may be as much as being assassinated because of our witness to the Gospel. The importance of our cross lies in its source, not in its relative size.
May each of us take the opportunity to attend Stations at least once this Lent. As we adore his cross in that beautiful devotion, let us each ask Jesus to reveal the cross he has chosen for us. Then let us bear it, with courage and gratitude.
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