The Stations of the Cross are one of the oldest devotions in the Church. By journeying alongside Jesus as he travels through the phases of his Passion, we come to a deeper respect and understanding of the suffering which he endured for each of us. Gary Jansen takes an even deeper look at this suffering and how we can apply the lessons of Jesus’ Passion to our lives. His book Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross helps us to learn from our own suffering and grow in our spirituality and provide us with strength and hope at the lowest points in our lives.
Gary utilizes the Stations to teach us how to suffer to well. He takes readers through each of the Scriptural Stations of the Cross as introduced by Pope John Paul II in 1991. This set of Stations is based entirely upon events written in the New Testament. As moving as some of the traditional stations such Veronica wiping the face of Jesus are, they do not appear in Scripture. There is a certain richness to this set of Stations and Gary takes full advantage of it through each meditation.
Each Station opens with the scriptural passage about it. In the pages that follow Gary utilizes the practices of Ignatian meditation. This practice involves prayer, meditation, the imagination, our senses, and reflection. The part that Gary brings alive is the imagination aspect of Ignatian meditation. I cannot say it enough….Gary’s writing in these meditations is so rich and moving that you feel as if you truly are right there at the side of Jesus has he experienced the events surrounding his Passion. As an example read Matthew 27: 20-23. This is the scene where Pilate asks the crowd whether they want Barabbas or Jesus to be released. Now imagine that scene.
“What does the crowd look like? How many people are in the crowd – thirty or three-hundred? What do all these people sound like? Describe the expressions on their faces, the colors of their clothing. What time of day is it? How does Jesus react when he looks out at the people around him? Is he sad? Disappointed? Unmoved? Brave? Is there a smile on his face?”
With his meditations, Gary takes us through this thought process for each station. Broken into sections you experience Jesus’ Response, Encountering Jesus, a prayer, a review of the experience and a section called Imagine. This section puts you in the role of Jesus and is a deeply moving meditation that readers will gain much fruit from.
Gary reminds each of us that just as Jesus stumbled and fell on the journey to Golgatha, we too stumble and fall during our lives. We do so more often than we care to admit. We are imperfect, and we make mistakes. “Yet the Stations give us an opportunity to step out of our ordinary lives. It can be so easy to sleepwalk through life, to pass by and not pay attention to the suffering around us.” Station to Station allows to pause, meditate and drink deeply of the message Jesus has for us on suffering. As he journeyed and accepted suffering on our behalves he teaches us the value of suffering, Gary Jansen has given us a gift that allows us to penetrate and understand that message.
Utilize this gift throughout the year, not just during the Lent. Suffering is not limited to 40 days of the year. Do not deprive yourself of this book which is a treasure allowing readers to understand their daily suffering by experiencing the suffering of Jesus in whole new way.