“The Stations of the the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross or Via Crucis, commemorate Jesus’s passion and death on the cross. There are 14 stations that each depict a moment on His journey to Calvary, usually through sacred art, prayers and reflections. The practice began as pious pilgrims traced His path through Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa.” (United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops, usccb.org).
With the world in lockdown mode during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Catholics were forced to use their creativity to continue the time-honored tradition of practicing the Stations of the Cross.
MIKE ZINN REFLECTS BY ONE OF THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS HE AND HIS WIFE TERI ERECTED IN THEIR TUSTIN BACKYARD. PHOTO BY DREW KELLEY/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
Like many Catholics, my wife Teri and I tried to be flexible in our approach to daily Mass and the following of these special traditions. We were blessed with the great work of our parish, St. Cecilia in Tustin, which streamed daily Mass via its Facebook page.
As Lent approached, Teri was exploring ideas on how to stay “COVID safe” and still have a connection to the traditions of Lent. She decided to bring back something we had done for many years prior but had since paused – erecting a Stations of the Cross in our backyard.
Our Stations of the Cross idea dates back two decades. While living in the Pasadena area in the 1980s, Teri and I would visit Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre. We participated in retreats and discovered a wonderful outdoor area for the Stations of the Cross. After moving to Tustin and joining St. Cecilia parish, we were part of an Advent and Lenten prayer group. Through our shared Catholic faith, this group grew increasingly closer. The group began as a once per month dinner get together, we called the 4F Group, which stood for Faith, Family, Friendship and Food.
Occasionally, we organized group outings. One of the outings was an annual trip to Mater Dolorosa on Good Friday. After a few visits, the long drive through Friday rush hour traffic became difficult and this particular tradition was stopped. But in 2003, while at Mater Dolorosa, Teri took pictures of the 14 stations, enlarged and printed them. The images were then attached to wooden stakes and seamlessly and our backyard Stations of the Cross was born.
As part of Teri’s Thursday Lenten Bible Study Group, members visit our backyard and have another avenue to pray and enrich their faith together. Praying as a group, makes the season of Lent come to life as the group participates in the same walk as Jesus. Hearing the words in prayer allows each member of the group to personally reflect on the power of this unique Catholic tradition.
The special time of Lent and small acts, such as building a backyard area for the Stations of the Cross, illustrates how Catholics are resilient, faithful and creative. Teri’s gesture is in a small way, what our faith is all about. That is, service to others and bringing a small community together to help build their faith.