Thursday 11 May 2017

Station to Station - Gary Jansen - An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross

Station to Station:
An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross
Gary Jansen
Loyola Press
ISBN 9780829444582

I purchased this book at the beginning of lent because a few other authors I really appreciate wrote favourably about it. And though I did enjoy the book, I am not as enthusiastic as those authors in my praise. The book is clearly broken into two have. The first is why we enter this journey? This first section of the book is broken into 9 chapters or essays that are as follows:

Part 1 Why This Journey?
Imagine This . . .
Stations of the Cross as Spiritual Path
The Stations, Past and Present
How the Stations Changed My Life
The Stations Move Us from Old Life to New Life
The Stations and Social Justice
What Makes This Journey Ignatian?
Imagination as a Key to Prayer
Prepare for the Journey

And the second section is the journey through the scriptural Stations of the Cross:

Part 2 Now We Go, with Jesus
The First Station: Jesus Prays in the Garden of Gethsemane
The Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested
The Third Station: Jesus Is Condemned by the Sanhedrin
A Conversation with God the Father
The Fourth Station: Jesus Is Denied by Peter
The Fifth Station: Jesus Is Judged by Pilate
The Sixth Station: Jesus Is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
The Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
A Conversation with Mary, Jesus' Mother
The Eighth Station: Jesus Is Helped by Simon of Cyrene
The Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
The Tenth Station: Jesus Is Crucified
A Conversation with Jesus on the Cross
The Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb
The Resurrection

The author's note at the beginning of the book begins with this statement: "Before we go any further, I want to be clear: this book offers a series of reflections and exercises on the scriptural Stations of the Cross. Unlike the traditional Stations you'll find exhibited in most churches, this version of the devotion focuses exclusively on events that are found in the Bible. Encounters such as Jesus meeting his mother or meeting Veronica, who wipes his face along his way to Calvary, while traditionally rich in imagery and feeling, do not actually appear in the Bible. The focus here is on Scripture because reading the word of God, the Bible, brings us even closer to the Word of God, Jesus." The title of this book is also the title of a David Bowie Album, and the chapter Stations of the Cross as Spiritual Path begins with a quote from Bowie. Then Gary begins this chapter by saying: "The Stations of the Cross is a pathway to spiritual awakening. Too often we can journey through life asleep at the wheel, so to speak, oblivious to our own feelings or the lives of those who surround us on any given day. How often, for instance, have you commuted to work only to realize you don't remember how you made it to the front door of the fine establishment that employs you?"  Next Jansen makes the distinction between different versions of the Stations:

"The Traditional Stations of the Cross Jesus is condemned to death. Jesus is made to carry the cross. Jesus falls the first time. Jesus meets his mother. Simon helps Jesus carry the cross. Veronica wipes Jesus' face. Jesus falls the second time. Jesus speaks to the mourning women of Jerusalem. Jesus falls the third time. Jesus is stripped of his garments. Jesus is nailed to the cross. Jesus dies on the cross. The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross. The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb. 
In 1991, Pope John Paul II, wanting to give believers an alternative set of stations upon which to pray and meditate, proposed a new list based solely on events described in the New Testament. 
The Scriptural Stations of the Cross Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin. Jesus is denied by Peter. Jesus is judged by Pilate. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns. Jesus bears the cross. Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. Jesus is crucified. Jesus promises his kingdom to the good thief. Jesus speaks to his mother and the disciple. Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus is placed in the tomb. 
Though traditionally considered a meditation on suffering, the Stations of the Cross is more than a simple, ancient act of piety. It is a portrait of grace under pressure, a collection of specific reactions from Jesus during times of crisis."
When I started this book I was expecting a book about the traditional Stations of the Cross. As can be seen above that is not what Jansen presents, but he does present a deep meaningful meditation. I benefited from reading of this book, and will likely read it again maybe next lent or the year after. I really enjoyed his person experiences especially in the essays in the first part of the book. The reflections ask a number of good questions.

I have a feeling this book would have achieved 5 stars if I had known more about it before beginning. That being said it is a very solid 4 stars and I will add it to my collection of mediations on the Stations and revisit it from time to time.

Books by Gary Jansen:
Exercising Your Soul: Fifteen Minutes a Day to a Spiritual Life
The 15-Minute Prayer Solution: How One Percent of Your Day Can Transform Your Life
Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross
The Infernos of Dante and Dan Brown: A Visitor's Guide to Hell
Holy Ghosts: Or, How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night
The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved
One Percent of Your Day: How 15 Minutes with God Can Transform Your Life

All reviews of Stations of the Cross.

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