Tuesday 9 November 2021

A Calvary Covenant - John Cullen - The Stations of the Cross

A Calvary Covenant: 
The Stations of the Cross
John Cullen
ISBN 9781788123105
eISBN 9781788123136
eISBN 9781788123112

This is the seventh book published by Messenger Publications that I have read over the last few months. The first I read was, Saint Ignatius of Loyola: A Convert's Story by Patrick Corkery SJ, and this was one of 4 I picked up while writing and researching for the review of that one. I read Alert, Aware, Attentive: Advent Reflections by John Cullen and was underwhelmed by it. But my disappointment with that volume was more than compensated for with this volume. Through Lent each year I try and pray a Stations of the Cross, or Way of the Cross most days. I have a few standards I have been using since my youth. There have been some I prayed once or twice and they dropped from my list. And yet others that I pray often. I also try and pray The Stations most Fridays throughout the rest of the year. I read this one first on a Thursday and then prayed through it again on the next day. It is a very different way, but one I enjoy. 

The description of this booklet is:

“The Stations of the Cross unfold for us a story of the passion and pain – where all sources of evil are connected: jealousy, betrayal, cowardice, injustice, cruelty and weakness. Jesus takes everything on himself and assumes all human suffering.

The Stations of the Cross are in the present tense: Jesus is condemned, Jesus takes his Cross, Jesus meets, Simon carries, Veronica wipes and Jesus is stripped. It is our tears that flow down his cheek, our pain that is felt in his bruised, battered body.

The Stations of the Cross is a prayer in motion. They spell out for us that suffering and death do not have the last word because God cares for all creation.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Background to the Stations of the Cross
The First Station
The Second Station
The Third Station
The Fourth Station
The Fifth Station
The Sixth Station
The Seventh Station
The Eighth Station
The Ninth Station
The Tenth Station
The Eleventh Station
The Twelfth Station
The Thirteenth Station
The Fourteenth Station

A sample station is:

The Seventh Station
Jesus Falls the Second Time

We adore you O Christ and we praise you.
Because by you Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
In this station we remember displaced migrants across the world.

‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that, some have entertained angels without knowing it’ (Deuteronomy 10:19) 

There is a new sculpture by Timothy Schmalz in St Peter’s Square in Rome. There are 140 migrants of various cultures and from historic times: Jews fleeing the Nazis and Poles fleeing communism, Syrians and Africans displaced by persecution, war, famine and poverty.

The 140 figures correspond to the 140 sculptures in the colonnades of St Peter’s Square, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680).

Four migrants from different countries and different religions unveiled this sculpture as Pope Francis blessed it.

This second fall of Jesus represents the globalisation of indifference that many migrants experience as victims of our throwaway culture.

Waste places of Jerusalem, break forth with joy!
We are redeemed, redeemed.
The Lord has saved and comforted his people
Our God reigns… Our God Reigns…
(‘Nearer My God To Thee’ by Sarah Flower Adams)

O Angel of God, my guardian dear …

‘Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. 
I have called you by your name, you are mine.
When you dwell in the in exile of a stranger,
remember you are precious in my eyes.’
(composed by Gerald Markland)”

Photo of Sculpture by Timothy Schmalz
Photo of Sculpture by Timothy Schmalz.

I see this as one of the ways that I will be using for years to come. It Will open your eyes to the reality of the stations in a new way. In the introduction we are informed that:

“The Stations of the Cross trace deep emotions:
jealousy, betrayal, denial, cowardice, cruelty,
abandonment, mockery, shame, wickedness,
silence, suffering, steadfastness and sacrifice.
Jesus takes them all and more upon himself.

He is our God on his knees who washes feet.
He is our God who bites the dust.
He is our God who literally falls for us
so as to break all our falls and failures.

The Stations of the Cross invite us to
show one another the image of God
and grow in the likeness of Christ.

The Fourteen Stations are in the present tense.
What they say is happening now in your own life
or someone’s life, somewhere in the world.”

This is an excellent little volume. I encourage you to pick it up and give it a read, and return to it from time to time, during Lent and throughout the year.

I loved the 4 biographies I have read from Messenger Publications, and have a few others I have picked up including 2 for advent. I have no hesitation recommend this volume. It is a great read and wonderful tool for your prayer journey. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For all review of Messenger Publications books and booklets click here

For all other reviews of Stations of the Cross click here.


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