Saturday 13 May 2023

Contemplating the Way of the Cross - Mary Leonora Wilson FSP - A Personal Encounter with Our Crucified Lord

Contemplating the Way of the Cross: 
A Personal Encounter with Our Crucified Lord
Mary Leonora Wilson FSP
ISBN 9780819816795
eISBN 9780819816801

This volume kept crossing my social media in 2023. The cover and other images shared across twitter, and Facebook kept grabbing my attention. And I have read many great volumes from Pauline Books and Media over the years. I picked this up because I am almost always willing to give another Stations of the Cross a try. I have a few that I return to frequently. I try and pray a Way each Friday during the year, and each day through Lent. My son recently pulled all my physical, audio, and eBook versions and I have a total of 61 versions. My favourites are by Saint’s Josemaria Escriva, John Henry Newman, Alphonsus Liguori, and Fulton Sheen. That being said this was an excellent addition to my collection this Lent. The description of this volume is:

“The Stations of the Cross are a time-honored way of remembering and praying with the passion and death of Our Lord. Contemplating the Way of the Cross: A Personal Encounter with Our Crucified Lord continues this tradition, in the method pioneered by St. Ignatius of Loyala, of placing yourself in the scene of each station. By engaging our imagination, we make these prayers our own and sanctify our imaginations, bringing us closer to Christ and his Sorrowful Mother.”

Another online description of the book is:

“Pray the Stations of the Cross by using the time-tested method of imaginative prayer. With Sr. Mary Leonora as a guide, the reader will encounter the Lord during the intense moments of his passion and death. Through vivid imagery, beautiful artwork, and moving reflections, contemplate the personal love of Christ manifested at each moment along the Way of the Cross.”

The beginning of the introduction for this volume states:

“Contemplating the Way of the Cross is inspired by the rich spiritual heritage of the founder of my religious order, the Daughters of Saint Paul. Blessed James Alberione established the Pauline Family back in the 1900s. We are truly a “family” of religious congregations, secular institutes, and lay cooperators: ten in all—living in the spirit of Saint Paul. Like Saint Ignatius before him, Blessed Alberione recommended that when we pray we place ourselves in the scene of the Gospel we are contemplating.

Praying with the imagination is a wonderful way to contemplate the Gospel stories, especially the life of Christ. Imaginative prayer involves using the gift of our imagination to experience the Lord’s presence in the Scriptures by entering into the story; it’s very relational. When we place ourselves in the scene, we imagine that we are there, living the word with all our senses: seeing,  hearing, and pondering all that is happening. Since learning this time-tested method, I have used it while praying the Way of the Cross, and it has reaped great fruits in my spiritual life.

As you pray this Way of the Cross, I invite you to pray it imaginatively. When you pray in this way you need only visualize the Gospel event as if you were there; let it unfold before you and be part of the scene. Use all your senses. Who is there? What is happening? What is the mood? Be aware of the smells, the sounds, the energy, the reactions, and your own feelings. Get involved in the story and let your imagination take you where it will.”

A sample station is:

Jesus Is Condemned to Death

V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; 
Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers,  he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away. 
— ISAIAH 53:7–8

In a moment of prayerful silence, I imagine the scene:
• Jesus stands silently, in my place, before Pilate.
• He is surrounded by those who wish to condemn him unjustly out of jealousy.
• Pilate recognizes Jesus’ innocence. Nevertheless, he sentences Jesus to be crucified.
My dearest Jesus, you stand in front of Pilate drained of blood. Your body and face are marked by the agony you have just endured— first, in the garden of Gethsemane, then at the mock trials, the gruesome scourging, the cruel crowning with thorns. Only your will keeps you alive right now, your will to drink the chalice completely (see Mt 20:22). Jesus, you remain alive because of your great love for the Father, for us, for me. O, the magnitude of your love! From my place in the crowd I watch what is taking place. Most of the people around me jeer and clamor for your death—the same people who witnessed your miracles and holiness of life. The crowd is fickle. I see the blood dripping from your face and limbs, and my heart feels like it’s being torn from my breast! I fall to my knees upon seeing you so reduced and yet still surpassing all of us in dignity, humility, and courage. Pilate declares, “Behold, the man!” (Jn 19:5). A weak man, Pilate tries to please everyone at the cost of righteousness. He judges wrongly and  condemns. Though treated unjustly, you, dear Jesus, are silent. Pilate’s unjust condemnation brings to awareness the times I have condemned others without evidence or sufficient reason.

Jesus, you are my example and my strength. Please help me to love you with indomitable love, fidelity, and courage. Replace my pride with humility so that I may never judge or condemn others. 
At the cross her station keeping,   
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.”

This is another great Stations of the Cross. It will lead to deep reflection and prayer. It is a great resource for personal, home, or communal use. My only complaint is that in the eBook edition the images of the Stations should be set to scale, as they are so much wastes space around them on a tablet or computer monitor. The full colour text in both the physical copy and digital version is a great feature. 

This is a great version of this devotion and I can easily recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

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

Books by Mary Leonora Wilson:
Essential Healing Prayers: For Peace and Strength
Essential Spiritual Warfare Prayers: For Protection and Deliverance

Contributed to Mary Leonora Wilson:

Translated by Mary Leonora Wilson:
Mother Teresa: Saint Among the Poor

No comments: