Do we need the “Stations of the Risen Christ”?
The need for resurrection meditations
Christians pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday throughout Lent. In the Easter liturgical season, what spiritual devotion should they practice?
Certainly not the Stations of the Cross. Author Frank Heelan suggests that we pray and meditate on the Resurrection of Jesus through the “Stations of the Risen Christ” (or the “Stations of the Resurrection”). His outline of the Stations of the Risen Christ is presented as follows:
First: The Women Find the Empty Tomb
Second: The Women Tell the Disciples
Third: Peter and the Disciple Run to the Tomb
Fourth: Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Fifth: Jesus and the Disciples Walk to Emmaus
Sixth: Jesus Appears to His Disciples
Seventh: Thomas Believes
Eight: Jesus Appears to the Disciples at Sea of Galilee
Ninth: Jesus Shares a Meal with the Disciples
Tenth: Jesus Commissions Peter “Feed My Sheep”
Eleventh: Jesus Says, “Go, teach All Peoples”
Twelfth: Jesus Ascends into Heaven
Thirteenth: The Holy Spirit Fills Believers
Fourteenth: Jesus Will Come Again
Frank Heelan intends the Stations of the Risen Christ as a complementary devotion to the Stations of the Cross. The fourteen stations or vignettes capture the moments of Jesus’ life beyond His crucifixion, from the Resurrection to His eventual Return (as stated in Acts 1:11).
Each season of Lent, we remind ourselves of the suffering and death of Jesus by walking and praying the Stations of the Cross (or the Way of the Cross). And it makes necessary that we remind ourselves of His Resurrection and the Great Commission by doing the Stations of the Risen Christ (or the Way of the Light beyond the Cross). It makes great sense and even helps increase our spirituality to meditate not only on Jesus’ death on the cross but also His victory over death and despair.
We should do the Stations of the Risen Christ with equal or even greater zeal and devotion than we pay to the Stations of the Cross.
We should do the Stations of the Risen Christ as we do with the Stations of the Cross because we are human – redeemed human. We should because we need to experience spiritually the Risen Christ as the Apostles and the disciples did, though physically. We should do the Stations of the Risen Christ to sing and proclaim our faith in the Risen Christ, He who rose from the tomb to prove once and for all the helplessness of death.
There is something about being human, having a body and soul; we need the physical to experience the spiritual. If we can see the Stations, walk the Stations, kneel and genuflect, sing the songs, and say the prayers with the priests and servers, there is something about that is really human that helps us enter into the mystery of God who loves us. That is why God became man to be with us in our bodies. With the Risen Christ, we, through our physical bodies, experience the spiritual and the mystical.
Christian pilgrims from all over the world flock to Jerusalem where the Stations of the Cross originated to visit the holy sites, to see where Jesus fell, wept, met His mother and the women of Jerusalem, where Veronica wiped His face, where Simon helped Him carry His cross, where He was crucified and buried. The Holy Land is also where Jesus is raised from the dead, where He appeared to Mary Magdalene and all the disciples, where He shared a meal with the Apostles, where He commissioned Peter to feed His sheep, and where He ascended into heaven. Therefore, we should travel to the Holy Land to renew our faith in the Risen Christ, to celebrate His victory over death, and to renew our commitment to the His mission.
Christians will always travel to the places where God encountered His people and where Jesus saved us. Why not we travel to the places where Jesus defeated death, met His disciples for the last time, and gave them a mission to fulfill?
We pray the Stations of the Cross (and take up our cross spiritually) so we can enter into the suffering of Jesus. We (should) pray the Stations of the Risen Christ so we can share in His victory and mission. We should pray both Stations so that we can be with Jesus in reality here and now.
We pray the Stations of the Cross to encounter Jesus in His suffering to let Him encourage us in our suffering that we might truly be His disciples, that truly we might take up our cross daily and follow Him. We pray the Stations of the Risen Christ to share in His work of healing and redeeming in the world and become effective witnesses for Him.