Monday, January 9, 2017

Station to Station (Loyola Press)

Any good Catholics know the Stations of the Cross. He (or she) might not pray them as often as he should, but come Lent, every Friday, there they are, in the Church following the panels/mosaics that adorn the House of God. I have to ask, though. Do you know that there is an alternate Stations of the Cross? On Good Friday of 1991, Pope John Paul II celebrated what is now known as the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, given such a name, because they draw exclusively from Sacred Scripture and not Sacred Tradition, meaning you won't find Veronica in these. Gary Jansen recently penned a book called Station to Station, which takes an Ignatian journey through the Scriptural Stations of the Cross.

Station to Station is an approximately 150 page paperback book. It is primarily divided into two parts. The first part asks the question "Why This Journey?" Simply put, we are put on this earth to love and serve God, and that is an excellent reason of why we pray the Stations of the Cross. However, Jansen doesn't settle for this simple answer. He digs deeper. He asks us to imagine if the person we loved the most went from being a person so loved to being so despised and jealous of that they were sentenced to death, clearly a metaphor for Jesus and how much we should love Him. Later on he references T.S. Eliot, talking about time past and time present being contained in time future. If this is true, then we have the opportunity to transport ourselves back to Jesus' Passion and being present for Him when almost everyone had abandoned Him. Jansen then provides us with a brief summary of what the Stations of the Cross is and how the traditional and Scriptural Stations differ. He continues by explaining how the Stations transformed him and can transform us, and goes so far as to explain that if we meditate on them regularly, each station can help shape our view on God's creation, providing specific examples for each Station.

In the second part of the book, we get to the meat of the text, the actual Stations. Each Station is laid out in systematic format. First, we are presented with a Scripture passage for the Station. Next, Jesus' Response in the specific Station. Then, we are called on to Encounter Jesus. For example. in the First Station, Jansen suggests we set an alarm for 3 PM for one week. Daily, when that alarm goes off, we should stop what we are doing, say a little prayer or simply just be in God's presence. After the Encounter, we are presented with another Scripture passage to take as prayer. Last we are going to review the experience of this Station and how it made us feel and a closing Imagine section which paints a mental image of the Station. Sprinkled throughout these Stations, Jansen also presents us with three brief conversations - 1. God the Father, 2. Mary, Jesus' Mother, and 3. Jesus on the Cross. These are opportunities presented to us to speak to them in our own words, using our emotions, not a rote prayer.

Overall, I found this book to be a a very interesting read. Jensen managed to keep a very prayerful and reverent tone is his book, but he also managed to mix in his personal experiences, some older literary references, and newer pop culture references (Frozen for example). This created a book that was not just for a specific audience but one that can appeal to a wider base. This is a book that I plan to re-visit and make use of this coming Lent, especially on Fridays.

This book was provided to me for free by Loyola Press in exchange for an honest review.