About 9 years ago, I found myself alone one day with my mother in her room. Already in the final stages of cancer, I saw this once robust and feisty powerhouse wither away before my eyes. As her round-the-clock caregiver – and juggling a full-time job – the stress was overwhelming. Emotionally, I was grappling with the grim reality that she would soon be leaving us as she grew weaker and weaker. Before family and friends, I put on a brave face. But deep within me, I was heartbroken, lost and in despair at not being able to do more for her. Mummy had always been my rock and pillar of strength – and here she was, inching closer to death.
Just silently being present for her through those painful days brought me closer to her than I could ever have imagined. It deepened our bond, giving us both a quiet strength. I didn’t realize then what is now obvious to me – that I was in fact journeying with my mother through her own ‘passion’.
A few years after her passing, I found myself drawn to the Stations of the Cross. I remember going through some old prayer books that my mother had left behind and coming across an old classic on the Stations written by St Alphonsus Liguori. As I read and prayed through the Stations that day, it hit me that just as I had felt so close to my mother during her last days, I felt even closer to Jesus as I walked with Him in His final moments on earth.
The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Via Dolorosa, is a narration of the final hours in the life of Jesus Christ. At each station, we are encouraged to use our senses and imagination to reflect prayerfully on Jesus’ suffering, death and Resurrection. Far from just reading the text of the Stations and looking at the accompanying pictures, the Stations become a reflective prayer and take on a deeper meaning when we open our hearts and allow ourselves to be touched by Jesus’ love for us.
Many still consider the Stations to be a traditional devotion prayed primarily during the season of Lent. We all know it by clockwork, don’t we? When to genuflect, stand and kneel? But as I have discovered, this journey with Christ mirrors my own journey through the many trials I have come to face in my life. Whether it’s the betrayal of friends, the pain of rejection, loneliness, fear, the loss of a loved one or a job, I could see myself in each station – and our Lord had already endured all of this and more. The steps that Jesus took were a portrait of grace, humility and surrender under the most unimaginable circumstances. In my case, I almost always took a tumble and conceded defeat instead.
This Lent, as I pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, I find myself pondering this question again – how did Jesus respond to His suffering? How have I responded when faced with difficult situations? The answer is both humbling and life changing.
Praying the Stations deeply has helped me experience the lasting value and power of His sacrifice of Love.
In the stations of our own lives, Jesus meets us where we are. I’ve come to realize that amid the trials and chaos that is part of my daily life, He steers me from pain and anguish toward perseverance, strength, humility and love. Indeed, we can find hope and transformation in our trials because we know that the end story has already been written. The Way of the Cross didn’t end with death but victory because our Lord leads us beyond Good Friday towards the awesome, glorious joy of the Resurrection at Easter!
“And he said to all: if any man will come after me, let him deny himself. and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
By Cheryl Sim