It’s Passover/Easter in the Judeo-Christian world, and in the course of interacting with it, I ran across this article by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Stations of the Cross. The Stations, found around the walls in most Catholic churches, depict 14 events in Jesus’s journey to Crucifixion. There are several Catholic rituals that involve moving from image to image, meditating and praying on each as you go.
Before you say “why should I care about that,” let me share why it caught my eye.
Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope at too old an age to do very much. But he was a very bright guy, very thoughtful theologian, and he really tried to get John Paul II to address the abuse problem that exploded in the 1990s. His religion may not be your thing, but it’s always good to consider what very smart people have to say, in their field.
Yeah, yeah, the Stations have Jesus Christ doing a bunch of stuff. But look at it again. As is the case with most Christian imagery, it is superimposed over other, older images of universal interest. Jesus falling? Being comforted? Tortured for his beliefs? It’s almost like a “Fool’s Journey,” to use Tarot terminology, of the path taken by any martyr, or more broadly - anyone who makes great sacrifices for belief or creed.
So I thought three things that I wanted to share, for whatever it may be worth for you: (1) The concept is pretty cool, when you flip up the hood and look at what the engine really is. (2) Ratzinger’s approach, in his conservative Catholic way, is a model for anyone else to write a similar set of meditations from their own point of view. (3) There are Catholic churches everywhere, and it is not unusual for people to come in and meditate during the day, depending on the church’s local schedules and practices. May as well take advantage of the artwork, if there’s one by you!