An everyday guide to heaven



My plan for Adoration was to read the assigned pages in our CHRP groups’ latest book choice, “The Contagious Catholic” (probably not the most appropriate title considering the current situation) after praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I was looking forward to it. However, God had other plans; I felt an inner nudge to reflect on the Stations of the Cross. I also attribute that in part to St. Faustina. In her diary, she frequently encourages the faithful to continuously reflect on Christ’s Passion.

Initially, I ignored the prompt; but the feeling persisted. Remembering that I had a two-sided pamphlet with a short reflection on the 14 stations in my purse, I acquiesced – figuring I would pray the Stations and still have time to return to my initial idea.

Within two stations, my plans dissipated. Reflecting on each step of Christ’s passion while reading the short description, I began to consider some of the lessons in this profound devotional. Each person along the Via Delarosa has a unique message.

Take Herod, for example, a bully and a coward. Fully aware of Jesus’ innocence, his need for popularity and power totally overshadowed his concern for truth and righteousness, thereby allowing an innocent man to die a cruel death. It is hard to imagine that we might have anything in common with such a despicable human being. Yet, we too behave as Herod when our fear of being ridiculed or ostracized keeps us from speaking out about the evils of our generation.

Simon of Cyrene; did he willingly or begrudgingly help Jesus? In one account, legend has it that the moment changed his life, and he became a devout follower of Christ. While there is no certainty about Simon’s later life, we can examine our own response to someone in need. First, are our hearts open to see the needs of those around us? Will we forfeit our plans to comfort or aid a friend, a relative or even a stranger? Most importantly, do we act cheerfully and lovingly when called to do so?

A model of courage and compassion, Veronica unhesitatingly stepped out of the crowd and risked physical harm or verbal derision from the guards and bystanders. Her small act of kindness resonates in the world today every time a person crosses a line to aid someone suffering. Veronica’s Veil, the face of the Savior imprinted on her simple cloth, speaks loudly of Christ’s desire for us to be Veronicas in today’s world. While we may never know the effect or be thanked for our selfless acts, our mercy creates a positive trickle effect.

Jesus told the women, “Weep not for me. Weep for your children.” Jesus knows that Satan resides on earth solely to create discord and pain. He also knows that mankind repeatedly strays from the Truth, which causes much unnecessary suffering. The women remind us that, through our prayers and actions, we must model Christ – the only source of peace and light – to all we encounter, especially those in our midst.

Mary is the ultimate human model of holiness. Her total abandonment to the will of God is astounding. How a mother could watch her beloved, innocent Son be scourged, crowned with thorns, heckled and humiliated and not cry out angrily is incomprehensible. The only answer is her absolute trust in God’s plan. Perhaps she understood that this unimaginable injustice was the purpose of her child’s existence on this earth if there was to be eternal life for mankind. Regardless of whether that is true, her fiat paved the way for our salvation. She is rewarded now as Queen of heaven and earth, our link to the Trinity.

Jesus is love made visible. His life and death illustrate the perfect way to everlasting life. He desired that everyone – the haughty, the weak, the sinners, the saints, the rich and the poor – spend eternity with Him in heaven. His mission here on Earth was to show us “the way, the truth and the life.”

As Thomas A. Kempis in “The Imitation of Christ” aptly said, “Those who meditate devoutly on the life and passion of our Lord will find there all that is necessary for them and will not have to look further.” Perhaps, it is time to take the Stations of the Cross off their Lenten shelf and dwell on them year-round.