The Lenten season is once again upon us. As we spend these 40 days putting sin and the things of this world to death within us—by a more focused return to the Lord through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—we can profit a great deal by daily turning our mind and hearts to His Passion and death. Countless saints down through Church history have taught that meditating on the Passion of Jesus bears incomparable fruit in our lives in a way other devotions cannot.
To enter into the Way of the Cross is to allow Jesus to strip away our worldly concerns and to grow in a more profound love of Him through His sacrifice for us. Our lives tend to come into sharper focus in relation to Christ Crucified. St. Faustina said: “When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before.” Our hearts are broken open with His, which is necessary since our hearts are hardened by sin and the sins of others. Meditating on the Passion provides spiritual insights in our lives that no other event in salvation history can.
Our Lord also told St. Faustina that meditating on His Passion pleases Him greatly: “You please Me most when you meditate on My Sorrowful Passion.” A soul who is deeply in love with Jesus wants to please Him in all things. He has told multiple saints how much He desires for us to enter into His Passion for deeper union with Him and in order for our souls to be purified, which leads to an immense love for Him.
Lent is the perfect time to begin adding this spiritual powerhouse into our daily lives. There are multiple ways to meditate on the Passion of Our Lord. Stations of the Cross is the most obvious option during Lent since it is readily available in most parishes, but if we want to go deeper into the Cross, we should make a concerted effort to meditate on His Passion daily, not only on Fridays. This can be accomplished through Stations of the Cross, meditating on the Passion narratives in Sacred Scripture, Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary, the Litany of the Precious Blood, and other devotions.
Stations of the Cross
There are multiple variations of Stations of the Cross, including those attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, St. Faustina, and others that can be found online. These meditations along the Way of the Cross allow us to meditate on various aspects of Our Lord’s Passion and Death. They provide an opportunity to see ourselves in the various people along the Way of the Cross while growing in a deeper awareness of His profound love for us. Many saints and venerables prayed Stations of the Cross daily throughout their lives and received an abundance of graces and growth in holiness through this pious practice. One of those was Blessed Abbot Marimon, who wrote:
After the Sacraments and liturgical worship, I am convinced there is no practice more fruitful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion. Its supernatural efficacy is sovereign. The Passion is the “holy of holies” among the mysteries of Jesus, the pre-eminent work of our Supreme High Priest; it is there above all that His virtues shine forth, and when we contemplate Him in His sufferings, He gives us according to the measure of our faith, the grace to practice virtues that He manifested during these holy hours. At each station Our Divine Savior presents Himself to us in this triple character: as the Mediator Who saves us by His merits, the perfect Model of sublime virtues, and the efficacious Cause Who can, through His Divine Omnipotence, produce in our souls the virtues of which He gives us the example.Blessed Abbot Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries, 266
The Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary (The Servite Rosary)
A devotion that is growing in popularity is the Seven Sorrows of Mary Chaplet or Rosary. It is referred to as a chaplet or a rosary depending on the source. This devotion meditates on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which is part of the charism of the Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) whose memorial we celebrated on February 17. The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:
- 1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)
- 2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21)
- 3. The Loss of Jesus for Three Days (Luke 2:41-50)
- 4. The Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17)
- 5. The Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:18-30)
- 6. Jesus Taken Down from the Cross (John 19:39-40)
- 7. Jesus Laid in the Tomb (John 19:39-42)
There is no one better suited to daily walk the Way of the Cross with us than Our Blessed Mother who walked alongside her Son on that dreadful day. Her heart was pierced repeatedly throughout her life as she surrendered everything to God and His plan for our salvation.
While this particular devotion also includes sorrows from early in Jesus’ life, meditating on all seven sorrows reminds us how the Cross cast its long shadow from the very beginning. Our Lady lived her life in its shadow until she stood beneath it uniting herself to her Son at His Crucifixion. Through this rosary, may Our Blessed Mother lead us to be deeply pierced by the agonies of Our Lord’s passion and death so we may seek to die to self more and more each day.
Litany of the Precious Blood
As we seek to grow in greater love of God and to conform our lives more closely to Him, we will come under attack from the enemy. He will bombard us with temptations in order to turn us away from deeper prayer, fasting/penance, and almsgiving. In order to be prepared for this onslaught, we need to look for spiritual weapons at our disposal. Besides the phone Apps and websites available that provide spiritual warfare prayers the laity can use, many exorcists have stated that the Precious Blood of Our Lord is a particularly efficacious weapon. Of course, this means most especially every time we receive Holy Communion, but meditating on His Precious Blood is a form of spiritual warfare that also has the added benefit of drawing us more deeply into His Passion.
The Litany of the Precious Blood turns our attention to the blood Jesus spilled for us throughout His lifetime with a great emphasis on His Passion. By slowly praying this litany, we can enter into the Way of the Cross while also asking Christ to cast away any temptations that come our way throughout the Lenten season and the rest of the year. We can place ourselves and our families under the mantle of His Most Precious Blood.
There are many options for making a concerted effort to meditate on Our Lord’s Passion every day of Lent. Some take more time than others, which means we can use different devotions each day depending on our schedule that day. A full Stations of the Cross may not be possible, but the Litany of the Precious Blood may work in between tasks. We may want to read through the different Passion narratives in Sacred Scripture when we wake up a few minutes early as a sacrifice. There are excellent options on YouTube for meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which we can listen to while running errands.
Not every single day is going to be the same. We will have some days where deeper meditation is possible and other days when a Divine Mercy Chaplet or a YouTube Rosary is all we can fit in. The point is not to overwhelm ourselves and then beat ourselves up when we can’t spend as much time as we would like meditating on a given day. The point is to raise our minds and hearts to Christ in His Passion each day whether we have seven minutes for a Divine Mercy Chaplet or an hour of meditation. There are many devotions at our disposal throughout Lent and the rest of the year that will help us walk this sublime Way of the Cross with Our Lord, so we can be pierced with Him in love and grow in greater holiness.