Why This Priest Loves St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s Way of the Cross Meditation

As a priest, I have led my parishioners in prayer during Lent with the Stations of the Cross. One parish that I served at as a seminarian filled their Church each week for Stations. It was impressive to see the devotion of the parishioners. Another parish I served had a hyper devotion to the stations. A lay person would lead them on weekdays when there wasn’t Mass at the parish. Since I’m used to leading the Stations several times a week due to previous assignments, at my new assignment, I have introduced the stations a few more times each week, after two daily Masses in addition to the traditional Friday evening stations. I was elated when I discovered my current assignment had a plethora of booklets of St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s Way of the Cross

Over the years, this one has become one of my favorite versions. I also love one version from the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts which incorporates texts of Divine Mercy in my Soul by St. Faustina into the reflections and prayers. I pray privately a variety of stations devotionals and arrive at new insights with newly published ones like Marge Fenelon’s Behold Your Mother: A Marian Stations of the CrossHer reflection on the stripping of Jesus made me think about the station in a way I never had before. 

When it comes to St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s version, what isn’t there to love? He’s a spiritual master. People have been reading him for centuries. For hundreds of years, people have read, prayed, and meditated with the station reflections penned and preached by Ligouri during his lifetime. There are four movements of Ligouri’s Stations, and its those four movements that make me love them so much. 


Every Station of the Cross you attend, the priest announces the station number and name, leads the versicle and response of We adore you O Christ, and then reads a part for the priest, and afterward the people respond with their text. St. Alphonsus Ligouri tells us what to consider during each Station. This simply means to think about the events of that station. It is nice to have someone spell it out for us because he might offer an insight that we have not considered before. Or, as we consider his point and look at the station image, we might arrive at a new and different thought worthy of our meditation. Sometimes I like being told what to do. I appreciate that St. Alphonsus recommends my points for consideration during the Stations of the Cross. 

Addressing Jesus

After the consideration, the people respond. Each response begins addressing Jesus in a different way. My beloved Jesus. My loving Jesus. My sorrowing Jesus. My most gentle Jesus. My Jesus, laden with sorrows. My outraged Jesus. My innocent Jesus. My despised Jesus. My dying Jesus. My buried Jesus. All of these little ways we address Jesus in our prayer during St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s stations are very tender. We are a child of God, approaching our Lord, addressing Him in his suffering and agony. It’s as if we know what he has experienced and our words of address are meant to comfort and console the Lord. Each address comes from my heart as I pray it. As I call upon Jesus, in my prayer I hope that I have His attention and I know that He listens to what I say.     

 Petitions and Requests

What St. Alphonsus Ligouri does in each people’s response is that he formulates a petition to the Lord asking for a grace. My favorite one is the fifth station: “I accept in particular the death that is destined for me with all the pains that may accompany it.”  At present, I’m 34 years old. Death is hopefully many years away. But with the help of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, I’m already praying for that hour when the Lord calls me home. I accept whatever death He has in store for me. Could it be martyrdom? Possible, yes, probably not, but who knows. Could it be from cancer or diabetes? Will it be a quick death or a long, drawn out process? The good Lord knows and by praying this station, I am telling the Lord, that I am open to whatever His will is, that I will accept it, and offer my death in union with His. 

A few other poignant petitions: the second station: help me carry my cross with perfect peace and resignation. In the third, save me from falling into mortal sin. The fourth- the grace of being truly devoted to your most holy Mother. The eleventh: May my heart always remain at the cross to love you and never leave you again. When you pray the Stations of the Cross from St. Alphonsus Ligouri pay attention to what it is that you are asking God for in each station. There is a grace, a petition, and request. Our requests are not made in vain. God hears us, responds to us, and bestows his grace upon us as we plead and ask. 

The Repetition and Recommitment 

After the address of Jesus, and following the petition or request of God, the people’s prayer concludes with a refrain repeated in nearly every station; one or two might have a slight variation. The people pray: I love You, beloved Jesus; I love You more than I love myself. With all my heart I repent of ever having offended You. Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will. In our prayer, as we repeat a phrase over and over again, it is not meant to be monotonous or babbling like the pagans, but it is expressing this as the earnest desire of my heart. This prayer, included in each station, is telling Jesus, I love you because of what you endured. And because I am reflecting on that right now, because I have considered it and meditated on it, this is my resolve. I repent of my sins, and I ask you to let me love you always. I also want to be disposed to your will. If we keep repeating this phrase over and over, the hope is that we will truly mean what we are saying and God will do as we ask, that He will do with us whatever He wills. The fruit of praying this prayer would be that when I am tempted to sin, the grace of the stations will remind me that I never want to offend the Lord. The beauty too, is that each station, becomes a recommitment on our part, as we say, Lord I am committing once again to your love and avoiding sin. Ligouri’s stations bring out the power of repetition. 


I hope during these days of Lent that you will have the opportunity to pray the Stations of the Cross. I hope you have the chance to go from station to station and look at each station plaque and meditate over what you see. I hope that you will be able to pray the stations written by St. Alphonsus Ligouri. The Stations are a perfect meditation for the Lenten season. I think it would be healthy and holy to pray them throughout the year. As we consider the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our souls are filled with sentiments and graces from on high. Our meditation and petition changes our hearts, convicting of our sins, and moving us to love God with all our heart. 

Image: Giovanni Battista TiepoloChrist Carrying the Cross, 1738, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Fr. Edward Looney was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Green Bay in June 2015, and is an internationally recognized Marian theologian, writer, speaker, and radio personality. Author of the best-selling books, A Lenten Journey with Mother MaryA Heart Like Mary’s and A Rosary Litany, he has also written a prayer book for the only American-approved Marian apparition received by Adele Brise in 1859 in Champion, Wisconsin. He currently serves as Administrator of two rural Wisconsin parishes. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at the handle @FrEdwardLooney.

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