Sang during St. Francis of Assisi’s Live Stations of the Cross, the selection accompanied the portrayal of the 12th station in which Jesus perishes on the cross. Held Friday on the grounds of the Catholic church in Cartersville, more than 100 people watched actors illustrate the events surrounding the crucifixion of their Savior, Jesus Christ.
“The Stations of the Cross, also known as the ‘Via Dolorosa,’ is a narration of the final hours in the life of Jesus Christ on Earth that continues to provide spiritual conviction for every Christian and application to our lives,” said Amparo Paniagua, St. Francis of Assisi’s director of faith formation and coordinator of Friday’s presentation. “The Stations of the Cross serve as a stark reminder of the humble manner in which Jesus was willing to set aside any privilege of deity in order to provide a path to salvation through his sacrifice.
“... There are about 30 people involved of different ages in the Live Station of the Cross each playing [an] important role, [some of which include] Jesus, Mary, Pontius Pilate, Pontius [Pilate’s] wife, Captain of the Soldiers, Soldiers, Veronica, Mary [Magdalene], Simon, Barabbas, John the Apostle, [Caiaphas], [Annas], Nicodemus, Joseph from Arimathea and Dimas.”
Participating in the presentation for the past 10 years, Jose Rodriguez portrayed one of the Roman soldiers who punishes and leads Jesus to the cross.
“Jesus died for us, which is the reason we do this. ... [We are trying] to bring this tradition [from Mexico] to the United States and try do it here also,” he said, referring to the “Via Dolorosa.” “... And we’re not the only church because many of the churches around Georgia, they do this [presentation] too on every Good Friday.”
With spectators following the actors’ path on the church’s grounds, the 14 points that were portrayed included first station, Jesus is condemned to death; second station, Jesus carries his cross; third station, Jesus falls the first time; fourth station, Jesus meets his blessed mother; fifth station, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross; sixth station, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; seventh station, Jesus falls the second time; eighth station, Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem; ninth station, Jesus falls the third time; 10th station, Jesus is stripped of his garments; 11th station, Jesus is nailed to the cross; 12th station, Jesus dies on the cross; 13th station, Jesus is taken down from the cross; and 14th station, Jesus is laid in the tomb.
“To me, the most moving part of the presentation is seeing how the community gathers together to remember that Jesus [died] to save us,” Paniagua said. “... The message that I would like people to take from the presentation is that we need to follow [Jesus’] teaching, and walk as he did. ... Good Friday, also known as ‘Holy Friday,’ is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified. Good Friday [highlights] the end of Christ’s earthly life, which occurred about the noon hour all those years ago.
“Even after all that he had been through at the hands of the courts, citizens and soldiers, Jesus still had compassion for them — and us today — as he was nailed on the cross. As I reflect on the significance of this day and this Easter weekend, I am confronted with my own shortcomings, which are many. What Jesus did is an example for all of us. No, he doesn’t require us to suffer as he did — only he could be our Savior — but we are to experience a ‘death of the old self,’ which is what the sacrificial blood represents: death of the old life to make way for the new, made possible through the resurrection.”
As many worshippers look toward Easter services and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, the Rev. Msgr. Daniel Stack of St. Francis believes it is important to reflect on the events of Good Friday.
“Anytime we gather for worship, the hope is to remember and to give thanks so [this presentation] just helps us remember better,” Stack said. “It’s the central mysteries of our faith — suffering, death and resurrection. Suffering is a normal part of life, the normal part of a Christian life but resurrection is always the last chapter of the book.”