The Way of the Cross

Saint Aelred, a twelfth-century Cistercian abbot, said that our profession is the Cross. That is why passing through the long dimly lit west cloister you frequently see a brother quietly making the Way of the Cross. He pauses to meditate at each of fourteen images commemorating the traditional stages or stations on Jesus’ walk to Calvary. For this monk, the Way of the Cross is both a meditation on how Jesus loved us to the end and a mirror of his own life. His “profession” is physically and psychologically demanding. Life in community makes demands upon him that sometimes feel like crosses. Sometimes he falls under temptation. Sometimes he is unexpectedly consoled, as Jesus was by the women he met. This brother believes that by freely embracing suffering and death on the Cross Jesus Christ changed death into life. Consequently, when he gives himself to this devotional practice he returns to the deep source of the call that brought him to this profession in the first place: the call to give himself wholly to the God who loved him and gave himself for him. For this monk, that call takes the shape of a desire to be so identified with the person of Christ as to join him on the Cross where he accomplished our redemption.