Stations for Lent with scripture scholar
As we enter Lent, the Southwark Catholic Youth Service (SCYS) has unveiled an online spiritual resource developed with Father Nicholas King SJ. Using Fr King’s own translation of the Gospels, the Stations of the Cross recorded by the SCYS are linked directly with the Jubilee Year of Mercy and follow the sequence that is familiar in Catholic churches and which has been handed down since the 15th century.
“The Pope would like you to recognise the love of God that’s operating in your life,” Fr King says in his introduction. “It’s easy for us to see the things that we’ve got wrong: most of us see that only too well. But if you could really encounter, as the result of these Stations of the Cross, the unfailing, forgiving love of God, that reaches its climax in the glorious Resurrection, but is also there at the moment of the death of Jesus, then these Stations will have done their job.”
Following the traditional 14 Stations – from the court of Pontius Pilate where Jesus is condemned to death to the burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea – Fr King uses his own fresh translation of the Passion, published as a Study Bible by Kevin Mayhew. Each scriptural reading is followed by his own reflections, in which he asks listeners to place themselves in the situation of Jesus himself or the others involved in the events, while reflecting on issues such as pain and suffering, cowardice and sadness, as well as life and death itself.
Freshness in an ancient devotion
For the past few years, Fr King has led the Stations of the Cross for sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and he says he felt it important to give them a scriptural footing. But he acknowledges that this is not always straightforward, since some of the Stations (such as the three falls, or Jesus meeting his mother, or Veronica wiping his face) do not have a scriptural anecdote on which to rest. “I have put in some gospel texts to help people to pray through these Stations,” he explains. “For Jesus’ three falls, for example, I used three increasingly serious failures on the part of his disciples; and for the death of Jesus I used the two very different accounts offered by John and Mark. I hope that this will help restore some freshness to this ancient devotion, which is a powerful help to praying our way through Lent.”
Nicholas King is a well-respected New Testament scholar who, in addition to his translations of the Bible from the original Greek, has also written a series of Studies of the books of the New Testament. He is currently the Academic Director Theology at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. Southwark Catholic Youth Service is an agency of the Archdiocese of Southwark, which offers support, advice and residential retreats for young people and adults working with them. The Stations of the Cross are available as short videos presented by Fr King himself on the SCYS website or as audio recordings on Soundcloud.