The Way of the Cross Around America
Communities around the U.S. gathered on Good Friday to walk the Way of the Cross
This year was my second Way of the Cross with the CL community here in Atlanta. One thing that struck me, in particular, was how beautiful a day it was. It was sunny and 75 with a slight breeze. Students were throwing a frisbee and playing spike ball on Tech Green. But our savior, teacher, bridegroom, would die this day. I couldn’t help but imagine back to that day, two thousand years ago. Christ walking through the streets to Calvary. Was it a beautiful day? A normal day with people going about their business? Did people walk past our Christ just as easily as these students look and walk by us today? Or did they stop and realize who this man was? As we were walking down Freshman Hill a woman was running. Right as she saw us come over the horizon, carrying the 5-foot wooden cross, she fell to her knees. She followed us on her knees until all forty of us passed, and then got up and continued on her run. This woman remembered Christ. She saw him through us, through this community. CL has shown me how Christ in his passion and resurrection resides in me. It has shown me how Christ can touch the hearts of those on this campus through this community, through our remembrance of His passion on a beautiful day. - Kayla, Atlanta, GA
The first Way of the Cross in Raleigh, North Carolina was a true gift for many. I was deeply touched by the friendship of a group of people coming together to organize a beautiful and meaningful gesture for us, for our communities, and as a missionary opportunity for the city of Raleigh.
The road to organize a public Way of the Cross in the middle of downtown was not simple for many reasons, but what happened that day was very significant. Friends drove from every corner of North Carolina to be with us, new friends became interested in the proposal and curiously joined us from the beginning to the end, a few people on the street stopped and contemplated the readings and the music, and some joined the group all the way to the final station.
The people in our community, but especially the new friends that participated for the first time at one of our events, were deeply touched by the beauty of the music and the readings. Many told us that they were impressed by the profoundness of the event. Others told us that it was a unique opportunity to meditate and deeply live the passion of Christ.
Moved by the blessing of a very-recently-met father, the Bishop of Raleigh, we were able to set aside our limits and insecurities and respond with a "yes" to the proposal to do something important for us, for our families, and our friends, a "yes" to the work of Another. - Pietro, Raleigh, NC
The Alabama CL community invited parishioners of St. Peter parish in downtown Montgomery as well as friends from around Montgomery and Auburn to join for the 13th annual Way of the Cross through the streets of downtown. We were well-attended again this year with about seventy participants, some of whom came for the first time while others have been with us for years and continue to return. We were reminded by the leaders to keep in mind the many crosses borne day after day in our city as we walked through the streets pausing at designated stations throughout the city. I again felt gratitude for my own awareness of the privilege of witnessing that, as Claudel reminded us at our last station, "now and for all eternity there will be no God without the earth and no earth without God because the Cross has opened the door that Adam blocked." - Mandy, Montgomery, AL
For the past several Good Fridays I have been doing the more traditional “Stations of the Cross” with an ecumenical group through our city. However, I found myself missing the readings by Peguy and Claudel and Giussani. The responsible of our community encouraged me to attend our CL Way of the Cross. Amazingly, I didn’t get to just hear the readings, but I was asked to read them for the group. Though I don’t think of myself as someone who loves reading poetry, I realized that over the years Peguy’s words are solidly in my mind. Those words help me to approach Good Friday in a different way, like through a side door. They allow me to stand with Mary and witness the miracle. - Therese, Greenville, SC
I have been to a considerable amount of Ways of the Cross before and yet, I had never seen something like this one before. There is something that constantly surprises me, and I think it is influenced by the fact that some people, like myself, traveled so far to participate in something we should have already done throughout Lent. In front of this I even asked myself: why go to another one? I could be wrong, but it's a matter of need. I needed to drive one hour and fifteen minutes to be with these people in front of this event we live on Good Friday. - Luis, Puerto Rico
Our small community met at the park Friday afternoon and offered the Way of the Cross in glorious sunshine and a light breeze. We were twenty people, and interestingly five were new, having never seen this done before. The method was simple and everyone was able to follow along and meditate between stations. The reflections of Fr. Giussani struck many of us as "new", perhaps because some elements corresponded to School of Community text lately. It was a fruitful, prayerful hour. - Joe, Tampa, FL
I look at my photos and I immediately remember the silence of it all. The silence we carried and the silence it brought to those who saw His Cross - and I’m reminded of the silence He must have had too. - Jackie, Kansas City, MO
The highlight this year was the choir. In the seventeen years we have organized the Way of the Cross, this was the first year that a multi-part choir graced us by singing several songs during the event. Erin organized rehearsals, and a core group composed of Erin, Sylvie, Pam, Rebekah, James, Pat, and Jacob contributed their beautifully blended voices. Their strong desire to participate made this Way of the Cross memorable. - Stephen, Steubenville, OH
Are we doing this right? As one hundred people shuffled into St. Monica’s Church on the University of Cincinnati’s campus, I couldn’t find the priest and the main organizer was sick. But we just started. We began, and then, we followed. We followed my dad, a former police officer, as he relived his former glory of directing traffic. We followed Peguy as he led us in his verbose and repetitious meditations. We followed Giussani, one hundred years after his birth, as his proposal made its way onto UC’s campus. And we followed Christ in the silence of Good Friday. As people honked their horns and we made wrong turns, I was never sure if we were doing it right, but I was sure we were following Him. - Jacob, Cincinnati, OH
On a campus that is normally bustling with student traffic at the lunch hour, we walked across in silence following the wooden Cross. I found myself in the place of the women who journeyed with Christ as he walked, accompanying him in sorrow. On occasion, a passerby would stop to look at what we were doing, and even pray with us for a few moments - perhaps they too were struck by this interjection of Christ's presence in their lives. - Vanessa, Notre Dame University, IN
“Fac ut ardeat cor meum in amando Christum Deum” (Make it so that my heart be on fire in loving Christ the Lord) are the words of the Stabat Mater that have accompanied me in the preparation work for this year’s Way of the Cross in downtown Chicago on Good Friday. An offering that has given room to the recognition that time and space truly and thankfully belong to Him and in which He enters through a simple “yes”. I can’t but think of the gift of being able to occasionally take time off to devote it to certain tasks for the WoC, even within the many deadlines at work; or of the beauty of the dinner some of us had with Bishop Mark and few other priests of the Archdiocese with whom has started a new friendship. Thanks to the Bishop’s fatherly embrace and involvement, this year it was particularly powerful to live the memory of His passion by walking in silence, singing, praying, and following His cross with participating staff and volunteers of the Kolbe House Jail Ministry agency who joined us with returning detainees, with Most Rev. Roman and other Catholics of the Ukrainian community, or with Parris, a representative of Cook County Jail Sheriff’s office, to name a few. Within our own poverty, I am filled with wonder and gratitude for each and every simple “yes” of many that has marked every little or major aspect. A “yes” to You, O Christ, that humbly and surprisingly emerges even from under the layers of daily distraction and forgetfulness.
As some friends shared: “Where the modern man is absorbed in ordinary business on a regular Friday morning, there journeys a group of strange people silently following a bare wooden Cross, singing centuries old chants, listening to Gospel readings. The Mystery of the Passion of the Lord yet again meets man's indifference and scorn, sometimes curiosity, or seldom clumsy gestures of reverence from the passerby - just like it happened two thousand years ago. How absurd it would be to remember an event that took place in such a remote past... if it weren't for the certainty of the Resurrection.
If it weren't for the announcement that Christ died and rose for me, you, and everyone.
If it weren't for the promise that He comes to redeem our evil, our death, our sin, and ultimately comes to beg for our heart - man's heart that, almost drowning in the noises of the city, in fact, irreducibly desires only Him.” - Benjo, Chicago, IL
We set out to plan and prepare for the Way of the Cross. Our friendship saved it from becoming something to overwhelm us as another task to do and another source of anxiety. We helped each other ask why we do this gesture and we helped each other do more than just plan an event — we helped each other propose the event that has taken hold in us. This year we added the role of the ushers and asked the GS and Knights students to help us with this. The ushers did a wonderful job by being witnesses to the silence and helping to show the younger kids how to follow. It threatened rain all day, and as a friend reflected: “With the threat of rain, I was watching the radar and worrying about what to do if it rained or we could not be outside. In the end, the storms held off until the minute we finished. As we were rushing to cars as the rain came in, I was reminded that God accompanies us in all things." - Roland, Evansville, IN
I have been helping organize the Way of the Cross procession in Rochester since 2011, and this year (as with every year) I am amazed by the willingness and generosity of the many volunteers it takes to prepare and realize the Procession. This year we were able to add a little choir in addition to our usual music and it was beautiful! For me the procession is the most profound and important public witness I can make in my relationship with Christ. We walk in all kinds of weather, wet, cold, snowy, sunny, windy, or whatever the day brings, and these only make more real in a very very small way, the sufferings of Christ on his walk. - Peg, Rochester, MN
"But will you help me to carry the Cross?" In the morning leading up to our Way of the Cross my four-year-old son Xavier kept earnestly posing this question. Each time he asked I responded half-distractedly that yes, he'd have help. It was easier to appease the request than to explain to him that he was too small to carry the Cross and that he'd just be walking and praying like the rest of us. Finally, when we were all bundled against the cold and wind, we arrived at the start. To be honest, I had pretty much forgotten about Xavier's desire to carry the Cross. We were three stations in and about to proceed again when I looked up and saw little Xavier carrying the Cross with his Dad. I was so moved by this. While I was fine to be a spectator, Xavier wasn't satisfied unless he could personally involve himself in this gesture. Something awoke in me and I was reminded that beneath the rubble of my distraction and weariness I too want to be a protagonist. For Xavier, those steps he took bearing the weight of the Cross were his prayer and his way of loving Jesus. - Steph, Crosby, MN
For me the Way of the Cross this year was a whole new experience. We buried my dad on the Monday of Holy Week. The injustice of Christ’s death and the love Christ showed towards the soldiers in carrying out His sentence was present in my dad’s suffering. Part of the pain he was suffering was from a fractured vertebrae that was due to his walker collapsing and him falling backwards. My dad took this unjust pain and suffering to again show me his faith in Christ and that Christ is all in all. On one occasion, the nurses were adjusting him in bed and he winced at the unbearable pain. The nurses felt so bad, but my dad raised his hand and touched her arm and, giving her a smile, said “you are doing good”.
During the Way of the Cross, there were many questions and correlations that came up. For example, meditating on the moment when Jesus looked up to Heaven and said “it is finished”, knowing that He was doing the Father’s will, I realized this is what my dad was showing me the last days of his life. - Jeff, St. Cloud, MN
In the morning on Good Friday – a cold, windy day with below freezing temperature – a mass of people gathered at the stairs in front of the Cathedral in St. Paul to begin the Way of the Cross procession through downtown. I had the privilege to sing in the choir our community had put together, which was quite challenging given the wind and the fact that we were dealing with sheet music! During the Way of the Cross I am always struck by the juxtaposition of beauty and suffering. This was most evident in the reflections read at each station, which speak to a longing; a longing for deliverance from pain, from sin, which only God can provide. And yet, even in this longing, there is a beauty, which is reflected in the poetry of the words of the reflections, and the music and lyrics of the pieces that our choir sang. And somehow, these pieces, even as we sang them in the midst of the less-than-ideal conditions, seemed more beautiful, to myself and each other member of the choir that I talked to afterwards, than they had each time we’d rehearsed them beforehand. It was as if the hours we’d put into rehearsal had paid off, but in a way that could only be explained as exceeding our efforts and abilities. Perhaps, in entering into the discomfort of that morning, the longing expressed in those pieces became more real and more beautiful. - Derian, St. Paul, MN
Each year I anticipate who we will meet along our Way of the Cross. Traversing through downtown Sioux Falls always presents possible moments with a large slice of the city population. This year I was struck by the young people. At first it was two teenagers that seemed to taunt us and at one point came up and touched the Cross and ran away. What did they want? We kept moving and toward the end came upon a group of younger kids who seemed to roam the neighborhood of the Cathedral freely. They started following us and wanted to come into the Cathedral chapel with us. I wondered at first who they were but then, I wondered what they wanted?
This seems to be an important question to be asking during the Way of the Cross. What does Christ want? Who is He seeking? Is it possible He is seeking the young people of Sioux Falls? I know He is seeking me and I am seeking Him in this Way. - Fr. John, Sioux Falls, SD
Our community in David City joined with Omaha for the Way of the Cross. I've participated in the Way of the Cross for several years. This year, I was very moved by the inclusion of some Ukrainian and Russian musical pieces, as well as a couple of prayers from Pope Francis praying for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. It was such a simple change in the booklets from past years, but it allowed me to enter into the memory of Christ's suffering with a greater awareness of how His Body is still suffering today in so many members throughout the world, especially in Ukraine. I am so grateful for the attentiveness of my friends, who thought to include these pieces to aid us in entering more fully into the events of Good Friday. - Kelly, David City, NE
On an uncharacteristically warm and sunny Good Friday, we processed with the Cross through the center of Philadelphia as CL members have done here each year since 2003. We were joined by many as we passed. I rode the trolley on my usual route and got off at the usual stop where I go to see my girlfriend, but this time I walked to the cathedral for the Way of the Cross. In that moment, there’s the lived recognition that the events of Good Friday, and subsequently Easter, resonate in the midst of my life here, in the things I do and the places I go. It really was good for me to be there, and I was surprised that something we do every year could be so fresh and new again this year. - Mark, Philadelphia, PA
Forty people walked through downtown Denver from the State Capitol to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. I was particularly struck by a few people I noticed in the middle of the downtown frenzy, who stopped and looked, even for just one second, maybe to wave at us or to look at us with skepticism, yet looking.
In the same way, in the frenzy of my life, I need someone to put me in front of my cross and my pain, and to start from that to understand the event of the Resurrection. Our communion walking behind the Cross was already a glimpse of that Resurrection. - Carlo, Denver, CO
The Way of the Cross in Portland started and ended at St. Agatha parish, and wound through the Sellwood neighborhood of Southeast Portland. In the last two years, the Way of the Cross has become part of the life of the parish, and this year there were around 60 people, most of whom are not part of the CL community. School of Community attendees and students in GS read the readings, and we concluded with a soup supper. - Patrick, Portland, OR
The Way of the Cross in Los Angeles started at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. My experience was that I arrived at the Cathedral preoccupied with the fact that it was the first time in three years that we were there. I really wanted to be a witness to others with the choir and give a testimony through it. However, at the start, 80% of the people were just us (the community of Communion and Liberation in Los Angeles). I thought, “Ok that’s it…”, but then I realized the Way of the Cross is first for me – not the other people, it is for my own relationship with Jesus. And actually, at the end, not one, but two people came to thank me for the Way of the Cross, which never happened before in past years even though there were many more participants. One told me, “Thank you, because thanks to you all I felt closer to Jesus”. - Cri, Los Angeles, CA
It was a clear, bright day as about four hundred of us gathered in Washington, DC to walk through downtown following the Cross. New faces were among us and many strollers and little ones. At the first stop, Cardinal Wilton Gregory joined us, signifying by his very presence his paternity toward us and calling us in a simple way with his words to follow the Lord who identifies with the poor and the marginalized. We made our way through the world, the world wounded by sin, into which the Love of the Crucified One continues to stream, and we are asked again by the words of Fr. Giussani: “Will we leave Him for another love? This man pours out his blood for us and shall we leave him for another love?” The disturbance of the world can’t be avoided. At one point, a troubled and enraged man ran up to our gathering, grabbed a microphone and started to yell out in anger before being escorted off. This too points us to the need of the world and of each one of us for the Crucified One who saves all. We were reminded by all the beauty and power of this gesture that Christ entered this world and died for this world. How could we not leave there with hearts burning to bring the whole world along with us following that glorious Cross? - Margaret, Washington, DC
A black and white picture of a group of young people in the ‘70s, walking after the Cross in the dry fields of the Italian countryside, is carried on the back side of a booklet by thousands of people walking after the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge on April 15, 2022. What is this companionship that needs nothing else than following that Cross to generate a people walking through the streets of New York to bring the same message, fifty years later? “Staying next to Him as His Mother did – only this faithfulness brings us, sooner or later, to the experience that no one outside the Christian community can have in this world: the experience of the resurrection” (Msgr. Luigi Giussani). - Giulietta and Elvira, New York City, NY
The CL Rochester community (with neighboring communities in Cortland, Auburn and Houghton) commemorated our Lord's passion by walking a 3-mile walk in silence, stopping at stations (mostly abandoned lots and parking lots) along the way. There were about thirty of us. As we processed, people came out of their homes or honked their car horns as they drove by. One man stopped our procession outside St. Michael's to ask why, if Jesus rose from the dead, do we still have him on the cross? Fr. Peter Mottola explained that we want to remember how much he loves us, and what he did for us. We invited the man to join us for our last station inside St. Michael's. After staying and praying with us he said, "It feels good to be invited". - Rita, Rochester, NY
As I drove to the Way of the Cross, I was asking myself “Why do we do this Way of the Cross, in the middle of the city? Will people just look at us as another group of religious fanatics? What is the point of this?” Overwhelmed by these questions, I arrived, discombobulated, at the Boston Common where my husband, who was singing in the choir, gave me both my daughters, Teresa (3.5 years) old and Mary (1.5 years old). Mary only wanted to get down from the stroller to wander around, while Teresa was already running everywhere. The Way of the Cross started, and my situation did not improve. Rather, it degenerated; Teresa did not want to listen, and if I left Mary she screamed. I was ready to pack up and go home. But there was a tension in my heart that pulled me back and whispered “stay here”.
At that moment, Father Luis, hearing Mary screaming, came closer to the stroller and started explaining to Mary, in a whispering voice, what was going on in the First Station. Mary quiets down. In the same instant, I saw Paolo, Teresa’s classmate, and I invited Teresa to stay with him. She went next to him and quieted down as well. I was dumbstruck at how I was being accompanied. I felt a tenderness toward myself and, being accompanied, I was ready to accompany Him. In that moment, I understood that first and foremost, I do the Way of the Cross for myself, because I need to follow Him. And this would not be possible (literally!) without a Christian companionship. Some people will wonder who we are, some people will stay far away, others will ignore us completely, but even though we hope this gesture will awaken a question in some people (I heard a girl saying “I forgot it was Easter”), this gesture is firstly for me, for my conversion. A conversion that needs to happen every moment. - Laura, Boston, MA
This year the Way of the Cross in New Bedford was completely different from other years, due to the fact that a lot of people couldn't come for multiple reasons; some were sick or unable to walk, some moved away from the city. We were not sure we would have the strength to organize it. But we did. The week before, my friend Brett and I went to check a new path because the church where we usually started recently closed. We walked and talked about our families and it was nice. That's how my Way of the Cross started. Good Friday was windy and sunny with a clear sky, and the new path going through the city and the park was long but beautiful.A few new people unexpectedly showed up, the kids helped with the choir, respected the silence and everything was beautiful. - Marco, New Bedford, MA