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Three Distinct Knocks

Following your Path, Finding Your Center

During the Crusades, knights and pilgrims began to follow the route of Christ's way to Calvary. It had been reverently marked out in Jerusalem and been the goal of pious pilgrims since the days of Constantine. Franciscan friars (to whom the guardianship of the holy places was entrusted in 1342) spread this devotion throughout Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries and the Stations of the Cross were created in many cathedrals. The popularity of this devotion inspired some of the greatest medieval Christian art and sculpture as well as the medieval mystery plays developed by craft guilds. After Jerusalem passed under Turkish domination, these pious exercises could be performed far more devoutly at Nuremburg or Louvain than in Jerusalem itself.

Through this pious exercise, the faithful follow the final earthly journey of Christ: from the Mount of Olives, where the Lord was taken by anguish, to Calvary where He was crucified between two thieves, to the garden where He was placed in freshly hewn tomb. Devotion to the three falls of Christ under the weight of the Cross combines with the idea of life being a journey or pilgrimage from earthly exile to our true home in Heaven in which His disciples follow in the foot steps the Master. After the final station a variation of the prayer of Saint Alphonsus may be said:

O Jesus Christ, my Lord, with what great love you traveled the painful road which led to your death - and how often have I abandoned you. But now I love you with my whole soul, and because I love you, I am sincerely sorry for having offended you. My Jesus, pardon me, and permit me to accompany you on this journey. You died for love of me, and it is my wish, O my dearest Redeemer, to be willing to die for love of you. O my beloved Jesus, in your love I wish to live, and in your love I wish to die. Amen.

A variation of this devotion is based on fifteen candles. At the beginning with the room in darkness and everyone standing, light all the candles. After each station is said, put out one candle, alternating left and right ends. When the last station is said the candle in the center the Light of Christ candle, is extinguished and the room is in darkness. The darkness is explained by saying, "Christ was the Light of the World, and when He died, the Light was gone from the world". Then relight the center Light of Christ candle as a reminder that Christ is with us, even in the deepest darkness.

Modern liturgists say the traditional Stations of the Cross are incomplete without a final scene depicting the empty tomb and/or the resurrection of Jesus, because Jesus' rising from the dead was an integral part of his salvific work on earth. Mel Gibson's 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, the last station, the Burial, is not prominently depicted (compared to the other thirteen) but it is implied since the last shot before credit titles is Jesus resurrected and about to leave the tomb. Advocates of the traditional form of the Stations ending with the body of Jesus being placed in the tomb say the Stations are intended as a meditation on the atoning death of Jesus, and not as a complete picture of his life, death, and resurrection.

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Prayer Labyrinth

The labyrinth prayer walk follows a single winding path to the center. A UK based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and an influential San Francisco cathedral have encouraged Christian denominations around the world to embrace labyrinths as part of the spiritual journey. Twin Falls Presbyterian Church created a prayer labyrinth by taping numbers one through fourteen to the floor. At each number a handout includes scripture and prayer for one of the fourteen Stations of the Cross, an ancient Christian prayer practice. Described as a powerful centering for those who want to go deeper in their faith, it takes about twenty or thirty minutes to read scripture and spend time in silent reflective prayer and walk the Stations of the Cross through a Prayer Labyrinth.

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