Stand together and walk for the Way of the Cross

Aaron Lambert

There’s never been a better time to stand together as Catholics and Christians.

As we go through the Lenten season and approach Holy Week, many may be wondering how they can make a true difference in the life of the Church and help others come to see that it is truly more than they realize.

Each year on Good Friday, parishes, apostolates and lay movements around the world hold Way of the Cross processions to commemorate the sacrifice of our Lord and to humbly remind us of his suffering for our sake.

This year, why not make the turnouts for these processions greater than ever and in turn, provide a powerful witness for Christ in the public square?

The Way of the Cross procession, or the Via Dolorosa, is a great opportunity to reflect and meditate on the passion of our Lord. It is a visual sign to remind all participants and bystanders of Christ’s suffering, that he gave his life for our sins. Imagine if we gathered in cities across the country for this prayer, all on the same day? Let us humble ourselves and walk in the steps of our Lord together, so that all may see that he is with us.

Join a Way of the Cross

Locally, Denver Catholics will have a number of opportunities to participate in a Way of the Cross procession. The list below will be updated as parishes share information about their Way of the Cross processions with us.

Communion and Liberation Way of the Cross through Downtown Denver (English)

Friday, April 19, 11:45 a.m.
Meet at Monument on Capitol grounds between Broadway and Lincoln near Colfax
Contact kasha24@gmail.com for questions

Way of the Cross for Victims of Abortion

Friday, April 19, 9 a.m.
Planned Parenthood, 7155 E. 38th Ave., Denver
Led by Deacon Greg Frank of St. Mary’s of Littleton

St. Anthony of Padua Way of the Cross (Spanish)

Friday, April 19
10 a.m. Mass; procession at noon
3801 W. Ohio Ave, Denver

Holy Ghost Parish

Friday, April 19
Noon and 6:30 p.m.
Inside Holy Ghost, 1900 California St., Denver

St. Vincent (Basalt)

Friday, April 19, 12 p.m.
Meet at St. Vincent, 250 Midland Ave., Basalt

Queen of Peace Parish

Sunday, April 13 (Palm Sunday), 3 p.m.
13120 E. Kentucky Ave., Aurora

Nativity of Our Lord Parish

Friday, April 19, 1 p.m.
900 W. Midway Blvd., Broomfield

Blessed Sacrament Parish

Friday, April 19
Meet at base of mountain (Wooly Mammoth Park-N-Ride @ 18506-18532 US Highway 40, Golden
CO 80401) at 9 a.m. or at base of Mother Cabrini Shrine (The Stairway of Prayer) at 11 a.m.
Click here for more info

St. John the Baptist Parish

Friday, April 19, 8 a.m.
323 Collyer St., Longmont
Starts at St. John the Baptist, ends at St. Francis of Assisi

Holy Name Parish

Friday, April 19, 6:30 p.m.
3290 W. Milan Ave., Sheridan

Christ the King Parish

Friday, April 19, 3 p.m.
830 Elm St., Denver

Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Friday, April 19, 6:30 a.m.
1985 Miller St., Lakewood
Start in Our Lady of Fatima’s parking lot and walk ten miles up to the top of the Mother Cabrini Shrine.

COMING UP: Radical living and my friend Shelly

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I saw my friend Shelly the other day, for the first time in 28 years.

Back in the day, she was Shelly Pennefather, basketball phenomenon. She led Denver’s Bishop Machebeuf High School’s women’s basketball team to three undefeated seasons, a 70-0 record. In her senior year, her family moved to Utica, New York, where she led the Notre Dame High School team to a 26-0 season, giving her a no loss record for her entire high school career. She remains Villanova University’s all-time scorer — men’s and women’s — with a career total of 2408 points.  She also holds the women’s rebound record, at 1171. She is a three-time Big East Player of the Year, the first All-American out of the Big East, the 1987 National Player of the Year, and a winner of the prestigious Wade Trophy. She’s been inducted into the Philadelphia Women’s Big Five Hall of Fame, and Villanova has retired her jersey. After college, she played professional women’s basketball in Japan. She was making more money than anybody I knew.

She doesn’t go by Shelly anymore. These days, she is Sister Rose Marie of the Queen of Angels. She lives in the Poor Clares Monastery in Alexandria, Virginia. She joined their community in 1991 and took her final vows in 1997. They are cloistered, which means that they don’t leave the monastery, except for medical emergencies. Her only contact with the outside world is through letters, and very limited visits with family and friends. She’s never used the internet, doesn’t know what Facebook is, and when she saw a visitor answer a cell phone, she asked “What is that?”

Why? Why on God’s earth would a basketball star of this magnitude just walk away from the game and the fame, or go from being one of the world’s highest paid women’s basketball players to taking a vow of perpetual poverty? Why would an attractive, funny, vivacious 25-year-old woman renounce marriage and family to lock herself up in a monastery? Why would a loving daughter and sister embrace a religious discipline wherein she could only see her family — through a screen —a few times a year, and hug them only once every 25 years? Why would anybody voluntarily live a life in which they could own nothing, sleep no more than four hours at a time (on a straw mat), eat no more than one full meal a day, and use telephones, TV, radio, internet and newspapers — well, never?

It all boils down to this: We’re all gonna die. And when we do, all of the money and the prestige and the accomplishments and the basketball awards are going to fall away. All that will be left is us and God. If we play our cards right, we will spend eternity beholding his face and praising him. And, as St. Augustine says, that is where our truest happiness lies — in this life as well as in the next: “Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and will not rest until they rest in Thee.”

Cloistered sisters like the Poor Clares make the radical choice to live that way now — to begin their eternal life here on earth. As religious sisters, they are brides of Christ, and they focus their lives entirely on their bridegroom, without the distractions of all the stuff that’s going to fall away after death anyway. They spend their lives primarily in prayer — praying for you and for me and for this entire mixed up world and in deepening their own relationship with Christ.

This, it goes without saying, is a radical way to live. It is not for everyone, or even for most people. It is a free choice on the part of the sisters. But they do not take the initiative. God himself is the initiator. He calls them to this life, and they freely respond. Sister Rose Marie herself told her coach that this was not the life she would have chosen for herself, but it was very clear to her that it was the life God was calling her to.

I finally got to see Sister Rose Marie last weekend, as she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her solemn vows. I had the privilege of witnessing the once-every-25-year-hugs she gave her family. I spoke to her briefly, from behind the screen. She was always a cheerful person. But I saw a joy and a radiance in her that day that I have rarely seen ever, in anyone. It was beautiful.

The great gift these sisters give to us, aside from their prayers, is that they remind us that this life, and all its pleasures and distractions, will not last forever. And their dedication and their joy give us a small glimpse into the joy that is in store for us, if we can only imitate in some small way their singular focus on their Bridegroom.

Pray for them. And pray for the grace to do what they do — to rise above the distractions of this world and look toward the life that never ends.