Left Justified: Why we walk on Good Friday

Left Justified: Why we walk on Good Friday

By Stanley Campbell

Why we walk on Good Friday

By Stanley Campbell

Having been raised Catholic, I went through a number of Good Friday stations of the cross. In almost every Roman Catholic church, stations are set up along the nave of the church. The priest would move from one station to the next, saying prayers and reading scripture, commemorating the day that Jesus Christ was convicted and sentenced to death.

This practice began during the Middle Ages, when people would make pilgrimages to Jerusalem. As political unrest in the area increased between Muslims and Christians, some of these trips were fraught with danger. Therefore, the church decided that those who wished to show their devotion to the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) could do so at particular sites in their own churches. Originally, a wide variety of stations were set up, but the number was finally set at 14.

Some of the stations of the cross, such as Veronica’s veil, and the three falls of Christ, are not scriptural but are part of legend and tradition. Others do have roots in the Bible.

Rockford Urban Ministries and Rockford Pax Christi groups started walking on the streets of Rockford in 1985. “We take this walk for Christ out of the church and move it into the community as a symbol of our commitment to put our faith into action,” said Karen Johnston, then Pax Christi leader, at the first walk.

The initial walk started at the Seton Center, 921 W. State, and proceeded across the river, ending at SwedishAmerican Hospital. More than 50 people participated. “At the end of the walk, we realized we would have to trudge back the five miles,” I observed. “Next year, we made it a circular route and shortened it, ending where we had started.” The walk now lasts about one and a half hours.

The 14 stations, or stops, were chosen throughout the city, most representing the community’s attempt to help those less fortunate, such as Janet Wattles, Luther Center and Allen Chapel. The stops also included where we prayed for improvement in the city’s compassion—such as the jail and a bank. We also prayed for our leaders at the State and Federal buildings, for better communication through the newspaper, and a special prayer at the bridge for east-west side relations.

The walk is free and open to the public. This year’s walk begins at 9 a.m. on Good Friday, March 29 from Shelter Care Ministries, Emmanuel Episcopal Church at 412 N. Church Street.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Minsitries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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