Praying Stations of the Cross is a treasured Lenten tradition for Bishop Edward Malesic, and something he experienced on March 5 with parishioners at historic St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cleveland. The parish, established in 1883, has many Hispanic members.
“I wanted to be here tonight to pray with you,” he told those who gathered at 6 p.m. for the stations, which were prayed in both English and Spanish. After the bishop – who prayed from the altar -- read the English prayer, Father Mark Riley, St. Michael’s pastor -- who was positioned at the ambo -- translated it into Spanish. The traditional 14-verse “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” hymn also was sung in both English and Spanish as three servers stopped in front of each of the ornate stations that hung on the church walls. The congregation devoutly prayed and sang along.
“In many ways, we are transported to the city of Jerusalem tonight,” the bishop said, adding that there people actually can walk in the steps of Jesus.
“He walked for us – to give us freedom from sin. Every one of our pains, sufferings and disappointments is part of the walk to Calvary. But he didn’t stop there,” the bishop said, reminding the faithful that Jesus went from Calvary to the grave and was resurrected. “This gives us hope. It makes us smile,” he said, referring to our redemption by Jesus.
“I don’t want to be in this life forever; I want to retire to heaven,” he said, noting that the Stations of the Cross allow us to walk with Jesus as he moved from death to life.
“Thank you for sharing your faith in Jesus with me tonight. So often, people want their bishop to lift them up. You lifted me up. We’re the Church – the body of Christ – destined for glory. But we are bruised. We carry the marks of Jesus within us,” he said.
“Take comfort in this pandemic and know that Jesus is stronger than anything it can throw at us. We crucified him, put him to death and he came back to life. That’s what it’s all about,” Bishop Malesic said.
He also asked the congregation to pray for Pope Francis who was visiting Iraq. “Pray for his safety and the success of his mission.”
After stations, the bishop greeted parishioners and then admired the statues and elaborate artwork throughout the church.