In April of 1945 American artillery in the town of Siegburg, Germany, was shelling a nearby village, in which there were about 20 German soldiers. The natives were in constant danger of being hit by bullets from either side. Toward evening of April 12 the people persuaded the German soldiers to cease fire. Next morning the village priest carried a white flag to the American outpost to inform the commander that the German soldiers had gone and the civilian population had no desire to resist further. Instructions were given to fly white flags from all the houses. The question uppermost in the minds of the towns-people was: How will the Americans treat us?
They had heard terrible tales of cruelty on the part of the Russians. How would these conquerors act?
The Americans began a thorough search for weapons and German soldiers. Two soldiers armed with pistols came to a certain three- room home. They stopped short in the living room before a hand- carved family altar. Into the bedroom they went, to find there a beautiful crucifix. The soldiers noticed the cross. They stopped, took off their steel helmets, changed their automatics from right hand to left, and respectfully made the sign of the cross.
As a member of the family related, the members of that household feared no longer. Yes, the sign of the cross is the salute of the true follower of Christ whether he is conqueror or conquered, whether he is German, Chinese, American or Australian. It is the countersign of the Christian. In particular, it is the special salute of the Catholic.
Those who are impeded from visiting a church, during the Stations Of The Cross, may gain indulgences by piously reading and meditating on the passion and death of our Lord for one-half hour. The continued importance of the stations in the devotional life of Catholics is attested by both Pope Paul VI, who approved a Gospel-based version of the stations in 1975, and Pope John Paul II, who has also written his own version.
Imagine what it would feel like, if your loved one was taken to prison without due cause. Imagine how the apostles felt as Jesus was carried away.
Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit you anointed your only Son Messiah and Lord of creation; you have given us a share in his consecration to priestly service in your Church. Help us to be faithful witnesses in the world to the salvation Christ won for all mankind. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.