Welcome to the Diocese of Fresno!
Every year on Good Friday, Catholic communities around the world reenact the Way of the Cross, a devotion that honors Christ’s final journey of His earthly life. It is a reenactment based on the 14 significant events of Christ's crucifixion — the Stations of the Cross — beginning with His sentencing, continuing with His carrying the cross through Jerusalem and ending with His burial. It is a powerful reminder of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice for us.
In the Diocese of Fresno, California, several parishes stage their own versions of Living Stations of the Cross with colorful costumes, long processions and large crowds of pilgrims and onlookers.
View a photo story to experience the Way of the Cross in the Diocese of Fresno
The Gospels give us a glimpse at the sorrowful journey the disciples went through at the crucifixion of their beloved master and friend. The Gospel of John tells us that “by the Cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” and with them, his beloved disciple (19:25). Jesus entrusted the well-being of his mother, Mary, to his beloved friend telling him “Behold, your mother!” His disciple being obedient and embracing his new mission as protector and provider of Mary took her to his home (19:27).
The Gospel of Luke narrates that some of the witnesses of the crucifixion were his acquaintances … including the women who had followed him from Galilee (23:49). They stood close until Jesus gave his last breath. One of them, named Joseph of Arimathea requested from Pilate permission to give Jesus a proper burial which consisted at that time of bathing the body and bound it with burial cloths along with spices and ointments and depositing the body on a tomb on the same day of death (23: 50-56). Joseph of Arimathea “took it [Jesus’ body] down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had yet been laid” (23: 53).
The Gospels tell us that Jesus disciples, principally women, stood close by until the end. Since we all have gone through rough times, we can imagine that they were accompanying each other and we can say for sure, they were especially accompanying Mary the mother of Jesus. On Good Friday, some communities take a pilgrimage with a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows as a symbol of accompaniment for Mary our mother, giving her “el pésame” or condolences. When we lose a loved one, either due to death, divorce, imprisonment, immigration or deportation, we go through a deep pain, so deep that might prevent us from feeling peace in the middle of the storm. In those moments, we need somebody to stand next to us as the women and the beloved disciple stood next to Mary who was losing her only son. People in sorrow do not need many words or empty clichés like “this is God’s will”. They need us to be present to them. They need us to embrace them and take them home; the home of our hearts and mercy and sometimes our physical home.
Nowadays, we see pain around the world because of war, natural disasters, etc. but if we pay attention, we will see pain in the streets we walk or drive every day, in our schools, neighborhoods, parishes, and even our family. Day by day, if we pay attention, we may encounter people who feel dead in life or wish to be dead. These brothers and sisters who feel crucified for any reason that might seem small or big to us need us to be like Joseph of Arimethea and with love cloth them and take them down from their cross.
Take a moment to pray and allow Christ to show you on this Good Friday, who that person in sorrow is who needs you as Mary needed the beloved disciple. How can you give “el pésame” or condolences and counsel to those who have lost a loved one or their property or their dignity? In what specific and concrete actions of love and mercy can you wrap those who are imprisoned, abandoned, depressed, judged, or discriminated? Who is that Jesus today who is being unjustly crucified and who needs to see mercy through you?
During this Holy Week, may we reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as we reflect on dying to ourselves and being resurrected in Him to be His eyes, hands, and feet on earth.
Brenda Noriega’s salary is funded by Catholic Extension. So far she has worked in many parishes in her large diocese, which covers 35,000 square miles and comprises 1.2 million Catholics.