Students to observe Good Friday on the Quad

By Amanda Graf

James Becker has to get in the zone. The sophomore in LAS concentrates, trying to drown out the crowd around him and focus his mind at the task at hand. But Becker does not pick up a football or basketball. He lifts a 60-pound cross onto his shoulder, and with a crown of sharp thorns on his head, he begins a slow walk through the events that preceded the death of Jesus Christ.

“Our life is supposed to be a living out of the Paschal Mystery, the life, death and resurrection of Christ,” Becker said. “What better way to do that than to illustrate it?”

Today is Good Friday, the day when Christians all over the world remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago. At noon on the Quad students from St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, 604 E. Armory Avenue, will commemorate Good Friday with “Stations on the Quad,” a recreation of the journey Jesus took toward his crucifixion.

“All Christians believe that Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins,” said the Rev. Greg Ketcham, director of St. John’s Catholic Chapel. “It’s a ‘good’ Friday because it’s the day of our salvation.”

Participants and observers of “Stations on the Quad” will gather outside of St. John’s and move toward the middle of campus. They will make their way around the Quad, periodically stopping to act out 14 different scenes, including Jesus’ condemnation, the three times he fell and when he met his mother along the road. The recreation culminates directly in front of Foellinger Auditorium with the crucifixion.

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    “We’re a very visual society,” said Danielle Campanella, junior in LAS and coordinator of “Stations on the Quad.” The expression “carrying your cross” can become just a metaphor in people’s minds, she said, but by putting on this recreation people can visually connect with the harsh reality of Jesus’ journey toward his death.

    Becker said he will begin preparing to play Jesus the night before by attending Mass, meditating on Jesus’ death and praying a rosary. This year he plans to watch the film “The Passion of the Christ.” Though he is the main focus of the event, he said he is not very conscious of the crowd around him.

    “My heart is set on what I’m doing,” Becker said. “I try to treat it like a constant prayer.”

    The procession usually begins with a small crowd of observers who are affiliated with St. John’s, but as they move around the Quad “people get curious” and either stop and stare or join the crowd, Campanella said. She hopes the recreation will remind anyone who is on the Quad this afternoon of the importance of Jesus’ death.

    Ketcham said many people on campus are searching for value in life and they are “certainly not seeing it in our culture,” but the death and resurrection of Jesus has “all the meaning in the world.”

    “We always have our God’s huge arms there to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves,” Ketcham said, “and those arms are spread out on a cross.”