By Samuel Subler, Missionary at the University of Minnesota
It is custom for the Church to remember the death of Jesus on Friday afternoons by praying through the Stations of the Cross. While this practice allows us to yoke ourselves to the cross, the Saint Paul’s Outreach Chapter at the University of Minnesota was able to attempt to endure some of the physical pain of the Stations through running the Barbasol Men’s Night: Extreme Stations of the Cross. On March 2nd, through the generosity of Barbasol’s sponsorship, Saint Paul’s Outreach and the Brotherhood of Hope ran a night of prayer and exercise for University of Minnesota men.
To begin the night, we welcomed men into the St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center gym to start our time of prayer. A group of about 30 students, Missionaries, and Brothers gathered around the cross in the middle of the gym and prayed through the Stations of the Cross as a community. In this time, we were able to meditate and pray on the sufferings of Jesus. After finishing up the time of prayer, we entered into a time of intense physical exhaustion and pain. For each of the Stations of the Cross, a group of Missionaries and Brothers compiled a list of physical exercises to resemble the physical suffering of Jesus. Some of these exercises include walking through the gym on our knees to resemble Jesus being being condemned to death, an extended time of burpees for Jesus falling the third time, and suicide sprints to signify when Jesus died on the Cross.
Though this time was an exhausting workout for all, we invited the men to take the time of exercise as a prayerful experience as well. Because of the exercises, many men expressed how they will never forget how much Jesus suffered during the Stations. We were unified to the suffering of Jesus through the experience we had in the gym. During the 13th Station (The Body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross), we resembled the Station by doing lunges back and forth in the gym. Each time my knee hit the hardwood floor, I could not help but think of myself as holding the Body of Christ and presenting it to God the Father. This exercise was extremely powerful because I was able to know how the Father forgives us for the sins that brought Jesus to the Cross. By the end of the exercises, all of the men were able to see how the pain and exhaustion we went through was nothing compared to what Jesus experienced on His way to the Cross while carrying the burden of our sin.
After being yoked together as brothers in Christ, we met back at the Saint Paul’s Outreach Men’s Household for a fish fry. Aside from the wonderful food which included fish, french fries, and fried cookie dough, the night was capped off well with a great time of fellowship. The living room of the house was filled with men sharing stories and their experience from the Extreme Stations of the Cross Exercises. There was also an opportunity for healthy competition as many men made their way to the basement to battle each other in ping pong.
This experience was made possible through the generous support of Barbasol. Because of the sponsorship and support they show us, we are able to conduct and produce masculine environments that allow men to encounter Christ and authentic brotherhood. Thank you Barbasol!