(Here's another installment from my current writing project)
Frances Xavier Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the simple goal of spreading devotion to the heart of Christ through acts of mercy. During her time on earth she established “sixty-seven hospitals, orphanages and schools—one for each year of her life.” In the foothills just west of Denver is the Mother Cabrini Shrine. For almost two decades, I have visited this place multiple times a year because it reminds me that the cross is a way of life.
You see, Mother Cabrini would often walk with her adopted orphan children to the highest point of the mountain. In 1954, a stairway of prayer was constructed along this well-worn path. The three hundred seventy-three steps to the top lead you to a twenty-two-foot tall statue of Jesus standing upon an eleven-foot pedestal facing east. His right hand extends palm up toward the millions of people who reside below in the Mile High City’s metro area. With his left hand, he pulls his robe aside revealing his heart encircled, by a crown of thorns, to the world. I’ve always found this image intriguing. We talk so much about inviting Jesus into our hearts but what if the invitation is to enter his? Is the goal to get Jesus into our life? After all, he already took the initiative to incarnate himself, but it is “in him all things hold together.” Even in his cross.
The climb up to the statue takes you past fourteen crosses that mark the Way of the Cross (also known as The Stations of the Cross). Attached to each wooden cross is a stone mosaic depicting an episode in Christ’s Passion. Benches are placed in front of each station so you can sit and consider the road of suffering that our Savior followed. Among the scenes depicted are Christ’s condemnation by Herod; Jesus’ taking up of his cross; his struggle to carry the cross; his humiliation in being stripped bare; and his body nailed upon the tree.
On one of my first dates with my then future-wife I took her to this sacred place. At dusk we climbed hand-in-hand along the way of the cross. At the top we watched the sun set behind the Continental Divide to the west and we prayed as we looked out over our city lights with the statue of Christ watching over us. Though our relationship was young our hearts knew that this was right and that God was calling us to walk the way of the cross together.
Eventually, the chill of the evening chased us from the overlook, sending us back down the steps to the warmth of the car. When we reached the exit of the shrine parking lot; however, we were stunned to find the gate closed. We were locked in!
There was a light on in the nearby stone house so we drove to it and knocked. One of the Sister’s opened the door and sternly informed us that the mountain closes at sundown. She then put on her boots with her habit, hopped in a near by 4 x 4 truck and unlocked the gate. Today, Barbara and I smile every time we drive through the gate in our fifteen-passenger van filled with our six children and their friends. As we stand in a circle, holding hands and praying the Lord’s Prayer before we climb to the top with our children, we remember how it all began.
 Col. 1.17 (italics added)