In short, he hopes his offering will move his audience to be reflective in their thinking rather than reflexive in their emotions.
"I am trying to put across (to readers) the mystery involved in the Easter story that goes far beyond our traditional beliefs and tenets," said Ciholas. "And the main sources of information and inspiration for the book come the canonical Easter Gospel, documents of the early church, and my own view points and meditations as drawn from my own walk down the Via Dolorosa."
Book divided into 40 meditations
The book is divided into 40 meditations with a Gospel verse based on Christ's walk cited for each one and enriched by Ciholas' own walk and stops at the 14 "stations of the cross" along the walk. Mercer University Press, the publisher, says readers are "invited to reflect on the events that surrounded Christ's walk down the Via Dolorosa, the path of suffering that a bruised and exhausted Jesus had to trudge from the place of his condemnation to the site of his crucifixion.
"It is a sobering journey. It is also a holy path toward God. (With the book) the reader can walk from sacred place to sacred place and feel the transforming power of the presence of Christ."
Ciholas had already written more of a "scholarly" account of Christ's long and tortured walk down the Via Dolorosa in his "The Omphalos and The Cross." While his new book does include plenty of scholarship in terms of research and what new information he uncovered regarding the early church, its main focus is on the spiritual aspects of the walk - Christ's spirituality, Ciholas' spirituality and the spirituality of early and modern Christians and the church as a whole.
"I have added more information to the Biblical story of the walk down the Via Dolorosa, the Easter story, taken from research of the early church documents, information that does not appear in the conical Gospels that form what most us know as the Easter story," he said. "So the book talks about the familiar Easter story from the Gospels, the story known to the early church and my own walk and meditations."
An example of information Chiholas found in his study of early church documents is the role of Procla, the wife of Pontius Pilate.
"The early church had considerable literature about (Procla)," he said. "She, as well as Pilate, had considerable secular powers then. In fact, she became a saint of the Eastern (Orthodox) Church."
Christ may have "opted not to go through the events of his days"
From his research and also from his re-reading of the Book of John, Ciholas also has come to the conclusion that if Christ had a choice, he may have "opted not go through the events of his days, including the crucifixion... In John, it says that Christ wanted to return to the glory (God) had at the creation, perhaps not wanting endure the humiliating torture and death that awaited Him.
"But while John says that Christ wanted to bypass the suffering and crucifixion, that makes the sacrifice more meaningful, and is central to the mystery that surrounds the Easter story to this day, a mystery that will always exist, no matter how much research is done and details are uncovered about the events."
On his own walk, Ciholas said he tried to "recapture the mystery" by "freeing myself of the traditional dogma of the church" and "focusing on the place and the time" of Christ's walk and the "utter sense of abandonment Christ must have felt."
In the introduction to his book, Ciholas writes of his walk:
"What I had learned and assumed about the Passion of Christ still shaped my experience of the moment. But at the same time a new sense of wonder emerged, recasting what I believed and even what I failed to perceive into a fresh consciousness of what our Christian life entails when illuminated by our communion with the suffering of God."