The Cross of Christ contains all answers we need, the love of God; there we find his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust. The scene of Good Friday is powerful, even in its horror: seeing it can lead to revulsion or to mercy that provokes an encounter. Jesus doesn’t want our applause he wants our hearts, the Stations of the Cross can be a true encounter with Gods Love. A true encounter means to change, to be prepared to set out once more on our journey with new eyes.
We have at our finger tips the greatest natural resource known to mankind, don’t keep it locked away. God has promised no matter what we have done in the past he is waiting with open arms to ease our pain and give us inner peace.
During Holy Week, have a true encounter don’t settle for settle for maybe or do it later.
Ask the difficult questions ……..Question your Faith…….Be angry……..Be happy……..Cry if you need to but whatever you do have an encounter.
If we follow Jesus with all our heart, on this mysterious journey to the cross, courage and trust can be reborn.
After we have seen, and opened ourselves to encounter, we will experience the grace of praying, no longer alone but together.
Today, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you: do you want to help me carry the Cross?
How will you respond to him?
Praying the Stations Of The Cross during Holy Week
FIRST STATION Jesus is condemned to death
Crucify him, their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for murder, and handed Jesus over as they wished.
Hidden in the crowd, we lose our individuality; we become the voice of a thousand other voices.
Even before we deny you, we deny ourselves, diluting our own responsibility in the seething tide of a faceless crowd. And yet we are responsible. Misled by the rabble-rousers, by the evil that insinuates itself with a deceitful and deafening voice, it is we, all humanity, who condemn you.
Whenever life sets before us a decision to be made, let us be reminded of that square and that mistake. Let us allow our hearts to hesitate and command our voices to speak out.
I ask you, Lord, keep watch over our decisions positive, bring them clarity by your bright light, and lead us to ask the right questions. Trees that sink their roots in the ground, wither, if watered by evil, but you have set our roots in heaven, and our branches on earth, to know and follow you.
SECOND STATION Jesus receives his cross
Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.
I see you, Jesus, crowned with thorns as you receive your cross. You accept it, as you always accept everything and everyone. They burden you with its wood, heavy and rough, yet you do not rebel, you do not reject that unjust and humiliating instrument of torture. You take it up and begin to walk, carrying it on your shoulders.
Grant us the grace to discover
amid sorrow your resurrection,
amid suffering your glory,
amid anguish your salvation.
And the cross itself, which speaks to us of humiliation and pain, is now revealed, thanks to your sacrifice, as a promise that from every death new life will arise, and in every dark place light will shine.
I ask you, Lord, that in the light of the cross, the symbol of our faith, we may accept our sufferings and, enlightened by your love, embrace our own crosses, made glorious by your death and resurrection. Give us the grace to look back on the story of our lives and to rediscover in them your love for us.
THIRD STATION Jesus falls for the first time I see you, Jesus, making your way to Calvary bearing our sins. I see you fall, hands and knees on the ground, in pain. With what great humility did you fall.
I see you Jesus, as you grit your teeth and, in complete surrender to the love of the Father, you get up and resume your journey. With these, your first, faltering steps beneath the cross, Jesus, you remind me of a child taking his first steps in life. Losing his balance, he falls and cries, but then keeps going. He trusts in the hands of his parents and does not give up. He is afraid but he keeps walking, because trust is stronger than fear.
By your courage, you teach us that our failures and falls must never halt our journey to Glory.
I ask you, Lord, give us the courage to get up after every fall, as you did on the way to Calvary. Grant that we may always appreciate the great and precious gift of life, and that our failures and falls may never be a reason for throwing it away.
FOURTH STATION Jesus meets his mother Simeon said to Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too”
I see you, Mary, as you look at your poor child. He bears on his back the marks of the scourge and he is forced to carry the weight of the cross; soon, no doubt, in his exhaustion he will fall beneath it.
Yet you knew that, sooner or later, this would happen. It was prophesied to you, but now that it is taking place, everything is different.
That is how things are: we are always unprepared before the harsh realities of life. Mary, now you are sorrowful, as any woman would be in your place, but you do not despair. Your eyes are undimmed; you are not forlorn and downcast. You are radiant even in your sorrow, because you have hope. You know that this journey of your son will not be a one-way trip. You know, you feel, as only mothers can feel, that soon you will see him again.
I ask you, Lord: help us always to keep before our eyes the example of Mary, who accepted the death of her son as a great mystery of salvation. Help us to act with our gaze fixed on the good of others and to die in the hope of the resurrection, conscious that we are never alone or abandoned by God or Mary, the loving mother ever concerned for her children.
FIFTH STATION Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
We can imagine that Simon did not want to do this and objected. Carrying the cross together with a convict could be considered an act offensive to the dignity of a free man. Although unwilling, Simon took up the Cross to help Jesus.
O Christ, you gave to Simon of Cyrene the dignity of carrying your Cross. Welcome us too under its weight, welcome all men and women
and grant to everyone the gift of readiness to serve. Do not permit that we should turn away from those who are crushed by the cross of illness loneliness, hunger or injustice. As we carry each other’s burdens, help us to become witnesses to the gospel of the Cross
SIXTH STATION Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
I see you, Jesus, wretched and barely recognizable, treated like the least of men. You walk, faltering, to your death, your face bleeding and disfigured, yet, as always, meek and humble, looking up. A woman steps out of the crowd to see at close hand your face.She sees its pain and wants to help`. They do not let her pass, there are so many of them, all too many, and they are armed. But to her, none of that matters; she is determined to reach you and for a moment she manages to touch you, caressing you with her veil. Hers is the power of tenderness.
We know nothing about that woman, Veronica, or her story. She earns heaven with a simple gesture of charity. She approaches you, sees your suffering face and loves it even more than before. Veronica does not stop at appearances, which today are so important in our image-conscious society. She loves, unconditionally, a face that is unsightly, marred, unlovely and imperfect. That face, your face, Jesus, in its very imperfection, shows the perfection of your love for us.
Acts of love do not pass away. Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” This is what shapes our identity and gives us our true name.
I ask you, Jesus, grant me the strength to approach others, to approach every person, young or old, poor or rich, friends or strangers, and to see your face in all those faces. Help me never to hesitate in coming to the aid of my neighbour, in whom you dwell.
SEVENTH STATION Jesus falls for the second time
Here in the dust of the earth lies the Condemned One. Crushed by the weight of his Cross. His strength drains away from him more and more. But with great effort he gets up again to continue his march. To us sinners, what does this second fall say? More than the first one, it seems to urge us to get up, to get up again on our way.
Many people have learned that falling does not mean the end of the road.
In meeting the Saviour they have heard his reassuring words: “My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness”.
Comforted, they have gotten up again and brought to the world the word of hope which comes from the Cross.
Today, we are called to penetrate more deeply the meaning of this encounter. Our generation must pass on to future centuries the good news that we are lifted up again in Christ.
I ask you, Lord, grant that we may be ready to get up after falling, that we may learn from our failures. Remind us that, when it is our turn to make mistakes and fall, if we but stay with you, and hold fast to your hand, we can learn to get up again. Grant that we may bring to everyone your message of humility, that future generations may open their eyes to you and learn to understand your love. Teach us to help those who suffer and fall beside us, to wipe away their sweat, and to stretch out a hand to lift them up.
EIGHTH STATION Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
A number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
I see you and I hear you, Jesus, as you speak to the women whom you meet on the way to your death. But you, speak words of warning that for me are striking. At first, they might appear harsh and severe, but that is because they are so direct.
Today we are used to a world where people beat around the bush. A cool hypocrisy veils and filters what we really mean. We are unwilling to correct others. We prefer to leave them to their own devices, not bothering to challenge them for their own good.
Whereas you, Jesus, speak to the women with the love of a father, also admonishing them. Your words are words of truth and they are forthright for the sole sake of correction, not judgment. Yours is a language different from the one we speak. You always speak with humility and love, you go straight to the heart of the matter.
In this meeting, your last before the cross, we see once more your boundless love for the least, the marginalized. Women in those days were not considered worthy of being spoken to, whereas you, in your kindness, are truly revolutionary.
I ask you, Lord, grant that, together with the women and men of this world, I may become ever more charitable towards those in need, even as you were. Give all of us the strength to go against the grain and to enter into authentic contact with others, building bridges and not enclosing ourselves in the selfishness that leads us to the solitude of sin.
NINTH STATION Jesus falls for the third time
I see you, Jesus, as you fall for the third time. Twice now you have fallen, and twice you have got up. By now, there are no limits to your struggle and your pain. Now, in this third and last fall, you seem completely overwhelmed. How many times, in everyday life, do we fall! We fall so often that we lose count. Yet we always hope that each fall will be the last, because we need the courage of hope to face suffering.
I imagine myself beside you, Jesus, as you make your way to your death. It is hard to think that you are the Son of God himself. Someone has already tried to help you, but now you are exhausted, at a stand-still, paralyzed: it seems that you cannot possibly go any further. Unexpectedly, however, I see you get up, straighten your legs and your back, despite the weight of the cross on your shoulder, and begin to walk once more.
Saint Paul writes: “Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness.
The third fall seems to express just this: the self-emptying, of the Son of God, his humiliation beneath the Cross. Jesus had said to the disciples that he had come not to be served but to serve.
We hear similar words from Pope Francis. We too must serve, not always be obsessed with “Our rights” but think more of the rights of others and how our sacrifice can help them.
In the Upper Room, bending low to the ground and washing their feet, he sought, as it were, to prepare them for this humiliation of his.
This Condemned Man, crushed to the ground beneath the weight of the Cross, now very near the place of punishment, tells us: “I am the way, and the truth and the life”
“He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”
I ask you, Lord, grant us every day the courage to go forward on our journey. Grant that we may receive to the very end the hope and the love that you have given us.
Grant to us the light of faith to confront the challenges of life with the strength and the fidelity which were yours in the final moments of your journey to death on the cross.
TENTH STATION Jesus is stripped of his garments
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier.
I see you, Jesus, naked, as I have never seen you before. They have stripped you of your garments, Jesus, and are casting dice for them. In the eyes of these men, you have lost the last shred of your remaining dignity, but really it is these men by their actions loose all dignity.
There is something we often forget about dignity. It is found beneath your skin; it is part of you, and it will always be with you.
God help us to strip away the sin in our lives the take away our dignity and plant in us the courage to embrace the faith which needs no clothes.
I ask you, Lord, grant that all of us may acknowledge the dignity belonging to our nature. Grant that we may always see the dignity of others, respect it and defend it. We ask you to grant us the courage needed to understand ourselves as more than the clothing we wear.
ELEVENTH STATION Jesus is nailed to the cross
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”.
I see you, Jesus, stripped of everything. They wanted to punish you, an innocent person, by nailing you to the wood of the cross. What would I have done in your place? Would I have had the courage to acknowledge your truth, my truth? You had the strength to bear the weight of the cross. Today we can barely swallow a critical comment, as if every word was meant to hurt us.
You did not stop even before death. You believed deeply in your mission and you put your trust in your Father. Today, in the world of Internet, we are so conditioned by everything that circulates on the web; there are times when I doubt even my own words. But your words are different; they are powerful in your weakness. You have forgiven us, you held no grudge, you taught us to offer the other cheek and you kept going, even to the total sacrifice of yourself.
I look all around and I see eyes glued to telephone screens, people trolling the social networks in order to nail others for their every mistake, with no possibility of forgiveness. People ruled by anger, screaming their hatred of one another for the most futile reasons.
I look at your wounds and I realize, now, that I would not have had your strength. But I am seated here at your feet, and I strip myself of all hesitation. I get up in order to be closer to you, even if by a fraction of an inch.
I ask you, Lord, that in the face of good I may be ready to recognize it, that in the face of injustice I may find the courage to take my life in my hands and to act differently. Grant that I may be set free from all the fears that, like nails, immobilize me and keep me far from the life you have desired and prepared for us.
TWELFTH STATION Jesus dies on the cross
They tear holes in my hands and my feet; I can count every one of my bones”
The torturers’ blows crush the hands and feet of the Condemned One against the wood of the Cross. The nails are driven violently into his wrists. Those nails will hold the condemned man as he hangs in the midst of the
inexpressible torments of his agony.
What is it that “draws” us to the Condemned One in agony on the Cross? Certainly the sight of such intense suffering stirs compassion. But compassion is not enough to lead us to bind our very life to the One who hangs on the Cross.
From the Cross, Christ draws us by the power of love, divine Love, which did not recoil from the total gift of himself
In the shadow of the Cross, let us “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us”
O Christ lifted high, O Love crucified, fill our hearts with your love.
Upset my complacency by your cross: shake off my drowsiness. Challenge me always by your disturbing mystery, that overcomes death and grants life.
Our Father …
THIRTEENTH STATION Jesus is taken down from the cross
I see you, Jesus. Now you are no longer there, on the cross. You have gone back from where you came, laid upon the lap of the earth, upon the lap of your mother. The suffering is now past, vanished. This is the hour of mercy.
Your lifeless body continues to speak of the strength with which you faced suffering; the meaning that you gave it is reflected in the eyes of those still there at your side marked by the one thing that resists and remains unbroken by death: Love.
You are here with us at every moment, at every step, in every uncertainty, in every shadow. While the shadow of the tomb lengthens on your body, held in the arms of your mother, I see you and I am afraid, yet I do not despair. I trust that the light, your light, will shine once again.
I ask you, Lord, keep hope ever alive in us, and faith in your unconditional love. Grant that we may continue, our hearts inflamed, to fix our gaze on eternal salvation, and thus find refreshment and peace on our journey.
FOURTEENTH STATION Jesus is laid in the tomb
Jesus is laid in the tomb
“He was crucified, died and was buried…” The lifeless body of Christ has been laid in the tomb. But the stone of the tomb is not the final seal on his work. The last word belongs not to falsehood, hatred and violence. The last word will be spoken by Love, which is stronger than death. The empty tomb is the sign of the definitive victory of truth over falsehood, of good over evil, of mercy over sin, of life over death. The empty tomb is the sign of the hope which “does not deceive”
Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you were drawn by the Father from the darkness of death to the light of a new life in glory. Grant that the sign of the empty tomb may speak to us and to future generations and become a wellspring of living faith, generous love, and unshakeable hope.
The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: ‘Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life’
The Cross reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Let us remember this: God judges us by loving us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.
“O, Our Jesus, guide us from the Cross to the resurrection and teach us that evil shall not have the last word, but love, mercy and forgiveness. O Christ, help us to exclaim again: ‘Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him, today I live with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him, today I am raised with Him’”.”