STATIONS

- OF THE -

CROSS

"A single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or a year of fasting on bread and water."

- Saint Augustine

PRAYER

My Mother, guide me, show me the way of tears, the temple, the praetorium, Calvary and the Cross. I wish to be mingled among you and the holy women, to live again the sorrowful passion, the loving passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The First Station 

Jesus is Condemned to Death

God is led to the slaughter. From Annas to Caiaphas to Herod to Pilate. Dragged. Mocked. Spat upon. Scourged. "Is it not enough?"  asks Pilate. "What more do you want?"

"That He should die."

Why? What evil has He done?

He has healed the man born blind. He has forgiven the Magdalen. He has raised Lazarus from the dead. Is it a crime to overcome death?

"Let him be crucified!"

Is there no one to defend Him?

No one. Not John. Not Philip. Not Peter. Peter has denied Him thrice. 

 

Yesterday, He gave them His flesh to eat. He gave them His blood to drink. And they fell asleep. They had forgotten already.

Why should You die, My God? Because You are Just — and I am not. When I sin do I realize that I slap Your face? When I repent do I realize that the price of forgiveness is Your very heart torn, ground to dust, broken? When I atone do I realize the only answer for such Tremendous Love is absolute love in return?


And God is led to the slaughter.

The Second Station

Jesus Accepts His Cross

See how He is bending as our sins rest upon Him?

He has taken all our offenses. The burden is laid upon Him. The cross bites into His shoulder. The heaviest wood they have chosen; the hardest wood they have chosen.

He has taken upon Him Adam’s falsehood, Cain’s murder, David’s adultery. He has taken on all the sins from the beginning of time.

Mine too.

My God, even though I have struck just once – my blow falls on You. Even though I have deceived but once – my treachery falls on You. Even though I have hated but once – You carry my hatred upon You.

It is I who make the Cross so heavy, so hard, so slow. I weigh upon You with my sins and cry, "Forward."

Like an ox beneath the goad. Beneath the whip like a slave. Sweating. Panting. Silent. Poor Lamb!

 

My child, see how I am bending as your sins rest upon Me?

THE THIRD STATION

Jesus Falls The First Time

He stumbles on a clod of earth and He falls! His knees and hands, torn by my pride.

Forgive me, Lord. If I didn't walk with my head held high, full of my self-sufficiency and my vanity, with my eyes fixed on myself, then I would have seen that clod. I would have learned that I am just that - a clod of Your earth, drawn by You from nothingness. Forgive me, Lord!

When Your wedding day comes, Lord, I shall be like the unfaithful servants outside the door. Like this, I shall kneel - diminished as You were, prostrate - crushed under my sins.

And He lies a moment under the hard wood, under the sins of all mankind, crushed between wood and dirt. And the soldiers kick Him and jeer. They spit and they mock.

My child, have mercy on Me. When you fall as I did, bow your head. Remember Me, and carry on.

He stumbles on a clod of earth and He falls! His knees and hands, torn by my pride.

THE FOURTH STATION

Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

She is there. She has come to see Him –  to see Him suffer. And her grief is beyond words.

Her eyes are consumed with weeping. Her lips tremble. Her head is bowed.

Behold the sword’s hour. For more than thirty years you have awaited this hour, my mother, since that day in the temple when Simeon took the child, laughing and full of light, and prophesied of Him and you: "And thou, a sword shall pierce through thine own heart also." Let me stand close to you as the holy woman did. Let me dry your tears – the tears I have caused – through my eyes be dry.

My child, I came not to save my Son, I came to watch Him die – so that you, my adopted son, will not die, but be saved. You for Him. Because by Him, you are my child too.

He sees her and they are silent. Just an exchange of glances, like a ray of love stretching from heaven to earth.

She is there. She has come to see Him – see Him suffer. And her grief is beyond words.

THE FIFTH STATION

Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

Sweating. Stumbling. There is no end to it. His eyes are consumed with weeping. Can no one help Him?

And then a friend is there? The soldiers shout to one in the crowd, Simon, and he tries to blend in, to back out – like me, when I am called out to suffer something. "Why me?" Simon asks. How often do I ask You this, my God? How often do I grumble when life is unfair towards me; how often do I cry "why me?" Simon does not know the honor that has chosen him. Am I as ignorant as Simon when I am asked to suffer?

Grudgingly he comes forth from the crowd and stoops to pick up the cross. Christ looks towards him, His face is deformed with torture, but His eyes have lost no kindness, and they say to Simon: "The cross will repay you. If I ask that you suffer with Me it is because you are My friend." Christ will save him in spite of himself. And Christ will save us in spite of ourselves.

Onward. Faster. One step. The cries of hatred that condemned Him, "Crucify Him," are still ringing in His ears. But at least Christ is no longer alone. No longer "Behold the Man," but now, "Behold the men." Christ is not alone. Simone represents all mankind. If I accept the cross, even grudgingly as Simon, I can help Christ carry His load. If I accept joyfully, how much lighter shall I make it?

Sweating. Stumbling. There is no end to it. His eyes are consumed with weeping. Can no one help Him?

THE SIXTH STATION

Veronica Wipes The Face Of Jesus

Christ is on His way to the hill. It is only superhuman love that has carried Him this far. If someone does not give Him a moment's respite, He will die.

Then Veronica, seeing His eyelids caked with blood and dust, His face masked with froth and sweat, takes the white veil from her head and breaks through the line of soldiers. She kneels before Christ. For a moment the cloth felt fresh to the stinging, tortured face. But already the soldiers drag her away, cursing.

I see the veil outstretched in her hand. I see imprinted on the cloth His face, the face of God - the face of gentleness, the face of suffering. Every feature drawn in blood says "I am gentle." Every feature says "I am suffering for you and through you." The eyes are weeping. But are mine?

There it all is, My God, drawn in blood before my very eyes ... Your sorrowful splendor... Your tender reproach... Your eternal agony... Your forgiveness.

Lord, stamp on my heart as on the veil of Veronica all the features of Your divine likeness. Indelibly.

Christ is on His way to the hill. It is only superhuman love that has carried Him this far. If someone does not give Him a moment's respite, He will die.

THE SEVENTH STATION

Jesus Falls The Second Time

A deep sigh is in His breast. He falls again to the stony earth.

Oh Lord, You have felt the hardness of the world, in Your knees, Your hands, Your brow. You have taken the place of the poor, the sick, the afflicted. You have cried out, Lord, in taking our misery upon You, in uniting Yourself to it from fall to fall. And Your cry cannot die away.

Truly, this is the vale of tears. Who among us is not pressed down by a hard and heavy cross? Who is not covered in shame and guilt at his sinfulness? Who has not fallen headlong on his face?

The soldiers trip Him and He falls – surely He has borne our griefs. His head bearing the crown of thorns strikes the ground – there is no beauty in Him. And He lays there, so thirsty, so tired, so heartbroken, but all who pass jeer and spit – He is despised and rejected by men.

A deep sigh is in His breast. He falls again to the stony earth.

THE EIGHTH STATION

Jesus Meets The Weeping Women

"Weep for yourselves," He said. And my eyes are full of tears – but is it for Thee, O Lord, and for my wasted years?

The women of Jerusalem, the faithful ones, beat their breasts and lamented so loudly that Jesus looked upon them: "Oh daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but for yourselves and for your children.... For the day shall come when they shall say to the mountains: fall upon us. For if they have done this in the green wood, what shall be done in the dry?"

The dry wood shall be thrown on the fire – to be broken, to be burnt. But Lord, was it not to make the dry wood green again that You designed to be treated so? A drop of Your Blood, Lord! A drop of Your sap, and all the forest of souls will grow green again.

When my life is over, and all the cities of the world have fallen upon my joys, my goods, my children, nothing will be lost, Lord, if You draw from my heart, my eyes, one tear, one single tear worthy to fall upon Thy hands.

"Weep for yourselves," He said. And my eyes are full of tears – but is it for Thee, O Lord, and for my wasted years?

THE NINTH STATION

Jesus Falls The Third Time

Lord! Between the earth and the Cross’s wood - You fall on Your face.  Again, still again. How much farther till the end?

Under the tree like a fallen tree on the soil of my sins, on the soil of my pleasures. You have been crushed to it by this tree whose every fruit I have tasted. I have abused them all, I have misused them all – evil and good.

Lamb of God, who has laid You so low? Can no one raise You up? I have eyes only for that which flatters the eyes, hands only to grasp the goods of this world, feet only to run before pleasure. If I have not possessed all, I have coveted all, without scruple and without shame. And now behold the Spotless Lamb laid low beneath my impure desires.

The tree of pleasure has grown to a tree of pain, and it has been laid upon the bleeding shoulders of the Man of Sorrows. The Innocent One is numbered with the wicked. The King is bearing the sins of the slaves, bearing the sins of many... with no one to pity His distress. In order to wash me of sin and to cleanse me of shame, You were tortured and broken, my Lord, and who can raise You up? 

 


Lord! Between the earth and the Cross’s wood - You fall on Your face.  Again, still again. How much farther till the end?

THE TENTH STATION

Jesus IS Stripped Of HIs Garments

He is delivered there to the shame of scandal. Our pleasures have stripped Him bare. Behold the Man.

They take the Cross off Him. He stands, His eyes closed, veiled in blood. With a weary hand He wipes it away, and He sees before Him soldiers, priests, idlers, harlots, the dregs of the people – and further off some women, among them His Mother. They lay hands on Him and strip Him naked before everyone.

Naked as Adam after his sin when he saw shame upon his body and sought leaves to cover it – but God has no one to cover Him. The guilt without the pleasure. The shame without the guilt. On the Man without sin are all the scars of a sinner – stained with His blood, branded on His skin, encrusted in His flesh.

Behold the Man, masterwork of Men, for here all men meet, and each adds some foul feature to make up this mask of derision. Behold the Man – it is we ourselves. See what we have made of the Man.

He is ashamed; His gaze fails before ours. Dare I look upon Him? Lord, have mercy on me.

He is delivered there to the shame of scandal. Our pleasures have stripped Him bare. Behold the Man.

THE ELEVENTH STATION

Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross

They are laying Him on it. They are nailing Him to it. Nail through the flesh and through the bone. His right hand bleeds, the hand of blessing. Of healing. The left hand is ready. Hammer. Nail. Flesh. Wood. The left hand that knew not what the right hand gave. 

 

And our God weeps as He looks upon the men that hold the hammer. He does not see soldiers or men that despised Him… He sees us. We who have promised to love Him

 

His feet one upon the other. Feet that suffered, one through the other. The sinful woman will wash them no more. No more will they walk this cursed earth. 

 

Those precious feet that walked on water and led Him through the desert. Those precious hands that cured lepers and touched hearts in healing.

 

Each day, again and again, the sacrifice of Calvary is renewed. Each day God offers Himself on the steep hill of Calvary. Each day it is we, by our sins, that lift up the strong hammer and long steel nails, and hammer them through His precious hands and feet. 

 

He can take it no longer. Pick up the anvil, and remove the nails. Sin no more, but now love. He loved us unto death, and by that love we are saved.

 

And our God weeps as He looks upon the men that hold the hammer. He does not see soldiers or men that despised Him… He sees us. We who have promised to love Him.

THE TWELFTH STATION

Jesus Dies On The Cross

Blood is welling in the cup. Through His love there goes a cry. See the spear is flashing up - He is dead and we must die. 

 

His face is mutilated. But there is no hatred in His eyes. 

 

The soldiers let them come near the Cross to see Him. Mary, His Mother, his Mother’s sister, John, Magdalen. And He knows them - “Woman, behold thy son. Behold Thy Mother.” Those He is leaving behind will have a Mother, a family, a home. He is leaving us.

 

The cloud grows thick. The crowd is frightened and departs. The wicked thief is blaspheming. The good thief is praying. Not yet three o’clock and night is here. God has changed the course of the stars lest they should see God die.

 

My Lord, my God, forgive me. I beg of You, forgive me. 

 

I am the repentant Peter. I am the Magdalene whom You forgave. I am the Simon who helped You carry the cross. And I am the thief whom You forgave. 

 

Christ is alone and powerless. “My God, My God…” He is calling to His Father. “Why hast Thou forsaken Me.” A soldier holds up to him at the end of a reed the vinegar and sponge. But again Jesus gives a rending cry… and gives up the ghost.

 

When His side is pierced blood and water flow from it that all men may drink.

 

Blood is welling in the cup. Through His love there goes a cry. See the spear is flashing up - He is dead and we must die.

THE THIRTEENTH STATION

Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross

The fruit falls from the tree. With it we fall from the height of our pride, our indifference, our gluttony, our cruelty. Stained with blood, and not our own. If we had lived better, if we have loved more, He would not have died. You would not have been there, Mother, in the darkness beneath the tree.

 

Hold his head, John - so gently rested yours upon His heart at the last supper. Hold His feet Magdalene- they have not forgotten the fragrance of the alabaster box. 

He is not alone. They are there, and we can be counted with them. We can sin no more, mourn for Him, and love Him even as He has loved us.

 

It is dark and He is gone. In whom shall I place my faith in? Am I left to the darkness of the night?

THE FOURTEENTH STATION

Jesus Is Laid In The Sepulcher

“He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by His wounds we are healed.”

 

His torn body - cold, limp, lifeless - is carried to the tomb. Another man’s tomb. Naked and poor He came into this world and so He leaves it. The body is heavy from the burden of our sin.

 

And in the distance the three crosses stand. One bore the good thief who sits by Christ’s side in glory. The other bore the wicked thief who with his last cry perhaps won heaven. It is God’s secret. No one suffers in vain by the side of Christ. And in the center, the center of the world, of history, of humanity, stands the Cross of Christ. 

 

“He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by his wounds we are healed.”