Beginning the Journey
The Way of the Cross is a road which leads through death to resurrection. Prayed in union with Christ, it is the sure way to fullness of life, to holiness, to God. As St Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists, never tired of saying: ‘the Passion of Christ is the greatest and most stupendous work of Divine Love.’ We actually find our way into that love, he adds, ‘by immersion in the sea of Christ’s Passion, which allows entrance into the ocean of God’s Love.’ This is at the very heart of the Way of the Cross.
As you follow Christ’s steps on this Journey, take your time over the Scripture, Thought and Prayer for each Station, and let them become simply a help to your own reflection and meditation on each statue. The Way of the Cross is your prayer.
Open my heart, Lord, to the presence and action of your Holy Spirit as I journey with you through this Sacred Garden to Calvary’s hill. Engulfed in the mystery of your passion, may I discover anew God’s love for me and for all the world.
Jesus is condemned to death
Then Pilate, afraid of a riot and anxious to please the people, released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus to be flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Confident in a higher Power than Pilate’s, Jesus stands firm in his Father’s Will, despite the disengagement of Pilate, the mockery of the guard, and the injustice of his fate.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
– Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous
Jesus accepts his cross
He was taken out of the city, carrying his cross to the place known as “The Skull” – in Hebrew, “Golgotha.”
Cross on shoulder, Jesus’ open hands embrace both the Cross and his Father’s Will.
In openness to the future, Lord, and in total union with you, I freely embrace all the things in my life that I cannot change.
Jesus falls for the first time
‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.’
It is the weight of a world of sin that presses Jesus down, just as much as the mental and physical cruelty of his punishment.
In Gethsemane, Lord, it was out of dread that you fell to your knees. Now it is the weight of the world’s sin that pierces your heart. Let your kingdom come as I gratefully accept your forgiveness and graciously offer it to others.
Jesus meets his Blessed Mother
Simeon said to Mary, ‘A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel, and this to their undoing.’
In the shadow of violence do mother and son meet, their mingling love and compassion enabling her to share in his redemptive suffering.
Lord, I too have family – father, mother, husband, wife, sister, brother, daughter, son. From me let my family circle know only a similar compassion and understanding – and never violence in either word or deed.
Simon helps Jesus to carry the Cross
Simon of Cyrene, just then coming in from the country, was pressed into service to carry Jesus’ Cross.
Resentment becomes joy for Simon as he finds in Jesus’ hand on his shoulder both a welcome acceptance of support and a gesture of thanks.
Caught up in my own little world, Lord, I fail to see the needs of others. With you, I too can offer a hand of support, and in that offering, find your support for myself.
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
‘As the crowds were appalled on seeing him, so disfigured did he look… we despised and rejected him – a man of sorrows, and acquainted with bitterest grief.’
Unconcerned with appearances, one woman’s courage and compassion conquers the cruelty of others.
Trapped by human respect, Lord, I fail to reach out to others. Let your image be mine as I respond to those who cry out for my care.
Jesus falls the second time
To the three disciples Jesus said, ‘My soul is crushed by sorrow to the point of death; stay here and watch with me.’ And going on a little further, he fell to the ground and prayed.
The very effort to continue is Jesus’ prayer now, his ebbing strength a silent cry to his Father.
Lord, my mistakes weigh heavily upon me – and yet how often I repeat them. Strengthen me to watch with you, and make the right decision each moment of each day.
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Great crowds trailed along behind, and many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children.’
Is it our compassion that Jesus needs, or our conversion? How hard it is to see the troubles of others in the midsts of our own.
All too often, Lord, a sea of self concern blinds me to the ocean of others’ sorrows. Open my eyes – and my heart to them.
Jesus falls for the third time
‘Come to me and I will give you rest – all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke.’
Dragged at to conform to others’ will, Jesus is sent sprawling by exhaustion and the weight of sin.
Let me not give up, Lord, when sin – or years – or illness – weigh me down. Let my yoke be the support of your arm.
Jesus is stripped of his garments
They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothes.’
With open hands and arms, Jesus accepts the loss of everything but dignity.
If I can find my own human dignity, Lord, free of my empty masks or clinging possessions, then let me be happy with less – and more willing to share.
Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Like a lamb led to the slaughter, or a sheep dumb before its shearers, he never opened his mouth. Yet ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried.
Heart afire, and hands open to receive the nails, Jesus’ feet too, are immobilized by self-serving hatred and prejudice.
I know I can be cruel, Lord, as I hammer home the cutting word, the sarcastic remark. Let my words and actions make the world not a harsher, but a gentler place.
Jesus dies on the Cross
Then with a loud cry Jesus breathed forth his spirit.
At that anguished cry does all creation catch its breath, breathe deeply of Jesus’ Spirit – and rediscover its goal in God – so that ‘those signed with the cross can walk gaily into the dark.’
Only in the power of your Spirit, Lord, can I accept your cross in my life – and find at first hand the freedom and peace it offers. And only in a death totally accepted, like yours, does its fulfilment await me.
Jesus is taken down from the Cross
They took the body of Jesus, and following the Jewish burial custom, bound it with spices in linen cloths.
Between Passion-flower and grave-shroud is Jesus’ lifeless body loved and laid out.
May you come to life, Lord, in my heart and mind and hands. Pray for me, Holy Mary, now and at the hour of my death.
Jesus is laid in the tomb
At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden… and a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried… They laid Jesus there.
In faith and hope we wait at the rock-hewn tomb – finding our hearts and minds – like the tomb – too small to hold him.
In your death and resurrection, Lord, you reveal the stupendous work of God’s love. May your passion live on in our hearts then, that we might recognize it in our own lives, and in the suffering of countless brothers and sisters.
Jesus rises from the tomb
Early next morning, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb and found the stone rolled aside from the entrance. ‘They have taken my Lord’s body from the tomb,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have laid him.’
The rising sun reveals not only an empty tomb, but a spark of faith and hope that ever so slowly conquers doubt and fear – and the Risen Lord lives on through the ages in the minds and hearts of his disciples.
Beyond the horizons of your suffering, Lord, you found the light of resurrection; be my guide through the darkest tunnels of my life and bathe me too, in your resurrection light.