In the season of Lent one of the many familiar practices in which Catholics participate are the Stations of the Cross. During my time as a Youth Minister, I was abundantly blessed to work with many classes of talented high school students to bring the way of the cross to life in an annual prayerful presentation of Living Stations of the Cross. I composed these meditations originally for that purpose, but have felt a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to share them. It is my prayer that as you reflect on this Way of the Cross you will understand in a more profound way the saving power of the Paschal Mystery.
Station 1 – Jesus is Condemned to Death
The events of last night have culminated into this, a death sentence. Jesus is left feeling abandoned. Not a single friend has stood by His side and supported Him. He stands in front of His accusers, as they scream and plead for His death. As Jesus watches the bowl of water being brought to Pilate, He knows that He must walk this path. It is this, His final test that will be the redemption of all those who abandoned Him, those whom He loves so much.
Station 2 – Jesus Bears His Cross
The Roman Guards bring the splinter-filled wooden death bed, hardly fitting for a king, to Jesus daring Him to embrace it, pick it up and carry it like a newborn baby. The guards see His tortured and wounded body but have no compassion. Jesus watches as the guards ready the cross for His Journey. As He accepts all the weight of the cross, He looks upon the executioners with heavenly mercy they do not perceive or yet understand.
Station 3 – Jesus Falls the First Time
The pain from the scourging, humiliation, crowing with thorns and the weight of the cross makes our Savior’s knees buckle and He collapses to the very gravel He created. He is stunned and surprised by His full humanity as He falls and scrapes His knees. He knows, however, His full divinity will redeem us from the times that we scourge, humiliate, crown with thorns and buckle under the weight of our own crosses. He stands and continues along this brutal path.
Station 4 – Jesus Meets His Mother
Mary pushes through the crowd, risking her own safety, for just a brief tearful embrace with her Son. She loves Him so deeply, and can’t bear to watch her Son suffer this much. The thoughts race through her head, there are so many things that she would like to tell her Son, but the words fail her. Jesus knows that His mother has risked it all for Him beginning with His conception and she is going not going to walk away now.
Station 5 – Simon Helps Jesus
The soldiers see that Jesus is having trouble and that He needs help, so rather than helping themselves, they press Simon into service. Simon, whether he acts willingly or not, has no choice in this situation – he must help or face his own condemnation. So Simon takes his Savior’s cross and becomes His hands, eyes, feet and energy.
Station 6 – Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus
Jesus is wounded and weary, His face shows it all. The mixture of blood, sweat, spit and dirt masks its glory. A young woman however, sees past the disguise of a criminal that the authorities have made for Him, and races to once again reveal to everyone God’s glory. She gently wipes the face of Jesus and provides a brief respite from the torture, encouraging Him to continue.
Station 7 – Jesus Falls a Second Time
Despite the compassion, care and encouragement provided by His mother and two strangers, Jesus’ body is failing him again. The blood seems to drip faster, the legs seem to move slower and the guards seem more hostile. Then, in the blink of an eye, something trips Him up; whether it was the unnecessary whip from the guard or the angry jeer from a spectator, He does not know – but He is certain that the road feels harder than it did before.
Station 8 – Jesus Speaks to the Women
Jesus sees the women who love him, care for him and ultimately believe His message of hope, love, justice and peace. They have listened to His words and taken them to heart. Simply, they love Jesus, and will do anything for Him. It’s so hard for them to believe, so hard to accept that this is happening to Him. Thoughts of confusion and doubt run through their heads.
Station 9 – Jesus Falls a Third Time
Jesus has nothing left, His energy has disappeared and His heartbeat is fading. The weight of the cross is now unbearable, the burden crushes Him, gravity moves faster than His hands. He can’t break his fall, the crown of thorns jabs His skull as His head hits the pavement. The King of All now lies prostrate before the world and those whom He created.
Station 10 – Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
Jesus has made it… barely made it… to Golgotha alive. His executioners take the cross off His shoulders, as they continue to mock the King of the Jews. They pay tribute to Him with their saliva, and by ripping His clothes, until He is publicly humiliated and physically naked. Christ has been stripped of all dignity and abandoned by almost everyone.
Station 11 – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Jesus is now ready to lay down his life, as He is prepared to be lifted on high as an example for all to see. The executioners stretch out the Savior’s hands, and with one huge hammer smash, drive large spikes through His splinter-filled hands. Again, they fix His feet to the cross and drive the nail through His frail feet. Then the guards lift the Cross and place it upright on the mountain. The agony and humiliation do not cease.
Station 12 – Jesus Dies on the Cross
Jesus has been hanging on the cross for three hours now, humiliated, laughed at, and suffering unimaginable pain. With a loud scream, His final breath escapes the earthly temple He has inhabited. The earth quakes and the skies mourn but He has conquered death, and paved a path for us to enter into eternal life.
Station 13 – Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
The earth has stopped trembling, the sky has stopped crying. Alone at the cross are Mary, the apostle John and a few guards. They continue quivering and weeping, shocked and saddened. It seems surreal to see their God lifeless. The guards remove the nails, and bring the body of Jesus to His distraught Virgin Mother.
Station 14 – Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
Through the sorrow and pain of an unjust death, the friends of Jesus, the Savior, have the glimmer of hope; a hope that is not yet fully understood but that is present nonetheless. For us today it is sometimes hard to see hope, because tears often impair our vision. When all seems lost and failure surrounds us, we must have hope in our God, for nothing is impossible for Him.crucifixion, jesus, lent, penance, stations of the cross, The Passion