Stations of The Cross

 

Invitation to
Walk with Jesus
on the Way to the Cross
Written by Byard Bennett and Shalini Bennett
Art by Jennifer Oosterhouse,  Wooden Cross by Jeff Damec
When we accept Jesus’ invitation to walk with him on this path of suffering that leads to the Cross, we feel our own weakness and are pierced to the heart by the destructive, evil violence of sin (both ours and others). It was this sin which rejected and despised Jesus and nailed him to the Cross.
It was there on the Cross that Jesus bore our sins and the sins of all his enemies and forgave them. When we see this, it creates in us such a love for the Savior, that, although we are afraid, we still want to be with him, finding in him the strength to take up our cross and follow after him.

Station #1: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die
Matthew 27:11-26 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious
prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much
because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”1
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took
water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood, see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
“Whom do you want me to release to you, Jesus or Barabbas?”
A thief is chosen over Christ.
O Jesus, many times in my life
I have preferred Barabbas to you.
There is no way that I can undo those choices
but to make my way to your feet
and beg your forgiveness.
It is hard for me to do penance
and to admit that I am guilty!
It is so hard to be seen with you,
who are wearing your crown of thorns.
It is hard! But let me see, Jesus that it is harder to wear the crown of thorns.2
Jesus, like Pilate I have been so concerned with building castles and
empires that I had no time to care about your suffering. Please forgive me.
What Jesus takes upon himself to redeem the world is
the bitterness of our injustice,
our willingness to believe and speak the worst of others, and
our desire not to listen, but to control, dominate and reduce others.
Jesus is willing to accept and be obedient to the will of God even when it involves being wronged and hurt by human evil.
O Lord Jesus Christ, give me the grace not to be bitter about the injustice that comes into my life, but rather to follow you with dignity and courage.3
Lord, I will not return evil for evil or injustice for injustice. The only judgment that matters is yours, Lord. As once you suffered these evils outwardly in your body, so now enter into my soul and help me to bear rightly all hard and evil things, without lashing out at others.
If I desired to please people, I could not be your servant. It would be
better for me to displease people and even all the world than not please you, Jesus.
Station #2: Jesus Carries His Cross
Matthew 27:27-31:  John 19:17 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.4
And he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in
Aramaic is called Golgotha.5
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.6
Jesus, I cannot be your friend if I refuse to carry the cross.
I know, dear Lord, how crosses are made.
Your will is the vertical bar;
my will is the horizontal bar.
When I place my will against your will,
I make a cross.
Up to this point, dear Jesus,
I have done nothing but fashion crosses
by disobeying your holy law
and asserting my own selfish desires.
Grant that I may make you no more crosses,
but henceforth may place the bar of my will
alongside the bar of your will.7
Far be it from me to glory in anything except the cross of my Lord and Redeemer.
By it, the world will be crucified to me and I to the world, that I may be yours forever.
As Jesus takes up his cross, he reminds us of our
destiny in life—a destiny that inevitably involves a cross—perhaps many crosses…You have some cross that bothers you now or you have a memory of many crosses in the past. And if you are like me, you at times have wanted to complain to God, to say, “Why? Why this cross which is so heavy? Why not some other cross?” But Jesus takes up his cross.
A few years ago someone very dear to me faced the unspeakably heavy cross of having her only child killed by a prowler. What do you say? There was nothing to say. Unseen, unexpected, like a bolt of
lightning, this terror came into her life.
And she said to me, “I read once that if we could see all the crosses of the world piled up, we’d take the one we already have. I don’t want this cross. I’d rather be dead. But since I have been given it, I will carry it.
Maybe you have felt that way. I know I have. “O Lord, any cross but that one!” Today we meditate—and are grateful—because Jesus takes up his cross. We ask for the courage to carry the cross that comes our way.8
Station #3: Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
Mark 15:21-32 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.9
Jesus, when you fell, no one would help you. When Simon was forced to, he saw in your cross only a shameful burden of rough wood; the sins of the world were invisible to him. He felt the cross had nothing to do with him.
Lord, I will not refuse the cross, as Simon wished to do; I accept and embrace it.
I repent of ever having offended you; never let me offend you again.  Grant that I may love you always.
There are moments in life when things are so bitter that we don’t even want any help, when those who would come to comfort us are sent away, when we turn in on ourselves and say we’d rather suffer all alone, we’d rather be in pain all alone. “Don’t come near me!” Frequently we say that to those who are most dear to us, and we hurt them because they would like to help us carry our cross. Not so with Jesus Christ…He does not dismiss Simon. He does not chase him away, but rather humbly and
gently he allows him, this unknown man, probably unwilling, to help him. We would do better in our lives to let others help us.10
Station #4: Jesus Speaks to the Weeping Women
Luke 23:27-31 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your
children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”11
These women wept when they saw Jesus bruised and bleeding as he walked toward death. But he asked them to turn their concern back to themselves, “Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children.” They saw his pain and sympathized with it, but they did not see that their sins were the cause of his pain: “Weep not for me but for yourselves.”
My Jesus, laden with sorrows,
I weep for the sins I have committed against you
because of the punishment I deserve for them;
and, still more, because of the displeasure they have caused you
who have loved me with an infinite love.
It is your love, more than the fear of hell,
which makes me weep for my sins.
My Jesus, I love you more than myself;
I am sorry that I have offended you.
Never allow me to offend you again.
Grant that I may love you always.12
Station #5: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
John 19:23-27 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,”They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”13
Here our pride does not want to look at the humbling and poverty of the Son of God.
From he who made all, everything has been taken.
To come into our world, he left behind all glory and emptied himself;
now that stripping is complete.
Lord Jesus, you emptied yourself so that we could receive divine life.
Strip away our garments of worldliness and self-righteousness
and grant that in our poverty
we might not be ashamed to share in your sacrifice on the cross
and so become rich, having nothing but you.
Consider the violence with which Jesus was stripped of his clothes. The executioners acted as quickly as they could, as roughly as they must.
Jesus’ clothes, stiff with blood, stuck to his wounded and torn flesh and they pulled them off him so roughly that skin came with them, opening again his wounds.
There exposed in his nakedness, He stood in front of the whole mob—and which must have been far harder to bear, in front of those he loved, His mother Mary, John His chosen friend, and Mary Magdalene who had washed His feet with her tears. He stood naked…
            He stood there naked in front of the world and in front
Station #6: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
Mark 15:23-32 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.15
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”16
Jesus, as the contempt of the world was heaped upon you, you were
violently thrown down upon the cross. There you stretched out your arms to countless people across all time and offered for their sins the sacrifice of your life.
Lord, nail my heart to your cross, where are fixed joys, not like those of the world (false, empty and treacherous), but life forevermore. Amen.
Nailing his hands and feet, they raised the cross, leaving him to die in anguish.
There, no longer able to move, his words no longer valued or wanted by men,
Jesus asked his father to forgive
all mockers and blasphemers
“Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”
 and everyone else who has sinned,
“Today you will be with me in paradise”17  teaching them what love really is.

Station #7: Jesus Cares for His Mother
John 19:25-27 ESV
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.18
Jesus gave up
his mother to John
his soul to his heavenly Father
his body to the grave
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Mary stands silently beneath the cross but the grief in her eyes says all there is to say: “My love is crucified.”
When you tread again…the road to Calvary, you recall the meeting between Jesus and his mother; but you notice that there is no word spoken, no action done. It is the same at the end: she stands at the foot of the Cross, but she is silent and still. And indeed what you notice about the story of the Passion as a whole is
striking contrast between the quiet stillness of those who love him and the ceaseless activity of his enemies. The priests are called in haste to the midnight session of the Sanhedrin; the traitor Judas runs to and fro; there is the tramp of the temple guards and the Roman
soldiery; the agitation of Pilate, the bustle of the
Palace…over all, there is the clamor and movement of the Jewish mob…
It is the enemies of Christ who are active; and some of that activity, the thronging and tumult of the mob, is thoughtless: and thoughtless activity is always barren and in the end harmful; but some of the activity is not thoughtless, it is the result of thought, but of thought apart from God, the result of shallowness and
shortsighted stupidity, or, at its worst, of pride and hatred and malevolence and that sort of activity is always evil in the end and always in the end must bring deep evil and suffering on the world…If you think that
action alone is all that matters, action without thought, without the deep wisdom you learn from God, then you will make matters worse, you will do harm in the end and not good. Action without prayer is blind.
You look back on the history of the world and again and again you find the same thing exemplified…You will find activity among the Huns and the Goths, who swept over Europe like a tidal wave and destroyed a civilization…You will find activity among those who produce short-term plans and policies and blueprints that will fulfill an immediate economic or political end, without considering…man’s immortal destiny. Too often it is here that you have the counterpart of the Jewish mob or the scheming priests and scribes; too often Christ is betrayed by action without thought, without prayer. It is not thus that the world is saved…
But the central figures are still. Jesus allows himself to be led hither and thither, yes; but in himself he is
stillness, he scarcely speaks. Mary follows to the end, but again she is silent, she does nothing: she stands motionless… supporting her
Son…You hear almost nothing of her, until the end; and then she is there, she is with him, but not to work now, not to be active, only
to love and to suffer and to be still…
Station #8: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Matthew 27:45-54:  John 19:31-37:  Psalm 8:5: Philippians 2:5-8
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.21
O Jesus,
how truly you have taught us;
no man can save himself if he is to save another…
you could not save yourself from death
if you were to save us from sin.22
Lord Jesus, when I see you hanging on the cross out of love for me, your death is all my hope. Though my sins condemned me to death, you have saved me and given me life. I commit my soul into your hands, which you held out to receive me. Hold me close, so that I may not fall away, but love you with an everlasting love.
“Like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.”23
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”24
Find the worst suffering in the world.
Jesus has been there first.25
Jesus, to everyone after you, who has experienced fear, anxiety, loneliness, abandonment and the coming of death, suffering in body and mind, you have said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and not let them be afraid” and “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”26
You have made even your enemies’ victory your triumph; now not even death can stand against you or separate us from your love.
___________
There are two sorts of activity. There is outgoing
activity: the healing work of the hands, the comforting word, the little services that can bring consolation; and sometimes these are impossible. But there is another sort of activity, a purely inward activity; and this is always possible and always healing; and this is the activity of thought and of love and of…sympathy. You may have to say, “There is nothing I can do, nothing of outward activity.” You need never say, purely and
simply, “There is nothing I can do…”
[There are times when, if only you are still enough and wise enough, you can learn that all these outward activities of themselves cannot heal, only love can heal. There is nothing that Mary can do or say; no, but they have no need of words, her Son and she; it is love that heals. And so, when you follow with love and sorrow this story of the Cross, and you want to help, you want to do something for the pain and the sorrow, you want to comfort, never think that there is nothing you can do. Think deeply and love deeply and then you will have no need of words: your sympathy, your co-suffering, will go straight from your own heart to the heart of Christ—rather, it was already there as he trod the way of the Cross those many centuries ago, was already there to comfort him as his silent mother was there to comfort him, and is with him now and for all eternity..There is never nothing you can do.20
of His heavenly Father, identified with all those sinners who are found out, whose shame is made public, or, perhaps more terrible for them, shown to those whom they love and from whom, above all others, they would wish to keep it secret…
He stood there identified with the convert, either from sin or unbelief, who must tear off the long-established habits of sin and weakness as if he were tearing off his skin.
He stood there identified with everyone who loves, because all those who love must be known sooner or later as they are, without pretense, their souls stripped bare…
Just as when He was stripped of His garments He put on the nakedness of our shame, we were meant by Him to put Him on like a garment, to put on the shape, the purity, of His body; the shape of His labors, of His
human nature; His sleeping and eating and journeying, His austerities and His delights in the good and beautiful things of creation.14

1Mt.  27:11-26  ESV 2Fulton J Sheen, The Way of the Cross (Staten Island, NY: Alba House/St. Paul’s 2006),  9 Benedict J, Groeschel, At the Cross: Stations of the Cross (Fenton, MO:  Annunciation  Parish, 1993), 5 4M t.  27:27-31 ESV

5Jn. 19:17ESV 6Lk.9:23-24 ESV Sheen,13 8Groeschel, 6-7 9Mk.  15:21 ESV 10Groeschel,1213 11Luke 23:27-31 ESV 12The Way of the Cross as Composed by St Alphonsus Liguori (Baltimore: Barton-Cotton,    1977), 10 13Jn.  19:23-25 ESV 14Caryll Houselander, The Way of the Cross, rev. ed. (Liguori, MO:  Liguori Publications, 2002). 73-75 15Mark 15:23-32 ESV 16Lk.  23:33-34a ESV 17Lk.  23:43 ESV 18Jn. 19:25-27 ESV 19Jn.  15:13 NIV@1984 20Gerald Vann, The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God (New York:  Alba House, 1994), 37-43 21Mt 27:45-54 ESV 22 Sheen53 23Is.  53:2 ESV 24Lk.  23:46 ESV 25Groeschel, 27 26Heb.  13:5 ESV; cf. Joshua 1:5; Dt. 31:6

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