STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Ninth Station — Jesus Falls For The Third Time, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Bernardin stations of the cross

From The Journey to Peace

I am like water poured out;
All my bones are racked
My heart has become like wax
melting away within my bosom.

My throat is dried up like baked clay,
my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
to the dust of death you have brought
me down.
(Psalm 22:15-16)

The Cross is Difficult But Also Sweet and Easy

The cross is a symbol of suffering and death as well as victory.  The cross, in so many ways, is reflective of life – both its agonies and its ecstasies.  For the person of faith, despite all the suffering, it is ultimately both the symbol and cause of victory.  In recent months the cross, my brothers, has never been more difficult or sweeter to me.

My spiritual journey goes back for many years.  But it did not really begin to take shape until I learned, with my heart as well as my mind, who Jesus is and what is expected of me.  The answers to these two questions came over a period of time, through study of the Scriptures, prayer, exchanges with my fellow priests – and my ministerial experiences – but especially through prayer and the Scriptures.  It is both the discovery and the internalization of the answer to those two questions that have given me the strength to carry the cross that Jesus has given me the privilege to share with him.

My brothers, I am in the midst of this “letting go.”  It is like the cross: Sometimes it is sweet and easy, sometimes very difficult.  My faith is unwavering.  It shapes my mind and will and keeps me on the right track.  But human emotions can be quite fickle, as all of you so well know.  But there is no reason to hide those emotions.  In no way is there a contradiction between them and our faith and trust.

God, my Redeemer, I may not yet have had direct
experience of this “third fall,” but I know others

who have.  Give me the strength I need to keep 
getting up, even as I learn how to let go.  May your
Spirit guide me along the way that leads to peace.
Amen.

We are Created For the Light of God’s Love

If you accept the Lord’s peace into your hearts, the darkness will not be able to overwhelm you.  There is nothing that you and God cannot face together.  God’s love revealed in Jesus is the most powerful force the universe will ever know.  All the heartbreak, misery, and suffering cannot overcome his love.  Reach for it!  Accept it into your heart!

God, my Savior, deepen my faith and trust in your
love for me.  I believe that, with your help, I can
face any obstacle on my pilgrim way.  But that does
not mean that I have lost all my fears, lack of
confidence, and anxiety.  So please be patient with me,
and give me the strength I need each day.
Amen.

God Will Never Abandon Us

Meaghan was as lost as a little four-year-old could possibly be.  Shopping for Christmas dinner was turning out to be an unhappy affair!  Her daddy had warned her about being too slow, but she had dawdled by the frozen food case – she wanted to see her breath – and spent at least five minutes in the cereal aisle trying to read the back of a Cap’n Crunch box.  By the time she skipped into the produce department, her father was nowhere in sight.  So she sat down by the bananas and began to cry.

When a stock boy asked her what was wrong, she repeated her name, address, and telephone number – just as her daddy had taught her to do if she ever got lost.  It wasn’t as good as seeing her father, but it made her feel better.  By the time she finally saw him running around the corner, she had repeated her name, address, and telephone number to the produce manager, three stock boys, a cashier, and four senior citizens.

When she saw her daddy, her courage melted like the chocolate bar she had been given by the store manager.  Her father picked her up in his strong arms and said, “Meaghan, princess, I’m sorry I lost you!”  And Meaghan, through her tears, sobbed, “Daddy, I’m sorry you lost me, too!”

Everyone laughed and applauded.  And then her father promised he would never lose her again – and you know, he never did!  Daddies are like that.

Basically, that is the promise that our Heavenly Father makes to us.  He promises us, here and now, once and forever, that he will never abandon us.  Think about that!  The Lord will never lose us.

His promise is not theoretical, pious, or superficial.  It’s real.  It’s living.  And it’s made to you and me.

His promise, his word, takes flesh and dwells among us.  We know him by many names and titles.  Jesus, Immanuel – God is with us now and always.  Jesus – the one sent to save us from our sins.

Why is this such good news?  Because, like Meaghan, like the generations of Christians who have preceded us, we are the people who seek the face of God.  Left to ourselves, we find that we are nothing, powerless, helpless, empty, parched with thirst, racked with hunger for something more.

Our age is no different from others in this regard.  But the hunger and thirst for something more – something deeper, something that gives meaning and focus to our busy lives – may have become more intense for us.  And this is as it should be, for, as Saint Augustine observed so insightfully, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

Heavenly Father, it is consoling to know that you
will never lose or abandon any of your children.  As
I meditate on the Ninth Station of the Cross, I have
a deeper sense of the significance of this assurance.
When my heart is restless, I know now why this is
so: because the rest, the peace, I seek can be found
only in you.
Amen.

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