Stations Of The Cross

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 15 — The Resurrection, by Joan Chittister

April 16, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Perhaps the most difficult – even spiritually dangerous – dimension of the Stations of the Cross is that lacking a sense or slightest awareness of resurrection, they leave the Christian standing at the edge of the tomb.  Numb, lost.  Bereft.  Without a single thought of what comes next.  And all of that despite the fact that Christians are not meant to be the people of the cross; Christians are the people of the empty tomb.  We are alleluia people, Augustine writes, and alleluia is our cry.  Perhaps that’s true, theologically so.  But it is not the final emotional impression of those whose immersion in the life of Jesus centers around the crucifixion in the Stations of the Cross [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 14 — Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb, by Joan Chittister

April 15, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Death is not a single action; it is many actions overlapping that haunt, plague, empty the soul of every strand of life and all at the same time.  It is a time of mixed emotions.  There is a relief that comes when the suffering ends.  The one we love cannot be hurt again.  And that is good. But now the focus shifts from them to us.  Everything that was glorious and challenging, uplifting, and meaningful in life has ended.  What is there left for us in life now?  Is there the means to go on?  And if the means is present, is there yet the will to go on, the energy the down-deep care of even beginning to go on again? There is the sense of weightlessness, the thought that life comes down [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 13 — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joan Chittister

April 14, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Now when it is finally, irrevocably over, when there is nothing left to do but to admit the loss, the inevitability of reality takes over.  Faith is bruised.  Hope is gone.  The door to yesterday has clanged shut and we are forever bereft of whole segments of our life.  We are alone – the worst word in the English language has descended on our shoulders.  And suddenly we begin to realize how limited we ourselves have always been but only now had to admit.  We are not meant to be alone. The insight crushes us to the ground.  Where is the rest of me, if not in a coffin of pain in the front of the world, never to be able to hide again? The realization that death eclipses time, that it alone [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 12 — Jesus Dies On The Cross, by Joan Chittister

April 13, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience What is worse than the actual event of death is the awareness of the degree of loss that comes with it.  Simply announcing that someone has had “a peaceful death” does nothing to damp the pain of it.  When the death is a violent one, the deprivation – the sense of having been able to do nothing to have stopped the pain – burrows down into the center of the soul dark and endless. Violent death, natural or not, haunts us at night and plagues us during the day.  It stops time at the moment before the loss.  It suspends us in an orbit of pain.  Now what? What can possibly fix the lives that are left to mourn the dead who die out of time and at the hands of the uncaring, the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 11 — Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross, by Joan Chittister

April 7, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience The words, Jesus is nailed to the cross, trip lightly off the tongue.  Not to worry.  After all, it’s Jesus on this cross, and God will take care of him, we think.  Or to put it another way, the whole event has taken on the character of play acting: It’s Jesus – who is God – and so the pain of it really doesn’t hurt him.  It’s not the real thing.  The humanity of Jesus is forgotten and the cross becomes more symbol than real. The problem is that, as a result of that kind of spiritual trivialization at the eleventh station, we stand to lose the very meaning of the moment.  As if our crosses are “real” but Jesus’s crosses are not and so there is [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 10 — Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments, by Joan Chittister

April 4, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience There is something about the thought of being stripped naked in public that is particularly chilling.  Clothing, after all, makes us what we are: the professional, the academic, the official, the hard-working, the accomplished, the stylish, the straight-forward, the credible.  Without clothing, the very notion of personage disappears.  Once stripped, there is no dignity left.  There is no status, no solemnity, no real person left to see. It is a devastating thought: George Washington, naked.  Teresa of Avila, naked.  Thomas Merton, naked.  Dorothy day, naked.  Nelson Mandela, naked.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, naked.  We wince and turn away.  It is simply too much to imagine: the great, [...]

SAINTS: Leonard Of Port Maurice:— Promoter Of The Way Of The Cross, by Greg Friedman

April 4, 2017

From: Lent With The Saints Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102:2-3, 16-18-21; John 8:21-30 Today’s First Reading, with the sign of the bronze serpent lifted up to cure snakebitten Israelites in the desert, parallels Jesus’s statement in the Gospel that when he is “lifted up” on the cross all will recognize him and his mission from the Father.  These passages put me in mind of the popular Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross. In recent years the Holy Father has led the Way of the Cross during Holy Week at the Colosseum in Rome.  This annual custom would have pleased the great Franciscan preacher Leonard of Port Maurice.  In the eighteenth century he set up Stations of the Cross in 572 locations in various parts of Italy, [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 9 — Jesus Falls The Third Time, by Joan Chittister

April 1, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience There is something about the taste of failure that damps the spirit.  But when the failure comes time after time, as it does in this ninth station when, having already fallen twice, Jesus falls again, then the very marrow of a person’s soul is frozen in place.  What is the use? we say.  Why bother? we begin to wonder. At these moments, there are parts of life that die in us.  Our dreams wither a bit.  What we had hoped to be able to do has come undone.  What we had planned for years to do is no longer in the realm of the possible, we think.  Everything we were sure we could do alone, could do at all, could do maybe as well as anyone else if not better, has come to dust. Then, there is [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 8 — Jesus Meets The Weeping Women Of Jerusalem, by Joan Chittister

March 30, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience This station we understand in this day and age only too well.  In a digital world people fall in and out of favor too quickly for us to remember their names – if we have even had enough time to learn them in the first place.  Social media and entertainment sites update with glee the list of public figures – politicians, entertainers, artists, scions – who have fallen from public grace.  They tell us from one day to another who’s out and who’s in, who’s up and who’s down.  If we never understood the truth of what past generations have taught us about the vulnerability of a person’s public image, we know it now as never before.  The messages they gave us were [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 7 — Jesus Falls The Second Time, by Joan Chittister

March 25, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience The problem with life is that it never really gets resolved.  What’s more, the same issue that tested our mettle the first time we attempted it leaves us in doubt that we should ever attempt it again.  The things that confuse us the first time we deal with them are just as likely to make us wonder about them the second time around as well.  Certainty is a chimera.  All we really know for sure is that what we did last time in dealing with a problem either did or didn’t work.  Will the same thing work again?  Who knows? This station touches the deepest part of that truth.  Faced with something that bested us the last time we met it, the whole thought of dealing with it again can [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 6 — Veronica Wipes The Face Of Jesus, by Joan Chittister

March 22, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience The story of Veronica, whose act of compassion left the wounded face of Jesus imprinted on the veil with which she wiped his bleeding face, is a mixture of tradition, legend, and devotions that developed over the centuries from one end of Europe to another. There is no ascertainable historical accuracy attached to any of the tellings, let alone to any of the “veils” themselves, but there is a great deal of spiritual truth to be recognized here.  The truth is that nothing we do for the suffering other ever goes unnoticed or unnoted.  The kindness we bring to great moments of pain and grief marks us and lasts forever not only in the heart of the person whose pain we assuage but in our [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 5 — Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross, by Joan Chittister

March 18, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience The fifth station confronts a rigidly stratified world with the great crossover moments of life.  What are we supposed to do when we find ourselves face to face with something no one wants to get involved in but what we also know must be done?  It’s more common a problem than we like to think. You and I, for instance, come to realize that two children in our block are living with their homeless mother in a car.  What do we do: Forget about it and hope some agency will come along and deal with the problem?  Call the police?  Find a tiny efficiency apartment and pay the rent for a year?  Join an organization that concentrates on finding shelter for homeless people?  Obviously it [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 4 — Jesus Meets His Mother, by Joan Chittister

March 15, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience This fourth station is a life lesson far beyond either the dull or dour particulars of life.  This station is about the place of love in life. It is one thing to have zest enough for the future; it is valiant to recognize reality and to embrace it with spirit.  But it is something else entirely to find ourselves alone in the midst of the painful but defining moments of life – birth, death, castigation, humiliation, failure, and rejection.  With love we can do anything, even the clouded parts of life, so tenebrous but at the same time so necessary, so commonplace.  But without love, we can only die long before death takes us. Even in the Stations of the Cross we find this comment on human need [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 3 — Jesus Falls The First Time, by Joan Chittister

March 10, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Somehow or other, a kind of “bread and circuses” approach to life has begun to permeate modern society.  Everything we do is about winning something or measuring one person against another or garnering goods in great quantity, not because we need them but in order that others can’t have them.  We make life one great competition, a win-lose situation, a measuring stick by which we parade our value to others and, saddest of all, use those same things to convince ourselves of our own value.  As if what we get outside of ourselves is any measure whatsoever, any indicator at all of what is at the soul of us internally. We dedicate our lives to collecting things that have little or [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 2 — Jesus Takes Up His Cross, by Joan Chittister

March 8, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Who does not understand this second station of the cross?  Who is it that cannot feel the depth of the emotional anguish that goes with it?  In fact, who has not lived through it themselves in some way, somehow in life?  After all, the unpredictable burdens of life are part and parcel of being alive.  Difficulties are everywhere and at every level of existence: The relationship ends, the friends go, the success goes to someone else, the illness comes on quickly and fells us without warning. Clearly, there are some things we simply cannot avoid.  These things disappoint us, of course.  They bear down on our lives in very real ways.  They change us, sometimes for life.  They try us to the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 1 — Jesus Is Condemned To Death, by Joan Chittister

March 1, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience The look on the face of Jesus in McKenzie’s rendering of the first station says it all: Accused, judged, and condemned Jesus stands totally undone, emotionally drained, more by the charges against him than by any act of physical violence.  Here, in this first station, we see what actually happens to the person who is publicly incriminated by a system that is clearly arrayed against him.  It is one of those rush-to-judgment moments when no one really bothers to ask or let alone to listen to your own explanation of circumstances or your understanding of it or even your distance from the issue at hand. It is as much a shocking time as it is a sad one.  This moment is about the accusal of the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Introduction, by Joan Chittister

February 28, 2017

From: The Way Of The Cross Every journey through life is a deeply personal and forever unpredictable one.  No two of us ever do it in quite the same way.  Except for one thing: However stable our circumstances, however solid our formation, however fortuitous both our beginnings and our immediate circumstances, we are all of us at the mercy of change and beholden to the fragility of time. The bends and curves of personal experience move back and forth in seamless fashion between the startling luminance of life at one moment to the dark night of the soul at the next.  On one day, life, it seems, is unambiguous.  Everything has been settled once and for all.  The job is secure, the marriage is firm, the house is in the right place, the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Concluding Prayer, by Henri Nouwen

April 4, 2015

From Walk With Jesus Dear Jesus, You once were condemned; you are still being condemned.  You once carried your cross; you are still carrying your cross.  You once died; you are dying still.  You once rose from the dead; you are still rising from the dead. I look at you, and you open my eyes to the ways in which your passion, death, and resurrection are happening among us every day.  But within me there is a deep fear of looking at my own world.  You say to me: “Do not be afraid to look, to touch, to heal, to comfort, and to console.”  I listen to your voice, and, as I enter more deeply into the painful, but also hope-filled lives of my fellow human beings, I know that I enter more deeply into your heart. My fears, dear [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fifteen — Jesus Rises From The Dead, by Henri Nouwen

April 3, 2015

From Walk With Jesus The Indian people of South America radiate deep inner joy and peace.  The straw crosses they have woven symbolize their hardships and struggles.  The long palm leaves that they flourish manifest their sense of victory and triumph.  Yes, there is sadness, but gladness too.  Yes, there is grief, but joy as well.  Yes, there is fear, but also love.  Yes, there is hard work, but celebration follows.  And, yes, there is death, but also resurrection. The smiles breaking through the weathered faces of the women and men walking in procession speak of a deep faith in the resurrection.  It is a faith that not only trusts that life is stronger than death, but also offers a foretaste of the joy that will last forever. [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourteen — Jesus Is Laid Into The Grave, by Henri Nouwen

April 2, 2015

From Walk With Jesus Ayoung Salvadoran woman stands in front of the casket that holds the body of her cruelly executed husband.  She stands alone near the grave into which the casket will be lowered.  Her eyes are closed, her arms folded across her body.  She stands there barefoot, poor, empty. . . but very still.  A deep quiet surrounds her.  No shouts of grief, no cries of protest, no angry voices.  It seems as if this young widow is enveloped in a cloud of peace.  All is over, all is quiet, all is well.  Everything has been taken away from her, but the powers of greed and violence that robbed her of her lover can’t reach that deep solitude of her heart.  In the background stand her friends and neighbors.  They form a [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Thirteen — Jesus Is Taken From The Cross, by Henri Nouwen

April 1, 2015

From Walk With Jesus In December 1980, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel were brutally murdered on the road between the airport and San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador.  They had been stopped by Salvadoran security forces as they returned to their home after a short stay outside of the country.  They were raped, tortured, and killed, and their bodies thrown into a common grave dug in a cow pasture.  What was their crime?  They had cared for the poor of El Salvador.  They had tried to bring food and medicine to the people who had been driven from their homes and villages and were trying to survive in isolated mountain areas.  These four faithful, hardworking churchwomen had no other desire than to [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Twelve — Jesus Dies On The Cross, by Henri Nouwen

March 31, 2015

From Walk With Jesus Death, destruction, and annihilation surround us on all side.  Much, if not most, of the Earth’s resources are used in the service of death.  The war industries eat up huge amounts of the national income of many countries.  The stockpile of conventional and nuclear weapons increases day by day, and whole economies have become dependent on the ever-increasing production of lethal materials.  Many universities, research institutions, and think-tanks receive their financial support from warmakers.  Millions of people earn their daily living by turning out products which, if ever used, could only produce death. But the power of death is much more subtle and pervasive than these explicitly brutal forces of [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eleven — Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross, by Henri Nouwen

March 30, 2015

From Walk With Jesus ASudanese man is dying.  He is alone.  He has no name.  He is one of the many dying in a large hospital.  He is number 42.  The intravenous tube is like his last lifeline.  But it won’t save him.  All his strength is gone.  His thin arms and emaciated shoulders reveal how far spent he is.  Everyone around him knows that his last hours have come.  He, too, knows it, but he is not afraid.  Life has not been easy for him.  It has been a life of poverty, many battles, and few victories. He was afraid of sickness and pain.  But he is at peace with the knowledge that it soon will be over. People are dying every day, every hour, every minute.  They die suddenly or slowly.  They die on the streets of big [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Ten — Jesus Is Stripped, by Henri Nouwen

March 27, 2015

From Walk With Jesus The woman in a hospital ward in Kathmandu has nothing but a blanket to cover her aging body.  Her long life of work in the fields and caring for her husband and children has come down to a naked, anonymous existence.  Her life, once filled with joyful sounds and colorful movements, now has fallen silent.  Where is the husband who honored her, and the children who gave her joy and pleasure?  Where are the neighbors who came for her advice?  Where the rivers with their sonorous rapids and the hills bedecked with greens and flowers in the spring?  Everyone and everything has been stripped away from her.  One day some strangers came to her village and brought her to the city hospital and locked the door of the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Nine — Jesus Falls For The Third Time, by Henri Nouwen

March 26, 2015

From Walk With Jesus A man stumbles and falls to the ground.  He is so weak and filled with pain that he cannot get back on his feet without help.  As he lies there powerless, he reaches out and opens his hands, hoping that another hand will grasp his and help him to stand again.  A hand waits for the touch of another hand.  The human hand is so mysterious.  It can create and destroy, caress and strike, make welcoming gestures and condemning signs; it can bless and curse, heal and wound, beg and give.  A hand can become a threatening fist as well as a symbol of safety and protection.  It can be most feared and most longed for. One of the most life-giving images is that of human hands reaching out to each other, touching each [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eight — Jesus Meets The Women Of Jerusalem, by Henri Nouwen

March 25, 2015

From Walk With Jesus The Nicaraguan women weep over the destruction of their people, their land, and their homes.  Their children, whom they nursed and brought up with tenderness and affection, suddenly lie dead before them.  Their husbands, with whom they shared life’s hardness and beauty, are suddenly taken away to unknown destinations.  Their land is ruined, their crops burned, their houses bombed.  And so they weep.  Their tears are tears that well up from their innermost being.  There are no words, no explanations, no arguments, no meaningful reflections.  War, violence, murder, and destruction need tears, many tears.  The questions, “Why?  By Whom?  For what purpose?” have no answers. The world would be [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Seven — Jesus Falls For the Second Time, by Henri Nouwen

March 24, 2015

From Walk With Jesus The poor farmer in Brazil is completely exhausted.  He has worked on the land for hours, days, weeks, and months to earn enough for himself and his family to have a decent meal.  But after many years of hard labor nothing has improved.  The crops are poor because of the exhausted soil he has to work.  He cannot compete with those who can afford modern agricultural techniques to improve the land.  The money he receives for his produce is so little that he cannot even pay off the debt he has incurred to keep his wife and children alive.  And every year the situation gets worse.  He faces the possibility of having to leave his little farm and join the millions of poor in the slums around the large cities.  There [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Six — Jesus Meets Veronica, by Henri Nouwen

March 23, 2015

From Walk With Jesus Bring him home!”  That is the cry of the Filipino woman who holds in her hands a photograph of her “disappeared” husband.  Her eyes plead for compassion.  Her lips express deep grief.  Her face is full of expectation.  She says, “Do you see my pain, my anguish?. . .  The one I most love has disappeared.  There is no second of my days or nights that is not filled with the anguish created by his sudden going.  Where is he?  In prison?  Being tortured?  Dead or alive?  Please answer me!  If he is dead, tell me where his grave is so that I can go and weep there.  You people of world!  Listen to me!  Look at me!  Please answer!” This Filipino woman represents thousands of [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Five — Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross, by Henri Nouwen

March 20, 2015

From Walk With Jesus Two men are working together in Bangladesh to build their small huts.  These huts are very simple, made of mud, bamboo, rocks, and jute sticks, but they are places where poeple can have a sense of home and live together under a protective roof.  As I look at these two men carrying together their heavy load of rocks, I am struck by the harmony of their bodies.  It seems almost as if they are dancing.  Their heavy load seems to become a light burden, a basket of fruit. As I think of the highly competitive society in which I live, in which land gets more expensive day by day and in which developers build rows of houses to be sold for half a million dollars each, I feel a certain envy toward these [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Four — Jesus Meets Mary, by Henri Nouwen

March 19, 2015

From Walk With Jesus ANicaraguan woman who lost her son in the war is filled with deep sorrow, but she does not faint.  She looks me straight in the eyes with an immense confidence that there is victory beyond death. I vividly remember meeting the mothers of slain Nicaraguan farmers in Jalapa, a small town close to the Honduran border.  I was with a group of North Americans who felt co-responsible for the war whose victims these farmers had become.  One of us asked them, “Can you forgive us for the violence you and your family have suffered?”  There was a long silence. . . but then one of the women said with a strong voice, “Yes, we forgive you,” and the others repeated her words, “Yes, we forgive [...]