Stations Of The Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Three — Jesus Falls For The First Time, by Henri Nouwen

From Walk With Jesus Alittle Vietnamese boy is left behind.  Why?  Maybe his parents were killed, abducted, or put in camps.  Maybe they tried to escape from the enemy and got caught in an ambush.  Maybe they were boat people who drowned,.  Maybe, maybe. . . but their child is left alone.  As I look into these eyes gazing into an empty future, I see the eyes of millions of children crushed by the powers of darkness.  This small, tender child needs to be held, needs to be hugged, kissed, cuddled.  He needs to feel the strong, loving hands of his father, hear the tender words of his mother, and see the eyes of those who say: “How beautiful you are.”  Where will this boy be safe?  Where will he know that he is truly [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Two — Jesus Carries His Cross, by Henri Nouwen

From Walk With Jesus A young Guatemalan carries a heavy load of wood.  The wood is for coffins to bury the Indian men who have been kidnapped, murdered, and found dead on the side of the road, or to bury the children who could not survive the diseases that touched them as soon as they were born.  It happened many years ago when the international press reported it with great indignation.  It happens still today when the subject is no longer newsworthy and remains hidden from the eyes of the world. Young men are murdered with guns, knives, and electric prods.  Small children die from malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of care.  Day after day, violence and poverty bring death to the little villages of Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: One — Jesus Is Condemned, by Henri Nouwen

From Walk With Jesus A man behind bars. He is condemned to death. He is put in the category of the “damned.” He is no longer considered worthy to live. He has become the enemy, the rebel, the outsider, a danger to society. He has to be put away, cut out of the communal life. Why?  Because he is different.  He is black, and blacks are dangerous.  He is gay, and gays are perverts.  He is a Jew, and Jews cannot be trusted.  He is a refugee, and refugees are threats to our economy.  He is an outsider, saying what we do not want to hear, and reminding us of what we would rather forget.  He upsets our well-ordered lives.  He tears aside the veil that covers our impurities and breaks down the walls that keep us safely [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourteenth Station — Jesus Christ Is Laid In The Sepulcher, by Evelyn Underhill

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier Death as the Gate of Life It is surely the strangest, least-to-be guessed-at paradox of the spiritual life, that Wisdom’s path should lead – so far as our poor vision may trace it – not to those hard-won heights of the spirit which are reached by the bridge of the cross, but back again to the bosom of Earth, our mother.  Earth to earth.  Not even those courageous souls who aspire to the final, utmost transmutation – who have paid the dreadful price of their adoption as hidden sons of God – escape this. Humility, the law of the cross, sees to it that we find our level: that death be tasted in its fullness by every postulant of life.  Those who attempt [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Thirteenth Station — Jesus Christ Is Laid In The Arms Of His Mother, by Evelyn Underhill

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Embraced by Human Love It has been said by a great preacher that “Jesus dead in the arms of Mary is the central fact of the world’s tragedy.”  Here we see it at last in its results – what, left to ourselves, we would do to Perfection if he would let us: the foolish cruelty, the destructive instincts of the separated human will apart from grace, from God. Yet poignant though this picture be, terrible in its revealing power, perhaps it were truer to say that this cradling of the dead Christ in the arms of his human mother is the “central fact” which brings to a point the highest honor that humanity has yet attained. Upon my flowery [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Twelfth Station — Jesus Christ Dies Upon The Cross, by Evelyn Underhill

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Declares His Plan to Men The mediaeval illuminators were accustomed to draw the Tree of the Cross growing out of the Heart of God.  It bore seven roses; and in each rose was written the word, Love.  In the midst of this divine inflorescence, Perfect Love hung and suffered for the salvation of men: as he may be felt, seen, and known by his lovers, hanging, suffering, dying every day.  On every Christian altar we exhibit, not only the drama of faith, but this eternal process of the world. It is plain, then, that this process must also be the process of the soul’s initiation.  It is a death process; and a death not of the body alone.  We are [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eleventh Station — Jesus Christ Is Nailed To The Cross, by Evelyn Underhill

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Bound by Love to His World The cross, says Traherne, “is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that illuminateth all the world.  The flame is love; the love in his bosom who died on it.  In the light of which we see how to possess all the things in Heaven and Earth after his similitude.” God’s way of possessing us, then, is to give himself for us: and thus only, by self-giving in the interests of life, can we possess all things after his similitude.  We, stretching ourselves gladly on the rood of the world, receive that world as our eternal heritage.  “To give all for love is a most sweet bargain.”  It is the bargain struck [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Tenth Station — Jesus Christ Is Stripped Of His Garments, by Evelyn Underhill

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Mysteries of the Eternal Wisdom Given into the Hands of His Foes “They parted his garments amongst them” – visible creation, which is the vesture of God.  The scientist and the artist snatched their share.  The lover took the inner-most garment for himself.  But they left the Eternal Wisdom, whose veils these things had been – who, robed in them, had gladly shared the meanest life of men – to sacrifice himself for them alone: unloved by them. It has been said that man shall not behold God in his nakedness, and live.  Even the manifestation of the Word was under the veil of the flesh.  The Uncreated Light reaches us – such a glimpse as we are [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Ninth Station — Jesus Christ Falls For The Third Time, by Evelyn Underhill

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Shares the Utmost Weakness of His World There are four steps, says Richard of Saint Victor, upon that steep stairway of love by which the soul climbs up to its home in the heart of Reality.  Their ascent involves a transmutation of that soul: a purging and readjustment of its qualities, that it may live and breathe in the rarefied air of the heights. The last, the most astonishing of these changes, that which heralds our actual attainment of God, he declares to be a complete humiliation, a glad and willing conformity to the ineffable lowliness of Christ.  Suddenly, unexpectedly, the soul that was almost transmuted in the image of God is here [...]

PRAYER: Stations Of The Cross, by Jon M. Sweeney

From Almost Catholic “Oh dear, it’s very difficult being a Catholic.” “Does it make much difference to you?” “Of course. All the time.” “Well, I can’t say I’ve noticed it. Are you struggling against temptation? You don’t seem much more virtuous than me.” “I’m very, very much wickeder.” (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited) One of the most tenacious of Catholic devotions, the Stations of the Cross are usually represented as a series of fourteen pictures or sculptures hanging at eye level that represent the scenes of Jesus’s final hours, from his condemnation by Pilate to the placing of his body in the tomb.  Walking them in a church or outdoors or (God, please, one day) in Jerusalem on the path [...]