stations of the cross

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 14 Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb by Caryll Houselander

March 31, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Every birth of Christ into this world is in one sense a parting from his mother.  It must be so.  Now he is lifted from her arms by his disciples and made ready for his burial. His burial is like his birth.  When he was born his mother was in a strange city, she was not in Nazareth in the little home that she had prepared for him.  She had with her some swaddling bands to wrap him in; the beautiful little garments she had been weaving for him were left at home.  She did not know, when she and Joseph set out for Bethlehem, that years would pass before they could return, or that the wooden cradle that Joseph had made for him with such love and care, such scrupulous craftsmanship, would never be used by him [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 13 Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross by Caryll Houselander

March 28, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  While the soldiers divided Christ’s garments among them and cast lots for his seamless cloak, Mary, his mother, she who had woven that beautiful cloak “from the top throughout,” came with other holy women and stood at the foot of the cross.  “So it was, then, that the soldiers occupied themselves; and meanwhile his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen, had taken their stand beside the cross of Jesus,” (John 19:24-25). She had followed him through the narrow streets of Jerusalem as one of the crowd.  He did not speak to her in the crowd as he did to the women who wept over him; neither did he then give her a visible sign of his love as he did to Saint Veronica when he [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 12 Jesus Dies On The Cross by Caryll Houselander

March 27, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  At last the road to Calvary is trodden, and now it lies behind Jesus, who has gone up the mountainside for the last time, and been stripped of his garments and lifted up on the cross.  Now from the cross, before his eyes are darkened, he can look back down that road which is indeed an image of the road through life of all those who will come after him. On that road he has known those things which every Christian, everyone who follows him, must know too on the journey between birth and death.  He has known pain, exhaustion, apparent failure, shame.  But it has not only been tragedy.  He has known, too, the blessed dependence of a man upon other men; he has been helped by them and accepted their help; he has [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 11 Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross by Caryll Houselander

March 23, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  There was an hour of terrible darkness at the beginning of his Passion, when Christ was overwhelmed by the anticipation of the suffering he was to go through, when the vision of the evil for which he was to bear the shame overwhelmed him, and the utter loneliness in which he must face and accept the anguish of spirit that seemed to be beyond human endurance crushed him to the ground.  Those whom he loved, for whom he was going to accept this dreadful suffering and death, could not stay awake to share his anguish with him, to give him even the support of their sympathy. Three times on the way to Calvary his body failed  him.  Even that tremendous will of love which enabled him to accept the Passion after his [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 10 Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments by Caryll Houselander

March 20, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Once more Jesus has been helped to his feet, in order that he may suffer to the end.  Once more the cross has been put upon his shoulders and he struggles on, still dragging it up to the summit of Calvary. All around him, filling his ears, filling his mind, half deafening him, the cries of the crowd break over him like the waves of a sea in storm, a sea in which it would seem impossible not to be drowned.  They are cries of derision, of hatred, of disappointment, of despair, despair with a note of accusation against him; cries of contempt; cries which could, and would, drown the soul of any man who loved less than he loves, who knew less of human nature than he knows. These people, who are disillusioned, [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 9 Jesus Falls The Third Time by Caryll Houselander

March 16, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  At last the pitiful procession has reached the foot of Calvary.  Once more Christ is to go up into a mountain, this time for the last time. Here he is at last at the end of the Via Crucis, at the foot of the mountain, and with him Simon of Cyrene, the stranger who is sharing the weight of his cross; the two thieves who were led out with him, one on each side; and surrounding them, holding the crowds back with their spears and goading the condemned men to the last lap, the steep climb up the hillside, the soldiers of the army of occupation, unwittingly playing their mysterious part in the redemption of the world by carrying out what is for them simply routine duty, obeying orders without question, today as on [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 8 Jesus Speaks To The Women Of Jerusalem by Caryll Houselander

March 13, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Now Christ is followed by a great multitude of people, among them women who mourn over him, who weep loud for him.  A strange thing happens.  He turns to them and says, “It is not for me that you should weep, daughters of Jerusalem; you should weep for yourselves and for your children”: strange because at first sight it seems that he, who accepts every straw of compassion with pathetic gratitude, refuses the brave, open compassion of these women!  It is, or seems to be, a contradiction; it is not like him to refuse anything from anyone. We have seen how until now, and indeed all through his passion, he has accepted the compassion of anyone at all who would give it to him, accepting even the forced helped [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 7 Jesus Falls The Second Time by Caryll Houselander

March 8, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Hardly has Veronica wiped the dirt from his face than Christ is down in the dust again.  He has fallen under the heavy load of the cross! How different it is in reality to the picture on the wall!  There Christ seem rather to be genuflecting under the cross than falling under it; he bows his head, certainly, but hardly a hair is out of place; his robes, the snowy white tunic and the scarlet cloak, are still clean and are not torn. The reality, that which happened two thousand years ago and the reality which happens in the lives of those in whom Christ lives today, is not like that.  Christ is thrown down onto the ground, his face in the dust; he is unable to get up until others come forward to heave the cross [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 6 Veronica Wipes The Face Of Jesus by Caryll Houselander

March 6, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Now, while Simon labors under the cross with Jesus, while Mary, his mother, follows behind him in the crowd, someone – a woman – forces her way through the rabble, even through the guard of Roman soldiers surrounding him, and comes face-to-face with Christ.  She is driven by compassion. The face that the Lord turns to her is terrible to look on; it is difficult to believe that it is the face of the Son of God.  It is difficult even for those who have once seen his face shining with the brilliance of a fire of snow upon Tabor to believe in him now.  Two of them have fled from him, just as those others have done though they have seen him command the wind and the waves and raise the dead. Now that face of [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 5 Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross by Caryll Houselander

March 1, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Jesus has come face-to-face with his mother and gone on his way. Now his mother is following him as one of the crowd.  How often she, who of all people is dear to him, has been among the crowd following him, glad even to catch a glimpse of him and to hear his voice in the distance! He is laboring under his cross.  It is too much for him to carry alone.  Everyone can see that, but no one offers to help him.  Someone, then, must be forced.  The soldiers seize upon Simon of Cyrene.  It has, or he thinks it has, nothing to do with him.  He was simply about his own business in Jerusalem.  It seems to him mere chance that he met this tragic procession – an unlucky chance for him, but there it is!  He is [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 4 Jesus Meets His Blessed Mother by Caryll Houselander

February 27, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Jesus is on his feet again, once more he starts on his way.  As he lifts his bowed head and looks at the road he is to tread, he comes face to face with his mother. It is not by chance that she meets him at this  moment, just as he falls and struggles to his feet again.  She sees that which no one else in that crowd sees, the tiny child taking his first unsteady steps and falling on the garden path in Nazareth.  She is there beside him, holding her breath, longing to put out her hands to hold him, to prevent the fall, but she lets him go alone, the little child whose independence she must respect, her son who must learn to walk on his own feet, and to walk away from her. For his mother, those first steps of [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 3 Jesus Falls The First Time by Caryll Houselander

February 22, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  At the very first step of the way to Calvary, Jesus stumbles and falls.  He is down on his knees in the dirt! What has happened to this man?  This man who had just now declared himself to be king of a spiritual world with legions of angels at his command, who has been known to hold back the overwhelming force of the storm and still the raging seas by an act of his will, who by a mere touch of his hand caused a living fig tree to wither, and has fallen now under the purely material weight of the cross he so lately welcomed! Only a few moments ago he held out his arms to receive it, seemingly with joy.  Now, at the very first shock of its weight on his shoulder, he has fallen! The crowd thronging outside the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 2 Jesus Receives His Cross by Caryll Houselander

February 20, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  They have put his own garments on him again, and Jesus comes out from the judgment hall of Pilate to receive his cross. He comes to it gladly!  This is a strange thing, for the cross is a symbol of shame, and it is to be his deathbed.  Already he sees the very shape of his death in the wide-spread arms.  From this moment he will be inseparable from it, until he dies on it.  He will labor and struggle under the weight of it until the end comes.  Yet Christ welcomes the cross.  He embraces it, he takes it into his arms, as a man takes that which he loves into his arms.  He lays his beautiful hands on it tenderly, those strong hands of a carpenter that are so familiar with the touch of wood. This is not the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 1 Jesus Is Condemned To Death by Caryll Houselander

February 15, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  “Behold the man!” He is a man of sorrows.  He is covered in bruises and stripes.  He is made a laughing stock.  He is crowned with a crown of thorns.  A reed is put into his hand for a scepter, a tattered soldier’s cloak is thrown over his naked shoulders.  His eyes are blind-folded.  His face is covered with spittings.  He is bound like a dangerous criminal.  His own people have chosen a murderer before him.  His friends have forsaken him.  The kiss of treason burns on his cheek. “He has no comeliness whereby we shall desire him!” “He is a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people.” And he is condemned to death. “Away with him!  Away with him!  Crucify [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Via Crucis by Caryll Houselander

February 13, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Three o’clock on a grey afternoon.  Outside, a steady drizzle of rain; inside the church, an odd motley of people. A smartly dressed woman, side by side with one who is shabby and threadbare.  A boy and girl who appear to be in love.  A very old man, so bowed that he is permanently in an attitude of adoration.  A stalwart young soldier whose polished buttons glitter like gems in the candlelight.  A couple of students, shabbily but elegantly dressed in corduroys and bright scarves, rubbing shoulders with a gaunt, round-shouldered man who looks like a tramp.  A sprinkle of small children.  And behind them all, as if he felt himself to be the modern Publican, though there is no reason why he should, a [...]

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 [...]