Stations of the Cross

(Text from: Way of the Cross, Way of Reconciliation by Mark Neilsen)

 

 

OPENING PRAYER 
 

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, you gave your life to show us how completely, how absolutely we are loved. It was not a swift, easy death, but involved prolonged suffering. We recall that death today, not only to remind ourselves of your love, but to call to mind the sins for which you died. As we follow the way of your suffering and death, we ask you to open our hearts and help us see where we have failed, where we have caused suffering for you, for those around us and even for ourselves. We seek reconciliation with you and with one another, and so we prayerfully join you on your final journey.

   
First Station
 Jesus is condemned to death
 
Pilate had the authority to execute Jesus or set him free. Unable to find evidence against Jesus, he sentenced him to death and then publicly washed his hands of the whole business.
 
Reflection 
 
Have I condemned others to suffering, alienation and even death by my indifference or anger? Even though I believe people to be innocent, do I join the crowd to condemn them? Do I try to “wash my hands” of the consequences of my decisions, making excuses and pretending that it isn’t really my fault? Do I try to absolve myself and explain away my guilt instead of throwing myself on God’s mercy? For the times I have failed, Lord have mercy.
   

Second Station
Jesus takes up his cross.

 

Knowing what was in store for him, Jesus had to carry the instrument of his own suffering and death. Throughout his whole life, he embraced the pain and limitations of being human; now, for our sake, he would take onto himself the final trial of death on a cross.

 

Reflection

 
Do I accept the burdens, crosses and responsibilities of my life, or do I find little—and sometimes big—ways to get around them? Am I really willing to bear the cross of just being human, of always being dependent on my Creator? Do I thank God for what I have or grumble about what I lack? Am I a good steward of Creation itself, careful to protect the environment? For my lack of caring, Lord have mercy.
 
   
 

Third Station
Jesus falls for the first time

 

Under the weight of the cross, Jesus stumbles and falls hard to the ground. Despite the pain and growing weariness, he got up to continue on his way. 
 

Reflection

 

Do I get so discouraged by my failures that I want to give up? Do I try to force my self to be perfect and then hide my mistakes from others? Have I forgotten that failure is an inevitable part of my life? Am I willing to pray to ask God for the courage I need to get up and try again? For times I have slipped up, Lord have mercy.

   

Fourth Station
Jesus meets Mary

 

As their eyes met, Jesus saw the anguish of Mary’s heart. He did not turn away, even though he could not take away her pain, even though his death was part of the cause of her pain. Instead, he momentarily forgot his own suffering and tried to comfort her. 
 

Reflection

 

Am I willing to face my family and friends in their difficult times? Have I offered support to others or have I shielded myself from the sufferings around me? Do I cherish my parents, giving them respect and carrying out my responsibilities toward them? For the times I‘ve turned away, Lord have mercy.

 
   
 
Fifth Station
Simon is forced to carry Jesus’ cross
 
Humiliated and physically exhausted, Jesus accepted Simon’s help.
 
Reflection
 
Am I willing to accept the assistance of others with humility and gratitude, or do I resent the offer of help? When I see someone else in need, do I reach out to them or ignore their plight? Am I careful to offer help without acting superior? For the times pride got in the way, Lord have mercy.
   

Sixth Station
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

 

Dripping with sweat and blood, Jesus’ face showed the strain of his ordeal. Although it did not rescue him from his predicament, Veronica’s gesture brought him a moment of relief.

 

Reflection

 

Am I willing to do what I can to ease someone else’s suffering, or will I give up if I can’t “fix” everything for them? Do I try in small ways each day to be thoughtful of others, or have I been wrapped up lately in my own concerns? For my self-centeredness, Lord have mercy.

 
   
 

Seventh Station
Jesus falls a second time

 

Although Simon helped him and Veronica had just wiped his face for him, Jesus is overcome and stumbles again. 
 

Reflection

 

Have I taken good care of my own health? Do I treasure my life as a gift from God not to be selfishly abused? Am I careful to avoid those times and places I am tempted to repeat particular sins? For my cooperation with evil, Lord have mercy.

   

Eighth Station
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

 

Jesus encounters a group of ritual mourners and bluntly tells them, “Weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children.”

 

Reflection

 

Am I willing to tell the truth whenever necessary, even though it may hurt? Have my prayers and religious observances been genuine, and not just for show? For my insincerity, Lord have mercy.

 
   
Ninth Station
Jesus falls a third time
 
The third fall: suffering on top of suffering. Again the pain became unbearable and Jesus collapsed.
 
Reflection
 
Has the presence of evil in the world led me to become cynical? Do I make fun of other people and their values? Do! take my own faith for granted? Have I given regular attention to the praise and worship of God? For my lack of fidelity, Lord have mercy.
   

Tenth Station
Jesus is stripped of his clothing

 

As horrible as it is to imagine, Jesus’ clothing stuck to his open wounds. When they tore off his garments, knives of pain shot through his body. 
 

Reflection

 

Do I cling to my possessions, career, and friends, making them more important to me than Jesus? Have I been honest in my acquisition of the goods I have? Am I willing to be completely dependent on God for what! need most? For times I’ve put faith in idols, Lord have mercy.

 
   
Eleventh Station
Jesus is nailed to the cross
 
 
The Roman soldiers could have tied Jesus to the cross, but instead they nailed his hands and feet. With hardened hearts, they gave little thought to their cruelty. 
 

Reflection

 

Have I grown callous to others in my speech and actions? Have I come to accept human cruelty, no longer even being outraged by torture and murder? Do I engage in gossip about the misfortunes of others, or do I try to be a healing presence in the midst of tragedy? For my part in spreading pain, Lord have mercy.

   

Twelfth Station
Jesus dies on the cross

 

Jesus hung lifeless on the cross, having poured out the last of his vitality. He held back nothing, counted nothing more important than doing the will of God the Father. And he did it for us.
 

Reflection

 

Do I appreciate the life God has given me, or do I grow bitter with envy as I think about the possessions and relationships other people have? Can I see areas in my life where I hold back from God? Can I ask for the help to give my whole being in service to the Creator’s will? For my stubbornness, Lord have mercy.

 
   
 

Thirteenth Station
Jesus is taken off the cross

 

Stunned by all they had witnessed, the disciples took Jesus’ lifeless body down from the cross so it might no longer be subject to violation and scorn.
 

Reflection

 

Have I honored my promises and commitments? Have I done my share to uphold human dignity, even when it is unpopular to do so? Do I value all human life regardless of age, sex, race and other qualities? For my blindness, Lord have mercy.

   

Fourteenth Station
Jesus is laid in the tomb

 

With the stone rolled across the tomb opening, all was silent, finished. Those who had conspired against Jesus thought they had won the day. Those who had followed him thought all was lost. 
 

Reflection

 

Am I willing to hope even when everything seems to be lost? Do I call upon God in the worst of times and offer thanks in the best? Have I let Jesus into my heart and my actions? Do I practice the works of justice and mercy? For the hardness of my heart, Lord have mercy.

 
   

Final Prayer

 

Jesus, your Way of the Cross brought you to the silence of the tomb, but we know that was not the end. We also know that our sinfulness and shortcomings are not the last word, either. As the power of God raised you on the third day, we hope for a share in the salvation you won. Knowing fully what we would do and what we would fail to do, you offered yourself on the cross, For that we thank and praise you, and we come to you confidently asking for the gift of forgiveness. This we do in the name of God our Creator, Jesus our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier. Amen