A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Stations of the Cross for Christchurch

“I was profoundly affected by the story of a boy in a concentration camp during World War II. He was hung by the neck, but being so malnourished, his neck was not broken. He hung there, writhing in pain. A prisoner asked, ‘Where is God now?’ Something inside me replied, ‘He is there, hanging from a rope.’” (Elie Wiesel)

I believe that in New Zealand’s greatest natural disaster, on Tuesday 22 February, 2011, God was made real in each person who suffered, died or survived the earthquake.

The compassion of God was revealed in each person who helped another; who prayed for another; who wept with another. So when we ask God, “Were you there?” God will say, “I was.” Liz Pearce

The Prelude

Ground Me In Your Grace
Eternal One,
from whom my words come;
from whom my questions arise;
of whom all my loves are hints;
in whom alone I find rest;
in whose depths I find healing
and myself;
enfold me now in your presence;
restore me to your peace;
renew me through your power;
and ground me in your grace.
Ted Loder, “Guerillas Of Grace”


Station One
Jesus Prays in the Garden

Where are you now, God?
I sat and on the step with you and listened as you asked, “Why?” I held you. I sat on the step with you and listened as you asked, “Why not?” I strengthened you.

Agony in the garden

O God of shadows and of light, we reach out to you in our deepest need.
Do not let us be overwhelmed by doubt or fear, but come and walk beside us in every valley of darkness, our loving Father and constant comfort. Gemma Simmonds

For those who question what has happened; why it has happened; and what will happen next.
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Two
Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested

Where are you now, God?
I stood with you when your world changed forever. I embraced you as your safe and secure world disappeared. I listened as you wondered what would happen next.

Strength to Endure

Giver of Strength, firm up the wobbly legs of my faltering faith, reinforce my trust in you. Intensify my ability to not give up. With your grace I can remain faithful. No matter how powerless or hopeless I might feel, I can be a compassionate presence as I stand beneath the cross. Joyce Rupp

For those who feel cheated of life, of safety, of security, of a future
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Three
Jesus is Condemned

Where are you now, God?
I ran with you along a crumbling street. I encouraged you as you escaped from the window. I talked with you on your mobile phone. I held your hand as you waited.


God, I feel abandoned even by you.
I cry in the dark,
My pain seems endless.
I recall the trust placed in you by
people through the ages.
You have brought them comfort in the most difficult times.
Fear and pain make me feel that I am nothing.
Others seem to mock me;
they don’t see my despair.
Yet I know that you too have mothered me.
In my mother’s womb and at her
breast you have watched over me.
This loving closeness I need to feel,
now! Patricia Stevenson rsj

For those who are condemned to pain or injury or death by natural disaster
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Four
Jesus is Denied by Peter

Where are you now, God?

I am in your fear.
I am in your terror.
I am in your desire to flee.

The Pain of Peter

I felt what he felt,
The failing,
The pain,
Failing a friend
Denying his love,
Again and again and again.
I cried
When I saw Peter cry ...
And our crying was good.
Norman Habel

For those who are afraid.
For those who feel they failed
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Five
Jesus is Judged by Pilate

Where are you now, God?
I was beside you when the earthquake sentenced you to fear and grief.
I stood with you as you confronted injustice face to face.
I trembled with you as the sentence was pronounced.
Jesus stands surrounded yet alone.
Who will pray for him?
Who will pray for us?
Who will stand up for him?
Who will stand up for us?
Who but us.
And our God. Diana L. Hayes

For all those who experienced the earthquake
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Six
Jesus is Scourged

Where are you now, God?
I was the doctor who summoned the courage to amputate your legs in order to free you.
I am the anaesthetist who used all his knowledge to dull your pain.
I am the victim, full of fear and pain, full of trust and hope.

Set to the Music of Spheres

Pain is a partner I did not request;
This is a dance I did not ask to join;
whirled in a waltz when I would stop and rest.
Jolted and jerked, I ache in bone and loin.
Pain strives to hold me close in his embrace;
If I resist and try to pull away
His grasp grows tighter; closer comes his face;
hotter his breath.
If he is here to stay
Then must I learn to dance this painful dance,
Move to its rhythm, keeping my lagging feet
In time with his. Thus have I a chance
To work with pain, and so my pain defeat.
Pain is my partner. If I dance with pain
Then may this wedlock be not loss but gain. Madeleine L’Engle

For all those injured physically, psychologically, emotionally, financially by the earthquake
God in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

Station Seven
Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Where are you now, God?
I am the father who must now parent alone.
I am the children who grieve for their mother.
I am the compassion which unites them.

Did You Know?

Did you know
where you were going on Tuesday,
in the car, along the corridor and on to the bed?
Did you know
the world stopped in hearts and homes in places far from you
and that the trees of the forest became still?
Did you know
the branches of the kauri dripped with tears,
the rimu hung its head in grief
and the kahikatea shook in disbelief?
Did you know
how you inspired us
with tales from the farm and pictures in the sand?
Did you know
how much your help meant – collecting plants,
baiting a hook or making magic through a microscope?
Did you know
as the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves
carried you along on a tide of tears,
that your spirit was lifted to the treetops?
Did you know
that  your memory is raw in our –
your hands and face still vivid in our minds?
Did you know
we still look back with thanks
for all that you were, to each of us
in different ways?
Did you know
we miss you? Rod MacLeod

For all those who now carry unexpected burdens.
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Eight
Jesus is Helped by Simon of Cyrene

Where are you now, God?
I am the ten thousand students mobilised to help the Civil Defence.
I am the firemen carrying a
I am the Urban Search and Rescue teams bravely looking where you cannot.
I am the stranger embracing you.
I am the housebound pensioner praying for you.


Vulnerable we are, like an infant.
We need each other’s care
or we will
suffer. Daniel Ladinski
For all those who willingly helped another, friend or stranger
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Station Nine
Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Where are you now, God?
I wrapped a blanket around your shoulders. I gave you a cup of tea. I cried with you. I held you.

In the godforsaken, obscene quicksand of life,
there is a deafening alleluia
rising from the souls of those who weep,
and of those who weep with those who weep.
If you watch, you will see the hand of God putting the stars back in their skies one by one. Ann Weems

For all the comforters, all the nurturers, all the enablers
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer


Station Ten
Jesus is Crucified

Where are you now, God?
I am the soul of the family now changed forever.
I am the man without a livelihood.
I am the soul of the beloved buildings destroyed.


You spoke of hope,
how we must identify with it –
be it for an unbelieving world.
Can you tell me how to live
that hope in Christchurch?
Can you bring that hope out of
the pulpit and explain it
so that those without money, without homes, without
jobs, without power, without purpose can understand?
Can you tell me what hope there is
for the old folks too frightened to
walk to the shops, or men and women whose jobs have gone – and with them their dignity.
I read, long ago, that only a suffering Christ makes sense.
Today the suffering in Christchurch is around me and in me, and a triumphant risen Christ is offensive, for Christchurch is an eternal Good Friday and even Jesus broke down on the cross.
We are not ready for hope – not yet- and some of us are not sure that we will recognise it when it comes.
Ruth Burgess
For all that is broken.
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Eleven
Jesus Promises the Kingdom to the Repentant Thief

Where are you now, God?
I was there when disaster showed a different way.
I was there when disaster revealed the way of compassion.
I was there when disaster revealed the way of courage.
I was revealed.
I am the Way.

The darkness exists to serve the light.  - Joy Cowley

For all those who can see the lightand for all those who can only see the shadow.
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Station Twelve
Jesus Entrusts Mary and John to Each Other

Where are you now, God?
I am in your arms. I am carrying you.

The Warmth of Love

May we take time to look around us at this beautiful world and to see the touch of your hand. in friend and neighbour, in plant and tree, in sky and sea;
And may we find the community that will refresh us with the warmth of your love and then ... restored to life may we reach out to others with that same love. Garth Hewitt

For all those who are entrusted with the care of the orphaned, the widowed, the grieving, the traumatised
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Thirteen
Jesus Dies on the Cross

Where are you now, God?
I lie in a temporary morgue. I lie under rocks. I lie in the ruins of a building. See in me the face of God.
He tangi
Ra te haeata
Takiri ana
Ki Tauwhara ra;
Pae tauarai ki a koe
E amo e aroha nei au
Waiho ea mata,
Kia mihi au –
Kia roa te mihinga
Ka tuku tenei
Ki te tai pouri
Ki taku makau mate. Te Uira
A lament
The first light of dawn
Has touched the high ridge
Of Tauwhara which blocks you
From my love;
Remain there, on the edge
Of my sight, let me weep
Long for you, grieve
Until I go down
To the dark shore
Where you wait,
My love.
Te Uira, translated by Richard Taylor

For all those who have died in the earthquake. For all those who love them and will miss them.
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Station Fourteen
Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Where are you now, God?
I am lying there, in the dark.
I am lying there in the silence.
Your tears anoint me.
Your prayers rise up as incense and set me free.
I am ready to walk into the light.

Crossing XVII

Pick up this life of mine from the dust.
Keep it under your eyes,
in the palm of your right hand.
Hold it up to the light,
hide it under the shadow of death;
Keep it in the casket of the night with your stars,
and then in the morning
let it find itself among flowers that blossom in worship.
Ranindranth Tagore
For all those who are waiting. For all those who are longing for the light
God in your mercy
Hear our prayer


Starting Over - Fighting Back

And so we must begin to live again,
We of damaged bodies
And assaulted minds. 

Starting from scratch with the rubble of our lives
And picking up the dust
Of dreams once dreamt.

And we stand there, naked in our vulnerability,
Proud of starting over, fighting back,
But full of weak humility

At the awesomeness of the task.
We, without a future,
Safe, defined, delivered
Now salute you God.
Knowing that nothing is safe,
Secure, inviolable here.

Except you,
And even that eludes our minds at times.
And we hate you
As we love you,
And our anger is as strong
As our pain,
Our grief is deep as oceans,
And our need as great as mountains.

So, as we take our first steps forward into the abyss of the future,
We would pray for -
Courage to go places for the first time
And just be there.
Courage to become what we have
Not  been before

And accept it,
And bravery to look deep
Within our souls to find new ways.
We did not want it easy God,

But we did not contemplate
That it would be quite this hard,
This long, this lonely. 

So, if we are to be turned inside out,
And upside down,
With even our pockets shaken,
Just to check what’s rattling
And left behind,
We pray that you will keep faith with us,
And we with you,
Holding hands as we weep,
Giving strength to continue,
And showing beacons
Along the way
To becoming new.

We are not fighting you God,
Even if it feels like it,
But we need your help and company,
As we struggle on.
Fighting back
And starting over.
Anna McKenzie
And, now, may each of you
Go from this place with God
at your right hand,
Go from this place with the
Christ of courage,
Go with Spirit,
enough for the rest of your life.




Bonnell D. & Hewitt G., The Road Home,  SPCK, 2003
Briehl, S. & Haugen M., Turn My Heart, GIA, 2003
Burgess, R. & Polhill, C., Eggs and Ashes,  Wild Goose, 2004
Cassidy, Sheila, Good Friday People, Dartman Longman and Todd, 1991
Cowley, Joy, Navigation, Penguin Books, 2010
Hardie, Brian, Tranquil Moments, Steele Roberts, 2002
Howlett, Nicholas, Speak Lord, Marist Publications, 1986
L’Engle,Madeleine, The Ordering Of Love, WaterBrook Press, 2005
Ladinski, Daniel, , Love Poems From God, Penguin, 2002
Loder, Ted, Guerillas  Of Grace, Innisfree Press, 1984
MacLeod, Rod, Snapshots on the journey, Steele Roberts, 2001
Simmonds, Gemma, Glimpses of the Divine, Pauline Books and Media, 2010
Stevenson, Patricia, Songs From a Pierced Heart, Sisters of Saint Joseph, 2003
Tagore, Rabindranath, Collected Poems and Plays, Macmillan and Co Ltd, 1988

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