A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Stations of the Cross

Text adapted from the ceremonies led by Pope Francis, at the Colosseum, Rome, on 18 April 2014 and 14 April 2017; Photos, taken by the editor, are of the Stations in All Hallows Church, Five Dock, NSW. Used with the permission of Fr Greg McGregor, the Parish Priest.

Opening prayer

Lord our God, brighten our vision with the good news of the Gospel, in the hour when we stand beneath the cross of your Son. Then we will be able to celebrate “the breadth and length and height and depth” (Ephesians 3:18) of the love of Christ, with hearts comforted and flooded with light. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

First Station:
Jesus is condemned to death

The matter had long been settled. Jesus must die! At the time of his birth, Herod had decreed that he must die. Jesus had escaped Herod’s threat, but in the sobbing of Rachel mourning her children who are no more, we hear a prophecy of the sorrow that Simeon will foretell to Mary (Matthew 2:16-18; Luke 2:34-35). We pray Lord Jesus, beloved Son, you came to us, doing good in our midst and leading back to life those who dwell in the shadow of death. We are your disciples, but we take paths that lead far from your thoughts, your justice and your mercy. Be patient with us, and deliver us from evil. Amen.

Second Station:
Jesus carries his cross

Along the rough road to Calvary, Jesus did not carry the cross like a trophy. He was completely unlike the heroes of our imagination who triumph over their evil enemies. Step after step, ever more slowly, he stumbled along, his body weighed down beneath the weight of the burden he carried, the burden of our sinfulness. We pray Lord Jesus, you call us to the privilege of being your disciples, and challenge us to take up our crosses daily to follow you. In our weakness, give us courage and strength, inspired once more by your love poured out for us. Amen

Third Station:
Jesus falls the first time

Jesus, who raised the sick from their beds, healed the crippled woman, raised the daughter of Jairus from her deathbed and made the lame walk, now lies sprawled on the road. The Most High God, in falling, teaches us that he is at the same time the most lowly, always ready to come down to us, so that no one will be lost in the depths of misery and sin.

We pray

May the Church bring to all who have been brought low the good news of the Gospel, so that all will know that there can be no fall untouched by your mercy; no loss or abyss so deep that you cannot find one who has gone astray. Amen.

Fourth Station:
Jesus meets his Mother

“Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary: ‘This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul also’ ” (Luke 2:34-35).

The sadness of Mary’s gaze gathers up the tears shed by every mother for her children.

We pray

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers everywhere whose hearts are breaking with sadness for their children who have lost their way. Change the hearts of children who bring anguish to their parents. Comfort parents who live in sadness. Amen.

Fifth Station:
Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene

The Gospel has kept alive the name of this Libyan, Simon, and his simple gesture of help, to teach us that Simon eased the pain of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus, who crossed Simon’s path in the form of a slave, for our sake, for his sake, for the salvation of the world. Without Simon’s even knowing it.

We pray

Lord Jesus, you have revealed to us that in each of the poor, the naked, the imprisoned, the thirsty, it is you who stand before us. It is you whom we welcome, visit, clothe and give to drink. We present to you, as a holy offering, all those acts of kindness, of acceptance, of commitment, that are carried out daily in this world. Amen.

Sixth Station:
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Jesus stops before a woman who resolutely approaches him. It is Veronica, a true image of a woman’s tender love. In Jesus, she sees all our neighbours who need to be consoled with a tender touch, and comes to hear the cries of pain of all those who, in our own day, receive neither practical assistance nor the warmth of compassion. Who die of loneliness…

We pray

Lord Jesus, grant us the spirit of Veronica, who reached out to you in your need. We know that without you we can do nothing. Please give us the grace to console those who suffer. Amen.

Seventh Station:
Jesus falls the second time

Truly we see fulfilled in Jesus the ancient prophecies of the lowly and obedient servant who takes upon himself all our history of sorrows. And so, Jesus, prodded by the soldiers, stumbles, overcome by tiredness, surrounded by violence, utterly exhausted. Increasingly alone, amid the encircling gloom! His flesh is torn, his bones are weary. And he suffers today, too, in all those who undergo suffering of any kind.

We pray

Lord Jesus, you were cast off by society and put to death by judicial sentence, and thus, you have blessed us for ever. May we, in our turn, with our practical concern and compassion, bless those who suffer. Amen.

Eighth Station:
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

The grief of the women of Jerusalem encompasses all those tears shed quietly and without fanfare in a world where there is much to weep for. Tears of terror-stricken children and of those wounded on battlefields crying out for a mother; the tears of the sick and dying, alone on the threshold of the unknown. Tears of dismay falling on the face of this world …

We pray

Lord Jesus, teach us not to turn away from the tears of the poor who cry to you and seek our help. Teach us also, in the night of our own sufferings, to hear the word of grace that you spoke to us on the mountain: “Blessed are those who weep, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

Ninth Station:
Jesus falls the third time

Overwhelmed by hardship, persecution, the sword; weighed down by the wood of the cross. Drained! He seems to say, as we do, in our darkest moments: “I can’t take it any more!” It is the cry of those persecuted, the dying, the terminally ill, those who strain under the yoke. Jesus who stumbles and falls, but then rises, points us to a sure hope which is born precisely at the moment of trial, not after or apart from it! We will be more than conquerors, because of his love!

We pray

Lord Jesus, raise up those who have fallen, lift up the poor from the dust, and give them the dignity they deserve as your beloved sisters and brothers. Amen.

Tenth Station:
Jesus is stripped of his clothing

The theologian Christos Yannaras tells us of the language that God speaks: “the language of kenosis, of emptying out -- the child Jesus lying naked in the manger; naked in the river as he receives baptism; like a slave, hanging on the tree of the cross, naked, like a common criminal. In all this, he showed his love for us.”

We pray

Lord Jesus, we pray deliverance for the immense throngs of men and women who are victims of torture, and we beg you to hear their cry. You can find a way through the chaos and bleakness of evil. Help us, we beg you. Amen.

Eleventh Station:
Jesus is nailed to the cross

They crucified him. Jesus does not come down, he does not leave the cross. He stays there, obedient to the Father’s will to the very end. He loves and he forgives.

Today many of our brothers and sisters, like Jesus, are nailed to a bed of pain, in hospital, in homes for the elderly, in our families. It is a time of hardship, with bitter days of solitude and even despair: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

We pray

Lord Jesus, may we never use our hands to inflict harm, but only to draw near, to comfort and to accompany the sick. Help all those who are afflicted in any way to put their trust in your love. Amen

Twelfth Station:
Jesus dies on the cross

All is now fulfilled. Jesus’ work is now complete. He had come forth from the Father on a mission of mercy. That mission was accomplished with a fidelity that led to the utmost bounds of love. All is ended. Jesus commends his spirit into the hands of the Father.

We pray

Lord Jesus, as we contemplate the water and the blood flowing from your side, teach us to recognise the wellspring of our new life, the love on which your Church is built, and the hope for which you have chosen us and sent us forth to share with the world. Amen.

Thirteenth Station:
Jesus is taken down from the cross

Mary, Mother of mercy, takes in her arms the body born of her flesh, which she has accompanied, lovingly and quietly, all through the years, like every mother who cares for her children. Jesus is taken from the hands of his killers. Now, in death, he is once again in hands that treat him with tenderness and compassion. Gentleness has returned to the place of execution; the gentleness of God and those who are his own, those meek hearts that Jesus promised would one day inherit the earth.

We pray

O Mary, weep no more. Your Son, our Lord, has fallen asleep in peace. His Father, in glory, opens before him the gates of life! O Mary, rejoice. The Risen Jesus has conquered death!

Fourteenth Station:
Jesus is placed in the tomb

The body of the Saviour of the world lies in solitude and silence. The Sabbath draws near, bidding Israel to rest from work, even as God did when his work of creation was finished, brought to completion with his blessing. And then, “on the day following the Sabbath, the women came to the tomb. And the sun had already risen! Alleluia!”

We pray

Lord Jesus, grant us a deep faith in your Resurrection, which is the promise of ours, and which your Church now prepares to celebrate in the joy of Easter night.

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