Many Catholic Churches have a stations of the Cross celebration every Friday as a way to add an additional sacrifice to our Lenten journey. The stations are a way to reflect on the passion of Jesus. In addition to the standard stations, there are many variations. There are those who view the passion through the eyes of Mary, a simple version for children, or a version linking Jesus’ suffering with the suffering of the elderly.
Read more: Think You Know The Stations of the Cross?
On this last Friday before Good Friday, let’s take a walk with Jesus and tie the suffering and struggles in our own lives to our Lord’s:
1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death
As Jesus stands arrested, accused and condemned, we can recall a time when we were wrongly accused and trying to defend ourselves yet unable to. Jesus does not put up a defense because he knows it will fall on deaf ears. He has said all he could when preaching in the temple and to the crowds, and now they have all turned against him.
We even may have friends who will defend us and help us when we are falsely accused, where Jesus’ friends all turned away and even denied him. He is truly alone. We must remember that are not. Jesus told us that he will never turn his back on us if we acknowledge him before others.
Jesus, stand with me when others condemn me for standing up for you.
2nd Station: Jesus carries His cross
After being scourged, crowned with thorns, mocked, and given a death sentence, Jesus is then tasked to carry the wood that he would be nailed to and hung upon. Our Lord tasked to hard labor, just as the old Adam was toil all the days of his life. Christ is tasked to carry the tree which will take his life, just as it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil gave fruit which took man out of the Garden of Eden.
We too toil and work to support ourselves, our families and others. We work and work, and sometimes end up with nothing to show for our work. We struggle with poor health, loss of loved ones, chronic pain and addiction, and sin. We all have our own crosses to bear, but Jesus is the only one who can lighten the load as he carries all of our sins on his back.
Jesus, take my sins and lighten my load.
3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time
As Jesus is tired from lack of sleep. He’s been tried, beaten, and bloodied. He falls for the first time. No one swoops in to help as they are still fearful of having the same sentence for being a faithful disciple.
We too will fail and fall, and sometimes there is no one around to help us up. We struggle to get back up on our feet and sometimes feel like there is no point to even keep trying. Remember, Jesus will always be there to help to pick us up when we fall. All we need to do is ask.
Jesus, hold me up when I struggle to stand up for you.
4th Station: Jesus meets his mother
Her heart is pierced with a sword, and he knows it. The prophecy of Simeon he heard as an infant is now being fully realized. Their eyes meet and she is helpless to stop her Son from continuing onto Golgotha.
Jesus wants to take away her pain, just like he wants to take away our pain and sins. Here is our chance to tell Jesus how much we love him again and again, just as Mary surely told her Son one final time.
Jesus, I love you. Take away my pain.
5th Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross
Jesus is really struggling carrying the cross and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to make it. No one is stepping up to help him, but the soldiers grab Simon of Cyrene and force him to carry the wood of the cross.
We too struggle to help others in need, even when we see they are in dire, desperate need, until we are forced. Just as the good Samaritan was the only one to step up and help the man who was robbed and beaten, we are also called to help others in need.
Jesus, please help me to help others without asking.
6th Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Now it’s almost noon and Jesus is bloodied and sweating, Veronica watches for our Lord and runs out to wipe his face. Veronica shows us that even though we may not recognize the face of God, we are to show love and compassion to even the condemned.
We all can recognize the sweet refreshment of kindness and mercy when someone rushes to us and offers a kind word or sympathy when we are broken by life. Jesus blesses her by performing a miracle by leaving an image of his face on her cloth.
Jesus, help me to see you in everyone and be more compassionate.
7th Station: Jesus falls the second time
The hill is getting steeper and there is no rest for the weary. Even though Jesus has received help, it is still too much to continue on this path. Jesus falls again and the ground feels like a jolt through his body.
There are many times when this life just seems to be too much, like it would be easier just to give up and stop trying. But we are not called to give up in our struggle, but carry on. If we feel too weak to continue, we can lean on Jesus and he will pull us back up to our feet.
Jesus, lift me up in my struggle and help me to carry on.
8th Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
In Luke 23, Jesus says, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Jesus recognized that these women were not weeping for the right reasons. They were weeping for the loss of the man of Jesus, and not that it was their own sinfulness that brought this sentence upon him.
There are times when we too weep because we feel like someone has done us wrong. But in fact it was our own sin which caused what had happened.
Jesus, help me to recognize my own sins, and weep and repent.
9th Station: Jesus falls a third time
Coming to close to the end, Jesus once again falls. This time must have been the most difficult to get up from as he is at the point past exhaustion, dehydration, and so much blood loss.
We too can fall from being overworked, underpaid, and still struggling with the same sins and problems. Yet, we are told that the Lord will not give us more to bear than we can handle. Use this to bring new strength to get up and keep going.
Jesus, give me the strength to get up and over come my sins.
10th Station: Jesus clothes are taken away
Once again, Jesus is disgraced when he is stripped of all of his worldly possessions, his clothing. In addition to the mental pain of losing everything, it would be extremely painful again, as his bleeding wounds would have been reopened as the cloth was torn from his body. The soldiers also played a game to decide who would ‘win’ the last of what he had.
We are sometimes made fun of and mocked for our faith. We know what is right and wrong, and we must stand beside our Lord, even others laugh at our expense.
Jesus, stand with me when others make fun of my faith in You.
11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
The pain is unbearable as the nails are driven into the most painful parts of his hands and feet. As he is lifted up, and hung upon the cross, he only sees a few of his most faithful disciples, his mother, his beloved John, and some of the other women from afar like Mary of Madeline. He knows this “loss” will end in great joy for the world, but it is difficult for even him to feel the love of his Father, as he asks, “E′lo-i, E′lo-i, la′ma sabach-tha′ni?” which is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
In the dark hours of our lives, we too may feel like we are abandoned by God. Remember, all that he does for us is for our own good, and the trials in life will bring great joy, we just need to keep the faith and hold strong to the cross – just like we are nailed to it as Jesus was.
Jesus, do not abandon me when I am in the dark.
12th Station: Jesus dies on the cross
The physical pain and suffering of Jesus is finished as he gives up his spirit to the Lord. The irony is the people who witnessed the death of Jesus, like the good thief, the soldiers, and others just there to watch finally realized that Jesus was who he said he was, the Son of God.
When we hold strong to our faith, through it all, others will recognize and see Jesus in each of us. Even when there is death, there is new life. When Jesus died, the birth of his Church was born by the giving of Mary to John. When we suffer and share our faith, new faith is born in others to seek Jesus in their own lives.
Jesus, help me to share my life in you so that others can come to know you are the Son of God.
13th Station: The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
Because sundown was quickly approaching, those Jewish who were crucified that day needed to die and be buried in the common grave so that they could celebrate the Passover. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the council but believed in Jesus asked permission to take the body of Jesus and bury him in his plot. This fulfilled the prophecy that his body would not see decay (it was a new tomb). Joseph showed courage to even approach Pilate, and great love for our Lord to care for his body.
We too must take great care for the Body and Blood of Christ each time we receive him. We are to truly honor him as he is placed in the ‘throne’ of our hand, and then placed in our mouth. Next time you take the Body of Christ, contemplate Joseph holding the body of Christ right after his death.
Jesus, help me to recognize you in the Body and Blood of the Eucharist.
14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
As his physical body is prepared and enclosed in the tomb, the work of Jesus is not finished. We often see only the physical because we feel like it is the only thing that is real, but it was always our spirit that Jesus wanted to heal. After his death, he went into the place of the dead before him and preached the Good News and threw open the gates of Heaven! What a wonderful day for those new believers as they finally saw God! Jesus still wants us to be healed spiritually, so that we too at our death will see God in all of his Glory.
Jesus, forgive me of all my sins and heal me, body and soul.
Now that we contemplated the bitterness of his Passion, let us prepare ourselves for the joy and glory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! Alleluia! Alleluia!