Stations of the Cross at Holy Family

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OPENING PRAYER:  When our Lord enters Jerusalem, he is acclaimed with palm branches and cries of Hosanna.  Nevertheless, many of the same voices that praise him will eventually cry, “Crucify him!”  The drama is glorious and frightful.  While we are given the ultimate example of that love of which there is none greater; we are also given a terribly real picture of human fickleness and treachery.  What makes matters worse is how we see ourselves in the Christ-story.  Jesus reveals the self-sacrificing love of God.  However, our own sinfulness and faithlessness is put up as against a mirror.  Christ’s rejection as a criminal is placed upon our own lips.  There is no denying it.  The Apostles tried running away, but our Lord would catch them hiding in the Upper Room after his resurrection.  There is no fleeing the truth.  Every sin we have ever committed, both large and small, is a denial of Christ and a hammer blow to his crucifixion.  We are guilty, not just the Jews or the Romans or the few living in Palestine two thousand years ago.  All of us have blood on our hands.  Unless we come to a genuine realization of our sinfulness, then true repentance would be impossible.

We venerate the cross, a sign of brutality and death, transformed by our Lord into a symbol of love, mercy and redemption.

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

1

FIRST STATION

Jesus is Condemned to Death

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Falsely charged, the most innocent man ever to walk the earth is sentenced to death. We are the ones really guilty by our sins. Now we will be culpable for the murder of God’s Son. We are the ones who deserve to die. This is the terrible truth which haunts us. Our cries are added to those of the crowd, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Oh, if we could take back our foul conviction of Christ, would we? Despite protests to the contrary, our hardness of heart and obstinacy in sin has us ever returning the verdict. When will we stop thinking like the world and put on the mind of Christ? The wrongness of this verdict resonates with every deceit and injustice in human history. Maybe he was too good and his message too compelling?

It is said that he had to be silenced. The evil in our hearts sought him out for elimination. His purity stood out too sharply against the panorama of our selfishness and prejudice. Jesus had to go.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.

2

SECOND STATION

Jesus is Made to Carry His Cross

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

His body has been harshly scourged with a whip and a crown of thorns presses into his head. Now, upon his torn and bruised flesh he must carry his heavy cross. His Godhead is not safely detached from this indignity. This abused and vulnerable flesh is the visible and tangible expression of a Divine Person. Despite the temptation to escape pain and to objectify the body for pleasure and comfort, Jesus pours his entire identity into a weak human frame prone to pain and even to death. The journey to Calvary begins. Are we afraid to follow?  Do we hesitate?

Our multiple transgressions are placed into that cross which he so willingly bore. Like arrows, every sin ever committed, past, present and future, target the heart of Christ.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed,
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole Begotten One!

3

THIRD STATION

Jesus Falls the First Time

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The Lord does not change gravity and make the wood of the cross lighter. He does not strip away our free will and make us unable to sin. Instead, he embraces the full weight of the cross and that of our sins. He goes crashing down. His body pounds the earth in a prostration to heaven and to his Father’s will. His trail is marked by a stream of blood. Unlike ourselves, who often fall and give up; he does not linger long, but rises to his feet. He will not call for intervention from heaven. His final and greatest work must be accomplished. He falls because of all the times we have fallen from grace. He falls so that one-day we might rise with him into paradise. He staggers bravely forward.

The Atlas of mythology never carried such a burden. Could one have ever imagined that the Most High God would ever fall so low on the behalf of miserable humanity?

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

4

FOURTH STATION

Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Thus begins the martyrdom of Mary. Her breath is taken away at the first glimpse of her Son. He is barely recognizable, so badly has he been beaten. The family holds her close but she has eyes only for her Son. The knife long prophesied pierces her immaculate heart. Never has God’s will been so mysterious, for at least with the nativity there was joy. Now, all is sorrow. As his faithful first disciple, she accepts but cannot begin to understand. How could she? Never in her whole existence had she committed even the slightest offense against God. This being the case, maybe some of her tears were for us? Breaking the commandments comes all too easily for us and as for “thou shall not kill,” it is only one more to break.

Jesus once praised his Mother for hearing the Word of God and keeping it, literally allowing it to take fruit inside of her. How often have we neglected both Jesus and Mary?

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

5

FIFTH STATION

Simon of Cyrene Helps Carry the Cross

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

How many times have we run away from the crosses of our lives? Addicted to proximate goods, we sedate ourselves with drugs and alcohol; we preoccupy ourselves with escapist fantasy and sensual gratification. The Cyrean also wanted to flee the cross, more willing to watch the pain of another than to help alleviate it. He is drafted into service because of the real fear that Jesus might not live long enough to suffer his crucifixion. Many in the crowd offered sighs of relief that they were not chosen. How long can we continue to fool ourselves in pretending that we have not been called to follow in Christ’s footsteps? He has told us that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Most of the labor is still on his shoulders.

Particularly in the Mass, we can offer ourselves along with Christ as an acceptable oblation to the heavenly Father. Nevertheless, many even neglect this great mystery or if they attend, act as passive spectators. Little seems to change.

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain
In that Mother’s pain untold?

6

SIXTH STATION

Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

One can tell a great deal by a face. Those who prepare the dead for burial even suggest that the frozen features of a lifeless countenance communicate the state of one’s soul. The face of Jesus is bloodstained and bruised. Sweat drips from his brow as he undergoes his agony. But, there is no despair upon his face. Remembering his appearance during his Passion, it is no wonder that the women fail to recognize him immediately after the resurrection. Now, most of all, he is the Gospel and the Kingdom personified. He leaves the impression of his face in Veronica’s cleaning cloth. Oh, how much more he would love to press his likeness into our hearts. Then we would truly know God and love as he loves.

The Scriptures have not detailed even a single element of the appearance of Jesus. However, his likeness in art and upon sacred symbols is familiar. He makes himself known to us.

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

7

SEVENTH STATION

Jesus Falls the Second Time

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Again, Christ falls. His face is pressed against the earth and his mouth tastes the dirt. Simon the Cyrene is slow to assist him back to his feet. Jesus forces himself up, not for his sake, but for ours. The salvation of a new nation depends upon it. Divine authority, which could usher aid from the angelic hosts, holds them back instead. This is the hour of shadows. The exiled spirit who tempted the first Adam to fall must have his superficial victory. It will not long endure. He cannot keep down, our Lord, the second and new Adam. As if to mock him, Satan trips him in his journey to the cross. The fruit of the living tree in the Garden brought death; the dead tree of Christ’s cross will restore life.

Perhaps we have fallen more than once, maybe our sins are legion? Christ will help us back up if we repent and believe. His strength and mercy can be ours.

For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth he sent.

8

EIGHTH STATION

Women of Jerusalem Weep for Jesus

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Jesus’ respect for women was well known. No doubt his Mother Mary always represented the ideal, not only for womanhood but also for humanity in general. Mary Magdalene and the sisters of Lazarus are treated as disciples. The Samaritan woman at the well is made a prophetess for her people. He healed their bodies and defended their dignity. Despite the laxity of the Mosaic Law, he commanded that the marriage bed be undefiled and that its bond be unbroken. Women will be at the cross and at the empty tomb, even when so many of his disciples are fearful and in hiding. He tells the women to weep for themselves and prophesies that one day the barren womb will be wrongly counted as a blessing. Of course, God’s love will prevail, even if that of mothers and fathers should fail.

Christ’s journey to Calvary becomes an occasion in itself to proclaim the Gospel of Life. When will we learn? How many tears have rained from heaven because of our love of death?

O sweet Mother!  Fount of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

9

NINTH STATION

Jesus Falls a Third Time

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Is he dead? He hit the ground so hard this time. They drag him to his feet and force him forward. His strength seems used up. Are his eyes dazed by the fall or is he seeing something the rest of us do not, beyond Golgotha? Those with more sensitive tastes only watch from along the route, others join his procession to the Hill of Skulls itself. Who could know that solemn liturgical celebrations would one-day replace the jeering crowd with chants of faith and joy? All seems lost and yet there is still everything to gain. The High Priest of heaven makes his third and final genuflection before approaching the altar of his supreme sacrifice. He has fallen three times, once for each of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity. God has come to save his people, even if he has to allow them to kill him.

The fall of humanity was not the only reality that brought us to Calvary. God could have abandoned us as orphans. It was our good fortune that God never fell out of love with us.

Make me feel as You have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

10

TENTH STATION

Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

 Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The first Adam sought to cover his nakedness out of shame. Our second Adam allows himself to suffer the indignity of being stripped before the crowd, knowing that he has nothing to hide. He clothed himself in our flesh so that we might be clothed in his divinity. Not appreciating this gift, the soldiers cast lots over a mere cloak of cloth. Where are the wise men now with their gifts, would they recognize the king who was once announced by a star? The rabble fights over Jesus’ few belongings. The executioner must have his pay. They take from Jesus but only he bears gifts. Maybe when we come to worship our thoughts are more on what we can get than upon what we can give? Nothing is hidden from God.

All our acts and desires, good and bad, are intimately known to him. We are totally exposed. Do we feel shame? There is still time to put on the wedding garment of the Lamb.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

11

ELEVENTH STATION

Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Sometimes children will naively say that had they been around, they would have fought to save Jesus. But the Lord himself stayed Peter’s hand when he pulled out a sword. The real battle was a spiritual one and in this regard Peter would deny him three times. In a sense, we abandon Jesus to Calvary and have failed him, too. All the sins of humanity from the beginning to the end of time and in every place nail Jesus upon the cross. We lie— tap-tap goes the hammer— we steal— tap-tap— we forget God and the Mass— tap-tap— we violate our persons or the bodies of others— tap-tap— we neglect the faith formation of our children— tap-tap— we covet and lust— tap-tap— tap-tap— when will it end? A banner sits on top of the cross identifying Jesus. But, the nails of the cross have our names upon them.

His feet walked from place to place so that he might spread the Good News. His hands were often extended in healing and benediction. Is this the end of it? How little did we know.

Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

12

TWELFTH STATION

Jesus is Raised on the Cross & Dies

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

His arms are open wide in love, taking in the whole world. He will not linger much longer. He had every right to hate us. How many times have we cursed others, even for small offenses— maybe too many to remember? Jesus redefines the martyr as one who dies forgiving his murderers. Jesus pardons us. Jesus is faithful to the Father’s will, no matter what the price. His apostles and many of his disciples would follow in his footsteps. John, the only apostle at the foot of the cross, suffers a vicarious martyrdom along with Mary. Jesus makes him our emissary and gives him Mary as his mother, indeed, as the Mother of all the redeemed. Jesus breathes his last. It is finished— or is it?

“This is my Body. This is the chalice of my Blood. Do this in memory of me.” Now we can get onto the other side of the cross and offer ourselves in the Mass with Christ as an acceptable oblation to the Father.

Let me mingle tears with thee
Mourning Him who mourned for me
All the days that I may live.

13

THIRTEENTH STATION

Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The Blessed Mother holds her dead Son in her arms. It seems like only yesterday that she cradled him in a stable of Bethlehem. What the guards of old Herod started, the soldiers of Pilate have finished— the last of the Holy Innocents is slaughtered. If she could, there was a part of Mary that would have traded places with Jesus. What tragedy is greater than a mother outliving her child? The crowd begins to disperse. The show is over. Little do they know that the real spectacle has yet to begin. Only those few who loved him most remain. Mary holds Jesus and John supports Mary. A few courageous women stand vigil also, with only their sad sobbing to break the silence of the moment. Many had thought that he might be the one, the long awaited Messiah.

Had Jesus not prophesied his passion and death, as well as what would come next? Did he not restore a little girl back to life and his dear friend Lazarus? Jesus would indeed prove himself the awaited Savior, not simply over worldly kingdoms and oppression, but over the powers of death and hell.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
All I ask of you to give.

14

FOURTEENTH STATION

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Leader:  We adore you O Christ & we praise you.
All:  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The stone is rolled over the entrance. Soldiers have been posted because of the rumor that he promised to rise from the dead. The authorities are more afraid of Jesus now that he is dead than when he was alive. The words of Caiaphas have been fulfilled, but in a way he never could have guessed:  “It is better for one man to die than for an entire nation to be destroyed.”  Jonah has entered the belly of the whale; soon he shall be spat upon the shore.  The tomb will not be able to contain Jesus.  The Father’s love will overturn the false conviction of the world and his Son will be vindicated.  Love will prove stronger than death and we will be offered a share.

The Eucharist allows us to regularly participate in this mystery:  “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.”

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

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CLOSING PRAYER:  The mystery of Christ’s passion and death is that he did not deserve to die.  Jesus was the innocent one.  As the Son of God, he was the one wronged by Adam’s sin and by our transgressions.  Finite creatures utterly dependent upon the Almighty had violated the infinite dignity of God.  Instead of damning us without hope, we were promised a Savior.  Christ comes to establish a new kingdom.  God, himself, would pay the debt we owed and could not satisfy.  He would redeem us with his own life.  Jesus had every right to curse us from the cross, instead he would say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Are we mindful of what Christ has accomplished and our high calling?  Lips that have offered responses at Mass and recited the Lord’s Prayer, have also cursed, gossiped and told dirty jokes and stories.  Eyes that have looked upon the elevated host, literally our Lord raised high on the cross, have also been windows to shameful entertainment and temptations designed to arouse base desires.  Hands that grasp others in the sign of peace and receive our Lord have also engaged others in derogatory gestures, fighting and unlawful pleasures.  Minds that were gifted with intelligence that we might know God have neglected him for profane and idle learning.  Hearts that were made for love of God and neighbor have substituted a selfish love for the things of a passing world.

Let us invoke God’s grace and mercy.  Stripping away hypocrisy and self-deceit, we can become disposed to that which most matters, our relationship with the God who has redeemed us in Jesus Christ.

This Way of the Cross was written by Fr. Joseph Jenkins.

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For the intentions of the Holy Father, we pray:

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.  Amen.

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

The Glory Be

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

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Many thanks to the men who came out on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 PM to help lead the Stations of the Cross.  FRONT ROW:  GK Emmanuel Abongwa (Fr. Kidd Council), FS Perry Concepcion, PGK Roy Cobo, DGK Leon Alexander & PGK, PFN James Murry.  MIDDLE ROW:  PGK & DW Terry Reinhart, BK Pete Rozanski, BK Dan Malloy, Mike Cepko, PGK Mike Turner & Lecturer Calvin Holloway.  BACK ROW:  Chancellor Greg Rozanski, Assistant to the Chaplain Deacon Brian Payne, Chaplain Fr. Joe jenkins, Treasurer Kevin Renze & BK Nino Foronda.

 

About Father Joe

Father Joe Jenkins I am the pastor of Holy Family Church and a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Church, Faith, Holy Family Church, Knights of Columbus, Prayer. Bookmark the permalink.

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