The Stations of the Cross
compiled by Catherine Fournier
If you don't know anything about the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, it can be very difficult to learn. Most books of meditations assume that you already know the basic outline of the prayer. I have compiled this collection of meditations from around the web to illustrate the wide variety available, and round it off with a good explanation of the history of the devotion and some suggestions of how to pray it.
The Stations of the Cross can be said anywhere, though in a church or outside Stations is most customary. It would be an inspiring family devotion to make simple stations and arrange them in the home, perhaps along a hallway or around the walls of the living room.
To pray the way of the cross requires only that you meditate at each station.
Before each station you may say: "We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world." After each station you may say an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be...
Lord Jesus Christ, take me along that holy way you once took to your death, Take my mind, my memory, above all my reluctant heart, and let me see what once you did for love of me and all the world.
Pilate was furious at their stubborness. His soldiers had placed a crown of thorns on the victim's head and put on his shoulder a purple robe. Well, he did not have the figure of a king anyway and no matter how much those underneath had been screaming he still could not find a reason to crucify this man.
He had to be bold. This bunch of fanatics were using him. He knew it. He had to show them that he was not weak, that he was not going to be deceived by their treacherous plans. He insisted that it was them who had opted for his death, it was them who had to take full responsibility for their deeds.
How was he going to convince them? Did he need to? Of course not! So many hours had already passed. He felt the uneasiness growing while he was not able to find a solution out of this impasse. So "he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha)"(Jn 19,13). This had to appear to be a solemn deed.
When he sat down at last to pass judgement "his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." (Mt 27,19). A moment of panic and confusion struck him but he could not keep procrastinating any longer so "he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" (Mt 27,24) He rushed inside and left Jesus in the hands of his soldiers to execute the sentence!
Dear Jesus, what did you feel during these terrible moments? How could you ignore the venom that was spit in your face? How could you remain silent? Why didn't you show them again your powers? In this courtyard I can feel your downcast eyes praying the Father for the sins of many, including mine. Yes, dear Jesus, I can see your pain in being treated like a traitor, like a villain when all you did was preach and practice Love!
Carry me with you up this path to Calvary, Lord, so that I too may learn how to be meek in the most difficult situations of my life.
The Second Station
Jesus Takes His Cross
As the redeemed of the Lord we are called to walk in the footsteps of the humble, cross-bearing Christ. Each of us has his daily cross to bear to be worthy to share our Savior's glory.
Jesus Falls The First Time
Notice the infinite goodness of the Savior who wished to die the death of men and women so as to enable us to live according to the original expectation for Adam, that is, to live God's life. But to better grasp the humility of Our Lord, listen to what St. Paul writes: "Though he was God's Son, he emptied himself." (Phil. 2:6-7 freely) O, God, but it is wondrous that the Eternal Word should empty himself and set aside his proper glory for his creatures who measure up so poorly to his love!
Jesus Meets His Blessed Mother
Imagine Mary, Mother of Sorrows, meeting her beloved Son carrying the Cross. Think of the deep sorrow that fills her heart. She wished to die either for Jesus or together with Him. But her cross was to live! It was by sharing so intimately in the Passion of her Divine Son that she brought me forth into supernatural life and merited to be called my mother. As a worthy child of so glorious a Mother, I must strive to share in her great and intense sorrow that I might not only console her, but also by suffering with her, learn to hate sin which caused her such great anguish.
O Mary, my Mother, by the merits of your intense grief, obtain for me the great grace of realizing that God chastises those He loves. Following your graceful example, let me be reconciled to the fact that suffering and sorrow and the Cross must be my lot in this valley of tears. In your motherly solicitude, strengthen me that I might bear my cross well, as He would have me.
Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.
And have mercy on all pregnant mothers who are overwhelmed by anxieties over their pregnancy; may they, through the example and prayers of our Blessed Mother, have the grace and courage to accept crucifixion with their baby rather than try to escape the c ross by aborting their baby.
Have mercy on them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus Carry the Cross
My Jesus, blest, thrice blest was he who aided Thee to bear the cross. Blest too shall I be if I aid Thee to bear the cross, by patiently bowing my neck to the crosses Thou shalt send me during life. My Jesus, give me grace to do so.
V - Jesus Christ Crucified.
R - Have mercy on Us.
V - May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R - Amen.
The Sixth Station:
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Legend has it that while Christ was carrying his cross, a woman named Veronica, moved with pity, wiped the sweat and blood from his face with her veil. As a reward for her kindness, his image was left on the veil. Perhaps the rumors of a true image of Christ, imprinted on cloth, lay behind this legend. Does such a burial shroud still survive? The name "Veronica" means "true image."
We are not embarrassed at a legend that tells so well the gospel message. Legends can be lived. Mother Theresa of Calcutta wipes the sores of the hopeless and the dying, because she sees the image of Christ in them, not in her towel. "As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me."
The Seventh Station
Jesus Falls the Second Time
Jesus, the weight of the cross is too much and you fall again. My cross is very heavy, also, Lord. It is so hard. People call me "vagrant" and "lazy" as if I were a criminal. I want to return to my town, but I cannot, because the situation there has become even worse.
Reader: Jesus who got up the second time.
All: Don't let them marginalize me because of my condition as a migrant.
Jesus Speaks To The Daughters Of Jerusalem
Jesus walks on, streaming with blood. Some holy women in the crowd see Him and are so touched with sympathy and compassion that they openly weep for Him. Jesus, knowing the things that are to happen to Jerusalem because of her rejection of Him, turns to them and says: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children."
My Jesus, I weep bitterly for the offenses I have committed against You. I weep because of the pains they have deserved, but most of all because they caused You, because of Your great love for me, to have to die for me. Teach me to be truly sorry for my sins, so that I may escape those dreadful judgements prepared for all who reject or neglect You in this life.
My beloved Jesus, I love You above all things. I am truly sorry for having offended You, and I repent with my whole heart. May I never offend You again. Grant that I may never cease to love You, and do with me as You will.
Christ's Third Fall
This is the complete collapse of the temporal body.
Again, no direct biblical references can be found for any of the three falls, though it is likely that He stumbled or fell several times in the walk to Golgotha given the amount of abuse already inflicted on His body as well as the need for Simon of Cyrene to bear the cross for Him.
Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
They look on and gloat over Me; they divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. [Psalm 22:18-19]
My soul has been robbed of its innocence; clothe me, dear Jesus, with the garb of penance and contrition.
The Eleventh Station
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
The Cross is laid on the ground, and Jesus stretched upon it, and then, swaying heavily to and fro, it is, after much exertion, jerked into the hole ready to receive it. Or, as others think, it is set upright, and Jesus is raised up and fastened to it. As the savage executioners drive in the huge nails, He offers Himself to the Eternal Father, as a ransom for the world. The blows are struck--the blood gushes forth.
Yes, they set up the Cross on high, and they placed a ladder against it, and, having stripped Him of His garments, made Him mount. With His hands feebly grasping its sides and cross-woods, and His feet slowly, uncertainly, with much effort, with many slips, mounting up, the soldiers propped Him on each side, or He would have fallen. When he reached the projection where His sacred feet were to be, He turned round with sweet modesty and gentleness towards the fierce rabble, stretching out His arms, as if He would embrace them. Then He lovingly placed the backs of His hands close against the transverse beam, waiting for the executioners to come with their sharp nails and heavy hammers to dig into the palms of His hands, and to fasten them securely to the wood. There He hung, a perplexity to the multitude, a terror to evil spirits, the wonder, the awe, yet the joy, the adoration of the Holy Angels.
The Twelfth Station
Jesus Dies upon the Cross
O Most Loving Jesus, I offer Thee the acts of adoration, of praise, of union and of supplication which Thy Holy Mother offered Thee in this Station.
To approach our dying Saviour in a worthy manner, let us go to Him in union with Mary. To understand His sufferings better, let us think of Mary's sorrow. Do we not know that Jesus loves to see us share in the pains of His Mother?
Child of Mary, contemplate the Queen of Martyrs, who says to you while She shows you Her most afflicted Heart, "Attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto mine". Answer Her, weeping and heartbroken, "O Virgin, Daughter of Sion, great as the sea is Thy sorrow and bitter as it billows". Would that I could contemplate Thee worthily and render due homage to Thine exceeding love for me! To supply my insufficiency. I offer The the divine Compassion which Jesus had on Thee. He alone knows the weight and measure of Thy sorrows.
O Jesus, hanging on the Cross, speak to me Thy life-giving words - "Woman, behold Thy child; child, behold Thy Mother". O Mary, I do not deserve to be called Thy child, but Jesus has willed that it should be so. Show Thyself my Mother. To compensate for my poverty, I offer Thee the praises of the angels and of all Thy devoted children. I offer Thee the Heart of Jesus and the Love of the Blessed Trinity. I place myself in Thy hands and leave to Thee the full and entire right to dispose of me and all that belongs to me, according to Thy good pleasure and that of Thy Divine Son.
Holy Mother, pierce me through,In my heart each wound renew, Of my Saviour Crucified!
Jesus is taken from the Cross
O Mary, Mother most sorrowful, the sword of grief pierced thy soul when thou didst see Jesus lying lifeless on thy bosom; obtain for me hatred of sin because sin slew thy Son and wounded thine own heart, and grace to live a Christian life and save my soul.
V - Jesus Christ Crucified.
+ - Have mercy on Us.
V - May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
+ - Amen.
The Fourteenth Station:
Jesus is Laid in the Sepulcher
My Jesus, You were laid to rest in a stranger's tomb. You were born with nothing of this world's goods and You died detached from everything. When You came into the world, men slept and angels sang and now as You leave it, Creation is silent and only a few weep. Both events were clothed in obscurity. The majority of men live in such a way. Most of us live and die knowing and known by only a few.
Were You trying to tell us, dear Jesus, how very important our lives are just because we are accomplishing the Father's Will? Will we ever learn the lesson of humility that makes us content with who we are, where we are and what we are?
Will our Faith ever be strong enough to see power in weakness and good in the sufferings of our lives? Will our Hope be trusting enough to rely on Your Providence even when we have nowhere to lay our head? Will our Love ever be strong enough not to take scandal in the cross?
My Jesus, hide my soul in Your heart as You lie in the Sepulcher alone. Let my heart be as a fire to keep you warm. Let my desire to know and love You be like a torch to light up the darkness. Let my soul sing softly a hymn of repentant love as the hours pass and Your Resurrection is at hand. Let me rejoice, dear Jesus, with all the Angels in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for so great a love- so great a God- so great a day!
The Stations Explained
Here is a very basic, but useful introduction to the Stations Of The Cross. I have made this for the benefit of those who do not know much or anything at all about this devotion.
What are The Stations Of The Cross?
The Stations Of The Cross are a popular Catholic devotion which commemorates the Passion and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What do the fourteen stations mean?
Each of the fourteen stations stands for an event which occured during Jesus' Passion and death at Calvalry on Good Friday. A person making the Stations Of The Cross is to meditate about each event depicted at each station, and pray.
Where does one make the Stations Of The Cross?
At many Catholic Churchs and Chapels, mounted along the sides of the interior walls are fourteen plaques which depicts each Station Of The Cross. A person making the Stations will go to each station and pray and meditate about that particular event which Jesus went through in His Passion and death. Sadly, many Churches today have removed their Stations Of The Cross, for reasons which are unknown to me.
Can The Stations Be Done Anywhere? Are special prayers to be recited?
Yes, the Stations Of The Cross can be done anywhere, with a group of people, alone, and mentally. There are no specific prayers that are to be said. There are many different prayers written by various people throughout the centuries which are beautiful and profound. You can make your own personal prayer which you recite when you meditate about each station.
When did the devotion to the Stations Of The Cross begin?
The Stations were originally performed many centuries ago by Christian pilgrims who actually visited the Holy Land, and went to the sites of Jesus' Passion. There are records of similar forms of this devotion which date back to the 400s.
Who were the great promoters of this devotion?
Promotion of the devotion to the Stations began in earnest with the Franciscans, who were given custody of the Holy Places in the Holy Land in the 1300s. Many great Saints, numerous Popes, and countless Catholics, have all enriched their spiritual lives with this powerful devotion.