THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS

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Each of these stations is described by someone from the Gospels who would have been in Jerusalem for the Passover. Every one of their lives was changed by Jesus; now they are witnesses to his passion and death. Witnesses, not merely observers: as they tell us, each one knows this man Jesus.
 
The meditations refer back to their encounters with Jesus. We see them learning what sort of person he was. Opening the Bible at these Gospel passages in the light of the Passion story, may we open our hearts to let the Spirit work in us. The Scriptural reference is given for each meditation.
 
The question, ‘Why did he have to die?’ is not an easy one to answer. These stations show how the lack of understanding, the falling short of total commitment of so many of his contemporaries — even those close to him — were part of the climate that allowed the crucifixion to happen.
 
You are invited to pray in solidarity with these bewildered bystanders, who, for all their failings, were good people; each of them loved, or wanted to love Jesus. At the end, none could halt his Way of the Cross. And each of them suffered a personal, even a private, crucifixion.
 
We need Jesus’ help to accept our own sufferings as the cross to be taken up daily, to follow him. We know at one level that we must suffer, but perhaps find it a long lesson learning to deal with it when it comes.


I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.         John 14:29.
 
Jesus tells us his truth - then it has to become alive in us by working itself out within each of us in our crucifixion and resurrection.       Thomas Merton.

 

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There are one or two differences between these Stations and the traditional order observed in most Catholic Churches. These have been made to bring the Stations closer to the events as told in the Gospels, and to finish the Way of the Cross at its true destination - the new life for which it is a signpost.

FIRST STATION : JESUS ON TRIAL
Our witness is the woman who was forgiven by Jesus when the Pharisees brought her to him for judgement.  Her story can be found in Saint John’s Gospel, Chapter 8, vv3-11.
 

SECOND STATION : JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS
The rich young man who met Jesus in Luke’s Gospel (18:18-23) would have been in Jerusalem for the feast. We find him still heavy of heart, still looking for the right way to live.

THIRD STATION : JESUS  FALLS UNDER THE CROSS
Our witness is a man who was cured by Jesus. He was lame, but now can walk. We find his story in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 9, vv 2-8.
 

FOURTH STATION : SIMON OF CYRENE HELPS JESUS TO CARRY HIS CROSS
Our witness is a woman from Lebanon, who asked Jesus to cure her little daughter.
Her story is told by Saint Mark in Chapter 7, vv 24-30.
 

FIFTH STATION : VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS
The story of Veronica does not appear in the Gospel, though she has long had a place in the traditional Stations of the Cross. Our witness is a real person, the man who was born blind, whose story is told in Saint John’s Gospel, chapter 9, vv 1-8.
 

SIXTH STATION : JESUS FALLS AGAIN
A Lawyer who tried to trip Jesus up in his teaching sees him fall on the way to Calvary. Jesus told him about the Samaritan who had pity on the traveller left for dead by the roadside. Although his heart is disturbed, there is nothing the lawyer can do to help Jesus.(Luke 10:25-37; Luke 11.37-54).
 

SEVENTH STATION : JESUS MEETS THE WOMEN
The ambitious Mrs Zebedee would certainly have been in Jerusalem that Passover with her sons, James and John. (Matthew 20: 20-23.)
 

EIGHTH STATION : JESUS FALLS AGAIN
The father of the boy who fell into the fire and was subsequently healed by Jesus. (Mark 9:14-29).



NINTH STATION : JESUS IS STRIPPED
Our witness is a Samaritan woman who met Jesus by the side of Jacob’s Well. He told her everything she had ever done. Her story is given in Saint John, Chapter 4, vv 5-26.
  

TENTH STATION : JESUS CRUCIFIED
The couple from Cana who invited Jesus to their wedding are our witnesses. Their story is told in Saint John’s gospel, chapter 2, vv 1-11.


ELEVENTH STATION : JESUS SPEAKS TO HIS MOTHER
Although many traditional versions of the Way of the Cross have Jesus meet his mother on the road to Calvary, we know from Saint John that he saw her beside him as he died, and spoke to her in his final moments. (John 19:25-27.)
 

TWELFTH STATION : JESUS DIES
Dismas, the thief who repented, was close to Jesus at this moment. (Luke 5. 29-32: Luke 23.39-43)


THIRTEENTH STATION : JESUS’ BODY IS TAKEN DOWN
Our witness is the widow of Naim. Jesus restored her son to life when he met the funeral on the way to the cemetery. The story is told by Saint Luke,  in chapter 7, vv 11-16.
 

FOURTEENTH STATION : JESUS IS BURIED
Mark is the only evangelist who records the boy who ran away from the guards who arrested Jesus, leaving his clothes behind. He also tells us about the burial of Jesus, indeed many scholars believe his Gospel ended here when it was first written (Mark 11:15-19: 14:51-52)
 

FIFTEENTH STATION : THE RESURRECTION
The story is told by Peter, James and John, the disciples who were chosen to be present at Jesus’ transfiguration. That story is told by Saint Matthew, Chapter 17, 1-13.

FIRST STATION
JESUS ON TRIAL

Our witness is the woman who was forgiven by Jesus when the Pharisees brought her to him for judgement.

Her story can be found in Saint John’s Gospel, Chapter 8, vv3-11.


I know this man. I was so frightened when they brought me to Jesus. They wanted to kill me because I had done wrong. But Jesus wrote on the ground, and they all went away.
 
Now they say they have to kill Him as he is disturbing the peace. Pilate writes on a scroll, and sends him away.

 

Prayer :

Lord, sometimes we send you away because your word disturbs us. Help us to be faithful to you and all our brothers and sisters.
                  
 Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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SECOND STATION
JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS


Luke tells us the young man was one of the aristocracy. He would have been well known to Herod and the High Priestly Families, and able to gain entry anywhere in Jerusalem, including the Roman fort. Luke tells the story in Chapter 18, 18-23


I know this man; He is a good man, a good man.
 
He seemed to have something, to know something, something I could never quite get hold of. Something I could not understand.
 
I kept the law as well as anyone — God knows I tried to live by the rules. I should have been happy, knowing I was doing what God wanted but happiness was always just out of reach.
 
The Kingdom of God, Jesus said, is among you; it is close at hand, it belongs to the children. If you want to get there welcome the Kingdom like a child. Sell everything, give the money to the poor and follow me.
 
Follow him? Now?


Let us pray :
 
Lord, show us what we need to throw away to be able to take up our cross and follow you — now. Show us that you are at hand when life is difficult. Lord in your mercy.

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THIRD STATION
JESUS  FALLS UNDER THE CROSS

Our witness is a man who was cured by Jesus. He was lame, but now can walk.

You will find his story in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 9, vv 2-8.


I know this man. Jesus took away my sins. He said they were forgiven.
 
Then he told me to get up, pick up my bed, and walk home.
 
Now he is down, under the weight of the cross, too heavy to pick up, too far from home. Crushed by the weight of our sins.


Prayer :
 
Lord, many people are far from home, or crushed by sorrow or sin.
         
Help us to care for them, to make them welcome, to show them your love.
 
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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FOURTH STATION
SIMON OF CYRENE HELPS JESUS TO CARRY HIS CROSS

Our witness is a woman from Lebanon, who asked Jesus to cure her little daughter. Her story is told by Saint Mark, in Chapter 7, vv 24-30


I know this man. Jesus knew I was a foreigner when I asked him to cure my little girl. He teased me, but he helped me, he sent me away happy.
 
The soldiers didn’t tease him. They bullied him. They bully Simon too,
and make him help Jesus to carry his cross.

 

Prayer :
 
Lord, forgive us when we bully each other. Help us to see when we are being unfair. Help us to carry each others loads.
 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


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FIFTH STATION
VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS

The story of Veronica does not appear in the Gospel, though she has long had a place in the traditional Stations of the Cross. Our witness is a real person, the man who was born blind, whose story is told in Saint John’s Gospel, chapter 9, vv 1-8.


I know this man. Jesus wiped my eyes with mud, and made  me see.
 
Now the mud from his fall, the sweat and the blood from his crown
are blinding him. God bless the woman who wipes his face!

Prayer :
 
Lord, when we do not see what other people need we are blind to you.
 Forgive us. Open our eyes to you in our brothers and sisters.
 
Bless all those who bring comfort to prisoners condemned to die.
 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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SIXTH STATION
JESUS FALLS AGAIN

A Lawyer who tried to trip Jesus up in his teaching sees him fall on the way to Calvary. The story is told in Luke, 10, 25-37


I know this man, I almost wish I didn’t. I helped to bring him to this, but I never wanted it.
 
Look at him, covered in mud and bruises, he can hardly see for blood and sweat.
 
Remember the story he told when I was arguing with him? The traveller battered half to death, no-one to help him but the Samaritan.
 
Even with that big African helping to carry the cross, Jesus will not survive. No-one can do much for him.
 
At least that woman has wiped his poor face but still he falls.
 
And gets up and goes on.


Let us Pray :
 
Lord,
never let us forget that you are there, even among the most desperate people, and those we seem unable to help : at home, at school, at work ; in the street and in the wider world.
         
Lord in your mercy,hear our Prayer.


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SEVENTH STATION
JESUS MEETS THE WOMEN

James and John were with Jesus in Jerusalem, and so, no doubt was their mother, Mrs Zebedee, for it was just before Jesus  went up to Jerusalem that she asked him to give them special places in his Kingdom.

Now she sees him on the way to Calvary . . .

The story of Mrs Zebedee is told at Matthew, 20:17-23. Jesus’ meeting with the women on the Way of the Cross is told by St Luke (22.27-31).


I know this man. I followed him, him and my boys, all the way to Jerusalem.
 
We wouldn’t have it when he said he would be handed over and killed.
We were sure it would work out better than this. Only last Sunday the people acclaimed him, the King who comes.
 
Now Pilate calls him King of the Jews and sends him out to die.
 
I put my boys forward — any mother would — I knew they would work hard for him.
 
But now he tells us, weep for yourselves and your children.
 
Oh God, Is this the cup my boys have to drink?


Let us pray :

Lord, when we see our hopes shattered, let us remember that you drank the bitter cup to the very end and that you share it with us.
Lord , in your mercy.

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EIGHTH STATION
JESUS FALLS A THIRD TIME

We hear from the father of the boy who fell into the fire during his fits.
(Mark 9:14-29).


I had seen my boy fall time and time again.
He was often badly hurt, burnt or nearly drowned.
 
He could not hear me or speak to me, it was terrible to see, as if he was taken over by the evil one.
 
Jesus said that faith could save him.
 
Lord, I have faith, help the little faith I have!
 
Yes, I still have faith in you.

Let us pray :
 
Lord, help us always to say, Yes I have faith, help the little faith I have.
 
Help us to get up every time we fall or are pushed over.
 
Lord in your mercy.

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s’ meeting with the women on the Way of the Cross is told by St Luk

NINTH STATION
JESUS IS STRIPPED

Our witness is a Samaritan woman who met Jesus by the side of Jacob’s Well. He told her everything she had ever done.

Her story is given in Saint John, Chapter 4, vv 5-26


I know this man. He sat down and talked to me. He looked into my heart, my broken heart, but he did not mock me.
 
Now they strip the clothes off his body, his broken body. They jeer at his bruised and broken body.

Prayer :
 
Lord, we do not always remember that the bodies and hearts of your people are where you have chosen to live. Help us to see and hear the Good News whoever brings it to us.
 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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TENTH STATION
JESUS CRUCIFIED

The couple from Cana who invited Jesus to their wedding are our witnesses.
Their story is told in Saint John’s gospel, chapter 2, vv 1-11


We know this man. Jesus turned our water into wine and gave us a happy day.
 
Now he is thirsty, his mouth and throat are dry, and all he gets is vinegar to drink.

 

Prayer :
 
Lord, when we forget to thank those who help us we turn our backs on you.
 
Help us to be grateful for your daily gifts of food and drink. Help us to come with thanks to the table you set at the Sacrifice of the Mass.
 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


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ELEVENTH STATION
JESUS SPEAKS TO HIS MOTHER


Usually the meeting between Jesus and Mary takes place earlier in the Way of the Cross, but Saint John tells us that Mary was right there beside him when he died, and tells us his last words to her. Mary Magdalene, who was there, helps set the scene.


Mary Magdelene
I know this woman and love her because I know and love her Son.

 
John
Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.' Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’

 
Mary Magdelene
I’ve seen her, always faithful, always at hand, even when she did not understand. The best I can do — for all I love him — is to be here. This is my mother too.

 

Prayer :

Holy Mary, Mother of Jesus, though your heart is broken, pierced by a sword of sorrow, help us to believe that your Son’s work is complete, and we need never fear anything, for he is with us in our pain.

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TWELTH STATION
JESUS DIES


Dismas is the name by which  we know the repentant thief who was crucified with Jesus. He saw Jesus die and spoke to him at the last.


I know this man. I met him before : you must have heard how he ate and drank with sinners. I was there, of course. I invited him.
 
That was when I began to forgive myself. He forgave me. He did not turn away. He will not turn away now.
 
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom!

Let us kneel and pray in silence.
 
All sing : Jesus, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom.


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THIRTEENTH STATION
JESUS' BODY IS TAKEN DOWN FOR BURIAL


Our witness is the widow of Naim. Jesus restored her son to life when he met the funeral on the way to the cemetery.
The story is told by Saint Luke,  in chapter 7, vv 11-16.


I know this man. My only son was dead. We took him out of town to say goodbye.
 
Jesus gave him back to me alive. Now Mary’s only son has been taken out of town and is dead.

Prayer :
 
God our Father, your son was taken out of town, out of sight, to be killed.
 
We try to hide away our sins, but we need to bring them to you and say sorry.
 
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.


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FOURTEENTH STATION
JESUS IS BURIED

The boy who ran away from the guards is often said to have been St Mark, as he alone tells this story. Mark 14:51-52.


I know this man. Last night I left my linen cloth behind in their hands.
I thought they would arrest me too. I ran home, out of their power, naked, cold, but alive.
 
Now I see Jesus, out of their power, but naked, cold, dead.
Joseph wraps him in a linen cloth and lays him in a tomb.

Prayer :
 
Lord, even you needed someone to care for you, to dress you when you were small, and again now.
 
Help us to be grateful for every little service done to us, for what is done to us is done to you.
                  
Lord in your mercy


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FIFTEENTH STATION
THE RESURRECTION

The story is told by Peter, James and John, the disciples chosen to be present at Jesus’ transfiguration.
That story is told by  Matthew, 17, 1-13


Peter :
We know Jesus. We saw him in glory, all clothed in white.
 
James :
The voice from Heaven said, This is my Son, listen to him.
 
John :
He told us he would suffer but would rise from the dead.
 
Peter :
When he was arrested I ran away.
 

James :
When he was dying I stood far off.
 
John :
When he rose from the dead he came to find us.

 
Prayer :
Lord, may we be ready when you come to find us: in our daily lives,
in your Word, and at the hour of our death.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


References:  p1. Thomas Merton, Run to the Mountain, HarperSanfrancisco, 1996, p344.

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To view some excellent paintings of The Stations by artists from Turkana, Kenya — created for Lodwar Cathedral,
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