Stations of The Cross


Below are presented a series of fifteen individual reflections on the Passion of Our Lord. Each has been prepared by a member of the Sacred Heart Faith community or a member of our Diocesan Faith Community.  Each reflection is a personal sharing meant to give insight into how we reflect One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

 

The First Station
Jesus is condemned to death

Reflection by Rev. Kenneth J. Doyle

As early as the 4th century, Christians traveled on pilgrimage to the Holy Land to walk the sacred sites where Jesus had lived and died. Later, for those who were unable to make the arduous and expensive journey, the Stations of the Cross became a popular devotion, providing a way for Christians to retrace the final steps of Jesus in their own churches. These Stations begin with Christ’s condemnation, and even those responsible professed their misgivings. Judas, who handed Christ over, said, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood;” Pilate, the only one legally empowered to order the execution, said, “I find no guilt in Him.” Yet Jesus willingly accepts His fate, knowing that it creates the possibility of our own redemption. The Way of the Cross is more than a historic re-creation of the journey of Jesus to Golgotha. As we accompany Christ up that hill, our sorrow grows for our own sins, since they have contributed to the fate of our Master. We are also reminded that Jesus offers the support of His compassion to any who suffer in today’s world.

The Second Station
Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Reflection by Christian Bott

The reflections that I have read related to the Second Station typically surround themes of burdens, responsibility, decision making, and sacrifice.  Trying to relate the concept of Christ willfully receiving his cross and ultimately agreeing to sacrifice his life are difficult to relate to everyday life.  It is the ultimate unselfish act and one of the primary reasons Christians around the world give thanks and praise to Him.  However, we all witness moments where personal sacrifice goes well above and beyond what is expected from most people.  I can remember working with a student twenty years ago that was late to school daily, was rarely prepared for class, and failed courses regularly.  All of his teachers, including the author of this reflection, frequently complained about his lack of responsibility and care for his studies.  We were judgmental and barely helpful in most issues related to this student.  At the end of the year I learned that he lived in a small apartment with his single mother and four siblings.  His mother was out of work and was receiving radiation treatments for cancer.  This fourteen-year-old boy was essentially raising his four younger siblings, caring for his sick mother, working odd jobs for money, and trying to fit in his studies.  He was carrying a cross that most of us could not relate to or understand.  The people we interact with daily are all carrying crosses, some more significant than others.  Perhaps we can all take additional time to learn about the crosses those around us are carrying, especially those that struggle in everyday life.

The Third Station
Jesus falls the first time.

Reflection by Linda Beeler

Virtue is a tough lesson to teach second graders. To open that door, each year they learn about Holy Week. They appreciate the meaning behind Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem while riding a donkey versus a horse. And every year a student says, “Well He’s the real king anyway. The king of kings!” Students learn about the laying down of palm branches and the connection to our annual celebration of Palm or Passion Sunday. Students who have ever been to a parade are able to grasp the level of excitement on that day in Jerusalem, everyone wanting to be up front to get a glimpse of Jesus, greeting Him as He passes by. The next lessons turn to Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, and Good Friday. The kids are always amazed that Jesus waited in the Garden of Gethsemane for the Roman soldiers to arrest Him. Why didn’t He run and hide when He had the chance? The answer is in the virtues of temperance and honor. Jesus honored God the Father through humility as He willingly suffered and died for us. In the third Station of the Cross, Jesus demonstrates deference and honor when He falls the first of three times. Jesus fell not only under the weight of the Cross itself, but under the burden of carrying our sin. Jesus emptied Himself of His desires in order to fulfill the Will of God. Students are reminded that humility is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. The strength to forgive, the strength to be silent and listen to God, the strength to follow the Will of God, and the strength to accept suffering and to keep going without complaining, in the name of God the Father.

The Fourth Station

Jesus meets His Mother Mary

Reflection by Sister Rita Duggan CSJ

The crowd continues to jeer as Jesus resumes his journey after having fallen. Along the road are some who had seen him grow up and had witnessed his ministry of helping others.  Mary watches as Jesus advances.  Jesus sees his mother and without any words, the love exchanged reflects the bond between them.  A mother’s love would like to reach out and protect her son but she understands he must be about “his Father’ business”.  Stored in Mary’s heart are so many memories.  After all, it’s a mother’s responsibility to keep safe the significant moments of her child’s life.  And so she remembers: childhood days, the interactions with Joseph, leaving home, and his ministry of service.  She never expected this additional memory of her Son’s suffering.  But…she recalls her initial “yes” and once again, she bows in acceptance.

The Fifth Station
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
Reflection by Deacon Gerry Ladouceur

My dear sons Alexander and Rufus,
I am writing to you from Jerusalem.  I wish I could be with you in Cyrene in beautiful Northern Africa during these Holy Days, but my business has kept me in Jerusalem longer than expected.
I want to tell you about a most remarkable experience I had.  I was returning from services at Temple when I saw a commotion in the street.  I walked over to see what was happening.  The Romans were leading three men to Golgotha to be executed.  They were dragging very large wooden crosses.  The crowd was mocking them, and the first two men were cursing right back at them.  However, the third man was different. He said nothing.  I found out later that his name was Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus was struggling with his cross.  He had obviously been tortured, and I did not think he had the strength to make it up the hill to Calvary. One of the Roman soldiers was yelling, and suddenly I realized he was yelling at me.  I was terrified.  Why was he yelling at me?  What did I do?
Then I understood.  He told me carry Jesus’s cross.  Why me?  I tried to protest, but I was afraid they might crucify me too.  I took the cross from Jesus and he gave me a brief look.  In that moment I saw gratitude in his eyes, but there was something more.  Love?   How could it be love?  This man did not even know me.
I took up his cross and I could see why he was struggling.  I felt as though I was lifting a house. The coarse wood covered my hands with splinters.  I struggled too, and I didn’t think I would make it up the hill either. Then the cross suddenly became lighter.  I looked behind me and Jesus was no longer following from behind.  He was helping me carry my cross – his cross – upon which he would die.
We continued to trudge up that hill together until the soldiers told me to stop.  Jesus would have to carry his cross the rest of the way without my help.  I took one last look at Jesus.  He again had that look of gratitude – and love, it was definitively love.
My sons, although we never spoke, I felt a connection to this Jesus.  I also found out later that many think Jesus is the son of God, and he taught people about God’s mercy and love.  I will tell you this: whenever I carry a heavy burden be it in my arms or my mind, I will think of Jesus and how he helped me carry the cross today.  Perhaps he helps us carry all our crosses.
Your loving father,
Simon
Note: Mark 15:21 identifies Simon of Cyrene as “the father of Alexander and Rufus”. Tradition states that they became missionaries; the inclusion of their names may suggest that they were of some standing in the Early Christian community at Rome. It has also been suggested that the Rufus (in Greek: Ῥοῦφον or Rhouphon) mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13 is the son of Simon of Cyrene. Some also link Simon himself with the “men of Cyrene” who preached the Gospel to the Greeks in Acts 11:20.  Could it be that Rufus and Alexander first learned about Jesus from Simon their father?

The Sixth Station of the Cross

Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Reflection by Suzanne Turner

The name Veronica comes from the Latin “vera” meaning true and the Greek “eikon” which means image. Today’s culture seems fixated on the grandiose acts of humans; big Silicone Valley upstarts, Forbes newest millionaire list, A-list actors. With access to constant news and social media posts, we can easily become distracted, even obsessed, by giants of industry and celebrities, making us feel small, ordinary and insignificant. But, often the images presented online and in the news are rarely portraying the true image of a people or their every day lives.

Who exactly was this holy woman we now know as Veronica? She was not a prophet, an apostle, or relative of Jesus. Veronica was ordinary – just like us. She doesn’t appear in the scriptures or many historic texts. Most don’t know her family lineage. Most don’t know the story of her life following the death and resurrection of Jesus. She was an ordinary woman and so was her simple act of love and compassion toward Jesus on the road to Calvary.

While our daily lives may appear ordinary and simple – each day offers infinite possibilities to simply show love and compassion. It’s the small things we do; the tiny acts of love we show, the kind gestures we offer in our every day ordinary lives, to every day ordinary people that create holiness.

The Seventh station

Jesus falls a second time.

Reflection By Devon Camenga

In my experience as an educator and father, I witness the struggles students and children endure with perseverance and courage to continue on. The pressures of success and glory, overshadow our ability to handle failure. Whether school, sports or even extracurricular activities, today’s youth shy away from challenging situations for fear of failure.

Granted, not achieving your goal is often heartbreaking, however Jesus is showing us that if you are determined, and are willing to get up and try again, anything is attainable. Thomas Edison has a wonderful quote in his endless attempts to create the light bulb that states, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work!”

We use Jesus’ 7th station as a reminder that events in our lives will be challenging, and He reminds us we can overcome our failures by getting up and trying again.

The Eighth Station

Jesus Meets the Women

Reflection by Sister Kate Arseneau CSJ

There are two Stations of the Cross that have always grabbed my heart. The first is “Jesus Meets His Mother” and the second is “Jesus Meets the Women.” Obviously both stations involve relationships with women, so it should be no surprise that I am especially attracted to them! I have long wondered if there were words exchanged at these stations. I am inclined to think that there were no words when Jesus stopped to encounter Mary…just a locking of eyes that sent a message both ways….from Mary to Jesus “my heart weeps for you, my Son”…and from Jesus to His mother, “don’t worry about me, Mother, this is part of the plan.” What a heart-wrenching encounter!
When “Jesus Meets the Women,” however, I think that there were definitely words exchanged. The Scriptures record what Jesus said to the women. He said, “do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” We are left to wonder what the women might have said to Him. Might it have been something like this:
• “We are beside ourselves with distress. You have done only good things for us. And this is how you are rewarded?”
TODAY we might say, “How we treat one another! Help us to see one another through your eyes…to see no color, no gender, no economic markers, no age!”
• “We wish we could have prevented this, but we are without voice in our society.”
TODAY we might say, “We grieve that you were treated so harshly. We wish that we could reach back in time and change how you were treated by some who said they believed in You. But women are STILL struggling for a place in our church. We are helpless to change anything of importance.”
• “Jesus, forgive all of us our blindness. You came to save us, and we took your life.”
TODAY we might say: “Jesus, help us to see where there is injustice and then spend ourselves making it right!”

The Ninth Station

Jesus falls the third time.

Reflection by Mark Trudeau

How many times can you fail before you say, “I quit?”  How many times can you be disappointed before you say “Enough?”

What can any one human endure?  When is it time to throw in the towel?  How much is “too much to sacrifice?”

As I pray through the stations of the cross I often forget that Jesus was a man.  I look and listen to what he endured for me and it gives me great cause to feel grateful to Jesus as the second person in the trinity.  But I forget about His humanity and think about how God can endure anything, because He’s God.

Back when I was 12 years old, my Dad gave me a chore to do in the yard.  There was a stone in the lawn and he wanted it moved.  Buried in the ground, you could only see a small portion of the stone so it looked like a very small job to do.  Shovel in hand and wheel barrel standing by I started to dig.  30 minutes into the job I found the stone was a bolder and I still did not find the edge to determine the actual size.  1 hour in, I had unearthed a rock the size of the wheel barrel.  My father came over to see my progress.  I was angry, covered in dirt, blistered, bleeding, ready for him to say that’s too big for you.  Leave it and I’ll take care of it. Or, hey, let me give you a hand.

Instead he asked me “Do you know how you’re going to get that rock out?”  He then spent 30 minutes teaching me counter weighting, cantilevers, pry bars, slides, block and tackle and balancing.  He never questioned me about being able to do it.  He never offered to help me do it.  I felt alone, exhausted, frustrated and even more angry but I knew it came down to one thing.  Not my will but his be done.  I continued. 9 hours and a broken shovel later, I moved the rock that outweighed me 4 times.

Praying the Stations, the one thing I forget is that Jesus completed His passion as a man, submitting to the will of His Father.  My Father in heaven.  Our Father.  There is no quitting, only figuring out a way to continue.  There is no limit because our Father in heaven is with us, watching over us, intimately involved in our success.  There is no limit to sacrifice because it is in the sacrifice that we love.  It is only in sacrifice that we can know love, experience true love.  Jesus Christ knew He had to continue because we needed to know how much He loves us.  It is in His humanity that we received His body and blood.  It is in His deity that we received His soul and divinity.  We are able to love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

And we are able to do all things through Him who empowers us. (Phil 4:13) The first scripture I ever memorized.  I think I was 12.

The Tenth Station

Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Reflection by Fr. John Yanas

Scenes of graphic violence and unspeakable cruelty can be found in Stephen Spielberg’s justly acclaimed World War II drama, Schindler’s List.  The mystery of iniquity is on full display in this haunting film. In one particularly gruesome scene Jews in the concentration camp are in a line-up for a medical evaluation.. The point of it all is to separate the sick from the healthy. The prisoners strip naked and run around the yard while the German officers pick who gets to be called healthy and fit to be alive. The rest are, in brutal fashion, sent away, meaning gassed or killed or incinerated. To be stripped naked is to be publicly shamed and humiliated!

As Jesus’ crucifixion draws near, the Son of God is stripped of his loincloth, prior to being nailed to the cross. His garments must have been soaked in his own blood. In John’s gospel, we read, “And when the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic” (Jn.19:23). Everything has been taken from Jesus: his liberty, his friends his work. As a final blow they take from Him the dignity and honor of his person as well. Naked and uncovered he is given over to shame. Many of the church fathers took the view that the sun darkened as if to hide its face in the sight of Jesus’ stripped condition.

In her reflections on the way of the cross, the English Mystic Caryll Houselander, is of the view that Christ identified Himself with those whom he would indwell through all time. Her words are sobering and enlightening. “All through the ages to come, men will turn to the crucifix and each one will see himself and his own particular suffering in the sufferings of Christ on the cross. They will see their own suffering in his, and laid upon him their own individual sins, and him, triumphant in his love, turning their suffering to glory”.

Are we not shocked by the sight of a naked Christ? If not, we then sorely need a shock treatment!

The Eleventh Station

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Reflection by Matthew Ingold

In 2017, the self-help industry was valued at $11 Billion. Its promise to consumers—you have the ability to overcome your problems. You don’t need to depend on anyone else but you.

YOU can save yourself.

“Well, what’s wrong with that?” you might ask. “Shouldn’t I try to solve my own problems?”

This is where we can gain a lot of clarity by reflecting on the crucified Christ. We read in Luke’s gospel:

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’…One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ Luke 23: 35-39.

Hanging there in agony on the cross with his holy mother feeling the prophesized sword piercing her immaculate heart, Jesus is compelled three times to swallow the self-help gospel and save himself so he can prove that he is the promised Messiah.

Think of the irony. Never before was there ever a person more capable of solving his own problems than Christ on the cross.

And this is the temptation of the self-help gospel; that if we can show the world that WE can solve our own problems, then WE can prove that WE are our own Messiah.

Yet amidst this temptation, Christ remains obedient to his Father’s will.

Even more ironic, it’s actually a thief on the cross next to him who rebukes the onlookers and their self-help manifesto. Turning to Jesus, he models to all of us the antidote to the self-help gospel, saying:

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23: 42.

When we turn to Christ to save us, regardless of whether or not our problems are societal or self-inflicted, that’s when we receive the saving grace of God. As Christ put his trust in the Father, we, like the good thief, are called to avoid the temptation to be our own Messiah and prayerfully put our trust in Jesus.

The name Jesus in fact means, God Saves!

So as we reflect on Christ crucified and our own crosses we experience throughout our life, we have a choice. We don’t get to choose whether or not we are crucified or when our crosses will come in life. Those are guaranteed.

We do, however, get to choose which thief we will be on our cross next to Christ. Both guilty. Both wanting to be saved. One arrogant and the other penitent and humble.

Both dying. One promised eternity in paradise.

One crying out “Save yourself!” The other declaring, “Jesus!”

Which thief will you choose to be on your cross?

The Twelfth Station

Jesus dies on the Cross

Reflection by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger

Jesus really died. Contemplate this. His life ended, not just like all of ours, but in the worst possible way any life could. Despised by the elite. Abandoned by friends. And with no “God pass,” feeling forsaken even by the Father, forever one with him in his divinity.

Ever felt despised, rejected, ignored or taken for granted? Think on this. Even godliness offers no exemption from pain, suffering and mockery by the world. All the world offers, dies on the Cross. Except for one thing: Love.

God IS Love. Could this be made any clearer than the moment Jesus breathed his last, forgiving his persecutors? For in pouring out every last ounce of his humanity, he reveals what miracles, doctrine, good works and even a heroic life alone could not. That love alone is forever and only God’s pure love can redeem.

The Thirteenth Station

Jesus is taken down from the cross

Reflection by Renee Morgiewicz

When Jesus is taken down from the cross, we see how the sacred human body is treated after death and how the end of life times, are very trying for the dying person and loved ones.  We see Mary and the Beloved Apostle as role models in how they attended to their loved one near death’s end with courage and strength.  We can turn to Mary and St. John for strength when those close to us are at life’s end.  This 13th Station may bring to our mind Michelangelo’s Pieta, and it is a good time simply to pause and meditate in peace on the complete acceptance and “yes” that Mary continues to have in response to God’s will. Mary leads us in how to love our dear ones at life’s end.  For parents who have lost a child, Mary has gone before us in losing her son, and we have much to learn from her as we draw near to her in prayer.  This station is a time to meditate and thank God with Mary for His dying for us.

Fourteenth Station

Jesus is laid in the Tomb

Reflection by Ed Martin, STD

Just as throughout His public ministry, Jesus depends upon the hospitality of others for a place to be buried. “Foxes have dens, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Mt. 8:20).  What might be the point of this consistent dependence upon the good will of others?  Think about this for a moment.  In our contemporary consumer fixated world, how many times have you heard as a key argument in a sales pitch: buy this and you will be in charge, you will be in control?  Apparently Madison Avenue has locked in on a human desire (I would call it a weakness) to always be in control.  We have a yearning for complete security.  We want to know and control whatever is going to happen next in our lives.  Are you aware that this is a complete delusion?  It flies in the face of the very nature of human (should I say creaturely?) existence.  God has always asked that we recognize that we simply cannot be in control, and therefore put our trust in Him.  Jesus taught not just by words, but as well, by example. So He chose a lifestyle that demonstrated loud and clear, that as a fellow human being, He put His trust in His fellow human beings, and ultimately in God.  E.g. poverty is not a good in itself. Its value and why it is lauded in the Scriptures is because it teaches the lesson that we are not in control.  We by no means have the resources.  In depending on Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, for his burial, Jesus taught this lesson to the very end.  He didn’t have a pre-planed funeral.

The Fifteenth Station

The Resurrection

Reflection By Bishop Emeritus Howard Hubbard

It is fitting that the traditional Stations of the Cross now conclude with a 15th station: the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  For as St. Paul writes, “if Christ is not raised from the dead, the Gospel is null and void and so it is your faith (1 Cor. 15:14).

That is why, as the theologian Father Stephen Rosetti states, the Resurrection of Jesus is the unparalleled moment of human history and the defining event for all of humanity.

All of life and history revolve around this one moment:  it penetrates every atom with life and gives every moment its meaning.

The Resurrection doesn’t yield to that denial or despair which are so prevalent today, but gives rise to a natural Christian optimism; one which appreciates that the challenging life realities we encounter are far surpassed by the blazing glory of the Resurrection.

Indeed, with the Resurrection, no amount of change or challenge can ever dislodge our confidence.  Rather these changes and challenges are welcomed as manifestations of our dynamic, unfolding God who is ever new, ever more wonderful but who never changes.  With the Resurrection we can live in the maelstrom of change without losing our way.

We can do this because the Resurrection assures us that already we are saved; already we are redeemed.  Indeed, if we see all of life’s challenges, no matter how painful or unfathomable they may be, in light of the Resurrection, we will perceive underneath it all the loving hand of God.

 

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