The way of The Cross

  Just eight days before Pope John Paul II crossed the threshold to the Father’s house on April 2, 2005, he clutched a crucifix in his private

chapel during the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum which he watched via video. Unable to attend due to his failing health, John Paul embraced his own suffering united to Christ’s in what would be his final Good Friday. Earlier in March, the Pope had asked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
to prepare the Way of The Cross meditations and prayers.

Those prayers and meditations form the core of the following Way Of The Cross. They are supported with St. John Paul II’s writing from
“On The Christian Meaning of Suffering” (Salvifici Doloris).

Opening Prayer

Opening Prayer
MY LORD, JESUS CHRIST, You have made this journey to die for me with unspeakable love; and I have so many times ungratefully abandoned You. But now I love You with all my heart; and, because I love You, I am sincerely sorry for ever having offended You. Pardon me, my God, and permit me to accompany You on this journey. You go to die for love of me; I want, my beloved Redeemer, to die for love of You. My Jesus, I will live and die always united to You.

 

1st STATION: Jesus is Condemned to Death

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew 27:22-23,26
Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Meditation
The Judge of the world, who will come again to judge us all, stands there, dishonoured and defenceless before the earthly judge. Pilate is not utterly evil. He knows that the condemned man is innocent… But his heart is divided… Nor are the men who are shouting and demanding the death of Jesus utterly evil. Many of them, on the day of Pentecost, will feel “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), when Peter will say to them: “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God… you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law” (Acts 2:22ff.). But at that moment they are caught up in the crowd. They are shouting because everyone else is shouting, and they are shouting the same thing that everyone else is shouting. And in this way, justice is trampled underfoot by weakness, cowardice and fear of the diktat of the ruling mindset. The quiet voice of conscience is drowned out by the cries of the crowd. Evil draws its power from indecision and concern for what other people think.

1st STATION

Prayer
Lord, you were condemned to death because fear of what other people may think suppressed the voice of conscience. So too, throughout history, the innocent have always been maltreated, condemned and killed. How many times have we ourselves preferred success to the truth, our reputation to justice? Strengthen the quiet voice of our conscience, your own voice, in our lives. Look at me as you looked at Peter after his denial. Let your gaze penetrate our  hearts and indicate the direction our lives must take. On the day of Pentecost, you stirred the hearts of those who, on Good Friday, clamoured for your death, and you brought them to conversion. In this way, you gave hope to all. Grant us, ever anew, the grace of conversion.

St. John Paul II

Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else, he says: “Follow me!”. Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering!  (#26)
Our Father…

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

 

2nd STATION: Jesus takes up his cross

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew. 27:27-31
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.  After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Meditation
Jesus, condemned as an imposter king, is mocked, but this very mockery lays bare a painful truth… How often are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man!  It is because Jesus is mocked and wears the crown of suffering that he appears as the true King.  His sceptre is justice (cf. Ps 45:7).  The price of justice in this world is suffering: Jesus, the true King, does not reign through violence, but through a love which suffers for us and with us.  He takes up the Cross, our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world…

2nd STATION

Prayer
Lord, you willingly subjected yourself to mockery and scorn. Help us not to ally ourselves with those who look down on the weak and suffering.  Help us to acknowledge your face in the lowly and the outcast. May we never lose heart when faced with the contempt of this world, which ridicules our obedience to your will. You carried your own Cross and you ask us to follow you on this path (cf. Mt 10:38). Help us to take up the Cross, and not to shun it. May we never complain or become discouraged by life’s trials. Help us to follow the path of love and, in submitting to its demands, to find true joy.

St. John Paul II

Salvation means liberation from evil, and for this reason it is closely bound up with the problem of suffering. According to the words spoken to Nicodemus, God gives his Son to “the world” to free man from evil, which bears within itself the definitive and absolute perspective on suffering. (#14)

Our Father…

O, how sad and sore depressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole Begotten One

 

3rd STATION: Jesus falls for the first time

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Isaiah. 53:4-6
Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Meditation
In Jesus’s fall beneath the weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary abasement, which lifts us up from the
depths of our pride. The nature of our pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own lives. In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god, creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction. The humility of Jesus is the surmounting of our pride; by his basement, he lifts us up. Let us allow Him to lift us up. Let us strip away our sense of self-sufficiency, our false illusions of  independence, and learn from him, the One who humbled himself, to discover our true greatness by bending low before God and before our downtrodden brothers and sisters.

3rd STATION

Prayer
Lord Jesus, the weight of the cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our pride, brought you down. But your fall is not a
tragedy or mere human weakness. You came to us when, in our pride, we were laid low. The arrogance that makes us think that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from your humility, to rise again.

St. John Paul II

By his salvific work, the only-begotten Son liberates man from sin and death. First of all he blots out from human history the dominion of sin, which took root under the influence of the evil Spirit, beginning with Original Sin, and then he gives man the possibility of living in Sanctifying Grace. In the wake of his victory over sin, he also takes away the dominion of death, by his Resurrection beginning the process of the future resurrection of the body. (#15)

Our Father…

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

 

4th STATION: Jesus meets his mother

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Luke. 2:34-35,51
Simon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: “Behold, thischild is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against
(and asword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed”. Andhis mother kept all these things in her heart.

Meditation
On Jesus’ Way ofthe Cross, we also find Mary, his Mother. During his public life, she had to step aside, to make place for the birth of Jesus’ new family,the family of his disciples. She also had to hear the words: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?…Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is brother, and sister and mother” (Mt 12:48-50).
Now we see her as the Mother of Jesus, not only physically, but also in her heart.
Even before she conceived him bodily,through her obedience she conceived him in her heart. It was said to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. He will be great and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David”(Lk 1:31ff.). And she would hear from the mouth of the elderly Simeon: “A sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk 2:35). She would then recall the words of the prophets, words like these: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was like a lamb that is led to slaughter.” Now it all takes place. In her heart, she had kept the words of the angel, spoken to her in the beginning: “Do not be afraid, Mary” (Lk 1:30). The disciples fled, yet she did not flee. She stayed there, with a Mother’s courage, a Mother’s fidelity, a Mother’s  goodness, and a faith which did not waver in the hour of darkness: “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45).

4th STATION

Prayer
Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, you remained faithful when the disciples fled. Just as you believed the angel’s incredible message – that you
would become the Mother of the Most High, so too you believed at the hour of his greatest abasement. In this way, at the hour of the Cross, at the hour of the world’s darkest night, you became the Mother of all believers, the Mother of the Church. We beg you: teach us to believe, and grant that our faith
may bear fruit in courageous service and be the sign of a love ever ready to share suffering and to offer assistance.
St. John Paul II

God the Father has loved the only-begotten Son, that is, he loves him in a lasting way; and then in time, precisely through this all-surpassing love, he “gives” this Son, that he may strike at the very roots of human evil and thus draw close in a salvific way to the whole world of suffering in which man shares. (#15)

Our Father…

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

 

5th STATION: The Cyrenian helps Jesus carry his cross

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew. 27:32; 16:24
As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross. Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Meditation

Simon of Cyrene is on his way home, returning from work, when he comes upon the sad procession of those condemned – for him, perhaps, it was a common sight. The soldiers force this rugged man from the country to carry the Cross on his own shoulders. From this chance encounter, faith was born. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched his heart. Jesus, whose divine love alone can redeem all humanity, wants us to share his Cross so that we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering (cf. Col 1:24). Whenever we show kindness to the suffering, the persecuted and defenceless, and share in their sufferings, we help to carry that same Cross of Jesus. In this way, we obtain salvation and help contribute to the salvation of the world.

5th STATION

Prayer

Lord, you opened the eyes and heart of Simon of Cyrene, and you
gave him, by his share in your Cross, the grace of faith. Help us to aid our neighbours in need,
even when this interferes with our own plans and desires. Help us to realize that it is a grace to be
able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with you along the way.
Help us to appreciate with joy that, when we share in your suffering and the sufferings of this world, we
become servants of salvation and are able to help build up your Body, the Church.

St. John Paul II

Christ drew close above all to  the world of human suffering through the fact of having taken this suffering upon his very
self…Precisely by means of this suffering, he must bring it about “that man should not perish,
but have eternal life”. Precisely by means of his Cross, he must strike at the roots of evil, planted in
the history of man and in human souls. Precisely by means of his Cross he must accomplish the work
of salvation. (#16)

Our Father…

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with pain and scourges rent

 

6th STATION: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

  Psalms. 27:8-9
You have said, “Seek my face”. My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek”. Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation.

Meditation
She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be
bewildered. At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see
Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.

6th STATION

Prayer
Lord, grant us restless hearts, hearts which seek your face. Keep us from the blindness of heart which sees only the surface of things. Give us
the simplicity and purity which allow us to recognize your presence in the world. When we are not able to accomplish great things, grant us the courage which is born of humility and goodness. Impress your face on our hearts. May we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.

St. John Paul II

In the light of the verses of Isaiah, the Passion of Christ becomes almost more expressive and touching than in the descriptions of the Evangelists  themselves. Behold, the true Man of Sorrows presents himself before us:

All we like sheep have gone astray we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”: all human sin in its breadth and depth becomes the true cause of the Redeemer’s suffering. If the suffering “is measured” by the evil suffered, then the words of the Prophet enable us to understand the extent of this evil and suffering with which Christ burdened himself. (#17)

Our Father…

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

 

7th STATION: Jesus falls a second time

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Lamentations. 3:1-2,9,16
I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light. He has blocked
my way with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes.

Meditation
Throughout history the fall of man constantly takes on new forms. In his First Letter, Saint John speaks of a threefold fall: lust of the
flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He thus interprets the fall of man and humanity against the backdrop of the vices of his own time, with all its excesses and perversions. But we can also think, in more recent times, of how a Christianity which has grown weary of faith has abandoned the Lord: the
great ideologies, and the banal existence of those who, no longer believing in anything, simply drift through life, have built a new and worse paganism, which in its attempt to do away with God once and for all, have ended up doing away with man. And so man lies fallen in the dust. The Lord bears this
burden and falls, over and over again, in order to meet us. He gazes on us, he touches our hearts; he falls in order to raise us up.

7th STATION

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, you have borne all our burdens and you continue to carry us. Our weight has made you fall. Lift us up, for by ourselves we
cannot rise from the dust. Free us from the bonds of lust. In place of a heart of stone, give us a heart of flesh, a heart capable of seeing. Lay low the power of ideologies, so that all may see that they are a web of lies. Do not let the wall of materialism become unsurmountable. Make us aware of your presence.
Keep us sober and vigilant, capable of resisting the forces of evil. Help us to recognise the spiritual and material needs of others, and to give them the help they need. Lift us up, so that we may lift others up. Give us hope at every moment of darkness, so that we may bring your hope to the world.

St. John Paul II

Christ suffers voluntarily and suffers innocently… Christ gives the answer to the question about suffering and the meaning of suffering not only by his teaching, that is by the Good News, but most of all by his own suffering, which is integrated with this teaching of the Good News in an organic and indissoluble way. And this is the final, definitive word of this teaching: “the word of the Cross”, as Saint Paul one day will say [The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18).]  (#18)

Our Father…

 

8th STATION: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 Luke. 23:28-31
Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For
behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us’. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it
is dry?”

Meditation
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:28-31). Hearing Jesus reproach the women of
Jerusalem who follow him and weep for him ought to make us reflect. How should we understand his words? Are they not directed at a piety which is purely sentimental, one which fails to lead to conversion and living faith? It is no use to lament the sufferings of this world if our life goes on as usual. And so the Lord warns us of the danger in which we find ourselves. He shows us both the seriousness of sin and the seriousness of judgement. Can it be that, despite all our expressions of consternation in the face of evil and innocent suffering, we are all too prepared to trivialize the mystery of evil? Have we accepted only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgement? “How can God be so concerned with our  weaknesses?”, we say. “We are only human!” Yet as we contemplate the sufferings of the Son, we see more clearly the seriousness of sin, and how it needs to be fully atoned if it is to be overcome. Before the image of the suffering Lord, evil can no longer be trivialized. To us too, he says: “Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves… if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”.

8th STATION

Prayer
Lord, to the weeping women you spoke of repentance and the Day of Judgement when all of us will stand before your face: before you, the Judge of
the world. You show us the seriousness of our responsibility, the danger of our being found guilty and without excuse on the Day of Judgement. Grant that we may not simply walk at your side, with nothing to offer other than compassionate words. Convert us and give us new life. Grant that in the end, we will not be dry wood, but living branches in you, the true vine, bearing fruit for eternal life (cf.
Jn 15:1-10).

St. John Paul II

The words: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt”(Mt. 26:39), and later: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done”(Mt.26: 42), have a manifold eloquence. They prove the truth of that love which the only-begotten Son gives to the Father in his obedience…Christ’s words confirm with all simplicity this human truth of suffering, to its very depths: suffering is the undergoing of evil before which man shudders. He says: let it pass from me”, just as Christ says in Gethsemane. (#18)

Our Father…

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.

 

9th STATION: Jesus falls for the third time

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Lamentations.
3:27-32

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him; let him put his mouth in the dust –
there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

Meditation
What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from
Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How
often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the  depths of our hearts: Kyrie Eleison – Lord, save us (cf.
Mt 8: 25).

9th STATION

Prayer
Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field, we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your
Church. Save and sanctify us all.

St. John Paul II

When Christ says: “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”, his words are not only an expression of that abandonment which many times found expression in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms and in particular in that Psalm 22 from which come the words quoted. One can say that these words on abandonment are born at the level of that inseparable union of the Son with the Father, and are born because the Father “laid on him the iniquity of us all”(Is. 53:6).

Together with this horrible weight, encompassing the “entire” evil of the turning away from God which is contained in sin, Christ, through the
divine depth of his filial union with the Father, perceives in a humanly inexpressible way
 this suffering which is the separation, the rejection by the Father, the estrangement from God. But precisely through this suffering he accomplishes the Redemption and can say as he breathes his last: “It is finished”(Jn 19:30).

Our Father…

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

 

10th STATION: Jesus is stripped of his garments

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew. 27:33-36

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means
the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall, but when he tasted it, he
would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting
lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.

Meditation
The moment of the stripping reminds us of the expulsion from Paradise: God’s splendour has fallen away from man, who now stands naked and
exposed, unclad and ashamed. And so Jesus once more takes on the condition of fallen man. Stripped of his garments, he reminds us that we have all lost the “first garment” that is God’s splendour. At the foot of the Cross, the soldiers draw lots to divide his paltry possessions, his clothes. The Evangelists describe the scene with words drawn from Psalm 22:19; by doing so they tell us the same thing that Jesus would tell his disciples on the road to Emmaus: that everything takes place “according to the Scriptures”. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of man’s fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step towards our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep.

10th STATION

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you were stripped of your garments, exposed to shame, cast out of society. You took upon yourself the shame of Adam, and you healed
it. You also take upon yourself the sufferings and the needs of the poor, the outcasts of our world. And in this very way, you fulfil the words of the prophets. This is how you bring meaning into apparent meaninglessness. This is how you make us realize that your Father holds you, us, and the whole world in his hands. Give us a profound respect for man at every stage of his existence, and in all the situations in which we encounter him. Clothe us in the light of your grace.

St. John Paul II

One can say that with the Passion of Christ all human suffering has found itself in a new situation. And it is as though Job has foreseen this when he said: “I know that my Redeemer lives …”, and as though he had directed towards it his own suffering, which without the Redemption could not have revealed to him the fullness of its meaning. (# 19)

Our Father…

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified.

 

11th STATION: Jesus is nailed to the cross

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew 27:37-42

And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”. Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross”. So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him”.

Meditation
“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him” (Matt. 27:42).  The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: “But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people” (Ps 22:7). “As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised… surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:3f.). Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon. 

11th STATION

Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that
they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him.

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, you let yourself be nailed to the Cross, accepting the terrible cruelty of this suffering, the destruction of your body and your dignity. You allowed yourself to be nailed fast; you did not try to escape or to lessen your suffering. May we never flee from what we are called to do. Help us to remain faithful to you. Help us to unmask the false freedom which would distance us from you. Help us to accept your “binding” freedom, and, “bound” fast to you, to discover true freedom.

St. John Paul II

In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption… But if at the same time in this weakness there is accomplished his lifting up, confirmed by the power of the Resurrection, then this means that the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same power of God manifested in Christ’s Cross… In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. (#23)

Our Father…

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

 

12th STATION: Jesus dies on the cross

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew 27:45-50,54
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Elijah”. And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us
see whether Elijah will come to save him”. And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit”. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Meditation

Jesus prays Psalm 22, which begins with the words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:2). He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all of suffering humanity, the drama of God’s darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where  he seems definitively vanquished and absent. The Cross of Jesus is a cosmic event. The world is darkened, when the Son of God is given up to death. The earth trembles. And on the Cross, the Church of the Gentiles is born. The Roman centurion understands this and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God.
From the Cross he triumphs – ever anew.

12th STATION

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, at the hour of your death the sun was darkened. Ever anew you are being nailed to the Cross. At this present hour of history,
we are living in God’s darkness. Through your great sufferings and the wickedness of men, the face of God, your face, seems obscured, unrecognizable. And yet, on the Cross, you have revealed yourself. Precisely by being the one who suffers and loves, you are exalted. From the Cross on high, you have
triumphed. Help us to recognize your face at this hour of darkness and tribulation. Help us to believe in you and to follow you in our hour of darkness and need. Show yourself once more to the world at this hour. Reveal to us your salvation.

St. John Paul II

Christ did not conceal from his listeners the need for suffering. He said very clearly: “If any man would come after me… let him take up his cross daily ”(Luke 9:23)…Suffering is, in itself, an experience of evil. But Christ has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation. By his suffering on the Cross, Christ reached the very roots of evil, of sin and death. He conquered the author of evil, Satan, and his permanent rebellion against the Creator (#25,26).

Our Father…

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

 

13th STATION: Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his mother

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew 27:54-55

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from
Galilee, ministering to him.

Meditation
Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord… Under the Cross stand Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden.

At Jesus’s burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Saviour. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.

13th STATION

Prayer
Lord, you descended into the darkness of death. How easy it is for us to step back and say to ourselves: “God is dead”. In the hour of darkness,
help us to know that you are still there. Do not abandon us when we are tempted to lose heart. Help us not to leave you alone. Give us the fidelity to withstand moments of confusion and a love ready to embrace you in your utter helplessness, like your Mother, who once more holds you to her breast.

St. John Paul II

Down through the centuries… it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace… This discovery is a particular confirmation of the spiritual greatness which in man surpasses the body in a way that is completely beyond compare. When this body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal.

To the suffering brother or sister Christ discloses and gradually reveals the horizons of the Kingdom of God: the horizons of a world converted to the Creator, of a world free from sin, a world being built on the saving power of love. And slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this world, into this Kingdom of the Father, suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within. And Christ through his own salvific suffering is very much present in every human suffering and can act from within that suffering by the powers of his Spirit of truth, his consoling Spirit. (#26,27)

Our Father…

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

 

14th STATION: Jesus is laid in the tomb

V/. We adore thee,  O Christ and we bless thee. (Genuflect)
R/. Because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Matthew 27:59-61
Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.

Meditation
Jesus, disgraced and mistreated, is honourably buried in a new tomb. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds
weight, which gives off a precious scent. In the Son’s self-offering, as at his anointing in Bethany, we see an “excess” which evokes God’s generous and superabundant love… If God’s measure is superabundance, then we for our part should consider nothing too much for God. This is the teaching of Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (
Mt 5:20). But we should also remember the words of Saint Paul, who says that God “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:14ff.). Amid the decay of ideologies, our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life. At the very moment of his burial, Jesus’ words are fulfilled: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of
God became flesh and bread for us. The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.

14th STATION

Prayer
Through the death of the grain of wheat, you give us yourself, so that we too can dare to lose our life in order to find it, so that we too can trust the promise of the grain of wheat. Help us grow in love and veneration for your Eucharistic mystery – to make you, the Bread of heaven, the source of our life. Help us to become your “fragrance”, and to make known in this world the mysterious traces of your life. Like the grain of wheat which rises from
the earth, putting forth its stalk and then its ear, you could not remain enclosed in the tomb: the tomb is empty because he – the Father – “did not abandon you to the nether world, nor let your flesh see corruption” (
Acts 2:31; Ps 16:10 LXX). No, you did not see corruption. You have risen, and have made a place for our transfigured flesh in the very heart of God. Help us to rejoice in this hope and bring it joyfully to the world. Help us to become witnesses of your resurrection.

St. John Paul II

It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption. The Gospel of suffering is being written unceasingly, and it speaks unceasingly with the words of this strange paradox: the springs of divine power gush forth precisely in the midst of human weakness. Those who share in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world’s Redemption, and can share this treasure with others. (#27)

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

 

Prayer To Jesus Christ Crucified
MY GOOD AND DEAR JESUS, I kneel before You, asking You most earnestly to engrave upon my heart a deep and lively faith, hope, and
charity, with true repentance for my sins, and a firm resolve to make amends. As I reflect upon Your five wounds, and dwell upon them with deep compassion and grief, I recall, good Jesus, the words the Prophet David spoke long ago concerning Yourself: “They pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones.