The Stations of the Cross is a popular Catholic devotion, particularly during Lent. The Stations of the Cross originated with Holy Land pilgrims retracing Jesus' steps. In the 12th and 13th centuries, many people were drawn to the Passion devotion. In 1342, when the Franciscans were given the custody of the holy sites in the Holy Land, they began promoting the devotion. Today, Stations of the Cross have been erected in neighborhoods and churches throughout the world.
Station I: Jesus is condemned
Pilate again said to them, "And what shall I do with the man you call King of the Jews?" They cried out, "Crucify him." And Pilate said, "Why, what has He done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him." So Pilate, having scourged Jesus gave Him up to be crucified. Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, only a few days ago the crowds welcomed you rejoicing, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." Today, their words are so very different. There have been times I too have given You up, have not spoken out for You out of my own fear. And other times I've taken the messages You spoke of love and mercy and turned them. With pride-filled righteousness, void of love, I've used them in judgment of those who don't believe as I do. With a few words, Pilate condemned You. Be with me so my words and actions, like Yours, give life. For showing me Your Word is stronger than the world, I thank You.
Station II: Jesus picks up His cross
They placed a crown of thorns on His head and mocked Him "All hail, King of the Jews." They whipped Him. They spit on Him. And they led Him away to be crucified. Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, it is easy to adore You as the infant Prince of Peace held in a manger of wood. How painful it is to see You with the cross of wood that will hold You at Golgotha. My indiscretions burrow splinters into Your shoulder and tear the flesh from Your hands. You, who are love, suffer for me. "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) Some days my cross is physical pain. Other days it's a situation I cannot control. And there are times my cross is facing my own imperfections. For showing me there is beauty in the reward of the cross, I thank You.
Station III: Jesus falls the first time
People watch as He walks through the streets of the city where he once walked with his disciples. And carrying the cross on the rough and rugged street, He falls. Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, the weight of my sin You carry on the cross, and in Your heart, is so heavy. I, too, fall under the weight of my own sin on this rough and rugged road. Sometimes it is as public as your falling, but even in private, You, who love me, know when I fall. I look to You and get up again. You said, "I tell you there will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 righteous people who have no need to repent." (Luke 15:7) For picking me up when I fall, and for never losing hope in me, I thank You.
Station IV: Jesus meets his mother
"Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: 'This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed – and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.'" (Luke 2:34-35.) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, in faith Mary took You into her womb and in faith she watches as You are ripped from her. Who, other than God, knew every hair on Your head, every line of Your face, or the story of every childhood scrape of Your knees? In accepting motherhood, she proclaimed, "I am the servant of the Lord." (Luke 1:43). As a servant she delighted in You, told others at Cana to "do as He says," and now meets You, aching in sorrow. All she says and does is to draw others to You. For allowing me to be like Your mother and saying "yes" to You in my life, I thank You.
Station V: Simon helps Jesus
And as they led Jesus away, Simon of Cyrene was coming in from the fields. The soldiers forced him to help Jesus carry the cross. Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, you were betrayed by a kiss from one You loved and now a stranger is made to help You. Simon gave of himself, an example for me to help shoulder the burdens of others. "I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40) It's easy to help the unseen "least of these" with money, food and clothing – and turn away. It's harder to help "the least of these" when they are someone I find hard to love – a family member, neighbor or fellow employee. They may have hurt me or not appreciate it the way I think they should. And though Judas betrayed You, You gave of Yourself and still loved him. For showing me that love is the greatest gift of all, I thank You.
Station VI: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
"To have seen me is to have seen the Father." (John 14:9) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, Veronica, like Simon, helped You. But she was not forced. She comforted you out of compassion. She reached out to help and You gave of Yourself to her. Today You give of Yourself to me in the Eucharist, in signs and wonders, and in miracles. You give me Your Word in the Scripture. You hear my pleas and You answer my prayers. You surround me with Your grace and cover me with Your mercy. Veronica saw Your face, as do I in those with whom You allow me to share the journey. I see Your sacred face in the sick, in the lost, in the old, in the lonely, in the young. Help me share Your love by reaching out even in ways as simple as a touch or a smile. For giving of Yourself to me, and for filling my life, I thank You.
Station VII: Jesus falls a second time
"But He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins. Upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed." (Isaiah 53:5) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, You fall again struggling to carry the weight of my sin. Your disciples fell too – fell away from following You. I, and others in society, have done the same when we succumb to prejudice or intolerance, show lack of concern for the environment, or treat others with anything less than dignity. Yet, You took every lash of the whip so we would be healed. The scourging You suffered so we, as a community, would be made whole. When You fell, You got up and kept on going. You inspire us to persevere through discouragement of falling again and again. Your wounded hands and pierced heart embrace us. For being there when we fall, and for healing us, I thank You.
Station VIII: Jesus meets the women and children
Jesus turned to them and said "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children." (Luke 23:28) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, You seem to have no strength left – yet You sympathize with the women who follow and offer You consolation. You know the grief coming in the days that lie ahead. You manage to go on so that we can choose life with You forever. Help me to see the real pain in the world today. Countries are decimated in the name of your Father. Families are split by pride. People are destroyed by unbearable grief. Some question Your existence and the promise of salvation. How can I offer Your consolation to those who are broken today? For the gift of your mercy, I thank You.
Station IX: Jesus falls the third time
"And Jesus said, 'neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.'" (John 8:11) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, Your words to the woman accused of adultery are those You offer me today. As a sinner, I have fallen again. Yet, under the strain of my sins, You collapse a third time. You are so weary, each step more difficult that the one before it. You do not condemn me. In Your love, You teach me of forgiveness. At times, I fail at that too. A third time, battered and bruised, You get up and keep carrying the cross. You show me how, and give me the means, to get up again and again. You are the one who picks me up when I fall. For the strength of Your love, and Your gift of forgiveness, I thank You.
Station X: Jesus is stripped of His garments
"They (the soldiers) said to each other, 'We should not tear it. Let us throw dice to see who gets it.'" (John 19:24) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, it was not just Your garments that were stripped from You. The touch of Your mother and the fellowship of Your disciples are gone as well. Even those who followed You from village to village have left. You asked, "Are not five sparrows sold for a few pennies? Yet not one of them is neglected by God?" (Luke 12:6) Help me to see Your courage and Your strength when I am severed from things that matter – the death of a loved one, a job lost, friends move on, dreams crumble or when all joy is lost. For the magnitude of the price You paid, and the humility You faced for me, I thank You.
Station XI: Jesus is nailed to the cross
"When they came to Skull Place, as it was called, they crucified him there and the criminals as well, one on his right and the other on his left." (Luke 23:33) Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, I can't begin to imagine the pain as the blows of the hammer drive the nails through Your depleted flesh. The hammer and the nails, the tools You used to as a carpenter, now are used to hang You on the cross. They spike Your hands from one end of the crossbeam to the other. Those are the same precious hands that reached out to heal the sick and comfort the lost. They are the hands that hold me in Your grip. "The way we came to understand love was that he laid down his life for us; we too must lay down our lives for our brothers." (1John 3:16) For the pain You endured in Your love for me, I thank You.
Station XII: Jesus dies on the cross
"Then Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.' And having said this He breathed His last." Luke 23: 46. Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, the pain just before Your death was more than physical as You cried out "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") You cried out to the Father. You cried out on my behalf. "Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (Matthew 26:26-28) For the sacrifice of Your love, that I may have life with You, I thank You.
Station XIII: Jesus is taken down from the cross
Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus, got permission from Pilate to take down Jesus' body. Let us pray.
Oh my Jesus, it is finished. Your body is returned to the arms of Your sorrowful mother. How different it is for her from the days she yearned to first hold You in her arms. With so much awe she prayed: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation." (Luke 1:46-50). I see her now in mourning. She stays with You, embraces you. For the example of Mary, who shows me to how acknowledge the great things You have done for me, even when I am in grief, I thank You.
Station XIV: Jesus is placed in the tomb
"Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in fresh linen and laid it in his own new tomb which had been hewn from a formation of rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away." (Matthew 28:59-60) Let us pray.
We know that Jesus being laid in the tomb isn't the end of the story. Jesus died for our sins. God's love never dies. Three days later, Jesus was raised from the dead by God, His Father. That same God – who loves Jesus, oh, so much, loves each and every one of us – and He loves us unconditionally. Today, 2,000 years after Jesus died on the cross, we've seen the hand of God in our own lives. It isn't because we deserve it, earned it, studied hard for it or prayed long enough for it. It's because the same love God has for Jesus is here for us – pure gift – just because we are. No matter who we are. Every moment of every day. Look and see the ways God's love is alive in your own life – and tell others. That is the way the promise of salvation and God's forgiving love has endured – and given life – for 2,000 years.