For Lent a number of bloggers have joined their efforts to help the Leonie’s Longing
community pray the Way of the Cross together. We hope you’ll find these reflections
helpful aids to prayer as you seek to live Lent well.
First Station: Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus answered [him], You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. Jn 19:11
And it had.
Our Lord knew His Passion was upon Him, that the Father’s plan gave Pilate the authority to condemn Him despite His innocence.
And yet He had abandoned Himself to the will of His Father, in the Garden the night before. He had said, Not my will but Thine.
I often wonder, how did Our Lord’s human nature react to this experience at the moment of condemnation? We know He assented to the Father’s will in the Garden but what did His Sacred Heart feel as the sentence was actually pronounced? Was it the same as He felt when He anticipated this cruel and unjust sentence? Did He face an interior struggle to continue to say “yes,” to continue to choose the Father’s will?
At times it is difficult for me to accept my return to lay life. The lack of control in the moment when my superior said I needed to leave was initially terrifying. I only had control over my response. I had to will myself to trust that at some deep level, God was in control and would continue to care for me. Thought it can be hard to believe at times, He still holds me close to His wounded, Sacred Heart and shows that He understands. He does this for you as well, each time your abandonment to His will is accompanied by suffering.
Lord, help me to truly trust You and abandon myself to Your will in all things. I know that You are with me when I suffer; You alone truly understand my heart.
Third Station: Jesus falls for the first time
Get Back Up Again
We all know how embarrassed we get when we fall, especially when we fall in front of others. One day, this past summer, my mom took my little sisters and me to see Jurassic Park on an outdoor movie screen (yes, I screamed whenever the dinos ate someone ), and my mom had to get up before the movie started, and she ended up tripping over the rope right into the “aisle” of grass! She was all right, but the band that was playing on the stage before the movie stopped playing and the lead singer asked if she was okay, and told her not to be embarrassed because everyone falls, they just need to get back up again. My mom’s face turned bright red! Not only had she fallen, but it had been announced to everyone present (and now I’m telling this story to you all too don’t tell my mom, okay?)!
Now, picture this, it wasn’t my mom who fell, it was the Creator of the Universe. And He was not “all right” even before He fell; He was bruised and bloodied even before He hit the earth. Jesus falls. What an earth-shattering moment, when the Creator of the earth fell in weakness into the dust. He fell for us. Just at the beginning of Lent we had ashes drawn on our foreheads in the shape of a cross; “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” These ashes reminded us that our sin has kept us from Christ, now we must be sorry for our sins and return to Christ; we must get back up again. Just as Christ got back up again; He picked up His cross and re-started His journey to Calvary.
Let us follow in Christ’s Footsteps. We know we will fall for we are weak, just as Christ also fell because He had taken on our weaknesses. But like Him too, we must get back up again. Jesus made it to His final destination, to His purpose: to save us from our sins, no matter how many times He fell; we also will make it to our ends, no matter how many times we fall, as long as we rely on Christ, our Strength.
Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus
During one Palm Sunday in college, I was one of the Lectors at Mass. Since there are multiple parts, we had two lectors and the priest. One enthusiastic college student offered to do the narration – the longer part.
We realized he was relatively new to this liturgical ministry when, during the passage describing the Carrying of the Cross, he said, “And a certain Simon (pronounced like lemon) of Korea” It took all the energy I had not to burst out laughing. I wanted to be serious, but for the rest of the Gospel, I was biting my lip trying to fight the temptation to smile and laugh.
In all seriousness, however, we learn from this passage that Simon probably didn’t know a thing about Jesus. He was from Cyrene, a region in Africa. I learned in my research of this character, that he was probably there for the Jewish feast of Passover. Because he just happened to be passing by, he probably thought Jesus deserved this sort of treatment. He must have thought, “What sort of criminal is this man?”
I imagine, though, that after being “pressed” into service by the Romans he must have caught the gaze of Jesus at some point or felt the innocence of His Presence. He may have recalled the words of Isaiah, regarding the Suffering Servant, who is lead “like a lamb to the slaughter.” Did he recognize just who this Man was?
More importantly, do we recognize Jesus in the face of those we encounter, those we are called to serve in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? In prayer, do we contemplate the suffering face of Christ and resolve to love and serve Him in whatever way he desires…even if it brings embarrassment like it did Simon?
Do we recognizing Him suffering within our own souls? We can dismiss our emotions and see them as weakness, but do we stop and remember that the same feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and humiliation were felt by Our Lord? Do we embrace them as opportunities to grow in union with the Lord? Or do we isolate ourselves out of fear or distract ourselves to ignore the pain that will eventually creep up again?
This lesson is extremely difficult, to give into the truth that we are weak and can’t do it alone. But with this acceptance comes the Presence of God who wishes to bear all things with us, just as Jesus – God made Flesh – allowed Simon to help Him. If a simple man was allowed to help God, we realize that we are called to do the same. But first, if God could be helped by man, how much more can God help man?
This Lent, may you all have the grace to recognize the outstretched hand of the Lord, as well as those who need yours.
Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time
This second fall serves as a powerful reminder that we follow both a human and a divine Savior. Neither He nor we are immune from suffering in this life. Take a moment and ponder: if Christ had given up the whole project of redemption at this moment, where would that leave humanity? How tempting is it for us to walk away when life gets uncomfortable? No person enjoys being face to face with their weaknesses and shortcomings.
Yet, there is good news in this dark moment. St. Paul reminds us that when we are weak, Christ’s strength is all the greater. Fortunately for us, Christ does get up after the second fall. He continues, not out of stubborness, but out of love. This self-giving love is the true message of the second fall. Only when we are willing to suffer for love do we continue on the path to freedom and salavation in Christ. When we embrace our second, third, fourth, and (so many other) falls – we share Christ’s path to love.
By Sister Madeleine Miller OSB.
Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time
Oh Jesus! You are so close to the end, and yet You fall this third time. By now, Your strength is gone. Your body is crumpled on the ground, blood mixing with the dirt. As you lay there, I wonder if You will really stand and continue.
Lord, there are times in my life when the pain is too great to continue and my heart is crumpled in a heap on the rocky, dusty ground. I fall under the weight of my own sins, inadequacies, and past hurts. The weight of my own shattered dreams, too, drives me to the ground. I have carried them so far – must I continue? These shattered dreams – so painful, yet somehow part of Your plan and therefore good for me – have pushed me to the ground before. Then, I rose and continued, only to fall again…and now again. This third time is simply too much. Will this never end? I say this and then bite my tongue. The end is so close. I know how it ends. How can I take one more step towards the end, towards THAT end?
Lord, I give up. I cannot continue. This cross is too heavy to bear. I give up.
I give IT up. Take it, Lord, and carry it for me, because I cannot continue. Take my cross, these hurts, these sins, these shattered dreams. I surrender them all to You. In this moment, as I lie bloody and exhausted, in makes no sense to me. I cannot see how this is good. And yet You are good, and somehow this makes sense to YOU. So take it – here. Take it, please, for I need Your help. Help me to trust You. Help me to trust that You are good, that even this pain will work for good. Give me the patience to wait in hope. Calvary will not be the end. This suffering will not be wasted. Death leads to a life more glorious than before. Jesus, help me.
Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Meditations on the Wounds of Christ
The Head of Christ~ The Head of Christ, which is eternally adorned with the glorious halo of His Father’s Love, consented to be crowned instead with thorns, placed on His Head by unworthy human hands, pierced over and over by those thorns. Lord, may I suffer as You did, bearing all sufferings, great and small, in love.
The Back of Christ~ Ah, those first wounds of Christ, scourged mercilessly at the pillar. No words can describe Your suffering, beaten and bloodied for no sins of Your own. For us You bore this pain. Lord give me strength to bear any sufferings You grant me this day.
The Feet of Christ~ The Precious Feet of Jesus, that bore His weight and the weight of the Cross up to Calvary. I love those Feet that had nails driven into them, all for love. Lord, may I always walk in Your Footsteps.
The Hands of Christ~ The poor, wounded, bloodied Hands of Christ, outstretched to envelop the whole world; how could one not rush into His Hands? They were pierced as punishment for our sins, their open sores speak of such love and pain, suffering and compassion. Lord, may I always rush into Your loving Hands.
The Side of Christ~ Oh, most holy Side of Christ, pierced for my sake; how could I not love You, Lord, who bore this wound for me? A wound so close to Your divine Heart, and yet You loved me even then, and still do love me now. Oh, Side of Christ, in which the cruel lance of the soldier plunged, I adore and take refuge there, so close to my Saviour’s Heart.
Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
It wasn’t too many weeks ago that we knelt attentively, lovingly, joyfully in front of an empty manger awaiting the moment that the greatest treasure in all of creation; the Son of the
Most High God, our Lord, Jesus Christ would be laid before our eyes to behold and gaze upon. A manger that would cradle our Infant King’s ten tiny little fingers that would splay when a startling noise occurred, a tummy that would rise and fall with deep breaths taken and toes that would curl when we irresistibly tickled His feet. And our attention was held captive with this tiny Babe whose infinite love stole our hearts immediately. Perhaps, as we kept watch so closely, with our hands resting on the side of the manger, we incurred a few splinters from the rough wood. But we were quick to overlook this little pain as joy resided in our heart. Attentive to this Infant’s every need, we moved the manger to the warmer place in the cave and then to the more quiet place and then perhaps picked it up once again so He could rest near His blessed Mother. More splinters, but we bore them easily because of Love.
As Jesus grew, he watched his father, Joseph, a carpenter by trade, wield various tools to form rough wood into tables, doors, carts and anything else requested. Just like any young boy in love with his father, Jesus would have been in the midst of these projects, helping Joseph- perhaps handing His dad a hammer, or holding a nail in place or even balancing a long 2×4 piece of wood over His shoulder, feeling the edge of it resting against His neck. The grain and smell of the particular types of wood became familiar to Him and He could easily recognize which wood was best suited for the project at hand. Soon, our Lord would find Himself initiating and completing His own projects as His skills, under Joseph’s direction, were perfected through His adulthood.
Then, the day was upon Him. Scourged, crowned with thorns and covered with only a tunic -the great wood of the Cross was laid on His shoulder. The smell, the grain, the weight of the wood He knew well. It had been present in His life since the day He was born. Traces of the wood of his cross were woven throughout His entire life. He knew it well and He embraced it. Submitted in love to His Heavenly Father’s will, He was now in the midst of the world’s redemption. All the splinters boring into His neck and shoulders were received in joy. His attention was held captive on you and me as He modeled for us the lightness of His yoke, if we bear it with Him. May we fix our gaze, once again, on He who carries His Cross to Calvary.
Oh Lord, how much sweeter and easier it is to carry my Cross when I know it is the same precious wood of the cradle. I once, all too gladly, desired to carry your cradle for however long to wherever you needed when you were my precious Infant King. I bore those splinters with joy for love of you. Now, when you present the wood of the Cross, I shudder and shrink back from accepting this wood, which, too, is your gift. Help me to lovingly embrace this Cross as I did so readily your cradle knowing you desire my joy and freedom.
Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Mother
This particular moment during the Way of the Cross sparks up so many different emotions in the heart, especially because it portrays the perfect love between a mother and her child. A love that is very difficult to put into words.
This encounter reveals the great depth of this verse about the Mother of God: “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) and so I felt a little push from Mother Mary to ponder this station more deeply.
It stirred my heart incredibly when I compared this encounter at Calvary with their previous encounter during the Wedding at Cana:
It was Mother Mary’s words of concern and love (“They have no wine”) which caused Jesus to start His public ministry at Cana. Then, on His Way to Calvary, it was Mother Mary’s loving gaze which would have spurred Him on to complete His mission.
At Cana, Jesus said to Mary, ‘Woman, what do you want from me? My hour has not come yet’; but now on the way to Calvary, Jesus looks into His Mother’s eyes and she now fully understands that His hour has come. At Cana, He changed water into wine; now He changes wine into His Blood which is poured out for the salvation of so many.
It was at Cana that Mary gave Jesus to the world, and it was at Calvary that Jesus gave Mary to the world. This perfect love between Mother and Son is so deep, it’s indescribable.
At this station, may we deeply experience these words of Jesus and Mary echoing in our hearts:
John 19:27 – “Then to the disciple He said, ‘This is your Mother.‘ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”
John 2:5 – “His Mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you.‘”
May we receive the gift of pondering and treasuring the Word of God (Luke 2:19) as we continue to reflect on the gracefilled encounter between the Blessed Mother and Her Divine Son.
Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us.
Holy Mother, pierce me through;
in my heart each wound renew
of my Saviour crucified.
O, thou Mother, fount of love,
touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.
By Celine Bernadette.
Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Faces of Jesus
During my time in the convent, I spent a week on retreat preparing to become a postulant. In my community, the biggest external change from being an aspirant to being a postulant was getting to wear a veil, so we spent a lot of time that week meditating on its significance. One day, I was praying the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary with the Sisters, and during the fourth mystery, the carrying of the cross, I was especially struck by thinking about Veronica using her veil to wipe Jesus’ Face. I realized that receiving my veil was a sign of my calling to comfort and console Jesus and make reparation for sin.
But I no longer wear a veil, and only God knows if it is His plan for me to wear one again in the future. Does this mean that Jesus has rejected my desire to make reparation to His wounded Heart? By no means! In fact, in a way, I share more in common with Veronica now, for we both have removed our veils for love of Christ. Yes, this act has brought suffering, but by offering it up to Our Lord in union with His sufferings, this can be a beautiful way to console Jesus and draw closer to Him.
If you think about it, Veronica’s small gesture of love and compassion really was nothing compared to the enormity of the sufferings Jesus was enduring that day. In the same way, our daily acts, our little acts of charity and suffering may seem little in comparison to all the ways God is offended in our world. But as St. Therese teaches, “Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” In the eyes of the world, Veronica’s act of kindness may not seem to amount to much, but to Jesus it was a precious gift that He rewarded by imprinting the image of His holy Face upon her veil. What Jesus wants most is our love. He thirsts for each one of us and longs for each of us is for us to give Him our heart. Each moment He is knocking at the door of our heart. Let us open to Him and give Him ourselves completely to Him. In this way we can follow the example of Veronica, and by doing so, Jesus will imprint His image ever more and more clearly on the hearts of each one of us, His beloved daughters, as we seek to become more and more like Him.
Eight Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
I slept, but with my heart awake
To hear His footsteps passing by;
His hair was damp with blood and sweat.
He had no looks to draw the eye,
Flayed bare and crowned with thorns and yet
I loved. He fell, and rose to die;
My spirit languished for His sake.
“My love, My sister, come to Me”
His anguish called me, and I came
My veil God-stained for all to see.
O women of Jerusalem
Who walk with us to Calvary
Swear now by all that bears His name
You will not part my love from me.
Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
Ever since the Fall, nakedness has been associated with shame.
In the beginning it was not so. St John Paul II reminded us in his catechesis sessions that “Original Man” was naked without shame.
Consider that the Artist responsible for the beauty of the human body was disrobed at the hands of the descendants of the original “vandals” who introduced shame and caused the body to require covering.
This is not an event peripheral to the Redemptive Act. Rich in its symbolism, this is a stunning reversal of the harm we did. Our Lord reunites dignity and nakedness, and in allowing Himself to be so treated, stands in silent insistence that we were made in His image.
Inviting us to return to intimacy with the Blessed Trinity, Our Lord gives Himself in a gift that is total, down to the very garment on His back, and the flesh that would have been torn off along with it.
Faced with such love beyond measure, how can we not be moved to give our everything (including perhaps our broken hopes and dreams) to Him – love for Love?