Stations of the Cross
by Jill Carel, April 2006,
inspired by The Way of the Cross according to The Book of Occasional Services with meditations and musical settings by a Member of The Order of Julian of Norwich
For more information contact Rev. Jill at http://www.agapeinterfaith.org/
JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
The story of Jesus’ condemnation to death can evoke fear in many of us. It is human nature to fear death. It is even scarier to imagine a painful torturous end to life. But since Jesus did not react with any resistance to the threat of his crucifixion, what does that tell us about Him? Some people wonder if he was really human because they cannot imagine receiving such a threat and not fighting against it or running away.
Christians can recognize that Jesus had such a clear awareness of eternal life, that He did not feel fear. Is it possible that we humans can attain such a clear awareness of our eternal life? Can we release our fears and feel a peace that passes all human understanding? If we listen to what Jesus was teaching, we learn that we share the same Heavenly Father. The Good News is that we are eternal beings.
We can pray: “Jesus, help me when I feel afraid. Remind me of the courage that You embodied. Help me to know the truth that can fill me with Divine Peace. Help me to be open to your guidance. Strengthen my resolve to follow Your way of Unconditional Love. Help me develop the faith that knows no betrayal nor condemnation. Help me to build an unshakable faith in the truth of eternal life. Amen”
JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS
Jesus was made to carry his own cross. We can often feel burdened and overwhelmed, as if we were being made to carry a cross. It can seem like the world heaps so much on us every day. The bills keep coming in. Health problems need to be addressed. More laundry and dishes are piling up. Things break down. Our obligations grow and multiply. Can we take up our cross without complaint?
We can pray: “God, help me to discern what part of the load is mine and what I can release. Give me the strength to take up what is mine to bear. Help me learn what I need to know from these experiences. With Your grace, heavy burdens become lighter. Let me feel Your love and support as I go forward. Help me to remember that You will be with me every step of the way. Amen”
JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME
Jesus was not given super-human strength to carry the cross. It was certainly not an effortless experience for Him. Jesus did not bypass His humanity. He showed us that it is ok to fall down. Stumbling and falling is part of human existence.
We are bound to fall down at some time in this life. Some situations and circumstances hit us hard and knock us down. We don’t have to try to prove that we are perfect or superhuman. We can allow ourselves to be humbled, and humility is a great gift. Humility opens the heart of compassion. We can let the Divine Compassion of God flow through us in our moments of falling down.
We can pray: “In my experiences of falling down, may I open my heart to humility and the gift of Divine Compassion. God, be with me when I fall down. Help me to feel Your care when I fall. And help me to feel compassion for my brothers and sisters when they fall.
JESUS MEETS HIS AFFLICTED MOTHER
Mary was a witness to Jesus carrying the cross. It is unthinkable that a mother would ever see her child go through such a painful experience. No person ever wants to be a witness to such pain.
What is the experience of those who witness the pain of others? We know the expression, “My heart goes out to you.” What does that mean? When a loved one cares so deeply for someone in pain, there is an experience of empathy. We identify with the one who is suffering. We wish their suffering would end. We may feel pain in the process, identifying so strongly with the other. We might remember from our own experience what that pain feels like, or we may imagine what the other person is feeling. In empathy, we unite with the sufferer. That is a mystical union.
We can remember the mystical union of Jesus and Mary and pray: “Dear God, it is so hard to be a witness to suffering. Be with me in my empathy, so that I may allow your compassion to flow through me. Whether I witness the pain of a loved one or a seeming stranger, help me to allow a mystical union to be a blessing and a balm. Amen”
THE CROSS IS LAID ON SIMON OF CYRENE
Simon was told to carry Jesus’ cross. He did not ask for it. He was not asked whether he wanted to carry this burden or not. Circumstances simply propelled him into this painful task.
We certainly know that life can seem unfair when a difficult burden is cast upon us. Many have had experiences of accidents or losses. Many of us have had to clean up somebody else’s mess. Maybe we did not notice when others carried our burdens or cleaned up a mess we made.
God needs us to pitch in together. Our unity begins with performing as a team, a family. Problems are placed in each other’s laps and we are challenged to handle what is in front of us, instead of pushing it away.
We can pray: “When a challenge falls to me, let me do my part. When it seems unfair, like it is someone else’s problem, let me be guided to do what God would have me do. May my strength help to fill in the gaps of another’s weakness, while my weaknesses are shored up by another’s strength. Together we fulfill God’s plan of Unconditional Love for one another. Amen”
VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS
Legend tells us that Veronica stepped forward to wipe the blood, dirt and sweat from Jesus’ face. Risking the anger of the Roman soldiers, she did an act of kindness for the condemned man. The miracle of the face of Christ, an imprint of His holy face on Veronica’s veil, remained as a reward for her act of love and compassion.
Can we see the face of Christ on our suffering brothers and sisters? Are we repelled by the lonely and infirm, or are we moved to compassionate service? Would I extend myself in the same way that Veronica did?
We can pray, “Jesus, your visible pain was a call for compassion. Help me to see the Christ in my brothers, so that I, too, will extend compassionate service and receive the miracle of Your Presence with me. Amen”
JESUS FALLS A SECOND TIME
Many of us do not have any idea of the depths of pain and exhaustion Jesus experienced. Falling down a second time reveals to us the extremity of the circumstance. Would any of us in a similar situation keep going? Wouldn’t we be tempted to just give up then and there? It would seem so pointless to push ourselves to keep moving – and toward what – to a place of death and destruction.
What did Jesus know about His mission that allowed Him to continue on this painful route? Can we know when it is time to keep going, despite the hardships involved? Can we be in such perfect communion with God’s plan that we would be able to get up from a second fall and continue on?
We can pray: “Brother Jesus, help me to learn from Your example to persevere. Help me to rise above settling for the easy way. Help me to do what is needed, and to get through difficult times. When I fall down again, be there with me to remind me that I can get up again and continue on. Amen”
JESUS MEETS THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM
The good women of Jerusalem stood along the way of the Cross, crying for the suffering they witnessed. Jesus said to them, “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” He spoke those words to those who are so easily moved by the tragedy of His death, but do not see the implications for themselves.
Many can be moved by the death of one man, yet wars continue to take the lives of countless men, women and children every day. Other injustices impact the quality of life of millions of our brothers and sisters. Do we cry or complain? Do we take any direct action to alleviate the suffering?
We can pray: “Lord Jesus, let me be Your hands, Your feet, and Your lips, bringing peace where there was conflict, healing where there was pain and sorrow, and love where there was resentment. Let my words and deeds bring an end to suffering. With Your help I can do my part in God’s plan. Amen.”
JESUS FALLS A THIRD TIME
How much pain can any person bear? The image of Jesus falling for a third time cries out with more suffering than any human should ever experience. Do we think of Jesus as a victim? Did He experience Himself as a victim?
We have thought of ourselves as victims under circumstances much less difficult. We have moaned and groaned in situations where we felt slighted or treated unfairly. What can we learn from Jesus’ example of His trek to Golgotha. Can we transform our perceptions of suffering to experience a resurrection with our Brother Jesus?
We can pray, “Father, help me to see with Your vision so that I can nurture patience, persistence, dedication and commitment to You. Help me get up when I fall down; even when I fall repeatedly. No matter how many times I fall down, You are there. Help me to remember to lean on You. Amen”
JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS
As Jesus dragged Himself slowly through these last few hours of His human life on earth, the Roman soldiers stripped the clothing from His battered body. The description of Jesus being spit on, laughed at, jeered at, crowned with thorns, scourged and beaten, forced to drag His cross to the hill, and then stripped naked is beyond the worst nightmare we can imagine. Every human being would fear and condemn such horrible inhuman treatment. Being stripped naked is humiliating. The Jews dignity that a person might have. It is symbolic of powerlessness. Is it possible to release our fear of powerlessness?
We can pray, “Holy Brother Jesus, help us to learn from your extreme example that it is possible to let go of anything that holds us back from perfect love. Help us recognize and put an end to any behavior that humiliates another. Help us to uphold the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, and at the same time know that with Your perfect love, nobody’s negative treatment of me can truly diminish me. Amen”
JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
They stretched His body out upon the cross, tying it down and pounding nails through His flesh. They thought that they had made an example of Him, turning Him into a humiliated and powerless criminal who would soon be dead and forgotten. What appeared to be the “powerful” winning over the “powerless” would soon be over. A few people seemed to be sad for this one about to die, but those in power were confident that the death of this beaten man would bring law and order back to the way it was before.
You would think that the ones with the hammer and nails were the powerful ones, and Jesus the “victim.” Many of us mistakenly believe that people with money, weapons, political power, or something to fear are the powerful ones. With force and the threat of force, those who are “in power” mistakenly believe that they are in control. It’s hard to remember that Jesus showed us the opposite is true, that the Power of God is greater than mankind’s pitiful uses of force, through fear and pain. We re-enact this story over and over to fan the flames of faith, to remember the Truth that sets us free.
We can pray, “Brother Jesus, be with me in my times of forgetting. Remind me that in the small and large experiences of feeling victimized, betrayed, abandoned, disappointed or hurt, that God’s Power is there for me, too. Help me to release my fears so I can experience the glory and power of God. Amen”
JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS
Jesus said, “It is finished. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” There was an end to Jesus’ suffering that we perceive as death. We think of death as final, an end to life. That is not what Jesus taught. He talked about Life Everlasting, Eternal Life with God the Father. Jesus went through the most brutal of experiences, allowing God’s Plan to unfold through Him. He accepted, without fight or flight, physical pain and humiliation, knowing that it was a temporary experience that would come to an end.
It was especially significant that in the moments before His death, He forgave his murderers, saying they knew not what they were doing. How could He forgive his “murderers”? There must be another way to view what happened, with Divine Vision. Jesus so embodied God’s Unconditional Love that He had the ability to see innocence where we would judge others as guilty, sinful, bad and wrong. What can I learn from this message?
Can I attain the ability to forgive and see my brothers’ innocence?
We can pray, “God, Your son Jesus shared the Good News that You are Life
Everlasting for all of Your Children. Help me see with Your Vision the innocence of all my brothers and sisters so that I, too, may enter the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus and all the Saints. I believe, Father, so help my unbelief, so that I may know with confidence that all our sins are forgivable in Your Sight. Help me die to my judgments and be reborn in Your Love. Amen”
THE BODY OF JESUS IS PLACED IN THE ARMS OF HIS MOTHER
What a sight – Mary, mother of Jesus, holding the corpse of her son in her arms. Paintings and statues have attempted to capture sadness, pain, and grief in a depiction of a most holy woman holding her now dead son. To all appearances, this is the ultimate nightmare, a mother’s searing grief for her beaten and bloodied son. Who could bear such pain and then go on, returning to a life where there is a big gaping hole where there was once a vibrant loving young man? How, indeed.
Some of us feel a great connection to this most Holy Mother. Mary was a devout Jewish woman whose son was the Promised One of God. Throughout the time of Jesus’ ministry she must have asked for God’s help to allay her fears and concerns. She was witness to miracles performed by her son, and now witness to His bloody death. In the minutes, hours and days following His death, she must have leaned on her faith to be able to contain her shock and grief.
We, too, need to lean on God. In this world we are witness to innocent lives being snuffed out in violent and senseless ways. We need God’s Healing Love to come into our hearts and minds, so that we, too can go on.
We can pray, “Dear Sister Mary, you held the broken body of your son. I ask for the consolation that you received in your hour of need. May God have mercy on me and lead me to forgiveness, the release from my pain and sorrow. May God be with us all as we remember the way shown by Your Holy Son, Jesus. Through love and forgiveness may we be brought to the experience of God’s Unconditional Love and Everlasting Life. Amen” Fourteenth Station
JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB
The dead body of Jesus, the Christ, was laid in a tomb. He had perfectly fulfilled the mission that was His. He had shared the Good News of the Fatherhood of God and then yielded to God’s Will, forgiving those who appeared to harm Him. He showed the way back to our Heavenly Home by modeling an extreme example of unconditional love, fearlessness, and non-resistance. Jesus loved God with all His Heart, all His Soul, and all His Mind. Can we follow Him? Are we focused on the fear of our own crucifixions or can we look beyond to the resurrection? Can we forgive those who sin against us and thereby experience more of the Heavenly Kingdom? We can ask the Christ to help us to do that. Although the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb, Jesus the Christ walked out of that tomb to declare the proof of His victory over death.
We can pray: “Lord Jesus, You have triumphed over the ego’s deceptions. You saw the perfection and innocence in us all. Lepers were cleansed of their disease by the Perfect Love You embodied. Other miracles took place 2,000 years ago, and continue to take place now, in Your Name. Help me to overcome the temptations that hold me back from Your
Vision. May I be a blessing in the world, sharing Your message of God’s Love for all of us.