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Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the cross

The Stations of the Cross have formed part of Christian devotion at Passiontide for many centuries because they enable us to engage actively with the path of suffering walked by Jesus. They originated when early Christians visited Jerusalem and wanted to follow literally in the footsteps of Jesus, tracing the path from Pilate’s house to Calvary. They would pause for prayer and devotion at various points. Eventually, those pilgrims brought the practice back to their home countries and ever since then Christians of differing traditions have used this form of devotion.

First Station: Arrested and Condemned to Die

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (26.55-57, 27.22-23,26)

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered.

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.

Reflection

Who holds the power here? On the surface it is Pontius Pilate. But who really holds the power? Pilate could not know that before him was God’s own Son, the one who holds all of creation in his hand. Nor could he know that by handing him over to be crucified, he was cooperating in God’s plan of salvation. Really it is Pilate who is on trial here. Two thousand years later, Pontius Pilate is alive and well. Such people may think they are in control. But their power is a sham. It cannot last. For one day we will all be judged on our use of power. Real power is to trust in God’s power. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you were condemned to death for political expediency: be with those who are imprisoned for the convenience of the powerful. You were the victim of unbridled injustice: change the minds and motivations of oppressors and exploiters to your way of peace.

Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, Remain here with me, Watch and pray,

Watch and pray (repeat)

Second Station: Jesus Takes up his Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Mark (15.20)

After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Reflection

There is no easy way of carrying a cross. There is no handle. Its weight is sharp and crushing. Its meaning obvious. But he carried it well. Tramping through the crowded lanes around Jerusalem. It was an additional indignity to be made to carry his own cross. And he carried so many other things as well. Our sins. Our sorrows. And a million disappointments about all the ways that we had got him wrong. And these were heavier still.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you carried the cross through the streets of Jerusalem:

Be with those who are loaded with burdens beyond their strength.

You bore the weight of our sins when you carried the cross:

Help us to realise the extent and the cost of your love for us.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Third Station: The First Fall

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 Scripture

A reading from the Book of Isaiah (53:4-6)

Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.​​

​​​​​

Reflection 

The almighty deprived of strength! The strong God in no condition to do what is required of him, unable to face with pride his executioners. His strength is exhausted. With wavering steps my Saviour hobbles on, untilafter a while hestumbles and falls. There you lie, my God. Could you not be crucified here? Your death is really what is intended. Is it not obvious that you can go no farther? Your executioners are determined that you will go farther and your powerlessness is a new source of annoyance to them. In their eyes your strength is not yet exhausted. They allow you to lie for a while, only to make you stand up again and be driven farther.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, the weight of the cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our arrogance, brought you down.Lord, help us when we fall. Help us to abandon our arrogance and learn from your humility.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Fourth Station: Jesus’ Mother

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to John (19.25-27)

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Reflection 

Here I saw a part of the compassion of Our Lady Saint Mary: for Christ and she were so made one in love, that the greatness of her loving was the cause of the greatness of her pain. In this, I saw an example of naturallove,strengthened by grace, that creatures have for him; which kind love was most fully and over passingly shown in his sweet Mother. For ever the higher, the mightier, the sweeter that love be, the more sorrow it is to the lover to see that body in pain that is loved

Prayer

Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, just as you believed when the angel announced to you what was incredible – that you were going to become the mother of the Most High – so too you believed at the hour of his greatest humiliation.  Teach us to believe, and help us so that our faith may become the courage to serve and the gesture of a love which comes to help and knows how to share in suffering.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Fifth Station: Simon Helps 

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Mark (15.21)

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Reflection

In many ways, Simon remains an enigmatic figure, with so much about him we cannot know. Marks suggests, however, that this brief encounter with Jesus – forced to carry the cross bar of his cross to the site of his execution – had such an impact on him that years later his sons, Alexander and Rufus, were well known to those who read Mark’s Gospel. We may not know where Simon was coming from, but his encounter with Jesus – brief though it was – changed his future forever. Where he came from, or why, was far less important than who he became.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you were worn down by fatigue:

Be with those from whom life drains all energy.

You needed the help of a passing stranger:

Give us the humility to receive aid from others.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Sixth Station: Veronica Offers her Veil 

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Book of Psalms (27.8-9)

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, do I seek.
     Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
    you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
    O God of my salvation!

​​​​​​​​

Reflection 

And I saw in the face of the crucifix that hung before me a part of his passion, and it made me think of the holy veil of Veronica, which is at Rome, which he portrayed with his own blessed face when he bore his hard passion. Of the brownness and blackness and ruefulness of this image many have marvelled how it may be, since he portrayed it with his own blessed face, who is the fairness of heaven and the flower of earth and the fruit of the Virgin’s womb. But it was shown me that it is the image and likeness of our foul black deeds’ shame in which our fair bright blessed Lord God was hid. Blessed may he be.

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. Impress your face on our hearts and may we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Seventh Station: The Second Fall

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Book of Isaiah (53:2-3)

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him of no account.​

​​​​​​​​​

Reflection 

The hard, sharp, stony ground, covered with dust and dirt,
bruises and dirties your hands, knees and feet.
Yet, no pity rises in the hearts of your executioners.
They are not satisfied yet.
They do not realize that this second fall shows
that you are calling on your last reserve of strength
in order to reach Calvary and die for us there.
You also sacrifice your strength, your proud manly strength. 
And then I complain about heavy crosses.
I faint only because I have neither the courage
nor the love to carry them with you.
O Jesus, I do not wish it to be so.
Do not allow my deeds to be at variance with your will.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you fall under the weight of human sin and you get up again in order to take it upon yourself and cancel it. Give to us the strength to carry the cross of daily life, and to get up again from our falls, so that we may bring to future generations the Gospel of your saving power.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Eighth Station: The Women of Jerusalem

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke (23:28-31)

But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 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?”

​​​​​​​​

Reflection 

This is one of the most haunting encounters during Jesus’ journey to the cross. The women wept for what would happen to him, but Jesus, even as the horror of his death loomed near, revealed that they were in even greater need of compassion than he was.What Jesus was saying is that a society that will do anything – even kill – to protect its power, has already set itself on a path to self-destruction. As a result the women of Jerusalem would do well to prepare themselves for the inevitable outcome of such behaviours. How different is our society to theirs?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, the women of Jerusalem wept for you:

Move us to tears at the plight of the broken in our world.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Ninth Station: The Third Fall

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Book of Lamentations (3:27-32)

It is good for one to bear
    the yoke in youth,
 to sit alone in silence
    when the Lord has imposed it,
to put one’s mouth to the dust
    (there may yet be hope),
to give one’s cheek to the smiter,
    and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not
    reject forever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

Reflection 

This is the worst fall of the three. His strength has for a while utterly failed Him, and it is some time before the barbarous soldiers can bring Him to. Ah! it was His anticipation of what was to happen to me. I get worse and worse. He sees the end from the beginning. He was thinking of me all the time He dragged Himself along, up the Hill of Calvary. He saw that I should fall again in spite of all former warnings and former assistance. He saw that I should become secure and self-confident, and that my enemy would then assail me with some new temptation, to which I never thought I should be exposed. I thought my weakness lay all on one particular side which I knew. I had not a dream that I was not strong on the other. And so Satan came down on my unguarded side, and got the better of me from my self-trust and self-satisfaction. I was wanting in humility. I thought no harm would come on me, I thought I had outlived the danger of sinning; I thought it was an easy thing to get to heaven, and I was not watchful. It was my pride, and so I fell a third time.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we fail so often.

Help us when we continue to stumble and fall.

Come to us when we feel as though our strength has utterly failed us.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Tenth Station: Stripped of his Garments

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (27.33-36)

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

Reflection 

My God, it is terrible. Must everything work together to make you suffer? Are human beings not cruel enough that even the insects must come to drink your blood in the sunlight and infect all your wounds? Oh had you at least been left your clothing, to spare you that torturing sorrow and, clothed in your garments as a human person, to hide your frightful mistreatment from the eyes of those who revel in it. But this is only the prelude. Only the sight of you nailed to the cross will begin to appease their cruel desire.

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. 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.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Eleventh Station: Nailed to the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (27:37-42)

Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking 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.” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.

​​​​​​​​​

Reflection 

What is it that “draws” us to the Condemned One in agony on the Cross?
Certainly the sight of such intense suffering stirs compassion. But compassion is not enough to lead us to bind our very life to the One who hangs on the Cross.
How is it that, generation after generation, this appalling sight has drawn countless hosts of people who have made the Cross the hallmark of their faith?
Hosts of men and women who for centuries have lived and given their lives looking to this sign?
From the Cross, Christ draws us by the power of love,
divine Love, which did not recoil from the total gift of self;
infinite Love, which on the tree of the Cross raised up from the earth the weight of Christ’s body, to counterbalance the weight of the first sin;
boundless Love, which has utterly filled every absence of love and allowed humanity to find refuge once more in the arms of the merciful Father.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you bled in pain as the nails were driven into your flesh:

Transform the pain of those who suffer through the mystery of your love.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Twelfth Station: Death on the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to Mark (15:34-37)

At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Reflection 

One of Jesus’ most well-known quotations from the Psalms is his cry from the cross: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” This is a quotation from the opening of Psalm 22(v.1). But one of the most remarkable features of Psalm 22 is that, alongside the despair and hopelessness, we find extraordinary confidence and hope in the God who has been there since the Psalmist’s birth (V.9) and whom the Psalmist trusts despite the dire circumstances in which he currently finds himself (vv.27-31). It feels as though Mark was communicating a powerful message by including Psalm 22 behind his telling of Jesus’ death – even in the midst of despair, the Psalmist looked backwards to his birth and forwards in hope. Mark hints that we should do the same: that even on this darkest of dark days, we should, like the Psalmist, look backwards in confidence and forwards in hope.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you died on the cross:

Give courage to those who die at the hands of others.

In death you entered into the darkest place of all:

Illumine our darkness with your glorious presence.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Thirteenth Station: Down from the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to John (19.38-40)

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 

Reflection

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.

Prayer

Lord, you descended into the darkness of death but faith has not completely died; the sun has not completely set.  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. 

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

Fourteenth Station: Placed in the Tomb

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Scripture

A reading from the Gospel according to John (19.41-42)

Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Reflection

The intervention of Joseph of Arimathea, meant that not only was Jesus’ body properly buried but it was buried in a new tomb. The significance of this is that families were buried together and their bones stored together in the tomb. An old tomb could have within them the remains of many different people. The new tomb housed only Jesus’ remains, so there could be no doubt after his resurrection, that it was him. Joseph’s intervention may have been mentioned only briefly, but it was vital. Often the most fleeting of contributions are the most important.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, Lord of life, you became as nothing for us:

Be with those who feel worthless and as nothing in the world’s eyes.

You were laid in a cold, dark tomb and hidden from sight:

Be with all who suffer and die in secret.

Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.

Stay with me, 

Remain here with me,

Watch and pray,

Watch and pray

(repeat)

The Conclusion

Let us pray for the coming of God’s kingdom

In the words our Saviour taught us.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
Amen. 

Most merciful God,

who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ

delivered ad saved the world:

grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross

we may triumph in the power of his victory;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

If you would like a copy of the Stations to colour yourself you can download them here

Sources:

Times and Seasons Copyright © Church House Publishing 2006

Walking the Way of the Cross, Stephen Cottrell, Paula Gooder and Philip North Copyright ©The Archbishop’s Council 2019 and reproduced in part by kind permission.

The Stained Glass & Black & White versions of the Stations are by PDQ Patterns.

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