Way of the Cross leads us not to the tomb, but to the glory of life.
We observe 14 Stations of the Cross as a repentance prayer, in the lent period that precedes Easter in order to meditate on the passion of Jesus who was condemned to death and crucified at Calvary by Jews and Roman soldiers who opposed the teachings and doings of the Son of God.
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These stations of the passion of Christ are prayed as follows:
1. Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate – Although Pilate knew beyond doubt that Jesus did nothing wrong, wanting to satisfy the demanding crowd He released Barabas, a notorious criminal to them. Then Pilate had Jesus flogged and handed over him to be crucified. Jesus was to be crucified for the serious sins committed by each one of us. It is said “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thus, instead of sinners like us dying for our sins, Jesus paid by his death for us to be saved.
2. Jesus bears the Cross – The Cross, said to have been made for Barabas, was to be carried by Jesus and the criminal who was to be crucified was spared. It was a very heavy cross. Jesus carried such a cross because our sins are so huge. In a way we are Barabasses of various types of mortal sins. The cross was unbearable, yet Jesus took upon himself the cross for us to be rescued and made us ready for heaven.
3. Jesus falls the first time – We committed sins to such a critical level, that load of the Cross was so heavy, Jesus fell to the ground with the cross. Our sins will fail us miserably and we will fall dangerously unless we repent and remain in the ways of God.
4. Jesus meets His Mother – Jesus and His mother Mary met each other during the journey to Calvary. This is the saddest meeting any mother and son could ever experience. And suffering is the worst in silence. We shall sincerely pray to Jesus through the intercession of Mother Mary to receive spiritual strength to bear sorrows, sufferings and separations.
5. Pedestrian Simon helps Jesus in distress – Simon was from Cyrene. He was passing by on his way home. Soldiers seized him and forced him to carry the cross behind Jesus. Simon is fortunate; he could lend a helping hand to Jesus. Sinners like us would never accept any cross. Instead we would try to place them on others because there is pleasure in doing sin. And in carrying cross there is pain. If we have a mustard seed size faith in Jesus, we are bound by his love to carry the cross given to us and we should accept due punishment for our sins.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus – According to legend, Jesus was offered a handkerchief by Saint Veronica, on the road to Calvary and the image of Jesus was impressed upon it by divine will. She was the only person who took courage to defy the orders of the soldiers and so closely met Jesus and did this never-forgettable act. O Jesus, my Lord, yours was the most handsome face of a man the earth ever saw. Though through our sins we have disfigured ourselves and became unworthy to show our face to you, your face remains the holiest.
7. Jesus falls the second time – The ongoing increase in human sins was unbearable even to God, Jesus fell the second time. We must prayerfully remember that our sins can fall us fatally and without the grace of God we cannot rise. Jesus, lift us out from the dark pit we are in.
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem – ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep for yourselves and for your children.’ These words of Jesus remain true even today. We are weeping not about ourselves and not about our children. This is because we are all sinners. When sin is in, Jesus finds no place in the inn of our mind. We remain in the domain of the devil. Jesus, shower your grace and save us from the grip of the evil.
9. Jesus falls the third time – This is a warning signal to all of us that our sins will keep failing us and we will fall never to rise. We should avoid sin and avoid eternal fall. Jesus strengthens us in our faith.
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments – When one’s worn clothes are forcefully removed, it is a shame in public. Here, Jesus was the victim at the hands of the soldiers. Clothes of us are the symbols of sins and Jesus is happy when we are stripped of our sins. Jesus, keep us away from sins.
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross – Crucifixion is the worst form of killing a person. Jesus chose the worst form of death for our deadly sins. We made the nails of sins for Jesus to nail Him to the cross. Our sins gave deathly pain to Jesus. Sins are capable of such atrocities. Jesus, give us the wisdom to abstain from sins.
12. Jesus dies on the cross – Jesus accepted a miserable death on the cross to give us eternal salvation and the kingdom of heaven. The wage of sin being death, He accepted it on the Cross to save us. Our souls would eternally die, if He had not died for us. There is repentance and absolution for our sins, since Jesus paid the price for them.
13. Jesus is brought down from the cross to be buried – Death brings everyone down to the earth but Jesus was brought down to the earth by our sins. The age in which we live is short with Simons and Samaritans but long with Barabasses and Judasses. Hence, God’s grace is essential for physical and spiritual survival. Jesus, give us your protection at all times.
14. Jesus is placed in the burial vault – Joseph who came from Arimathea got permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus from Cross. He took the body of Jesus down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. Jesus, when we die allow us to join you in heaven.
The way of the Cross leads us not to emptiness but to triumph and glory.
Our ways of the cross too are the same. They too lead us to glory and victory.
- – – written by Dr. C.T George
Tags: Calvary, Cross, Jesus, Mary, Prayers