CRS – Stations of the Cross

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CRS – Stations of the Cross

 

Walk alongside Christ on the journey of his Passion and remember our brothers and sisters both around the world and in our own cities who experience suffering and poverty each day.

Holy God, be with us now as we meditate on your Son’s journey to Calvary. Remind us that still, in this present day, many of your children continue that walk to Calvary, carrying heavy, difficult crosses. May we be Simon to those whose burdens are too heavy to be borne alone. May we be Veronica to those who need the touch of love and comfort. And may we, struggling with our own crosses, always remember
your promises of justice, mercy, and peace.

Amen

FIRST STATION:
JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH

FINDING OUR VOICE

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: The governor said to them in reply, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They answered, “Barabbas! … Let [Jesus] be crucified!” (Matthew 27:21–22)

As we imagine this scene, perhaps we see chaos, mayhem, people pushing and pulling at each other, screaming and shouting. There is manipulation and bribery afoot; a good man is about to be killed as a public spectacle, and the laws of the land stand in silence.

Perhaps this scene seems far removed—something we may glimpse in the news, something that happens in faraway countries under foreign governments. Or perhaps it is something we know well.
Perhaps we’ve experienced this kind of injustice in our own lives, in our own cities, our own communities.
Take a moment to reflect on the last time you witnessed injustice. Maybe you saw someone unjustly accused of wrongdoing because of the color of their skin. Maybe you witnessed the abuse of workers
fearful to stand up for their rights because of unjust immigration laws. Maybe you heard the stories of individuals who fled their homeland, anxious to escape oppression and violence.
We are called to live in solidarity as one global family, each of us made in the image and likeness of God. We are responsible for one another, for what happens to our neighbors next door and our neighbors overseas. Though we may not share all of these experiences, we are called to empathize with those we encounter. And we’re called to take action. So then, do we stand silent in the crowd, or do we shout? And if we shout, what do we say?

ALL: Christ Jesus, you were condemned by those you had come to serve, by those you had come to love. In moments when I may be tempted to condemn those around me, fill my heart with compassion and understanding.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

I

SECOND STATION:
JESUS CARRIES THE CROSS

RECOGNIZING INJUSTICE

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: And carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull. (John 19:17)
We all have our crosses to carry, those hidden battles we fight when we think no one is looking. How easy it is to become so focused on my battles, my problems, my cross that I forget to look at those around me. Rich or poor, shy or outgoing, near or far, doesn’t it stand to reason that each of us fights our own hidden battles?
Jesus is given his cross and made to carry it, and so are we. But let us not do so alone. Let us help one another shoulder our burdens. Think of our brothers and sisters who carry the crosses of hunger and poverty, oppression and discrimination. How can we help them shoulder their burdens? And what role have we played in perpetuating these crosses of injustice?

As we work with and for those whose crosses are the heaviest— the hungry, the thirsty, the oppressed—perhaps we will be surprised by what we find. Perhaps, if we truly seek the face of Christ among those who suffer in poverty, who are the object of discrimination, who are ridiculed and forgotten, we will discover something new about ourselves, about what it means to be rich and poor, about what it means to pick up our crosses and follow in the way of Christ.

: Christ Jesus, our crosses are heavy and our bodies weak, but we want to follow you. Give us the strength to continue. And although our burdens may be heavy, let us remember to stop and help those we encounter along the way.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

THIRD STATION:
JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME

HOPE AMIDST HOPELESSNESS

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: I am troubled now. Yet what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. (John 12:27–28)
How many of us know someone who has fallen—fallen on hard times, on difficulties in a relationship, on a moment of doubt and challenge? How many of us are experiencing a moment like this now? But these moments, these hardships, are never borne in vain. All things, if we allow them to, have the potential to conspire together for the greater glory of God.

We hold in our hearts victims of natural disasters: floods, hurricanes, tornados, forest fires. Perhaps we see their faces on the news; perhaps we see their faces next door; perhaps we see their faces in the mirror. We hold in our hearts the victims of violence: civil wars that splinter nations, gun violence that devastates communities, abuse, and discrimination that tears apart families. We ask ourselves how we can be messengers of peace amidst apparent darkness.

God does not will that we fall but, when we inevitably do, we are each given that opportunity—that moment of choice—to stand back up, look around and take stock of ourselves and our lives. Where is God at work, even in the hurt, the pain, the agony? We look to Jesus, who, though he fell, got up and kept walking. How can we help those we encounter do the same? How can we, ourselves, continue on?

ALL: Christ Jesus, you know that each of us falls, each of us fails, each of us gives in to temptation. Help us to remember that, with your grace, we have the opportunity to rise up stronger and wiser than before.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

FOURTH STATION:
JESUS ENCOUNTERS HIS MOTHER

GIVING HOPE TO FAMILIES

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary … “You yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34–35). What must Mary have been thinking, standing there in the midst of suffering, looking at her son? What pain must have been in her heart? What doubt? And yet we know that she followed Christ until the end and beyond, being present to his friends, comforting them in their fear, encouraging them as the young Church grew. Mary’s desire to love and serve God overcame the suffering she encountered.
How many mothers, fathers, guardians, and mentors are forced to watch those they love struggle and suffer as Christ did? On our own city streets, violence, addiction, poverty, and gangs rip too many young women and men from their families, trapping them in cycles of hopelessness and desperation that can be nearly impossible to break. How can we support families and communities, ensuring a hope-filled future for their young people?
We gaze out at our world, recognizing that similar cycles of violence force parents to make the heart-wrenching decision to send children far from home, seeking stability and peace in distant, foreign lands. War and poverty mean families are shattered, children lose their childhood, and parents are handed impossible choices.
How do we respond to the needs of others, whether in our immediate community or in our global one? Let us look to Mary and the example she sets for us as she meets Christ carrying the cross.

ALL: Christ Jesus, in the person of our Blessed Mother, we have an example of courage, perseverance, and faith. No stranger to suffering herself, Mary desired to be with those in need. Strengthen us as we try to follow her example.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

FIFTH STATION:
SIMON HELPS JESUS CARRY THE CROSS

RECOGNIZING OUR ROLE IN THE CROSS

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country … to carry his cross. (Mark 15:21).  Even Jesus needed help, and he wasn’t too proud to accept it.
Humans are social beings: We are called to live in community. By being together, by helping one another, we become the best versions of ourselves. We build a better planet. We bring about the reign of God.
It’s exciting to recognize God’s plan in our lives, to realize how we can use our gifts to serve others. But let us never forget that we, too, are, in our own ways, in need—and often those we serve end up serving us. Let us never be too proud to accept what others give. Let us remind ourselves that there is much to be learned from each person we encounter.
And let us remind ourselves that, too often, we are just as responsible for contributing to the crosses people bear as we are for helping carry them.

As we look out at our world, at our cities, we reflect on our role in the crosses others carry. How can our treatment of the environment either contribute to or alleviate the crosses of others? How do the purchases we make affect the crosses carried by so many members of our global family? How can we advocate for policies that help remove the crosses of others rather than add to them?
Perhaps our prayer should be one of humility: both to give and receive, free of pride, mindful of our role in both lifting up and adding to the crosses of all, for we never know where God might be at work.

ALL: Christ Jesus, you are God. How awesome it is to think that the God of the universe accepted the help of a simple human like me, and continues to desire my help in bringing about the Reign of God.
Teach me humility that I may serve you worthily.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

SIXTH STATION:
VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS

SMALL ACTIONS WITH GREAT LOVE

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

It’s tempting for us to remove the humanity from this station, to view it in terms of great marble statues and stained glass. But what Veronica did was hardly clean or simple. Here is a woman who quite literally pushes herself—her own body—into the heart of suffering and struggle, into a rowdy crowd that can hardly afford her safety. This is a woman who threw cultural norms and taboos aside and took action.

This is a woman who touched poverty in its rawest form. And for what? Jesus’ face was bruised and bloodied; a little cloth wasn’t going to change that. He was on his way to die—why waste the time and resources to touch him?

We, too, may be tempted to think like this when faced with the overwhelming challenge of global poverty, of human suffering. But we must never underestimate the value of simply being present to another human being, to one who shares in the sacredness and dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God.
When we walk down our city streets, do we share such small acts of kindness? Do we meet the eyes of those we pass, or do we look away? Do we share some small greeting, some word of recognition, or do we stay silent, lost in our own world? How might Veronica’s example encourage us—both in our immediate communities, and
in our global one?

ALL: Christ Jesus, help us to remember that nothing we do for the sake of love is done in vain. May we, like Veronica, have the strength to reach out to those we so often ignore—to those whom society has forgotten— and show love.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

VI

SEVENTH STATION:
JESUS FALLS A SECOND TIME

PRIVILEGED NOT TO FALL

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone. (John 8:7)

There is a great temptation to ignore those who live in poverty by assuming that their plight is of their own creation. Some may reason that poverty comes from laziness, ignorance, or a failure to seize opportunities. But this is an easy way out. We assign blame to someone else to escape culpability. We distance ourselves from a situation we think is remote from our own. We block ourselves off from the real struggles, personal histories, and present-day challenges of the individuals and communities that we encounter.

We see that someone has fallen, and we forget that we, too, can just as easily trip and find ourselves face-down in the dirt.

It is important to reflect on the safety nets that suspend us above situations of poverty. Do we live in a prosperous country? Do we live in a neighborhood with a local grocery store? Has our family given us a generous inheritance? Do our governmental institutions ensure our civil liberties? Do we have the freedom and resources to cross national borders with little trouble? Do we have access to basic health care when faced with an emergency?

As we reflect on our privilege, our personal and communal safety nets, we would do well to reflect on those families who so easily fall into poverty, hardship, impossible situations, whose safety nets are less secure or nonexistent. What is our responsibility to these families?
How do we uphold our commitment by ensuring that those who fall are helped back up and empowered to continue along?

ALL: Christ Jesus, you meet me where I am in my life with an outstretched hand rather than a thrown stone. Help me to do the same for those around me. Teach me what it means to love my neighbor as myself.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

VII

EIGHTH STATION:
JESUS CONSOLES THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM

INVITED TO DIALOGUE

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children …” (Luke 23:28)

Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus deeply involved with the concerns of individual people. He doesn’t simply go to political or religious leaders to learn about what the people are thinking; he goes right to the source. And here, even at the end of his earthly mission, we see Jesus attentive to the needs of specific individuals, sharing his own hurts and joys with them, and listening to theirs.

We, too, must remember to act in this way. How tempting it is to assume we are the experts in every situation. We see hurt and suffering on the news—whether in our own cities or in cities around the world—and we immediately jump to our own quick fixes, opinions, and solutions. But Jesus points to a different path—that of dialogue. Jesus encourages us to recognize that those living within the systems of oppression, poverty, and hardship are in fact the ones best suited to reimagine those same broken systems. Our role is to accompany them and to listen.

Who, then, must we take time to listen to? Have we taken the time to hear the stories of survivors of abuse? To people who are ill and struggling to get health care? To those who are victims of racism, sexism, to forms of oppression or even genocide? To whom must we turn for dialogue?  Catholic social teaching calls us to engage in subsidiarity, which means working with individuals and communities that are nearest to a problem to devise a solution.

ALL: Christ Jesus, you always invite; you never impose. You always seek to engage people in ways that are meaningful; you never try to pressure or manipulate. Guide us in our efforts, that we may truly serve the needs of the poor and not simply the needs of ourselves.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

NINTH STATION
JESUS FALLS FOR A THIRD TIME

STANDING AND LOVING

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: But his father ordered his servants, “Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” (Luke 15:22)

Sometimes it may feel as though we’ve fallen one too many times. We can’t possibly get up again. God must be done with us—how can we be forgiven once more? We keep falling, keep failing, and we’re weighed down by shame and guilt. No one can love us enough to enable us to go on.

But God is not done with us; God never tires of forgiving, of showing us mercy! Failure should not keep us down. When it comes to mercy, as in the story of the Prodigal Son, we have only to ask. God does not want us to wallow in guilt—no, God tells us we’re forgiven and invites us to get up and be about God’s work. As sons and daughters of God, it is our responsibility to accept that forgiveness, accept that new opportunity, and then to be about the business of justice, mercy and peace; the business of building the Reign of God.

What does this mean in our own lives? Certainly, we can call to mind a moment of failure, and hopefully a moment of encountering God’s forgiveness. But have we reflected on how we may unintentionally allow our shortcomings to serve as excuses for serving our one human family? Do we see our sins as obstacles to loving others? Perhaps we do—but we can be assured that God does not. How, then, are we challenged to go into our communities, cities, world, and love?

ALL: Christ Jesus, we may stumble, we may fall; help us remember that what is most important is to get back up and start again.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

TENTH STATION
JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS

STRIPPING OUR COMMON HOME

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER:  For creation waits with eager expectation … in hope that [it] would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19–21)

When we think of the goods that those who live in poverty are stripped of daily, there are probably several key items that come to mind:  food, water, and shelter, to name a few. We so often see countries and communities rich in resources, and yet, the people of those places live in poverty. How do we ensure that the wonders of the natural world are used in a sustainable, equitable way? Giving a man a fish, as the old adage goes, only solves the problem for the day.    Pope Francis says it best in his encyclical, Laudato Si’: “We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

The environment and the people that inhabit it are interconnected; all of God’s creation is one. God calls us to be stewards of the resources which we have been given, to look out for one another by sharing and collaborating, rather than grabbing up everything we can get now and worrying about others later. After all, teaching a man to fish will be of little value if we’ve left a polluted pond.  We know that God’s gift of creation can enable us to thrive through good soil for planting, clean air to breathe, beauty to enjoy. So, then, what conditions of poverty do we condemn people to when we destroy or mistreat this great gift?

ALL: Christ Jesus, all life comes from you. You have created a natural world with wondrous resources and beautiful sights. May we truly value that which you have made, and in turn be good stewards of your gifts for the common good of all.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

ELEVENTH STATION
JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS

SOLIDARITY IN SUFFERING

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
We’ve all been there—stuck in a seemingly impossible situation, weighed down, perhaps, by financial burdens, family obligations, and the judgments of others. We’ve all been nailed to the cross. And often it feels as though we’ve come to the end; we can’t move, can’t maneuver our way out of this bleak situation. We have been left alone to flounder.

This is a part of the human experience that all of us go through, regardless of our wealth, our nationality, or our past experiences. Jesus knows this, and never gives up on us. And if Jesus offers us these second, third, or hundredth chances, what then should we offer to our neighbors?

Call to mind the thief with whom Jesus was crucified, the one to whom Jesus said: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus—despite being nailed to the cross himself—encountered this man as a fellow human being made in the image and likeness of God. He made no note of the man’s nationality, the color of his skin, his socioeconomic condition. Instead, standing in solidarity with the suffering of another, Christ simply assured the man of God’s love—and recognized that together, they would stand before God. This is a poignant scene. How do Jesus’ actions from the cross offer guidance for our own daily actions? We ask ourselves: Who must I forgive? And from whom must I accept forgiveness?

ALL: Christ Jesus, you are always willing to give us another chance to better ourselves and those around us. May we follow your example and never cease to help others come down from the crosses that bind them, always prayerfully reflecting on our own role in putting them there.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

XI

TWELFTH STATION:
JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS

AN EASTER PERSPECTIVE

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) (All kneel together for a reflective pause, and then rise).  By human standards, the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus is the ultimate failure. Members of the Jewish community had waited so long for the Messiah, had put their faith and hope in a man they believed had come to liberate them, and he died a horrific death. It was a devastating, final moment, and so many of Jesus’ friends had already fled the scene, abandoning hope in a better future.

It’s a good thing the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus are not to be judged by human standards.  Rather, what we see as failure, God transforms into victory. Where we see nothing but hopelessness and devastation, God is at work in surprising and spectacular ways. When we think of the hardships so many in our world face, we might easily grow discouraged; but our God offers us hope, and wants all of us to work together to build a world of peace and justice.  How does this perspective of Easter inspire our own work in seemingly hopeless, failed situations? How does God want us to look upon problems like poverty, violence, and environmental decay—by human standards, or something more hopeful?

As we reflect on the death of Jesus, let us be particularly mindful of those who are on death row, for the families and friends of those whose lives were ended by the death penalty, of all those communities around the world who live in fear of state-sponsored violence.

ALL: Christ Jesus, even in the most devastating failures, you show us the importance of hope. May we have the courage to work patiently and tirelessly with those in need, always keeping our sights on you.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

THIRTEENTH STATION
JESUS’ BODY IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS

SUSTENANCE

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19)

As we contemplate Jesus’ broken body, we are reminded of his full humanity. He had a body, just as we do, that needed sustenance and exercise, that could be bruised and battered, and through which he experienced the world around him. This is a common experience of humanity—that of the body—and it reminds us of our shared dignity as unique creations of God. It reminds us of our call to solidarity because drawing on our own bodily experience of creation, we can understand and appreciate that of another, no matter where—or when—he or she may live.
Through his example, Jesus challenges us to examine the real bodily needs of those around us, the “neighbors” we pass on city streets and in crowded shopping centers, who we hear about on the nightly news. We ask ourselves, do these neighbors of ours have access to the most basic forms of sustenance, to healthy, nutritious food and clean, reliable water? Are they even afforded the right to life? If not, why? And, how are we called to show love to those who suffer frailty of body and mind?

We are reminded, too, of the Eucharist, the Communion through which we, the Church, share in Jesus’ body and blood. We are called to encounter our God who became human. In experiencing the Eucharist, we receive an opportunity to put our own needs aside and replace them with another’s—with our neighbor’s—needs as God did, so we empty ourselves of what it means to be me and better understand what it means to be another.

ALL: Christ Jesus, you offer us yourself in the Eucharist and invite us to offer ourselves to you and to your global family. May we learn to put the needs of others ahead of our own so we can better love our neighbor.

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

XIII

FOURTEENTH STATION
JESUS’ BODY IS PLACED IN A TOMB

BEYOND THREE DAYS

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.

ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Luke 24:26)
We know how the story ends. We know that after a mere three days, God’s victory shines forth; Christ triumphs over sin, evil, and death. And yet how long were those three days for the men and women who lived through them? They didn’t have the knowledge that we do: They didn’t know that the story would end in triumph. For them, the story had already ended, and it had all been for nothing.

As Christians, we know that God wins the day, but that doesn’t always make it easier for us in our daily struggles. How many of us are currently living in our own “three days”—a dark period with seemingly no end in sight? How many of us are quick to throw in the towel, to say that our efforts to make the world a better place, to bring about mercy, justice, and peace are in vain and hopeless?

The mystery of our faith says that Christ wins; darkness ends. The seeds we plant today will bear fruit tomorrow. Our efforts to love are never wasted. Bishop Kenneth Untener’s famous prayer reminds us, “We are prophets of a future not our own.”

ALL: Christ Jesus, as we contemplate all that remains to be done to build a just and loving world, remind us that “[our work] may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.”*

Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father …

*usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers/archbishop_romero_prayer.cfm

CLOSING PRAYER

Christ Jesus, we have walked the way of the cross with you. We have seen your sorrows and sufferings and have experienced the hope and joy that a single moment of love can give. We know that your global human family encompasses each and every one of us—from communities in distant parts of the globe to our own cities. All over our world, you are at work. And you call us to work as well, alongside those who are trapped in systems of violence, oppression, and poverty. As we continue our personal and communal journeys, we ask that you bless our efforts to love and serve one another. Amen.

Continue your prayer with our Stations of the Cross Digital Retreats: crsricebowl.org/retreat.

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