XII. STATIONS OF THE CROSS

The practice of the Stations of the Cross is deeply rooted in traditional Catholic piety. The purpose of this prayer is to contemplate afresh, in our heart and mind, some of the pivotal moments of Christ’s sacrifice of himself for our redemption, and to arouse sorrow for sin, and attitudes of trust, gratitude, generosity, and identification with Christ.

This kind of almost dramatized meditation, alternating between hymns and vocal prayers, helps us not only to recall Christ’s sufferings, but to discover in some measure their depth, drama, and intricate mystery. Here human suffering in its highest degree, human sin in its most tragic repercussion, love in its most generous and heroic expression, and death in its most cruel victory and definitive defeat are all made starkly visible.

Introduction

Guide:

Let us pray.

Priest:

Holy Father, look kindly on us as we prepare to follow the luminous path of the cross, step by step, alongside Jesus our Redeemer. Through Christ our Lord.

Or:

Lord God, look kindly on us as we prepare to contemplate, together with Christ, the mysteries of his Passion. Train us in the school of redemptive suffering, so that we will may discover and accept our own cross, embracing it with love. Through Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

I JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH

Priest:

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1:

“Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your concern.’ And the people shouted back, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ Then he released Barabbas for them. He ordered

Jesus first scourged and then handed over to be crucified.”  (Matthew 27:2426).

Reader 2: 

“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us (Romans 8:3537).

Reader 3:

Jesus Christ is not some distant historical figure, an inspiring ethical role model or a sentimental consolation for our times of difficulty. No! Christ is a real, living person. Christ is our brother and friend, our best friend who became man and died on the cross out of love to save every person (RCMH, 147).

Guide:

Let us pray.

Priest:  

Lord God, we ask you to teach us to appreciate and correspond to all that your Son suffered and underwent out of love for us, giving his life for us on the cross and pouring out all his blood so that we may be saved. Through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

II JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS

Priest:

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“The soldiers led him away to the inner part of the palace, that is, the Praetorium, and called the whole cohort together. They dressed him up in purple, twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ They stuck his head with a reed and spat on him, and they went down on their knees to do him homage. And when they had finished making fun of him they took of the purple and dressed him in his own clothes. They then led him out to crucify him” (Mark 15:1620).

Reader 2: 

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and, found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:58).

Reader 3: 

To follow Christ, we must walk the way of the cross: “If anyone wishes to be my disciple he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” A rough and narrow way, yet one that contains the Christian paradox of happiness and fruitfulness through sacrifice (RCMH, 113).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord, give us the grace to be faithful to you not only in times of prosperity, when being faithful is easy, but also in the bitter hours of life, for then it is truly worthwhile to be faithful, following Christ’s footsteps along the way of the cross. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond:

Amen.

III JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME

Priest:

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“Remember the words I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well. But it will be on my account that they will do all this because they do not know the one who sent me” (John 15:2021).

Reader 2: 

“Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (I Corinthians 1:2729).

Reader 3: 

To experience God’s love, we must fix our eyes on the face of Christ, at once human and divine, suffering and transfigured, just and merciful. We must contemplate that face, which enlightens and strengthens the steps of all those who approach him (RCMH, 30).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord, help us to never long for a life without crosses, but rather for crosses with Christ, for the cross is an indispensable instrument in man’s life, especially for those of us who have chosen to accompany Christ along the way of Calvary. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond:

Amen.

IV JESUS MEETS HIS MOTHER

Priest:

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my father’s affairs?’” (Luke 2:4849).

Reader 2: 

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” (Galatians 4:45).

Reader 3: 

Mary’s life offers a constant witness of trust and filial abandonment to God’s will, above all in the difficult and dark moments she lived. Second to her Son, she was the one of whom God demanded the most love; a limitless love, up to the supreme sacrifice she made on Calvary as she gave her own Son over for all mankind, and opened her heart to receive them all as their Mother (RCMH, 125).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

We thank you, Lord, for the shining example of faith that you have given us in Mary. Help us to grow in our understanding of Christ’s mysteries by meditating and suffering with her. May this faith be a source of strength and security to the end of our days. Through Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

V SIMON OF CYRENE HELPS JESUS TO CARRY HIS CROSS

Priest: 

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“They led him out to crucify him. They enlisted a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross” (Mark 15:2021).

Reader 2: 

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:23, 14).

Reader 3:  

“Love is the watershed of history, from the moment Jesus, the Word Incarnate and second Person of the Blessed Trinity came to the world to love and teach us to love.” It requires humility and self-detachment in imitation of Christ crucified to live charity, but it is the path to the new life brought about by Christ with his resurrection. (RCMH, 88, 91).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord Jesus, give us the grace to carry the cross enthusiastically and constantly, for in your kindness you have given it to us so that we can accompany you on the road to Calvary, driven by love for souls who have strayed far from you. You who live and reign forever and ever.

All respond: 

Amen.

VI VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS

Priest: 

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“Come, you whom my Father has blessed; take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” (Matthew 25:3436).

Reader 2: 

“Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith” (Galatians 6:910).

Reader 3: 

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Living in his love means discovering and serving Christ in our neighbor. Living in his love means giving yourself to others in the Christian way (RCMH, 36).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

All powerful God, seeing the example of Veronica who honored Christ and paid him the sincere homage of her love and gratitude, strengthen us to be men of the Kingdom who do not cringe when faced with the cross and suffering. Through Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

VII JESUS FALLS FOR THE SECOND TIME

Priest:

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

All respond:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1:  

“Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:45, 10).

Reader 2: 

“I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Reader 3: 

Abnegation has no appeal to our human nature, which is wounded by sin and frequently inclined to grant itself every possible gratification. But viewed in the light of Christ’s cross and with the strength that stems from there, it becomes a necessary avenue to holiness and apostolic effectiveness. It is the path Christ chose to fulfill his work of redemption and to bear abundant fruit (RCMH, 115).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord Jesus, aware that you deserve everything from us and that our self-giving will always be insignificant, we ask you to look kindly on our desire to spend our lives for you without setting limits or counting the cost. You who live and reign forever and ever.

All respond: 

Amen.

VIII JESUS MEETS THE HOLY WOMEN OF JERUSALEM

Priest: 

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me. If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:40, 42).

Reader 2: 

“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. In everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:2, 4, 10).

Reader 3: 

Christ became man for the complete salvation of the human person. He is concerned for every human person in both his dimensions, the spiritual and the material. And so, in his public life, Christ went about not only teaching and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom but also curing the sick, feeding the crowds, taking care of the needs of those who came to him. His apostolic activity served the entire person (RCMH, 45).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Gracious Father, enlighten our minds and hearts to understand all that Christ longs to be for us. Allow us to enjoy the forgiveness and peace he won for us by his generous self-giving. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

IX JESUS FALLS FOR THE THIRD TIME

Priest:

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

All: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. ‘The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, a second time, he went away and prayed: ‘My Father,’ he said ‘if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!’” (Matthew 26:4142).

Reader 2: 

“Because Christ himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (Hebrews 2:18; 4:16).

Reader 3: 

Self-denial is necessary when it comes to the apostolate, since our mission requires great personal detachment in order to undertake any apostolic initiative fruitfully, and to brave fatigue, setbacks, and misunderstandings for the cause of Christ without ever losing heart (RCMH, 118).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Holy Father, help us to understand that it doesn’t matter if we fall a thousand times, so long as we love the fight and not the fall. Give us the strength to strive constantly, sure that this pleases Christ more than winning an easy, peaceful, and comfortable victory. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

X  JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS

Priest:

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

All respond:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“When they reached a place called Golgotha, that is, the place of the skull, they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall, which he tasted, but refused to drink. When they had finished crucifying him they shared out his clothing by casting lots, and then sat down and stayed there keeping guard over him” (Matthew 27:3336).

Reader 2: 

“Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things, and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:78).

Reader 3: 

When you contemplate Christ’s life, his freedom of spirit is obvious. Christ, also as a man, enjoyed a total interior freedom because in his heart there was only one Lord, the Father, and he did not become attached to any creature. Christ became poor to enrich us with this poverty and to teach us that our true food is fulfilling the Father’s will (RCMH, 193).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord God, drive deep into our hearts and minds the certainty that as life goes on and eternity draws near, only the love of Christ remains. Make this love the treasure for which we sell everything, up to feeling pleasure and joy in being seeds fallen in the furrow with him. Through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

XI JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS

Priest: 

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

All respond: 

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“They crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed it to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus, the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.’ This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek” (John 19:1820).

Reader 2: 

“For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:1920).

Reader 3: 

Self-denial is the path Christ chose to fulfill his work of redemption and to bear abundant fruit: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (RCMH, 115).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Loving Father, in Christ’s cross you have shown us the living reality of your personal love for all men. Enlighten our hearts so that we will hold no life more fruitful or beautiful than a life spent nailed to the cross in fulfillment of your will. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

XII JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS

Priest: 

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

All respond:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. ‘Jesus,’ he said, ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed I promise you,’ he replied, ‘today you will be with me in Paradise.’ And when Jesus cried out in a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ With these words he breathed his last” (Luke 23:3943, 46).

Reader 2:

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Christ Jesus, who died for us, indeed intercedes for us” (Romans 8:3132, 34).

Reader 3:

Christ’s openness and docility to his Father’s will formed the framework of his life from the first instant of his Incarnation until the supreme hour in which he commended his spirit into the Father’s hands as he died on the cross (RCMH, 203).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest:

Holy Father, by seeing your Son on the cross, scorned by his enemies, and rejected by his own friends, suffering silently for love of us, inspire in us the courage to carry our own crosses with the optimism of Christians who, by faith, recognize their life’s importance in the light of eternity. Like Good Samaritans, may we also help others to carry theirs. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

XIII JESUS IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS

Priest:

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

All respond:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. All this happened to fulfill the words of scripture: Not one bone of his will be broken; and again in another place scripture says: they will look on the one whom they have pierced. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus – though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission so they came and took it away” (John 19:3438).

Reader 2: 

“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles; for the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1Corinthians 1:2223, 25).

Reader 3: 

Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. It is true, as the Lord tells us, that man can become a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:3738). Yet, to become such a source you have to drink over and over from the first and original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart the love of God flows (RCMH, 76).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord, in our deepest pain, in our greatest loneliness, and in our soul’s patient longings and desires, let us find you, for you have reached down to us. You who live and reign forever and ever.

All respond: 

Amen.

XIV JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB

Priest:

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

All respond:

Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Reader 1: 

“He then took him down, wrapped him in a shroud and put him in a tomb which was hewn in stone in which no one had yet been laid. He then rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. It was the preparation day and the Sabbath was imminent. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching and took note of where he was laid” (Luke 23:5354; Mark 15:4647).

Reader 2: 

“The time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me” (2 Timothy 4:68).

Reader 3: 

Once we understand by faith that the salvation of a single soul is worth Christ’s blood poured out on the cross, the fire of love that burns in the bosom of the Church begins to burn in our soul too, and it moves us to write, preach and teach Christ (RCMH, 153).

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Merciful Father, never let us doubt that Christ is the Life and that we will conquer death with his resurrection. May Mary, your Son’s gentle, tender mother, be our steadfast companion and comfort us always. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

Concluding Prayer

Guide: 

Let us pray.

Priest: 

Lord, let your blessing descend abundantly on your family as we recall the death of your Son in the hope of sharing in his Resurrection. Grant us pardon and peace, increase our faith and fortify within us the fruit of your redemption. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Or: 

Holy Father, after retracing the way of the cross step by step, we ask you to engrave on our hearts and minds the image of your Son, crucified in this supreme act of love, which has shattered the bitterness and senselessness of suffering and turned it into sweetness and an indispensable means of salvation and holiness. Help us to respond to the persistence of affliction in our lives with the persistence of love, and to the intensity of our suffering with the intensity of self-giving. Through the same Christ our Lord.

All respond: 

Amen.

Continue in Prayer Book to XIII. EUCHARISTIC HOURS AND ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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