The Way of the Cross* Tenth and Eleventh Stations

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Tenth station: They Strip Jesus of His Garments

Now on Calvary, they give our Lord a narcotic of wine mixed with gall to lessen the pain of the crucifixion. In gratitude for that kindness, Jesus tastes it but declines to drink (cf. Mt 27:34), embracing death with the full freedom of Love.

The soldiers strip Christ of his garments. From the top of his head to the soles of his feet, there is nothing healthy in him: wounds and bruises and swelling sores. They are not bandaged, dressed, or anointed with oil (Is 1:6). The executioners divide his garments in four, but not his seamless cloak, saying: Let’s not tear it, but cast lots to see whose it shall be (Jn 19:24); thus Scripture is fulfilled: They divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots (Ps 21:19).

Despoiled, stripped, in absolute poverty… our Lord has nothing but the wood of the Cross. To reach God, Christ is the way; but Christ is on the Cross, and to ascend the Cross our hearts must be free, not tied to any earthly thing.

1: From the Pretorium to Calvary, the angry crowds, soldiers, and Sanhedrin have pelted Jesus with insults, cruelty, and mockery… scorn and blasphemy—no complaints, no words of protest, not even when they rip the garments from his skin.

Foolishly, I use so many empty words to excuse myself. Resolution: to work and suffer for my Lord in silence.

2: Jesus’ lacerated body is a true portrait of sorrow… In contrast, my comfort-seeking life is filled with whims, apathy, and meanness… false compassion for my body. Lord, may your Passion and Cross strengthen me to mortify my senses and uproot everything separating me from you.

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Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

With a thief on his right and another on his left, they crucify our Lord. Jesus says: Father, forgive them; they know not what they do (Lk 23:34). Love brought Jesus to Calvary and from the Cross all his gestures and all his words are of love, a love both calm and strong. Acting as the Eternal Priest, without father or mother, without lineage (Heb 7:3), he opens his arms to all humanity.

As the hammer blows nail Jesus to the wood, the prophetic words of Holy Scripture resound: They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones; they stare and gloat over me (Ps 21:17-18). My people, what have I done to you, how have I saddened you? Answer me! (Micah 6:3).

Sorrow rends our soul, so we tell Jesus in all sincerity: I am yours, a soul dedicated to you; nailed to your Cross gladly, in the crossroads of the world, fully dedicated to you, to your glory, to the Redemption, to co-redeeming all humanity.

1: The ruthless executioners carry out the sentence, fastening Jesus to the wood. With total meekness, Jesus lets them have their way.

This torment is so unnecessary… the trials and humiliations, the mistreatment and heinous judgment, the shameful gallows, nails, lance… are all pointless. Yet he chose to suffer it all for you and me… How do we respond?

Alone before the crucifix, you may find tears welling up. Don’t restrain them… just make sure those tears lead to resolutions.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* Seventh, Eight and Ninth Stations

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Seventh station: Jesus Falls a Second Time

Now outside the city walls, the shouts of the crowd and brutal force of the soldiers assail Jesus’ humanity: infirmity of body and bitterness of soul trigger another fall. Men’s sins, my sins, weigh down his Sacred Humanity. He bore our infirmities and carried our sorrows, and we took him for a leper, as one struck by God and afflicted. Wounded for our iniquities and bruised for our sins, his punishment saved us; his wounds healed us (Is 53:4-5).

Jesus stumbles, but his fall lifts us up; his death brings us back to life. While we fall again and again into sin, Jesus’ abundant mercy insists on redeeming us. And so that no one may despair, again he wearily gets up embracing the Cross.

May our stumbles and defeats separate us from him no more. As a feeble child throws itself contritely into the strong arms of its father, you and I tightly grasp the yoke of Jesus. Only contrition and humility like this will transform our human weakness into the fortitude of God.

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Eighth station: Jesus Consoles the Women of Jerusalem

As our Lord passes by, some grief-stricken women in the crowd burst into tears, perhaps recalling the glory days of Jesus when everyone exclaimed in amazement: bene omnia fecit—he has done all things well (Mk 7:37). But our Lord wants to give their weeping a more supernatural motive: to weep over sin, that caused the Passion and unleashed the rigor of divine justice: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but for yourselves and for your children… For if they do these things to the green wood, what shall be done to the dry? (Lk 23:28,31).

Sins: yours, mine, those of all men; the evil we do and the good we fail to do; and the countless crimes and iniquities that we would have committed had the light of Jesus’ most loving glance not strengthened us. How little a life is for making atonement!

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Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time

On the slope to Calvary, with just forty or fifty steps to the summit, our Lord falls a third time. He can no longer stand: his strength fails him and lies on the ground utterly exhausted. He offered himself as he wanted; maltreated, he opened not his mouth, as a sheep led to the slaughter, dumb as a lamb before its shearers (Is 53:7).

Everyone against him: the locals and visitors; the Pharisees, soldiers and priests… all of them, executioners. His Mother, my Mother, weeps.

Jesus fulfills his Father’s will! Poor. Naked. Generous: what more could he give? Dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me—he loved me and gave himself up unto death for me (Gal 2:20).

My God, may I hate sin and unite myself to you, embracing the Holy Cross so that I too may fulfill your most lovable will… stripped of all earthly affairs, seeking your glory alone… generously, not holding anything back, offering myself with you as a perfect holocaust.

1: This time our Lord cannot get up—so weighty are our miseries—so they drag him to the scaffold like a lifeless sack. Silent, Jesus lets them have their way: God humbles himself to lift us up. Now you see why we should place our heart on the ground for others to tread softly?

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* – Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Stations

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Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Blessed Mother

As he rises from his fall, Jesus sees his Mother nearby. With immense love Mary looks at him, and Jesus at her. As their eyes meet, each heart pours into the other its own deep sorrow. Mary’s soul is engulfed in grief, the grief of Jesus Christ: Oh, you passersby, look and see, was there ever a sorrow comparable to my sorrow! (Lam 1:12). But no one notices, no one cares; only Jesus! Simeon’s prophecy is fulfilled: your own soul a sword shall pierce (Lk 2:35).

In the dark loneliness of the Passion, Our Lady offers her Son a comforting balm of tenderness, union and faithfulness; a Yes to the divine will. Hand-in-hand with Mary, we too wish to console Jesus, accepting always and in all things the will of his Father, of our Father. Only then does Christ’s Cross becomes sweet, giving us the strength of Love to embrace it, to carry it triumphantly along all the ways of the earth.

 

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Fifth station: Simon Helps to Carry Jesus’ Cross

Exhausted, Jesus’ steps become increasingly unsteady, making the soldiers anxious to finish. So, exiting the city through the Judgment Gate, they seize a man coming in from a farm, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, and force him to carry the Cross (Mk 15:21).

Compared to the whole Passion, this help is rather minor. Yet for Jesus a simple smile, word, or gesture—any bit of love—is all he needs to pour out abundant graces upon the soul of a friend. Years later, Simons sons, now Christians, will be known and admired by their brothers in the faith. And it all started with an unexpected encounter with the Cross: I went to those who were not looking for me; I was found by those who sought me not (Is 65:1).

The Cross may appear without us looking for it; it is Christ seeking us out. So if your heart happens to sour at an unexpected Cross—thus difficult to understand—don’t give it consolation but gently tell it, with noble compassion and in confidence: Heart! Heart on the Cross! Heart on the Cross!

 

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Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

He had no dignity or beauty to attract us; his appearance drew us not to him. Despised and rejected by all, a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief; like one from whom people hide their faces; despised and we esteemed him not (Is 53:2-3). But it is the Son of God, a madman… madly in Love!

With a white linen cloth folded in her hands, a woman, Veronica, weaves her way through the crowd and reverently wipes Jesus’ face. Our Lord impresses his Holy Face on the three parts of her veil.

The beloved face of Jesus, which had smiled upon children and had been gloriously transfigured on Mount Tabor, is now obscured by suffering. But his suffering is our purification; the sweat and blood, disfiguring and tarnishing his features, cleanse us.

Lord, help me tear off decisively, through penance, the pitiful mask fashioned by my filthy doings… Only by following a path of contemplation and atonement will my life faithfully reflect the features of yours; I’ll find myself more and more like you: another Christ, Christ himself, ipse Christus.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* – Second & Third Stations

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Second Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Outside Jerusalem, to the northwest, there is a little hill called Golgotha in Aramaic; locus Calvariae in Latin; Calvary, the place of skulls.

Offering no resistance, Jesus submits to the verdict. They spare him nothing as they drop the massive cross upon his shoulders. Yet this ignominious Cross becomes, through love, the throne of his kingship.

The people of Jerusalem and Passover pilgrims from abroad elbow their way through the city streets to catch a passing glimpse of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Short silences interrupt the clamor, perhaps as Jesus fixes his eyes on someone: If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his daily cross and follow me (Mt 16:24). How lovingly Jesus embraces the wood that will bring him to death!

When we stop being afraid of the Cross—of what people call the cross—and fully accept God’s will, we find happiness and all worries, all physical and moral sufferings, disappear. Christ’s Cross is truly gentle and lovable, where sorrows cease to count; what joy it is to become co-redeemers with him!

1: The guards make ready. Jesus: scorned and ridiculed, the target of mockery by all… who came into the world doing good and healing all (Acts 10:38)… who approaches us who were so far away… he, the good Master, is led to the gallows.

2: Like a carnival, they prepare a long escort, a parade. The judges savor their victory with slow and ruthless torture: Jesus’ death won’t be quick … love prolongs his suffering to fully unite himself to the Father’s most lovable will. Ut facerem voluntatem tuam, Deus meus, volui, et legem tuam in medio cordis mei (Ps 39:9)—It pleases me to do your will, my God, to put your law deep within my heart.

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Third Station: Jesus falls the first time

The crowd swells as the heavy Cross tears into our Lord’s shoulders. The legionaries labor to contain the angry, surging mob that overflows the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem like a flooding river. Worn out, Jesus staggers beneath the huge Cross. His most loving Heart can barely muster another breath of life for his poor wounded limbs.

To his right and left, our Lord sees the roving multitude like sheep without a shepherd. He could call them one-by-one by their names—by our names: those he fed by multiplying the loaves and fishes, those he cured of their ailments, those he taught by the lakeside, on the mountain and in the Temple porticoes. A sharp pain pierces Jesus’ soul; he falls to the ground exhausted.

Dumbstruck, you and I now know why the Cross weighs so much: it’s the filthy failings and terrible ingratitude of our poor human heart. Our soul weeps with profound contrition that lifts us up from the prostration of sin. Jesus falls to raise us up, once and for all.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross*

1 Station cropped   My Lord and my God, under the loving eyes of our Mother, we make ready to accompany you along your path of sorrow, the price for our redemption. We wish to suffer all that you suffered, to offer you our poor, contrite hearts, because you are innocent, yet come to die for us, the truly guilty ones.

My Mother, Virgin of sorrow, help me to relive those bitter last hours your Son wished to spend on earth, so that we, a mere handful of clay, may finally live in libertatem gloriae filiorum Dei—in the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Agony and Arrest in the Garden (Meditations from Station 1)

1: In the garden Jesus prays: Pater mi (Mt 26:39), Abba, Pater! (Mk 14:36). God is my Father, even in sending me suffering; he loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. A sure sign of my sonship is when God treats me like his own Divine Son…

Jesus suffers to do the Father’s will… and as I want to follow the Master’s footsteps in fulfilling God’s most holy will, how can I complain if I too have to suffer?

I will groan and weep alone in my Gethsemane, as he did, lying prostrate on the ground to show my nothingness. Then from the depths of my soul a cry will rise up to the Lord: Pater mi, Abba, Pater… fiat!

2: The Arrest… venit hora: ecce Filius hominis tradetur in manus peccatorum —the hour has come: behold the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (Mk 14:41). So, the sinner has his hour… but God, his eternity!

They bind him with chains and Jesus freely submits. Please bind me with your chains, Lord, that may I suffer with you; humble this body of death—there’s no other way; either reduce this body to nothing or it will degrade me; better a slave of my God than of my flesh.

First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

It’s ten in the morning. The trial has ended without conclusive evidence. The judge, aware that Jesus’ enemies have handed him over out of envy, makes a ludicrous move: a choice between Barabbas, a criminal accused of robbery and murder, and Jesus, who is called the Christ. The people choose Barabbas, and Pilate exclaims: And what about Jesus? (Mt 27:22).

They reply: Crucify him!

The judge insists: Why, what evil has he done?

Again they shout: Crucify him! Crucify him!

Terrified by the growing uproar, Pilate sends for water and washes his hands in their sight, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man; you will see (Mt 27:24). Then, having Jesus scourged, he hands him over to be crucified, silencing the frenzied and possessed crowd as if God has just been conquered.

Jesus is alone. Gone are the days when the words of the Man-God gave light and hope to men’s hearts, when he cured endless lines of the sick, or when he triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on a gentle donkey to the acclaim of all. If only men had responded differently to God’s love! If only you and I had recognized the day of the Lord!

Fr. John R. Waiss

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

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