OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
by Lebanese young people
"A man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’" (Mk 10:17).
Jesus answered this burning question, which arises in the innermost core of our being, by walking the way of the Cross.
We contemplate you, Lord, along this path which you were the first to tread, and after which "you built a bridge to death with your Cross, so that men might pass from the land of death to the land of Life" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homily).
The call to follow you is addressed to all, especially to the young and to those who are tried by division, wars or injustice and who fight to be signs of hope and builders of peace in the midst of their brethren.
We therefore place ourselves before you with love, we present our sufferings to you, we turn our gaze and our heart to your Holy Cross, and strengthened by your promise, we pray: "Blessed be our Redeemer, who has given us life by his death. O Redeemer, realize in us the mystery of your redemption, through your passion, death and resurrection" (Maronite Liturgy).
I Station: Jesus is condemned to death
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 15:12-13, 15
From Pilate, the man with power, Jesus ought to have obtained justice. Pilate did indeed have the power to recognize Jesus’ innocence and free him. But the Roman Governor preferred to serve the logic of his personal interests and he yielded to political and social pressures. He condemned an innocent man in order to please the crowd, without satisfying truth. He handed Jesus over to the torment of the Cross, knowing that he was innocent ... and then he washed his hands.
In today’s world, there are many "Pilates" who keep their hands on the levers of power and make use of them in order to serve the strongest. There are many who are weak and cowardly before the spectre of power, and mortgage their authority to the service of injustice, trampling upon man’s dignity and his right to life.
II Station: Jesus takes up the Cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 15:20
Jesus Christ stands before soldiers who think they have complete power over him, while he is the One through whom "all things were made ... and without him was not anything made that was made" (Jn 1:3).
In every age, man has thought he could take the place of God and determine for himself what is good and what is evil (cf. Gen 3:5) without reference to his Creator and Saviour. He has thought himself omnipotent, capable of excluding God from his own life and from that of his peers, in the name of reason, power or money.
Today too, the world bows to realities that seek to expel God from human life, such as the blind secularism that suffocates the values of faith and morals in the name of an alleged defence of man; or the violent fundamentalism that claims to be defending religious values (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 29).
III Station: Jesus falls for the first time
A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah 53:5
He who holds the lights of heaven in his divine hand and before whom the powers of heaven tremble: see him falling to the ground, without protecting himself, under the heavy yoke of the Cross.
He who brought peace to the world, wounded by our sins, falls under the burden of our guilt.
"O ye faithful, behold our Saviour as he moves forward along the path to Calvary. Oppressed by bitter sufferings, his strength abandons him. Let us go to see this incredible event that surpasses our understanding and defies description. The foundations of the earth were shaken and a dreadful fear took hold of those who were present when their Creator and God was crushed under the weight of the Cross and let himself be led to death, for love of all humanity" (Chaldean Liturgy).
IV Station: Jesus meets his mother
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 2:34-35, 51b
Wounded and suffering, carrying mankind’s Cross, Jesus meets his mother and, in her face, all mankind.
Mary the Mother of God was the first disciple of the Master. In accepting the Angel’s message, she encountered the Incarnate Word for the first time and became the Temple of the living God. She met him without understanding how the Creator of heaven and earth could have wanted to choose a young girl, a fragile creature, in order to become incarnate in this world. She met him in a constant search for his face, mediating on the word in the silence of her heart. She thought she was seeking him, but in reality, it was he who was seeking her.
Now he encounters her as he carries the Cross.
Jesus suffers on seeing his mother suffer, as does Mary on seeing her Son suffer. But from this shared suffering a new humanity is born. "Salam to you! We implore you, holy and glorious ever-Virgin, Mother of God, Mother of Christ. Let our prayer rise up before your beloved Son, that he may forgive our sins" (Theotikon from the Horologion, Al-Aghbia, 37).
V Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:26
Jesus’ meeting with Simon of Cyrene took place in silence, providing us with a lesson for our lives: God does not want suffering and he does not accept evil. The same is true of the human being. But suffering, accepted in faith, is transformed into a path of salvation. Then we accept it as Jesus did, and we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did.
We give you thanks, Lord,
VI Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
A Reading from the Book of Psalms 27:8-9
Veronica sought you in the midst of the crowd. She sought you and finally found you. While your anguish was at its height, she wanted to ease it by wiping your face with a towel. A small gesture, but it expressed all her love for you and all her faith in you; it has remained impressed on the memory of our Christian tradition.
Lord, you teach us
We pray for those who are seeking your Face
VII Station: Jesus falls for the second time
A Reading from the Book of Psalms 22:8,12
Jesus is alone under the interior and exterior weight of the Cross. In this fall, the weight of evil becomes too great and there seems no longer to be any limit to injustice and violence.
But he rises once more, strong in the infinite trust that he places in his Father. Before the men who abandon him to his lot, the power of the Spirit raises him up; it unites him fully to the Father’s will, that of love which can do all things.
Lord Jesus, in your second fall,
Come, Holy Spirit,
VIII Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:27-28
On the path to Calvary, the Lord meets the women of Jerusalem. These women are weeping at the Lord’s sufferings as if it were suffering without hope. All they can see in the Cross is the wood, sign of a curse (cf. Dt 21:23), whereas the Lord chose it as a means of Redemption and Salvation.
In the Passion and Crucifixion, Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many. Thus he gave relief to those who were oppressed under the yoke and he consoled the afflicted. He wiped away the tears of the women of Jerusalem and opened their eyes to Paschal truth.
Our world is full of afflicted mothers, of women whose dignity has been wounded, abused by discrimination, injustice and suffering (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 60). O suffering Christ, be their peace and be a balm to their wounds.
IX Station: Jesus falls for the third time under the weight of the Cross
A Reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 5:14-15
For the third time Jesus falls under the Cross, burdened with our sins, and for the third time he seeks to get up again, summoning up the strength that remains to him, so as to continue his journey towards Golgotha, refusing to let himself be crushed and to succumb to temptation.
From the moment of his Incarnation, Jesus carries the Cross of human suffering and sin. He has fully and eternally assumed human nature, showing men that victory is possible and that the path towards divine sonship is open.
Grant that we may renounce the mentality of division,
X Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments
A Reading from the Book of Psalms 22:19
In the fullness of time, Lord Jesus, you clothed yourself in our humanity, you whose "train filled the temple" (Is 6:1); already, you are walking in our midst, and those who wish to touch the hem of your garments are healed. But you have been stripped even of this garment, Lord! They have stolen your cloak and you have also given us your tunic (cf. Mt 5:40). You have allowed the veil of your flesh to be torn so that we might once more be admitted into the Father’s presence (cf. Heb 10:19-20).
We thought we could find fulfilment by ourselves, independently of you (cf. Gen 3:4-7). We found ourselves naked, but in your infinite love you reclothed us with the dignity of sons and daughters of God and of his sanctifying grace.
Bestow, Lord, upon the children of the Eastern Churches – stripped by various difficulties, sometimes to the point of persecution, and weakened by emigration – the courage to remain in their countries to proclaim the Good News.
O Jesus, Son of Man,
XI Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:16a,19
Behold, the long-awaited Messiah, hanging on the wood of the cross between two thieves. The two hands which blessed humanity are pierced. The two feet which trod our earth to proclaim the Good News are now suspended between earth and heaven. The eyes full of love, whose gaze healed the sick and forgave our sins, now gaze only heavenward.
Free them from their enslavement.
XII Station: Jesus dies on the cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:46
From the height of the cross a cry is heard a cry: a cry of abandonment at the moment of death, a cry of trust amid suffering, a cry accompanying the birth of a new life. Behold, hanging on the tree of life, you deliver your spirit into your Father’s hands, causing life to spring up in abundance and forming the new creation. Today we too face the challenges of this world: we sense the surge of fears which overwhelm us and shake our trust. Grant us, Lord, the strength to know deep within our heart that no death will conquer us, until we rest in the hands which have shaped us and accompany us.
May every one of us be able to cry out:
In the darkness of our nights,
Today, let us pray
XIII Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his Mother
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:26-27a
Lord Jesus, those who love you remain at your side and keep faith. In the hour of your agony and death, when the world believes that evil triumphs and that the voice of truth, love, justice and peace is silent, their faith does not fail.
O Mary, into your hands we place our earth. "How sad it is to see this blessed land suffer in its children, who relentlessly tear one another to pieces and die!" (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 8). It seems that nothing can overcome evil, terrorism, murder and hatred. "Before the cross on which your Son stretched out his sinless hands for our salvation, O Virgin, we fall prostrate this day: grant us peace" (Byzantine liturgy).
Let us pray
XIV Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:39-40
Nicodemus receives the body of Christ, he looks after it and puts it in a tomb in the middle of a garden which evokes the garden of Creation. Jesus lets himself be buried, even as he let himself be crucified, in the same abandonment, entirely "delivered" into the hands of men and "perfectly united" to them, "even to sleeping beneath the tombstone" (Saint Gregory of Narek).
To accept difficulties, painful events, death, demands steadfast hope, living faith.
The stone placed before the entrance of the tomb will be overturned and a new life will arise. For "we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:4)
We have received the freedom of the children of God, so that we will not return to slavery; life has been given to us in abundance, so that we will no longer be satisfied with a life lacking beauty and meaning.
Way of the Cross
© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana