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 | By Sister Ann Shields

Walking With Jesus on His Way to the Cross

The Stations of the Cross during Lent are a devotion and practice that can bring people into a deep and true realization of what God has done for them. We have infinite dignity and worth in God’s eyes: Even if you had been the only person on the earth, God would have sent his Son to die for you – that is how deeply God values us, each of us. Therefore, make the stations and ponder what Christ suffered that you might inherit eternal life.

How to pray the Stations of the Cross

When you begin to pray – whether in the church or at home – kneel and make an act of contrition. 

Then, as you are able, reflect on each station. Give each one a few moments of meditation. Pray the Our Father after each station. 


1. Jesus is condemned to death for me. He is taking all my sins on himself so I do not have to die forever. He accepts this gruesome punishment on my behalf. 


2. Jesus carries his cross. He bore all the weight of my sin and the sins of all the world on his shoulder. (If I tried to carry the weight of just my sin, I would be crushed.) Christ carried all our sin.


3. Jesus falls the first time. The weight is too much on a body already scourged. He bows under the weight and the terrible injuries already inflicted. Lord, forgive me for my sin that contributed to that crushing weight, forgive me. 


4. Jesus meets his mother. There are no words to describe the pain that Mary bore as she watched her Son suffer in such agony. Each, in their own way, yields to the will of the Father for our salvation. 


5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross. Lord, thank you for helping me to carry my crosses. May I in turn help others to carry the crushing weight of their sorrow. 


6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Such a small gesture in such a time of horror, yet Jesus rewards even the smallest act of charity, of kindness, of mercy – and blesses those who perform them. May I never despise small acts of kindness – those I give and those I receive.


7. Jesus falls the second time. What a desperate moment when our strength won’t hold out, when we are helpless in the midst of enemies – even with friends we can feel humiliated. Jesus bore that humiliation for you and for me. We are never alone – even in the most challenging of times. He has gone before us.


8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. He comforts them as they try to minister to his needs. This is the call to the whole body of Christ – in suffering, give and receive. God will be very present to our needs while we tend to the needs of others. 


9. Jesus falls a third time. How physically crushing, how helpless, how humiliating, yet he does it for us.


10. Jesus is stripped of his garments. Again and again in every step and action of that torturous route to Calvary, he is degraded and humiliated beyond speech. Yet he bore it all in silence – he who could have risen up and destroyed all his persecutors bore it on our behalf, that we might inherit life, not death. 


11. Jesus is nailed to the cross. It is a miracle that he is still alive, and he chooses to be, that he might drain the cup of suffering to the last drop for you. How can I return gratitude by the way I live my life? 


12. Jesus dies on the cross. To all the onlookers this was the end. A man with big plans and big ideas is gone just like every other human being. But there were some at the foot of the cross who still held a flicker of hope that he was the Messiah, that he would live, that his promises would come true. How great is your faith? 


13. The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross. How infinitely sad must have been those moments as Mary held him in her arms, as they washed his body, as the sky darkened and the wind grew stronger. It all seemed to be over – he was gone.


14. Jesus is laid in the tomb. The disciples scatter; confusion and fear, anger and doubt must have assailed them all. But Mary waited.

Close by reading Psalm 30.


For an alternate devotion, visit the scriptural Stations of the Cross celebrated by Pope St. John Paul II.

This article was originally published March 2015.