Stations of the Cross- Contemporary Reflections~ by Fr. Bryan Wolf

May we read, pray and be inspired as we continue our spiritual Lenten journey toward that glorious Easter morning!

The First Station- Jesus is Condemned.  Even now, my beloved Lord Jesus- the world still has you on trial.  Why have you not corrected the injustice in the world?  Wars, oppression, famine, bigotry and hatred still abound.  The weak and the poor continue to turn their eyes and prayers toward heaven.  Where are you?  Why are you so silent?  I admit, in the silence of my soul and in the fear of my faith- I ask this question too.

But in your silence you stood before Pilate.  Your surrendered to God your understanding.  God knows.  God understands our fears, our needs and God knows the true nature of man- the soul and heart that beats within him.  In my silence I pray to you to give me faith- to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Give to me the faith- to be still and know that you are God.

The Second Station- Jesus carries His Cross.  With each movement of the heavy cross, splinters and pain dug deeper into your already broken and bleeding flesh.  How, my beloved Jesus- could you keep anger, hate and contempt for those who imposed this burden upon you?  I see injustice in the world and I am angered. I am frustrated at what I believe are unfair considerations against me.  Then I am ashamed, when I realize the burdens and inequalities others endure.

Strength me, my Lord Jesus- to take up my cross. To have faith in you. Enable me to have the courage to help others carry their own cross.  That I can be an instrument of change- to ease the burden of others.

The Third Station- Jesus Falls.  It would seem to me, as God- you would have carried the cross without falling- but you did not.  You fell beneath its crushing weight- and you are God!  How than, my beloved Jesus- am I to carry my own cross, let alone try and ease the burdens of others?  How can I not, disappoint my family and friends?

But you, my beloved Jesus- were not afraid to fall. You got up, and continued to carry your cross.  Is this your lesson to me?  Do not be afraid to fall?  Rise up. Draw my faith, trust  and strength from God and like you- carry on.

The Fourth Station- Jesus meets His Mother.  There must have been great anguish, pain and sorrow when Blessed Mary saw you.  She must have recalled those times when you fell as a child or were frightened- and ran to her for comfort.  Now she is held at a distance- helpless and filled with despair. It is a painful cross any mother bears in the suffering of her children.

Strengthen the heart and spirits of all parents, merciful God. The courage to help when the can and, more importantly, the resolve when they cannot.  Remove the scars and hurt that separate the bonds of blood between families- as we are bound to you by the sacrifice of your precious blood shed for us.

The Fifth Station- Simon helps Jesus.  How fearful and reluctant was Simon, when he was chosen to help you carry your cross?  Was he too jeered by the crowd? Did he too feel shame?

My beloved Jesus, make me not afraid to face those challenges that will come before me.  Give me strength and faith to walk with you, no matter what struggles lay before me.  Help me to realize that when others are burdened with injustice, I may bravely move beyond the indifferent crowd and help.

The Sixth Station- Veronica wipes Jesus’ brow.  Here, too, another example of someone who dares the condemnation of the crowd to help.  Strengthen me as well, my beloved Jesus, to have the same courage.  To think not of my own comfort and safety, but to react with compassion toward the suffering of others.

The Seventh Station- Jesus falls a Second time.  I am anxious my Lord Jesus, you fall yet again. The crowd, gazing upon you,  must now doubt that you are indeed the Son of God.  What they perceive as weakness and resignation is in reality, unparalleled strength and resolve.

I too, judge others too quickly, sometimes making judgments on appearances alone.  Like the crowd beside you, I too hastily decide my scorn and superiority; looking down upon others. We are too quick to judge the disabled, the poor, the homeless, the destitute and dispossessed, the aged and infirm and those of different color and complexion, or of strange language or ethnicity, or of affectional or sexual orientation.  Help my my beloved Jesus, to overcome my own shortsightedness and shortcoming to understand that we are all children of God; that everyone is worthy of my time, my prayers and my love.

The Eighth Station- Jesus Speaks.  Even in your time of greatest humiliation and suffering, you spoke words of compassion, comfort and absolution.  I am ashamed to think that when I suffer, I think only of myself.  I forget those who suffer much more than I could truly endure.

Give to me Lord Jesus, your grace of humility and holiness.  Help me to take the weight and pains of my own cross and make it a sacrifice to you.  That I may be proud to place my cross beside yours and be judged.

The Ninth Station- Jesus falls a third time.  Even though you are helped by Simon, you fall again.  Is the lesson that there will be times in my life- though helped by others, even with my love and devotion to God- I will still fall?  I cry out to you from the depths of my despair-  “Merciful God, this is more then I can bear!”

“Yes, my dearest child- I know and understand. I am with you always.”  When I fall beloved Jesus, you will catch me. You will raise me up!

My beloved Jesus, there are so many of us crushed by the weight of our crosses. Weighed down and overwhelmed by age, addiction, abuse, oppression and sin.  Lift us up! Remind us there you are there with us. That we are never truly alone. That you walk with us.  For surely, we will stumble and fall again.

The Tenth Station- Jesus is stripped.  Yet another humiliation and suffering.  Even as you walked the bitter path to desolate Calvary, shivering and chilled with pain- you looked down upon the world with compassion.  Make me as ‘Christ-like,’ beloved Jesus, that I too may endure my trials with dignity and devotion.

Almighty God,  for the sake of your sorrowful passion- have mercy on us and on the whole world. Forgive our sins and teach us to forgive others.

The Eleventh Station- Jesus is nailed to the Cross.  I cannot imagine the pain.  It is even difficult for me to comprehend. Even as your tormentors pounded those heavy iron nails into your flesh, you forgave them.  A love so powerful, so incredible, so overwhelming- that God allows Himself to be nailed to a cross.

Was the nail hammered into your left hand, payment for those who harbor hate in their heart?  The nail driven into your right hand, for those ignorant to the suffering of others?  The nails driven into your feet of blistered and broken flesh, payment for those who walk away from the begging outcries of others?  The spear that pierced your side, does it release your overflowing mercy?  Such great love.  Such a great sacrifice.  How can I ever expect to repay it, or be worthy of your love?

Nailed to the Cross, your arms outstretched- you call out to us- “Here I am, dear child.  Come to me.  I go nowhere without you.  I am held to the cross.  I love you.”

The Twelfth Station- Jesus dies.  The sky has turned dark and thunder rumbles. Blessed Mary and beloved John stand nearby. I fall to my knees before your cross in shame.  Scripture tells me you came into the world to give light and though you made the world, the world did not know you.  By your death we are plunged into darkness.

Forgive us Lord Jesus, for not seeing the light. We are blinded by our own ambitions and desires. We choose not to see the suffering and injustice.  We do not even see the beauty of your creation.  The light of truth has left the world, and I pray for it to return.

The Thirteenth Station- Jesus is taken down.  Once again in painful sorrow, Blessed Mary holds you in her arms again. Mother and child.  When I am overwhelmed with loneliness and failure, let me think of this moment. The embrace.  Of being  embraced- by my heavenly Father. God’s embrace of His children. Where there is suffering and pain- there will be mercy and compassion.

The Fourteenth Station- Jesus is laid in the tomb.  On the night you were born, beloved Jesus- men slept.  Angels sang your glory, animals greeted you and a small handful of shepherds noticed.  Now in your burial, again- only a small handful gather.

Like you- most of us are born, and will die, in obscurity. Most of us will not have the mention of media or historians. Is this then your greatest lesson to us?  Be content to be who you are- as you are- where you are. You are children of God.

God knows who you are- for even before you were- God knew you.  Live your life that is the gift from God. Loves those that God has given you to love. Provide for those, that God calls for you help.  For we are renewed and refreshed by the glorious resurrection of Easter morning!  The tomb is empty! We will not be weighed down or overwhelmed by our cross. In fact, it is The Cross that will raise us up- if we are willing accept to follow The Cross and carry it.

For the tomb is empty!  Christ is Risen!

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