Mary’s Way of the Cross

The photo above is the exquisite work of art by Michelangelo Buonarroti. I have had the great fortune of viewing this magnificent sculpture of Carrara marble many times at St. Peter’s Basilica. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, it is practically impossible to contemplate this sculpture while standing in front of it without feeling deeply touched by it! Feelings deeply inherent particularly for any mother.

The Pietà, defined as pity and compassion, in Italian, portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary tenderly cradling the mortal body of Jesus Christ after His descent from the cross. The scene captures the profound compassion and sorrow of a mother holding her deceased son. Michelangelo’s interpretation of this theme is unique and extraordinary. The sculpture balances the ideals of the Renaissance era with classical beauty, emphasizing naturalism. It seemed appropriate to use this image for “Mary’s Way of the Cross.”

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, made that first way of the cross. The following stations, called Mary’s Way of the Cross, attempt to present that viewpoint. In these stations we see through Mary’s eyes what Jesus was going through on the way of Calvary. Then we try to make practical applications to our lives.

Is not the Way of the Cross the way of every person’s life? Doesn’t every life have suffering, falls, hurts, rejections, condemnations, death, burial … and resurrection? It has been a Catholic tradition through the centuries to meditate on the Way of the Cross, so that it becomes our way of life.

“These stations and these words are not the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is to go deeper and deeper into the sufferings of Christ, so that we might come out of this spiritual journey with an appreciation of what Christ did for us, and a deeper love for him and for our brothers and sisters.
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
— Rev Andrew Costello

FIRST STATION – JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: It was early Friday morning when I saw my son. That was the first glimpse I had of him since they took him away. His bruised and bleeding skin sent a sword of pain deep into my heart and tears down my cheeks. Then Pilate, from his chair of judgment, asked the crowd why they wanted my son executed. All around me they shouted,” Crucify him!” I wanted to plead with them to stop, but I knew this had to be. So, I stood by and cried silently.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is hard for me to imagine the anguish your mother felt at your condemnation. But what about today, when I hold a grudge … “Crucify him!” When I judge others … “Crucify him” Doesn’t this bring tears of anguish to both you and your mother? Forgive me, Jesus.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: At the cross her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother
weeping, Close to Jesus to the last.

SECOND STATION – JESUS TAKES HIS CROSS 

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: Regaining a little strength, I walked with the crowds to the entrance of the square. A door flew open, and my son stumbled out, the guards laughing behind him. Two men dragged over a heavy wooden cross and dropped it on his shoulders. Then they shoved him down the road. My pain for him was unbearable. I wanted to take the cross from him and carry it myself. But I knew this had to be, so I walked on silently.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I beg you to forgive me for the many times I have added more weight to your cross, by closing my eyes to the pain and loneliness of my neighbor. Forgive me for gossiping about others and for always trying to find excuses to avoid certain people who wish to talk with me. Help me to be like Mary, always seeking to lighten the crosses of others. Forgive me, Jesus.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Through her heart His sorrow sharing, All His bitter anguish
bearing, now at length the sword has passed.

THIRD STATION – JESUS FALLS THE FIRST TIME

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: I followed close behind my son as he stumbled toward Calvary. Nothing had ever hurt me more than to see him in such pain. I saw the cross digging into his shoulders. My heart dropped when I saw him fall, face to the ground, the heavy cross landing squarely on his back. For a moment I thought my beloved son was dead. Now, my whole body began to tremble. Then the guards kicked him. He rose slowly and began to walk again, yet they still whipped him. I wanted to protect him with my own body. But I knew this had to be, so I walked on and wept silently.

Prayer: Lord, how often have I seen you fall, and, unlike Mary, have left you there without concern? How often have I seen people make mistakes and laughed at them? How often do I find myself getting angry when someone does things differently than I? Mary offered you her support through your entire Passion. Help me to do the same for you by the support I give to others.
Lord, have mercy on me.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Oh, how sad and sore distressed, stood the Mother highly blessed, of the sole-begotten One!

FOURTH STATION – JESUS MEETS HIS GRIEVING MOTHER

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: I had managed to break through the crowd and was walking side by side with my Son. I called to Him through the shouting voices. He stopped. Our eyes met, mine full of tears and anguish, His full of pain and confusion. I felt helpless; then His Eyes said to me, “Courage! There is a purpose for this.” As He stumbled on, I knew He was right. So, I followed and prayed silently.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me the many times our eyes met and I turned mine away. Forgive me the times things did not go my way and I let everyone know about it. Forgive me the times I brooded over little inconveniences or became discouraged and did not heed Your call to courage! Yes, Lord, our eyes have met many times, but fruitlessly.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Christ above in torment hangs
She beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

FIFTH STATION – SIMON HELPS JESUS CARY HIS CROSS

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: I could now see almost complete helplessness on the Face of my
Son as He tried to carry His heavy load. Each step looked as if it would be His
last. I felt His every pain in my heart and I wanted the whole thing to end. Then I noticed some commotion near Jesus. The guards had pulled a protesting man from the crowd. They forced him to pick up the back of the Cross to help lighten my Son’s load. He asked the guards why this had to be. I knew, and so followed silently.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I have many times refused to help You. I have been a selfish person who has often questioned Your Word. Don’t let me remain like Simon, but help me to be like Your mother, Mary, who always silently followed and obeyed.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Is there one who would not weep, whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

SIXTH STATION – VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: As I continued close by Jesus, a woman pushed past the guards,
took off her veil and began to wipe my Son’s sweating, bleeding Face. The
guards immediately pulled her back. Her face seemed to say, “Why are you
doing this to Him?” I knew, so I walked on in faith, silently.

Prayer; Lord, this woman gave You the best she could. On the other hand, I
have wanted to take more than I give. So many opportunities arise every day
for me to give to You by giving to others – but I pass them by. My Saviour,
never let me ask why again but help me to give all that I have to You.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Can the human heart refrain from partaking in her pain, in that Mother’s pain untold?

SEVENTH STATION – JESUS FALLS THE SECOND TIME

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: Again, my Son fell, and again my grief was overwhelming at the
thought that He might die. I started to move toward Him, but the soldiers
prevented me. He rose and stumbled ahead slowly. Seeing my Son fall, get up
again, and continue on, was bitter anguish to me. But, since I knew this had to
be, I walked on silently.

Prayer: Lord, of all people, Mary was Your most faithful follower, never
stopping in spite of all the pain she felt for You. I have many times turned away from You by my sins and have caused others to turn away from You. I beg You to have mercy on me.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender child, all with bloody scourges rent.

EIGHTH STATION – JESUS SPEAKS TO THE WOMEN

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: I was walking a few steps behind Jesus when I saw Him stop. Some women were there crying for Him and pitying Him. He told them not to shed tears for Him. They had the opportunity to accept Him as the Messiah; like many others, they rejected Him instead. He told them to shed tears for
themselves, tears that would bring their conversion. They did not see the
connection between that and His walk to death. I did, and as He walked on, I
followed silently.

Prayer: My Saviour, many times have I acted like these women, always seeing the faults of others and pitying them. Yet, very rarely have I seen my own sinfulness and asked Your pardon. Lord, You have taught me through these women. Forgive me, Lord, for my blindness.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: For the sins of his own nation,
saw him hang in desolation,
till his spirit forth he sent.

NINTH STATION – JESUS FALS THE THIRD TIME

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: This fall of Jesus was agony to me. Not only had He fallen on the rocky ground again, but now He was almost at the top of the hill of crucifixion. The soldiers shouted at Him and abused Him, almost dragging Him the last few steps. My heart pounded as I imagined what they would do to Him next. But, I knew this had to be, so I climbed the hill silently behind Him.
Prayer: My loving Jesus, I know that many times I have offered my hand to help people, but when it became inconvenient or painful to me I left them, making my excuses. Help me, Lord, to be like Your mother, Mary, and never take away my supporting hand from those who need it.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: O thou mother! Fount of love! Touch my spirit from above. Make my heart with thine accord.

TENTH STATION – JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: With my Son finally relieved of the weight of the Cross, I thought He would have a chance to rest. But the guards immediately started to rip His clothes off His Blood-clotted Skin. The sight of my Son in such pain was unbearable. Yet, since I knew this had to be, I stood by and cried silently.

Prayer: Lord, in my own way I too have stripped You. I have taken away the
good name of another by foolish talk, and have stripped people of human
dignity by my prejudice. Jesus, there are so many ways I have offended You
through the hurt I have caused others. Help me to see You in all people.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Make me feel as thou hast felt, make my soul to glow and melt, with the love of Christ my Lord.

ELEVENTH STATION – JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: As they threw Jesus on the Cross, He willingly allowed Himself to be nailed. As they punctured His Hands and His Feet, I felt the pain in my heart. Then they lifted up the Cross. There He was, my Son, Whom I love so much, being scorned as He struggled for the last few moments of earthly life. But I knew this had to be, so I stood by and prayed silently.

Prayer: Lord, what pain You endured for me! And what pain Your mother went through, seeing her only Son die for love of me! Yet, both You and she are ready to forgive me as soon as I repent of my sins. Help me, Lord, to turn away from my sinfulness.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Holy Mother, pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew of my Saviour crucified.

TWELTH STATION – JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: What greater pain is there for a mother than to see her Son die
right before her eyes! I, who had brought this Saviour into the world and
watched Him grow, stood helplessly beneath His Cross as He lowered His Head and died.
(Pause)
His earthly anguish was finished, but mine was greater than ever. Yet, this had to be and I had to accept it, so I stood by, and I mourned silently.

Prayer: My Jesus, have mercy on me for what my sins have done to You and to others. I thank You for Your great act of love. You have said that true love is
laying down Your life for Your friends. Let me always be Your friend. Teach me to live my life for others, and not fail You again.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Let me share with thee his pain who for all our sins was slain,
who for me in torments dies.

THIRTEENTH STATION – JESUS IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: The crowd had gone; the noise had stopped. I stood quietly with
one of Jesus’ friends and looked up at the dead Body of our Saviour, my Son.
Then two men took His Body from the Cross and placed It in my arms. A deep
sorrow engulfed my being. Yet, I also felt deep joy. Life had ended cruelly for
my Son, but it had also brought life to all of us. I knew this had to be, and I
prayed silently.

Prayer: Lord, Your Passion has ended. Yet, it still goes on whenever I choose sin over You. I have done my part in Your crucifixion and now, my Saviour, I beg Your forgiveness with all my heart. Help me to live a life worthy of You and Your mother.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: Let me mingle tears with thee, mourning him who mourned for me, all the days that I may live.

FORTEENTH STATION – JESUS IS PLACED IN THE TOMB 

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: We brought Jesus’ Body to a tomb, and I arranged It there myself, silently weeping, silently rejoicing. I took one more look at my loving Son, and then walked out. They closed the tomb and before I left, I thought, I knew this had to be … it had to be for you! I would wait in faith silently.

Prayer: Yes, my Lord, this had to be because You love me, and for no other
reason. All You ask is that I live a good life. You never said such a life would be easy. I am willing to leave sin behind and live for You alone, in my brothers and sisters.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

Sing: By the Cross with thee to stay, there with Thee to weep and pray, is all I ask of Thee to give.

*Note – The Way of the Cross, traditionally consists of 14 iconic stations that depict the events of Jesus’ journey to crucifixion. A 15th station is meant to remember Jesus’ resurrection. Although not traditionally part of the stations, The Resurrection of Jesus is sometimes included as an unofficial fifteenth station. In the year 2000, Pope St. John Paul II, added the 15th Station.

FIFTEENTH STATION – JESUS IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD

Leader – We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

Response – because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Meditation: I could only be most grateful for the sacrifice of my son for us.
Yet, what emptiness I felt trying to live without him whom I loved so! But, only two days later that emptiness was filled beyond belief —
He had risen! Our Saviour had opened the doors to a new life.
That is the way it had to be — because his undying love for you would not stop at anything less. I could rejoice forever, but not in silence.

Prayer: My Saviour, thank you! Thank you for such endless love that helps me to rise out of my own sinfulness. I will try again to live a better life. Help me to always remember that love. Mary, mother of our risen Saviour, teach me to be like you, and in my love for others, love Him in return.

Response: I love you Jesus, my love, above all things: I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Pray: Hail Mary

CHRIST IS RISEN, ALLELUIA!

 

The Receiving of Ashes
Passiontide