Way of the Cross


Way of the Cross Henri MatisseThere is something about the stations – it attracts the crowds on Good Friday (as the liturgical service perhaps doesn’t).   It holds our attention on the physical aspects of the Suffering of Jesus, and even those of his Dying.  They are the stations of his carrying of his cross.

Is there a gentler way of assimilating the stations? On Good Friday morning…

Thinking about Holy Week and Easter – with an emphasis on Easter Peace – actually suggests two things.  First, Jesus is not carrying his cross any more.  He has risen.  Secondly, we don’t have to carry our cross any more.  We are already beginning to share his resurrection.  It would be interesting to ask - what are the stations of the non-carrying of the Cross? We sometimes say that our emotions are our cross.  What are the emotions that don’t need to be carried any more?   Death and the sufferings that lead to it, and the emotions that go with it all, are taken away by the New Life. What would be the stations of the new life that is in us form Jesus?

‘A Walk to the Statues’ (The Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, Kentucky)

These statues depict Jesus and the three disciples who accompanied him in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion.  They were donated in memory of an American who was killed in Alabama in 1965 while working to register black Americans as voters.

There is an atmosphere of peace in these statues.


The Stations are there on Good Friday morning.  Can we find in them a different, and gentle mood?  Peace?


For the first three stations

It is a time for waiting.  

Jesus said: Wait with me.

It is a command to wait.

The grass never sleeps, or the roses. Nor does the lily have a secret life that shuts till morning. 

Jesus said: Wait with me.  But the disciples slept.

Jesus said: Wait with me. The cricket has splendid fringes on its feet, and it sings, have you noticed, in its whole body, and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said: Wait with me.  And maybe the stars did.  And maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move.  And maybe the lake faraway where he once walked as on a blue pavement lay still and waited wide awake. 

Jesus said: Wait with me.  Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not keep that vigil,  We call them disciples.  How they must have wept, so utterly human, knowing that this too must be part of the story.

Jesus still says: Wait with me.

[Mary Oliver]


For the 4th to 8th stations

Nothing animates us so much to love our enemies as grateful consideration of the Lord’s admirable patience.

By it, the fairest of all men offered his beautiful face to the ungodly to be spit upon.

By it, he whose glance governs all creation subjected himself to the eyes of the iniquitous.

By it, he bared his back to the scourges.

By it, he bowed beneath the sharpness of the thorns the head before which principalities and powers tremble. 

By it, he endured the cross, all the while remaining mild, meek, and calm.

[Aelred of Rievaulx]


For the 9th to 12th stations

I will heal their defection, says the Lord.

I will love them freely.

For my wrath is turned away from them.

I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily.

He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots.


No more hurting people

[Words of Martin Richard, Boston schoolboy at 2013 Boston Marathon]

Nothing shall ever hurt you.

[Luke 10, 19]


For the 13th and 14th stations

The wound is the place where the light enters you.


In the tender compassion of our God, the dawning light from on high shall break upon us.



When the stations are complete

Nothing is more practical than finding God and falling in love with God, in a quite absolute, final way.

It will decide everything.

Stay in love.  Love will decide everything.

[Don Pedro Arrupe]