Stations of the Cross (1st--14th)

The Stations of the Cross are not given to us only to remind us of the historical Passion of Christ, but to show us what is happening now, and happening to each one of us. Christ dis not become man only to lead His own short life on earth- unimaginable mercy though that would have been-- but to live each of our lives.
Most of Christ's earthly life was hidden. He was hidden in His Mother's womb, He was hidden in Egypt and in Nazareth. During His public life He was hidden often, when He fled into "a mountain to pray." During the forty days of His risen life, again and again He disappeared and hid Himself from men. Today He is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, in Heaven, and in His Mystical Body on earth.
But his His Passion He was exposed, made public property to the whole of mankind. The last time He went up into a mountain to pray, it was to pray out loud in a voice that would echo down the ages, ringing in the ears of mankind for ever. He was to stripped naked before the whole world for ever, not only in body but in mind and soul; to reveal not only the height and depth and the breadth of His love for men but its intimacy, its sensitivity, its humanity.
The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander

First Station

Jesus is Condemned to Death

He is a man of sorrows.
He is covered in bruises and stripes.
He is made a laughing stock. 
He is crowned with a crown of thorns.
A reed is put into His hand for a scepter a tattered soldier's cloak in thrown over His naked shoulders. 
His eyes are blindfolded. 
His face is covered with spittings 
He is bound like a dangerous criminal 
His own people have chosen a murderer before him.
His friends have forsaken Him. 
The kiss of treason burns on His check.

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander 

"Father, forgive them: they do not know what it is they are doing"

Second Station
Second Station ~ St. Emma Monastery 

Jesus Receives His Cross

Lying in the wooden manger in the stable of Bethlehem,
Christ welcomed the cross for which He had come into the wold. At that moment of His birth He accepted all the hardship, the pain and suffering of mankind- the cold, the darkness, hunger and thirst; the pain of mind and body, the needs and the dependence of all men. He accepted death - indeed He became man in order to die for men. 
Unseen, unknown , Christ received His cross in Bethlehem. 

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander 

Third Station
Third Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Falls the First Time

Because Christ identifies Himself with us, because He suffers the humiliation of the first fall in us, His love transforms it. The very wound can heal us.
The first fall is the first real self-knowledge. Now we know our weakness, we know our helplessness before the difficulties of life, our total inability to shoulder our responsibilities. We know that we cannot get up by ourselves, we cannot shoulder the burden for the second time by ourselves, we cannot face our own self-contempt or the derision of others, by ourselves. We realize now hat we are wholly dependent on Christ, dependent on Him to act in us, to lift Himself up in us and to lift us up in Him. His weakness is our strength.

No longer do we seek to carry the burden with our own hands, but with His.
No longer do we try to walk in His footsteps, we tread the way with His feet.

The Way of the Cross  Caryll Houselander

Fourth Station
Fourth Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Meets His Mother

Seeing the first fall on the Via Crucis, His Mother sees the first fall on the path in Nazareth. Now as then she is silent; she holds back her hands as she did then. His will is her will. It was for this hour that she gave Him to the world, for this that He grew from the infant to the child, from the child to the man.

"Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?"
What is His Father's business but the business of love, the Father's love for mankind? "The Father so loved the world, that he gave up his only son to save the world."

The cause of Christ's suffering was His love for the world; the suffering He gave to His Mother was the gift of His own love. The increase of Christ's own grief because He must afflict her was an increase of Christ-love in the whole world- the suffering which is a communion of love.

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander 

Fifth Station
Fifth Station St. Emma Monastery

Simon Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross

We are here on earth to help to carry the cross of Christ, the Christ hidden in other men and women, and to have literally a strong arm to give, we may help to do hard work; we may have material goods to give; we may have time, which we desperately want for ourselves but which we must sacrifice for Christ in others.
We may have only suffering. 
Suffering is the most precious coin of all. Suffering of body, suffering of mind, paid down willingly for Christ in others, enables Him to carry His redeeming cross through the world to the end of time. 
Suffering contains in itself all that Simon gave: 
our mind and body, frustration and identification with someone else.

The Way of the Cross  Caryll Houselander

Sixth Station
Sixth Station St. Emma Monastery
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Now that face of infinite majesty and compelling beauty is unrecognizable. ...
It is all this, from which His close friends have fled, which drives this women to Him
It is the ugliness and the helplessness, which frightened those whom He called His "own" away, 
that draws her to Him;
it is her compassion that gives her the courage to come close to Him....
She sees the majesty that was hidden, for now she has wiped away what she can of the blood and sweat and tears, she sees that they hid a face that is serene in its suffering, calm, majestic, infinitely tender.

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander

Seventh Station
Seventh Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Falls the Second Time

Christ is down in the dust. This second fall in harder than the first; He in nearer the end of His tether now, more dependent than before on others to help Him to get up and go on. It may have been something trifling, almost absurd, that threw Him down. Perhaps something as small as a pebble on the road; yes, that would have been enough to send Him hurtling down, with that terrible burden on His back, and His own exhaustion as He nears the end of His bitter journey.
It is the same today, the same for those "other Christs" who have gone a long way on the road and who fall, not for the first time now, under the heavy cross of circumstance--those who have carried this cross for a long time, who have become exhausted by the unequal struggle and fall, who with Him are down in the dust. Ii is for them that Christ falls for the second time and lies under the crushing weight of His cross, waiting for those who will come forward to lend their hands to lift it from His back and enable Him to go to the end of His way of suffering and love.

If something as trifling as a pebble in the road or a false step could throw Christ down on the road, so may a tiny provocation, a sudden temptation, a mocking word--a fragment that adds to the struggle-- bring the man staggering under the cross down:
the servant is not greater than his master.

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houslander

Eighth Station 

Eighth Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

But above all else it is compassion that Christ has always wanted from men and women, has always for; He has wanted them to be with Him, to comfort Him just by entering into His suffering with Him- not to take away His suffering but to enter into it with Him, because it is His and it is the expression of His love for them!
There are those in every age in whom the suffering of Christ is manifest, almost visible, the beauty of His love shining through the ugliness of their circumstances. It is not for Christ in them that we must weep. It is for Christ whose beauty is hidden, Christ in the outcast, in the man who is wrestling with temptation, who is unrecognized, uncomforted; Christ in whom we pass by without seeing , without knowing, whom we allow to stagger on, on His way, loaded with His too heavy cross, unhelped, unwept, uncomfroted.

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander

Ninth Station 
Ninth Station  St. Emma Monastery
Jesus Falls the Third Time

As they approach the foot of the Mount Calvary the suspense reaches its climax: 
If he is going to work a miracle, he must do it now.
 If he is going to show that, after all, if he IS what he claims to be, the Son of God, 
the moment has come for him to prove it.
It is not only those who fear and hate Him who are in suspense; 
the whole multitude watches Him, holding its breath,
 waiting to see what Jesus of Nazareth is going to do now. 

They wait, straining forward, 
struggling to come near to Him, 
breathless with suspense, 
some through fear, 
some through hope; 
all tense, expectant, awaiting!

And what does He do? For the third and the last time, Jesus falls under the cross!

This is the worst fall of all. It comes at the worst moment of all. It tears open all the wounds in His body; the shock dispels the last ounce of strength that He had mustered to go on. It shatters the last hope the last remnant of faith, in nearly everyone in the crowd. It is triumph for His enemies, heartbreak for His friends.  

He chooses to indwell those who seem to fail, 
those who fall again and again, those who seem to be overcome even when the end is in sight. 
In them, if they will it, He abides;in them He overcomes weakness and failure, 
in them He triumphs; and in 
His power they can persevere to the end,
 abject before men but glorious with Christ's glory before God.

The Way of the Cross  by Caryll Houselander

Tenth Station 
Tenth Station St.Emma Monastery

 Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

But before He is nailed to the Cross, Jesus gives us yet another overwhelming showing of His love, yet another proof of His identification with men in their bitterest humiliation: Jesus is stripped of His garments.

He stood there identified with the convert, either from sin of unbelief, who must tear off the long established habits of sin and weakness as if her were tearing off his skin.


Give me the courage and the dignity and splendour of Your love,
 to live openly, without pretence, even when there is that in my life which shames me.
Give me the one glory of those who are disgraced and ashamed before the world:
 to be stripped with You, Jesus Christ my redeemer, upon Calvary.


The Way of the Cross  by Caryll Houselander

Eleventh Station 

Eleventh Station St. Emma Monastery
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
As the three nails were driven home into the wood, fastening Him to it irrevocably Christ gave Himself to all those men and women who in the years to come would nail themselves to 
His cross by the three vows of religion: 
poverty, chastity and obedience; 
{We take: conversion of life, stability and obedience, in our Monastic tradition.} 
those wise ones who know the weakness of human nature, who know how easily the will can falter when the sweetness of the first consolation of prayer is over; how hard and bleak the winter of the spirit when its springtide and its summer and harvesting seem passed for ever; how hard to go on faithfully clinging to the Christ  life with only one's own weak will to drive one.

  Christ, receiving the nails, gave Himself to those men and women who would nail themselves by the binding vows to Himself upon the cross, who would have the ability to remain true to their chosen life because their hands and feet are put into His hands and feet, and they are held onto the cross by the nails that held Him.

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander

Twelfth Station 
Twelfth Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Dies on the Cross

"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!"
And into Your hands, Jesus Christ my most merciful redeemer,
Infinite Love, 
I commend myself in the hour of death-
my body and soul, 
my heart and my mind and my will, 
All that I have done and all that I am.

Into Your hands,
the beautiful hands of a carpenter
with their line and sinew and muscle, 
strong and sensitive hands
nailed to the cross, 
I commend those whom I love.
Hands that can heal the sick,
can give sight to the blind;
hands that raise the dead
and restore them to life with a touch,
receive those whom I love,
receive them and bless them from the cross;
receive them, comfort them, lead and uphold them;
unity them to Yourself
and re-unite them to me 
for ever more in Your Kingdom, 
Jesus, merciful Lord.


The Way of the Cross  by Caryll Houselander 

Thirteenth Station 
Thirteenth Station St. Emma Monastery

 Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross

And there from the summit of Calvary,
at the foot of the cross with her dead child in her arms,
Mary saw how in all the centuries to come Christ would be born again
day after day, hour after hour, in the sacred Host.
She heard the multitudinous whisper of the
words of consecration coming to her on Calvary
from every part of the world, from every place on earth:
 from the great cathedrals of the world;
 from the little village huts that are makeshift for churches;
 from the churches themselves, weather they were beautiful or cheap and tawdry;
 from the chapels and wards of hospitals;
 from prisons and from concentration camps; from the frozen forests of Siberia
- from dawn till dusk, and from dusk till dawn,
 the words of consecration on the breath of men,
and Jesus lifted up,
as He had been lifted up on the cross,
in the Sacred Host.

The Way of the Cross  by Caryll Houselander 

Fourteenth Station 
Fourteenth Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

It is always from the deaths of the spirit that Christ's resurrection comes. 
When we know ourselves as sinners and are sorry, 
our resurrection is at hand. 
When we are iron-bound in the winter frost of aridity,
 the springtime of resurrection is very near. 
When it seems that we have failed,
 that everything is over, 
and we are in the darkness of the tomb with Christ, 
then the angels will come and roll away the great heavy stone, 
and resurrection with Christ will come. 

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. Some deep and mystical reflections on suffering. I particularly like the reflection on the third fall of Christ.