The Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross
In Roman Catholic churches one will usually find fourteen ‘stations’ on the walls of the church. These stations dwell on fourteen particular events in the final hours of Our Lord’s life beginning with his condemnation to death by Pontius Pilate and culminating with the burial of his body in the sepulchre. Traditionally, the faithful have prayed the Stations of the Cross on Fridays and throughout the Season of Lent, though it is not confined to these times.
The fourteen Stations of the Cross are as follows:
I. Jesus is condemned to death:
Leaving the house of Caiaphas, where he had been blasphemed, and the house of Herod, where he had been mocked, Jesus is dragged before Pilate, his back torn with scourges, his head crowned with thorns; and he is condemned to a disgraceful death.
II. Jesus is made to carry his cross:
A heavy cross is laid on the bruised shoulders of Jesus. He receives it with meekness: it is the instrument with which he is to redeem the world.
III. Jesus falls the first time:
Bowed down under the weight of the cross, Jesus slowly sets forth on the way to Calvary amidst the mockeries and insults of the crowd. His agony in the garden has exhausted his body and he is sore from blows and wounds; his strength fails him and he falls to the ground under the weight of the cross.
IV. Jesus meets his Blessed Mother:
Still burdened by his cross and wounded by his fall, Jesus proceeds on his way. He is met by his Mother. What a meeting that must have been! What a sword of anguish must have pierced her heart!
V. Simon of Cyrene is made to help Jesus carry his cross:
As the strength of Jesus fails and he is unable to proceed, the soldiers seize Simon of Cyrene from the crowd and make him help Jesus. The virtue of that cross changed his cross and the compulsory task became a privilege and a joy.
VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus:
As Jesus continues on the way and covered with the sweat of death, a woman moved by compassion, makes her way through the crowd and wipes his face with a towel. As a reward of her piety, the impression of his sacred countenance is miraculously imprinted upon the towel.
VII. Jesus falls the second time:
The pain of the wounds and the loss of blood increasing with every step, again his strength fails him and Jesus falls to the ground a second time.
VIII. The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus:
At the sight of the sufferings of Jesus, some holy women in the crowd were so touched with sympathy that they openly bewailed and lamented him. Jesus, knowing the things that were to happen to Jerusalem because of its rejection of him, turned to them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
IX. Jesus falls the third time:
Jesus had now almost arrived at the summit of Calvary, but before he reached the spot where he was to be crucified, his strength again fails him and falls the third time.
X. Jesus is stripped of his garments:
Having finally arrived at the place of crucifixion they prepared to crucify him. His garments are removed from his bleeding body and he stands naked before the people, while the soldiers cast lots to see who shall keep his garment.
XI. Jesus is nailed to the cross:
The cross is laid upon the ground and Jesus is stretched upon his bed of death. At one and the same time he offers his bruised body to his heavenly Father of behalf of all peoples, and to his executioners to be nailed by them to the wood.
XII. Jesus dies on the cross:
For three hours Jesus hung upon the cross, and in the midst of his sufferings he has forgiven those who condemned him, pardoned the good thief, and committed his Mother and the beloved disciple to each other’s care. All is now consummated, and, bowing his head, he breathes his last.
XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross:
The crowds have left Calvary and none remain except the beloved disciple and some holy women who support Jesus’ blessed Mother. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus take down the lifeless body of Jesus and place it in his Mother’s arms.
XIV. Jesus is laid in the Sepulchre:
The body of her Son is taken from his Mother and laid in the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathaea. The tomb is closed and there the corpse remains until its glorious resurrection.
The traditional way of praying the Stations of the Cross in the church is to walk from station to station. At each station one genuflects or bows and recites certain prayers which include an ‘Our Father,’ ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Glory Be to the Father.’ People also pray the Stations at home using the same prayers and meditating for a moment on each station.