Pray and Reflect on the Stations of the Cross
What are the Stations of the Cross?
When is the last time you truly reflected on the walk Jesus made to his crucifixion? Have you contemplated the agony and humiliation he went through? What about the emotions of Mary, his mother? What did she experience? The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross, provide us with an opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ death and the sacrifice He made for us.
Practiced for over 1000 years, praying the Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion practiced by Catholics during Lent. Each station shows a pivotal moment during Jesus’ Passion. Most Catholic Churches have a depiction of each Station either inside or outside of the Church. During Lent a priest or deacon will lead a procession to each Station and lead a congregation in specific prayers. These prayers allow us to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
If you can’t attend a Stations of the Cross service at your church, you can always pray them on your own. You can visit a church or even reflect from your own home. It’s common to pray the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday or another day during Holy Week.
Stations of the Cross Prayers
Begin by asking, “God, what is one way that I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week?” Use the Stations of the Cross as a way to deepen that reflection.
As you approach each Station, first genuflect and pray “We adore you o Christ and praise you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” If in a group, the leader says the first sentence and the group continues with the second. In a group setting it can be helpful to have one person read each section aloud.
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The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death
Scripture: Mark 15:1-5, 15
And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered. So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab’bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Reflection: Jesus was innocent but he chose to accept His death to save us. Have you ever been falsely accused? How did you respond?
The Second Station: Jesus Carries the Cross
Scripture: John 19:6, 15-17
When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify you King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol’gotha.
Reflection: Jesus’ cross was literal, but we all have crosses we bear in this life. It’s easy to get caught up in our own world and focus on our own cross. Do you grant others grace the way you want others to do for you?
The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time
Scripture: John 19:1-3
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.
Reflection: With a crown of thorns shoved on His head and beaten by the soldiers, Jesus was exhausted by the weight of His cross. Not only was He physically exhausted - He was emotionally exhausted. His followers had betrayed him. Reflect on a time when you have felt burdened with the weight of the world. Even in hard moments, Jesus gives us an opportunity to pick up and keep going.
The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother
Scripture: John 19: 25-27
So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag’dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, you son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Reflection: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, watched her son endure ultimate pain and suffering for us. A mother has a unique outlook on her child’s life. Reflect on how distraught Mary must have felt as she watched her son endure complete agony.
The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Scripture: Mark 15:21
And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyre’ne, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Reflection: Do you think Simon wanted to help Jesus carry His cross, or was he picked out of the crowd and afraid of the Roman soldiers? When have you helped someone carry their cross? Were you willing to help or were you resentful?
The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Scripture: Isaiah 53:2-3
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Reflection: St. Veronica boldly stepped out of the crowd to wipe Jesus’ face of blood and sweat. It wasn’t safe to be a known follower of Jesus, yet she took the time to help Him when He needed it. When have you stepped outside of your comfort zone to offer support or kindness, even if it was unpopular?
The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time
Scripture: Romans 8:31-39
If God is for us, who can be against us? God who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who has loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Reflection: We all make mistakes, we all fall down. How can you try to find the strength to rise again?
The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Scripture: Luke 23:27-31
And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Reflection: Even in the midst of his agony, Jesus recognized the pain of others. Are you so caught up in yourself, in your own pain, that you fail to comfort others? How can you support your friends and family in their own time of need?
The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls a Third Time
Scripture: Psalm 38
I am overwhelmed by a burden beyond my strength. I am stooped and deeply bowed; all day I go about mourning. My heart shudders, my strength forsakes me; the very light of my eyes has failed. Friends and companions shun my pain; my neighbors stand far off. Those who seek my life lay snares for me; they seek my misfortune, they speak of ruin; they plot treachery all the day. I am very near to falling; my pain is with me always. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my salvation.
Reflection: Sheer exhaustion made Jesus fall not once, not twice, but three times. Is there an area in your life that you keep messing up or falling short? Where can you turn to find the strength to stand up yet again?
The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
Scripture: John 19:23-24
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the scripture, “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
Reflection: After the pain, and the blood, and the sweat, Jesus now faces humiliation. His clothes, His dignity, have been stripped away even further. When have you been utterly humiliated? When have you caused someone else humiliation?
The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Scripture: Luke 23:33-34
And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
Reflection: Touch your hands. Imagine stakes being driven into them. Imagine that you could make it all go away in an instant - and you don’t. Jesus chose this pain and sacrifice for us. Where in your life can you sacrifice for someone else?
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Scripture: Luke 23:44-46
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Reflection: After three hours of complete agony, Jesus dies. And in doing so, He saves us from our sins and allows us a chance at eternal life. Can you spend time this week reflecting on the ultimate sacrifice?
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus’ Body is Removed from the Cross
Scripture: John 20:38-42
Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate permitted it. So Joseph came and took his body. Nicodemus also came. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.
Reflection: The world was still. Jesus’ mother, Mary, and other disciples had broken hearts. And yet they lovingly and tenderly removed His body from the cross. Where can you offer comfort and support today?
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
Scripture: Matthew 27:57-60
And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed.
Reflection: For the moment, all hope appears to be lost. But God’s greatest moment, the Resurrection, is about to begin. Reflect on your life. When has something incredible happened after a time of difficulty? How did that change you?
As you end the Stations of the Cross, spend a few final minutes in quiet reflection. Finish with the Dynamic Catholic Prayer of Transformation.
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