Do you ever wonder what it was really like to be at the Passion of Jesus?

Our tendency is to approach the Gospels as history, far removed from who and where we are today. The temptation is to distance ourselves and approach them in an impersonal way. But the Gospels are a living, breathing, deeply personal experience. If we are to encounter the living Jesus as powerfully as possible, we need to learn to place ourselves there, in each scene, seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting everything that is happening, contemplating what each person in the scene is thinking, feeling, hoping, fearing.

The Stations of the Cross is one of the most simple, yet powerful, ways to prayerfully walk alongside Jesus and encounter him like never before.

There are fourteen Stations of the Cross. Each is an invitation to contemplate and experience a pivotal moment from Jesus’ sentencing to his death to his burial. They are a powerful way to step into some of the most significant moments in human history and encounter Jesus like never before. One of the most impactful times to pray the Stations of the Cross is during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday.

For over 1000 years, Catholics have been devoted to praying the Stations of the Cross. And for over 1000 years, this deep spiritual exercise has been transforming lives. Dive into this ancient and powerful meditation on the sacrifice of Jesus and it will change your life too.

How Many Stations of the Cross Are There?

There are traditionally fourteen Stations of the Cross. Each station represents a different moment in Jesus’ Passion and Death, including:

  1. Jesus is Condemned to Death
  2. Jesus Carries the Cross
  3. Jesus Falls for the First Time
  4. Jesus Meets His Mother
  5. Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
  6. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
  7. Jesus Falls a Second Time
  8. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus Falls a Third Time
  10. Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
  11. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
  12. Jesus Dies on the Cross
  13. Jesus’ Body is Removed from the Cross
  14. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Download the Stations of the Cross PDF here. Use it to guide your reflection.

How Do I Pray the Stations of the Cross?

The Stations of the Cross is a powerful and simple way to reflect on the final moments of Jesus’ life. If you are ready to draw wisdom and inspiration from this rich prayer, there are a few options available to you.

Pray the Stations of the Cross with a group: Most Catholic churches pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. We encourage you to attend Stations of the Cross at your local parish. More than likely, your parish will have a depiction of each Station either inside or outside of the Church to help facilitate deeper reflection.

Pray the Stations of the Cross individually: 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 in your own time or even reflect from your own home.

For each station, follow the following steps:

  1. Name the Station: The First Station is Jesus is Condemned to Death
  2. Read the opening prayer: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel) Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise) If you are unable to kneel, you can sit or stand.
  3. Read the selected Scripture passage for inspiration.
  4. Reflect and consider what this Station of the Cross means for your life.
  5. End by praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

Repeat this process for all fourteen stations and you’ll be amazed at how the story of Jesus’ passion impacts your day!

The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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 scourged. One sentence. Three words. But the force of the scourging would have been enough to kill any one. Why are we so cruel to each other? There is a cruel streak that runs through humanity. Our insecurities result in cruelty towards others in many ways: gossip, exclusion, arguing, negative humor, defamation, bullying. It’s easy to objectify the person we are being cruel to in some way, to think of him or her as less than us. Jesus wasn’t like that. Even while he was being scourged, Jesus didn’t see the man scourging him as a beast. He thought of him as a human being. And he loved him. Now consider this: Who is the person you love more than any other in your life? Jesus loved the man who scourged him more than that. Jesus loved that man more than you and I have ever loved anyone.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Second Station: Jesus Carries the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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 your 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:

The world tells us we should do anything to avoid pain and suffering today. But that’s not how Jesus was. He embraced every experience of pain and suffering. Why the great difference between Jesus’ approach and the world’s approach? The world believes that suffering has no value and should be avoided at all costs. God believes that suffering has value–enough value to save all of humanity. We all join in his suffering in different ways–and it’s an invitation to pick up our own cross and follow him. Let’s look to Jesus and bring our suffering to him, and allow him to transform us in ways unimaginable.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


Scripture: John 19:1-3

And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.


Reflection:

This is the Savior of the world. Look how we treated him. We ignored him, humiliated him, mocked him, scourged his flesh, spat on him, drove thorns into his head, and watched him fall under the weight of it all. But we are not finished yet. The enormous weight on his shoulders–we did that and we still do. With our thoughts, words, actions or inaction, we put more weight upon his shoulders. Why? Because we love this world, we love some of our sins, and we are addicted to comfort. But even with all of this weight, Jesus gets back up. And he invites us to radical transformation, to forgiveness, and to a life with him forever.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


Scripture: Luke 2: 34-35

[And Simeon] said to Mary:
“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is spoken against
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”


Reflection:

Mary knew from the very beginning that her son would suffer–but did she really understand just how bad it would be to watch it unfold right in front of her? Mary, what were you thinking and feeling that day? DId those images stab your heart every day for the rest of your life? Did you wake in the night sweating from the terror of reliving those moments in nightmares? Pray for us, Mary. Teach us to prayerfully endure the struggles in our own lives and to comfort others when they suffer.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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:

What is your cross? Are you carrying your cross, or are you dragging it along? Are you asking someone else to bear it for you? Who knows about the cross you are carrying? Everyone who crosses your path, a select few, or are you and Jesus the only two that know about it? Do you complain about your cross? Do you think other people have easier crosses to bear? Do you let anyone help you with your cross?

Whatever cross you are carrying at this time in your life, claim it as your own. Name it as your own cross. And talk to Jesus today about what it is like to be carrying that cross. If you need help carrying it, ask him in prayer to send you a Simon of Cyrene and trust God that he is with you every step of the way.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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:

Veronica boldly stepped out of the crowd to wipe Jesus’ face of blood and sweat. She wasn’t afraid to be seen with him. She didn’t care that he was the most hated man on earth that day. She noticed his need, and she went to him. Jesus was the same way. He made a habit of going out of this way to engage with people on the fringe of society–no matter who they were or what they were like. He never avoided people. He never ignored them. And he invites you to act in the same way. Who are those people in your life? And how might God be calling you to notice them today?


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


Scripture: Romans 8:31-32; 38-39

If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?...For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Reflection:

Jesus was God and he still fell under the weight of the world–not just once, but now for a second time. Do you ever fall under the weight of your world?

Life is difficult. The problem is that we expect it to be easy or we try to make it easy. Life proposes a series of challenges, dilemmas, problems, dissatisfactions, heartaches, and opportunities, but often we set out to avoid all difficulty and friction. This is impossible, so we become agitated and angry. We shun anything that will bring us stress. So why did Jesus run toward it? Why did Jesus accept stress and suffering and humiliation and even death? Because he had a mission. And that mission–to save you, to save all of humanity–was the reason he was able to get up again. What’s your mission? What helps you get up again when you fall?


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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:

When the women of Jerusalem saw Jesus suffering, they were overcome with grief. They loved Jesus–they had seen him healing the sick, performing miracles, and speaking with enormous crowds who followed him everywhere. But now, everything was different and they weren’t ready for it.

Has this kind of loss ever happened to you? Perhaps your dream didn’t come true. Perhaps someone you loved died. Perhaps you were in an accident, deceived and manipulated by someone you trusted, or got your heart broken. Whatever the cause, the life you hoped and expected to live is gone now, and it’s important to mourn the life that could have been.

When we suffer trauma or loss, we are stunned and can become numb. After the initial shock wears off, we can experience stress, disorientation, anger, and depression. We can also fall into self-blame. We may think and say things like, “I just want to move on” or “I’m ready to put this whole thing behind me.” But the first step to healing is facing what has happened. Don’t ignore the fact that you have been hurt. Mourn the life that could have been if your dream had come true, if the person you love hadn’t died, if you had not been betrayed, if you hadn’t made such a devastating mistake, if you hadn’t gotten sick. Mourn that life. It is a prerequisite for discovering the exquisite possibilities that still lay ahead.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls a Third Time

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


Scripture: Psalm 38:4-9

For my iniquities have gone over my head;
they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.
My wounds grow foul and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my loins are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am utterly spent and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
Lord, all my longing is known to thee,
my sighing is not hidden from thee.
My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my kinsmen stand afar off.
Those who seek my life lay their snares,
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin,
and meditate treachery all the day long.
But I am like a deaf man, I do not hear,
like a dumb man who does not open his mouth.
Yea, I am like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
But for thee, O Lord, do I wait;
it is thou, O Lord my God, who wilt answer.
For I pray, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
who boast against me when my foot slips!”


Reflection:

Jesus is exhausted and the weight of the cross overwhelms him. There are times in our lives like this too–times when we don’t know which way is up or down, left or right, back or forward. What do you do when you find yourself beat up and abandoned in one of life’s dark alleys? What do you do when you have been blindsided by betrayal? Walk toward the light.

There is no one path or recipe for everyone. You have unique hopes, dreams, fears, ambitions, talents, and needs. God will use each of these to call you along your own unique path, but always toward the light. If you’re not sure where you are or what direction you should be going: move toward the light. The light always leads us forward.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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:

They’ve taken everything from Jesus, even his clothes. But it doesn’t matter–no amount of humiliation, no amount of pain, will stop Jesus from fulfilling what God has asked of him.

What’s stopping you, right now, today, from fulfilling what God has asked of you? Our problems, our struggles with sin, and the challenges of life can stop us dead in our tracks, sometimes for years. We feel afraid to bring our mess to God. Why? Because we are ashamed. But that's like having a unique disease, like an incredibly rare disease. There's only one doctor in the world who's an expert in that disease, and refusing to go and see that doctor. It's lunacy, right? But God is the expert that can help you solve the mess, make peace with the mess, accept the mess, deal with whatever. God is the expert that needs to be invited into the equation in order to move forward. Otherwise, you're just like that car stuck in the mud, just spinning its wheels because it can't get any traction. God comes to the situation and helps us get traction so that we can move on. So bring everything to God and don’t let shame, or humiliation or mistakes stand in your way any longer.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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:

You’ll never see a greater example of love than the moment that Jesus was nailed to the cross.

Jesus, teach us to love like you. There are so many obstacles that get in the way of loving like you: our selfishness and insecurities; our pride and unwillingness to forgive; our anger and envy; our lust and gluttony; our green and laziness. Fill us with the grace to cast these obstacles aside so that each day we can love more and more like you.

Help us to never judge, objectify, or ignore the people in our path, but see each and every person we meet as you see them.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


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:

Jesus, on this dark day you laid down your life to give us all a fresh start, a new beginning, and a never ending stream of marvelous grace and beautiful mercy. Give us the wisdom, Jesus, to use the minds you gave us to think for ourselves; teach us to develop and listen to our conscience; fill us with grace to see and experience suffering in a way to get closer to you. We pray for all those who have wronged us and for those we have wronged. We also pray in a special way for everyone who will die today. Hold them in their transition from this life to the next. And be with us every moment of our lives, from today until the end of our journey here on earth.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus’ Body is Removed from the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


Scripture: Matthew 27:57-58

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe´a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.


Reflection:

The glory of this world fades, and fades quickly. And yet so often we chase the glory of this fleeting world with reckless abandon.

Many men and women will do anything to accomplish glory in this world. Jesus invites us to seek eternal glory with the same energy and zeal. Are you more passionate and enthusiastic about the things of this world or the things of the next world? Are you more passionate about accumulating things in this world than caring for the less fortunate, relieving the suffering of the poor, and working to eradicate injustice? God invites us to look at everything in the context of eternity. Context is a beautiful thing because it shows us the true value of things. A billionaire cares little about his money if his child has cancer. Joseph of Arimathe’a cared very little about the tomb he had saved up for himself when he saw that Jesus needed a place to rest. How is the context of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection inviting you to rearrange your priorities today?


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. (Kneel)

Response: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. (Rise)


Scripture: John 19:38-40

After this Joseph of Arimathe´a, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. Nicode´mus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds’ weight. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.


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?

God does his greatest work in the midst of our greatest darkness. It is when our hearts are broken that God does some of his best work. How did the disciples feel on this day, when he was laid in the tomb, dead? They probably felt defeated and hopeless. Lost and confused. Swallowed by an all-encompassing darkness. Brokenhearted. They say that the darkest hour is right before the dark, and it is in these darkest hours that God is often preparing to do his greatest work. Jesus, do that work in us today. Unleash the power of your suffering, death, and resurrection. And resurrect the area of my life that needs it most.


Prayer: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be


As you end the Stations of the Cross, spend a few final minutes in quiet reflection. Finish with the Dynamic Catholic Prayer of Transformation:

Loving Father,
Here I am.
I trust that you have an incredible plan for me.
Transform me. Transform my life.
Everything is on the table.
Take what you want to take and give what you want to give.
Transform me into the person you created me to be,
So I can live the life you envision for me.
I hold nothing back;
I am 100 percent available.
How can I help?
Amen.

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