(or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way)
refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.
Scriptural Way of the Cross
Out of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, only eight have clear scriptural foundation. Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are not specifically attested to in the gospels and Station 13 (representing Jesus’s body being taken down off the cross and laid in the arms of his mother Mary) seems to embellish the gospels’ record which state that Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down from the cross and buried him. In order to provide a version of this devotion more closely aligned with the biblical accounts, Pope John Paul II introduced a new form of devotion, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that form many times but not exclusively at the Colosseum in Rome.In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved this set of stations for meditation and public celebration: They follow this sequence:
I. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
After the paschal meal, Jesus went to a garden called Gethsemane to pray. But His disciples were overcome by sleep and He was left alone in agony and distress.
The thought of His death must have caused Jesus His anguish. We too, feel deed separation and sadness at times, and often, we cannot explain the reason why.
Lord, teach us to pray. Comfort us in times of sadness and help us overcome the fears and anxieties we feel because of our insecurities and failures and the evils that surround us.
II. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
While Jesus was speaking, Judas arrived. With him was an armed crowd, to whom Judas had said, “The man I kiss is the one. Arrest him and lead him away under guard.” So Judas went up to Jesus and kissed him. Then they arrested him.
Have you ever betrayed someone with a sign of love?
III. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
After capturing him, his enemies led Jesus to the High Priest and the assembled elders. They tried to convict him with false evidence.
What evidence is there of our faith in JEsus?
Lord, when we have the opportunity to give witness to you, allow us to show genuine evidence by our truly Christian lifestyle. Grant us the strenght and courage for this, Lord.
IV. Jesus is denied by Peter
A servant girl said to Peter, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” When he went out to the porch, another servant said loudly, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter swore, “I do not know the man.” Later, some bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed.
Fear made him reject his Lord. When you are rejected as Jesus was by Peter, how will you deal with your feelings of hurt and anger?
V. Jesus is judged by Pilate
Accused falsely of treason, Jesus is brought before Pilate and is condemed to die like a criminal.
But injustice did not end with the trial of Jesus. Innocent people all over the world are condemned and destroyed. Are we, too, guilty of condemning the innocent?
Lord, let us see you in every person we meet so that we may not give way to the injustice of prejudice. Teach us compassion for the innocent and oppressed.
VI. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
Althought he found no fault in him. Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers put a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him.
How many innocent people today suffer fron the harsh judgement of others.
Lord, when we feel humiliated and powerless, give us the strenght to suffer in silence like you.
VII. Jesus takes up His cross
A heavy cross is laid on His shoulder and Jesus accepts it.
Man is burden by crosses throughout the world, especially those brought about by man–war, hunger, poverty. Do we notice the people around us who are carrying their crosses?
Lord, help us to recognize the crosses others carry, and help us accept the crosses in our lives with patience and love, as you did yours.
VIII. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross,
The soldiers force a bystander named Simon to help Jesus, fearing he might die on the way.
We are reluctant to attend to other people’s problems when we have enough of our own. Yet there are things that we can do that could help them without adding to our own problems.
Lord, help us to be generous enough to share in other people’s problems and to find the right solution.
IX. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Forgetting his own pain, Jesus consoles the women who are weeping at his condition.
If we reflect on the millions who are facing death by starvation in many places around the world, we should also weep.
Lord, help us not simply to weep over other people’s suffering from hunger but also to do whatever we can to relieve it.
X. Jesus is crucified
The journey has ended. The soldiers quickly strip Jesus naked, roughly pin him down and nail his hands and feet to the wood.
Today the same process continues. Poor people are stripped of the little they have while the wealthy accumulate more wealth. Political crisis are still tortured, while crime syndicates murder their victims.
Lord, strip us of our selfishness, pride and attachment to things that are not pleasing to you. Keep us from nailing people to crosses by our unjust words and actions. Help us to place less importance on material things than on people and human values.
XI. Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief
One of the thieves crucified with Jesus is convinced of his innocence and asks to be remembered in his kingdom. Jesus replies, “Truly, you will be with me in paradise.”
God’s forgiveness is always offered today to those who repent sincerely.
Lord, help us to see and acknowledge our sins honestly. Like the good thief, we repent of our sins and ask you to take us with you in paradise.
XII. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
When Jesus saw his mother and his beloved apostle standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son,” and to John, ” Their is your mother.”
Mary’s pain and compassion is echoed today in the hearts of women who grieve for their murdered husbands and sons.
Lord, thank you for giving us your mother to be our own. Touch our hearts with her deep sorrow at your death. Help us to love and reverence her as you did.
XIII. Jesus dies on the cross
The nightmare, pain and suffering has come to an end. Jesus agonizes for for three hours and expires. Jesus was not the first nor the last to die a violent death. Violence continues today wherever there is hatred instead of love.
Lord, as you commended your spirit to your father, we commend our whole lives to your service. As you died on the cross for us, let us live for you.
XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb
His limp body, cold in death, broken and bleeding , is placed in the arms of his mother.
What greater grief is there than a mother’s for a dead son. What greater loss than that of a loved one. How do we feel and behave when someone dies?
Mary, our mother, give us a share of your compassion and love. Teach us how to comfort those who are grieving, and to give them the consolation of the faith.