The Stations of the Cross: Why and How
Through prayer, reflection, and meditation, individuals and groups of Christians have used the devotion of the Stations of the Cross to figuratively follow in Christ’s footsteps on his way to his crucifixion. The hope that we receive from the passion of Jesus helps us to face the dark times in our own lives, and the darkness we see in the world around us. The hope comes because we can see ourselves mirrored in Him. Through our walking with Christ on the “Way of the Cross,” we can absorb from Him some of his courage, patience, and trust in God to deliver us from evil.
The Stations are often posted in churches where they may be “walked” individually or in a group. The images posted on Springwood's website have been used in our sanctuary during Holy Week for several years. We provide a meditation guide to use while viewing the stations. Below is a modification of that guide for use here on the website.
Before you begin viewing, here are the answers to two questions you may have:
What does the word "passion" mean in this context? The word passion, used to describe Christ’s suffering, comes from the Latin “passio,” meaning “to submit (to)” or “to suffer,” from the same root that we derive the word patient. It implies what Christ endured as well as the attitude with which he suffered.
Why no resurrection in the Stations? In most cases, there is no mention of the Resurrection in the Stations. There will be a place for that on Sunday morning. But to preserve the journey as a commitment to God in the darkness, the journey of the Stations should end at the cross and the tomb.
How are the Stations connected with Communion? Traditionally the Lord’s Supper is not offered on Good Friday. Communion is not primarily a sad occasion to remember death, but a "Thanksgiving" (which is what the word eucharist means) for grace, a celebration of God’s salvation and restoration. While Eucharist/Communion is often offered on Maundy Thursday because of its association with the Last Supper and Passover, or on Easter Sunday as a celebration of forgiveness and hope, Friday is not the time for celebration. That moves too quickly and too easily to hope without first confessing our hopelessness without God.
"A man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’" (Mk 10:17).
Jesus answered this burning question, which arises in the innermost core of our being, by walking the way of the Cross.
We contemplate you, Lord, along this path which you were the first to tread, and after which "you built a bridge to death with your Cross, so that men might pass from the land of death to the land of Life" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homily).
The call to follow you is addressed to all, especially to the young and to those who are tried by division, wars or injustice and who fight to be signs of hope and builders of peace in the midst of their brethren.
We therefore place ourselves before you with love, we present our sufferings to you, we turn our gaze and our heart to your Holy Cross, and strengthened by your promise, we pray: "Blessed be our Redeemer, who has given us life by his death. O Redeemer, realize in us the mystery of your redemption, through your passion, death and resurrection" (Maronite Liturgy).
Opening Prayer: God of power and mercy, in love you sent your Son that we might be cleansed of sin and live with you forever. Bless us as we gather to reflect on his suffering and death that we may learn from his example the way we should go. We ask this through that same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
First Station: Jesus on the Mount of Olives (Garden of Gethsemane)
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us your strength and wisdom, that we may seek to follow your will in all things. Amen.
Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested
Mark 14: 43-46
Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us the courage of our convictions that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring. Amen.
Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin
Luke 22: 66-71
When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth." Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us your sense of righteousness that we may never cease to work to bring about the justice of the kingdom that you promised. Amen.
Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter
Matthew 26: 69-75
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly. Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us the gift of honesty
that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult. Amen.
Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate
Mark 15: 1-5, 15
The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.... Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified. Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
From Pilate, the man with power, Jesus ought to have obtained justice. Pilate did indeed have the power to recognize Jesus’ innocence and free him. But the Roman Governor preferred to serve the logic of his personal interests and he yielded to political and social pressures. He condemned an innocent man in order to please the crowd, without satisfying truth. He handed Jesus over to the torment of the Cross, knowing that he was innocent ... and then he washed his hands.
In today’s world, there are many "Pilates" who keep their hands on the levers of power and make use of them in order to serve the strongest. There are many who are weak and cowardly before the spectre of power, and mortgage their authority to the service of injustice, trampling upon man’s dignity and his right to life.
Lord Jesus, do not allow us to be among those who act unjustly. Do not allow the strong to take pleasure in evil, injustice and tyranny. Do not allow injustice to condemn the innocent to despair and death. Confirm them in hope and illumine the consciences of those with authority in this world, that they may govern with justice. Amen.
Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us discernment that we may see as you see, not as the world sees. Amen.
Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
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. Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us patience in times of suffering that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise.
Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
John 19: 6, 15-17
When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! 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 carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
In every age, man has thought he could take the place of God and determine for himself what is good and what is evil (cf. Gen 3:5) without reference to his Creator and Saviour. He has thought himself omnipotent, capable of excluding God from his own life and from that of his peers, in the name of reason, power or money.
Today too, the world bows to realities that seek to expel God from human life, such as the blind secularism that suffocates the values of faith and morals in the name of an alleged defense of man; or the violent fundamentalism that claims to be defending religious values (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 29).
Lord Jesus, who accepted humiliation and stood alongside the weak, we entrust to you all who are humiliated and suffering, Grant that they may find in you the strength to be able to carry their Cross of hope with you. We place into your hands all who are lost, so that, thanks to you, they may find truth and love. Amen. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us strength of purpose that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day.
Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrene to Carry the Cross
He who holds the lights of heaven in his divine hand and before whom the powers of heaven tremble: see him falling to the ground, without protecting himself, under the heavy yoke of the Cross.
He who brought peace to the world, wounded by our sins, falls under the burden of our guilt.
Lord Jesus, raise us from our own falls, lead our wandering spirit back to your Truth. Do not allow human reason, which you created for yourself, to be satisfied with the partial truths of science and technology without seeking to pose the fundamental questions of the meaning of our existence (cf. Porta Fidei, 12).
Grant, Lord, that we may open ourselves to the action of your Holy Spirit, so that he may lead us to the fullness of Truth. Amen.
Mark 15: 21
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
Jesus’ meeting with Simon of Cyrene took place in silence, providing us with a lesson for our lives: God does not want suffering and he does not accept evil. The same is true of the human being. But suffering, accepted in faith, is transformed into a path of salvation. Then we accept it as Jesus did, and we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did.
Lord Jesus, you have involved man in the carrying of your Cross. You have invited us to share your sufferings. Simon of Cyrene is like us and he teaches us to accept the Cross that we encounter on the paths of life.Following your example, Lord, we too carry the Cross of suffering and illness today, but we accept it because you are with us. It can nail us to our chair, but it cannot prevent us from dreaming; it can obscure our vision, but it cannot touch our conscience; it can deafen our ears, but it cannot prevent us from listening; it can bind our tongue but it cannot suppress our thirst for truth; it can weigh down our spirit, but it cannot rob us of our freedom.
Lord, we want to be your disciples so as to carry your Cross every day; we will carry it with joy and hope because you are carrying it with us, because you have triumphed over death for us.
We give you thanks, Lord, for every sick or ailing person who knows how to bear witness to your love, and for every "Simon of Cyrene" whom you place on our journey. Amen. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us willing spirits that we may be your instruments on earth.
Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Luke 23: 27-31
A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"
Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
On the path to Calvary, the Lord meets the women of Jerusalem. These women are weeping at the Lord’s sufferings as if it were suffering without hope. All they can see in the Cross is the wood, sign of a curse (cf. Dt 21:23), whereas the Lord chose it as a means of Redemption and Salvation.
In the Passion and Crucifixion, Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many. Thus he gave relief to those who were oppressed under the yoke and he consoled the afflicted. He wiped away the tears of the women of Jerusalem and opened their eyes to Paschal truth.
Our world is full of afflicted mothers, of women whose dignity has been wounded, abused by discrimination, injustice and suffering (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 60). O suffering Christ, be their peace and be a balm to their wounds.
Lord Jesus, by your incarnation from Mary, "Blessed among women" (Lk 1:42), you raised the dignity of every woman. With the Incarnation you unified the human race (cf. Gal 3:26-28). Lord, may the encounter with you be the desire of our hearts. Let our path, filled with sufferings, always be a path of hope, with you and towards you who are the refuge of our life and our Salvation. Amen. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us gentle spirits that we may comfort those who mourn.
Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified
Luke 23: 33-34
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."]
Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us merciful hearts that we may bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all.
Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief
Luke 23: 39-43
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us perseverance that we may never stop seeking you.
Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple
John 19: 25-27
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us constancy that we may be willing to stand by those in need.
Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Luke 23: 44-46
It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
From the height of the cross a cry is heard a cry: a cry of abandonment at the moment of death, a cry of trust amid suffering, a cry accompanying the birth of a new life. Behold, hanging on the tree of life, you deliver your spirit into your Father’s hands, causing life to spring up in abundance and forming the new creation. Today we too face the challenges of this world: we sense the surge of fears which overwhelm us and shake our trust. Grant us, Lord, the strength to know deep within our heart that no death will conquer us, until we rest in the hands which have shaped us and accompany us.
May every one of us be able to cry out: "Yesterday I was crucified with Christ, today I am glorified with him. Yesterday I died with him, today I live with him. Yesterday I was buried with him. Today I have risen with him." (Gregory Nazianzen)
In the darkness of our nights, we contemplate you. Teach us to turn towards the Most High, your heavenly Father.
Today, let us pray that all those who promote abortion may become aware that love can only be a source of life. Let us think also of those who defend euthanasia and those who encourage techniques and procedures which endanger human life. Open their hearts to know you in the truth and to work for the building of the civilization of life and love. Amen. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us trust in you that when our time on earth is ended our spirits may come to you without delay.
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
Matthew 27: 57-60 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. Pause to meditate on the scripture and view the image.
Nicodemus receives the body of Christ, he looks after it and puts it in a tomb in the middle of a garden which evokes the garden of Creation. Jesus lets himself be buried, even as he let himself be crucified, in the same abandonment, entirely "delivered" into the hands of men and "perfectly united" to them, "even to sleeping beneath the tombstone" (Saint Gregory of Narek).
To accept difficulties, painful events, death, demands steadfast hope, living faith.
The stone placed before the entrance of the tomb will be overturned and a new life will arise. For "we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:4)
We have received the freedom of the children of God, so that we will not return to slavery; life has been given to us in abundance, so that we will no longer be satisfied with a life lacking beauty and meaning.
Lord Jesus, make us children of the light who do not fear the darkness. We pray to you today for all those who search for meaning in life and for all those who have lost hope, that they may have faith in your victory over sin and death. Amen. Pray: Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps. Grant us your compassion that we may always provide for those in need.
Lord Jesus Christ, your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven and reconciles all people to you. May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen.