A Lenten Prayer

I was baptized Catholic. I was raised Catholic. I was educated in Catholic schools for sixteen years. I still practice my religion. I am a Catholic. If this offends you, the choice is yours to proceed further.

One of my favorite practices during Lent is a prayer ceremony called The Way of the Cross. Every Catholic church has a set of fifteen scenes on the wall. They are spaced to form a circular journey around the perimeter of the church.

As a kid in a Catholic parochial school, we made the journey every Friday afternoon during Lent after class let out at three.  We assembled in church with our class, and waited for the priest to come accompanied by three altar servers. All of them were dressed in black cassocks and a white surplus. One of the boys carried a pole with a cross at the end.  The other two servers carried a candle stick with a flaming candle. The priest followed.

Usually the service began with the group assembled in the sanctuary at the foot of the altar. The priest read the opening prayer with a response from the congregation. Then the procession began to the first station. As they walked slowly to the first station of the cross, we sang a sorrowful hymn written expressly for this rite. ‘The object was to reflect on Jesus’ journey from his trial, up Calgary to be crucified, and ultimately his resurrection. 

 I clipped the prayer below from a Catholic website. My memory is not that good to be able to recall them here. The paintings are by a  Tucson artist. The originals moved me to tears, my pictures don’t have the same effect.

Pray with me. . .

1. Jesus Condemned

Pilate brought Jesus outside and said to the people, “Look at your king!”

At this they shouted, “Away with him! Crucify him!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

“Behold your king,” says Pilate.
“Away with him,” the people shout.
And they sent you to your death.
Lord Jesus, Word made flesh,
Light for our dark world,
God come to save us,
may we never send you away.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

2. Jesus carries his cross

Jesus was led away,
and carrying the Cross by himself,
went out to what is called
the Place of the Skull, Golgotha.

You were led to Calvary, Lord,
carrying the cross by yourself.
Yet was the cross only yours,
or was it also mine you bore?
By your holy cross, O Jesus,
make me strong and able
to take up the cross I must bear.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

3. Jesus falls for the first time

Jesus emptied himself,
and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.
He humbled himself,
to death and a Cross.

How strange to see you fall
as anyone does who cannot go on.
And yet you rise again
to take the few steps more you can.
By your first fall, O Jesus,
give your risen grace
to those who fall and cannot rise.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

4. Jesus meets his mother

Simeon said to Mary his mother: “This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed. And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be laid bare.”

O Mother of my Savior,
you stand beside your Son.
With love beyond all telling,
you share his grief as one.
How shall I know your sorrow,
your tears beyond compare?
Deep in my heart stand watching,
and call my memory there.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

5. Simon Helps Carry the Cross

A man named Simon of Cyrene, was coming in from the fields, and they pressed him into service to carry the Cross.

Simon, coming in from the fields,
was pressed to carry your cross.
Did he come to know you, Lord,
walking by your side?
By your meeting with the Cyrenean,
may we find you in the stranger,
and in the needy we meet.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face

He who welcomes you welcomes me; and he who welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me. And I promise that whoever gives a cup of cold water will not want for a reward.

A woman named Veronica
kindly washed your face with a towel.
Such a simple thing!
A towel, a cup of water, a loving word.
By your meeting with Veronica, Lord,
help us value such small things,
so great when given in your name.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

 

7. Jesus falls the second time

But I am a worm and no man; the scorn of all, despised by the people. All who see me scoff at me.

Can God fall, a mighty God,
whose hands uphold all that is?
By your second fall, O Lord,
remember how weak we are,
remember our helplessness,
remember our human frailty,
and come to our assistance.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

8. Jesus meets the women

A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him.

Women wept as you passed
and you said, “Weep not for me
but for your children.”
Keep the grace of this meeting
alive in our hearts, Lord.
Keep us concerned
for humanity’s children.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

9. Jesus falls the third time

I am like water poured out; all my bones are racked. You have brought me down to the dust of death.

Like water poured out,
your strength is gone.
You fall as if to the dust of death.
By your third fall, O Lord,
give us courage before our trials
and patience to go on.
Help us in our need.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

10. Jesus is stripped

They stripped off his clothes
and began to mock him saying:
“All hail, king of the Jews!”

They divided your garments
and cast lots for your clothes.
Stripped of all dignity,
you had nothing of your own.
By your despoilment, O Lord,
clothe us in your mercy
which is rich beyond words.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross

After carrying his Cross, Jesus came to the Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they crucified him and two others with him.

Nailed to the cross,
you know how many feel
who, bound by circumstance,
year by year get nowhere.
By your riven hands and feet, Lord,
help those fixed to a cross
by long illness or misfortune.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

12. Jesus dies

Jesus said, “I thirst!” and they gave him wine.

“It is finished”!” he cried, and gave up his spirit.

Once the prophet said:
“Who can believe our report?”
God’s Servant, crushed in sorrow,
pierced for our offenses!
Shall we not stand watching, Lord,
mourning the sins you bear,
rejoicing in the pardon you bestow?

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross

When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side, and blood and water flowed out.

Resting in your mother’s arms
when taken from the cross,
you died trusting a Father’s care,
faithful unto death.
By your holy death, O Lord,
give us an unfailing trust in God,
commend us to your Father’s hands.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

14. Jesus is buried

Joseph of Arimethea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and wrapped it in perfumed oils. Then he buried Jesus in a tomb close at hand.

You were buried in a garden tomb,
like a seed fallen into the ground,
waiting to rise again.
Lord, help us rise again
after dying with you.
May all who have fallen asleep
rise again.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Christ rises

On the third day he rose again.

Suddenly, without warning,
Jesus stood before them and said, “Peace!
Do not be afraid!
Go and carry the news to the others
that they are to go to Galilee
where they will see me.” Matthew 28

4 Responses

  1. […] I know this is going to be a long struggle to continue to learn to break old habits, but today I am thankful for having some light shining in on a dark area in my life that needs work. I’m thankful for a friend who loves me enough to help me. I believe that working on that darkness is my Lenten struggle this year. Maybe for the rest of my life. But I’m not alone. Jesus wasn’t alone, either, although Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Jesus carry His cross. Sometimes we are forced to deal with our stuff—backed into a corner by our addictions or bad habits and the effect they have on others. But somehow I’m not feeling forced. I’ve been carrying this cross for a long time, but now I feel like someone else is helping me. A friend. (The painting is by a Tuscan artist. I discovered it—and several others by the same artist—on this web site.) […]

    • God works in mysterious ways. Only you have the power within to reform yourself, and you sound like you are doing it. Good luck.

  2. thanks for the beautiful post. I also love The Way of the Cross meditation. Do you know where I could buy copies of some of these paintings? They are indeed very moving….

    happy Easter to you.

  3. I also Catholic with 13 years of parochial education remember those days.

    God Bless

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