The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death
This is how it all begins, sentenced like a common criminal, accused of crimes he has not committed. Yet, our Savior humbly accepts the criminality of all of humanity placed on His shoulders as our Passover lamb. It shakes me to think that just a few days previous, people from all walks of life were praising His name as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Now here they are, rejecting His name, casting blame on Him, and sentencing Him to die.
Lent is always a time for reflection. Reflecting on ourselves, reflecting on our relationship with God, thinking of ways we have been strong in faith, and ways that we have fallen in faith. Specifically with this First Station of the Cross, I think about an aspect of living our faith that I think everyone has dealt with in positive and negative ways: going with the crowd.
How often do I put a child lock on opportunities for evangelization and Truth? Probably more than I’d care to admit. But, it is in these moments that I remember that Jesus willingly knows there will be times in my life where I let Him down, and yet, he will still go to the Cross for me, for us! Yet, we are constantly reminded that even if we fall, there will be new opportunities in the future.
This Lent, let us call upon the Holy Spirit to provide boldness, strength, and courage when opportunities come our way. The opportunities will come, and when they do, let us have the strength to stand up for what we believe in, because we never know what hangs in the balance of our decision to speak truth, even if the crowd is against us.
I pray that God will be ever-present in our interactions with “the crowd” and to let His words be our words.
Nino Rebholz, Associate Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry
The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Our beloved Jesus is now bearing the heavy weight of the Cross on his body. He not only carries the burden of the Cross but all the heaviness and darkness of our sin and the sins of the whole world throughout time onto his shoulders. Jesus knew how hard this journey would be for him. The previous night in his distress in the Garden of Gethsamene Jesus fervently prayed not once but three times “My Father, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26: 39-44). Yet because of his surrender and obedience to his Father, Jesus willingly accepted what he knew will be a long and difficult road ahead and he now takes up the Cross with quiet humility, out of his love for all of us.
My dear mother was one of the most faith-filled people I will ever know. When my siblings and I were with her four years ago at the end of her life and she shared with us a message that I will never forget – she said that we should not be afraid of the cross and that the only way to be with Jesus is to walk towards the cross. I didn’t know how that message would impact my life until this last year when I felt the burden of many crosses on my shoulders. We will all experience trials and tests in life but the true test will be if it brings us closer to Christ. God will never give us a cross that is too heavy or a challenge too difficult for us if we remain close to him in prayer and reach out for help. He will always be there to comfort and give us hope on the journey because it is through the Cross that we can have eternal life and happiness with our Lord – AMEN to that!
Blessings on your Lenten journey,
Anh Clausen, Director of Family Ministry and Religious Formation
The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First time
Walking through the Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill with our young daughters, we paused at each one to explain what the station depicted. It didn’t take long for my toddler to notice a pattern, related to her own life experience, which became her mantra for the rest of the day: “Jesus fell down.” Over and over, she repeated those words. This was something she could relate to, a connection to her own life experience of falling down again and again, skinning her knees, unbalanced by the weight of her impulsive desire to do things her own way, to satisfy her need for autonomy, which so often sends her careening out of control. (Quite literally. They don’t call them “toddlers” for nothing.)
The difference, of course, is that Jesus falls, crushed by the weight of our sins, not his own. The weight of our impulsiveness, our greed, our need to seize control of our lives which so often results in us becoming unbalanced, careening out of control, hurting ourselves and those around us. Everyone we encounter has had this experience of falling down. Reflect on the love that drove the Son to enter our weak and vulnerable condition, that drove him to skin his knees for us. What burden causes you to stumble as you follow Jesus? Are you ready to ask Jesus to bear it away – to give him control of your life? To help you see and love others as Jesus sees and loves them?
Rachel McGrew, Associate Director of Family Ministry and Religious Formation
The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother
My youngest son is by far the most adventurous yet accident-prone of my three children, which is an unfortunate combination of traits to have. I will never forget the two ER visits that resulted in stitches and staples in his head. As a mother, my heart aches whenever I know that my child is suffering and I would do absolutely anything to take away their pain. That’s what mothers do. When my children were younger, I would hug away their hurt and kiss their ouchies good bye. I wish it was that easy now. As my children grow older, I know that I can’t protect them from all the heartache and challenges that they will face. My role is not to make it all go away but to listen and ask questions which help them navigate their next steps. As they become adults, my hope and prayer is that they will always go to their mother as a source of comfort and help during their trials of life.
When Jesus meets his mother on the side of the road after having fallen, imagine how much comfort he must have felt with her embrace and words of encouragement and faith. Mary’s trust in God didn’t take away her heartache, confusion, or grief but as she bore those things in her heart she remained hopeful in God’s love. Mary is our Mother who loves us and wants to provide us with comfort and reassurance when we are bearing our own crosses. Do you find yourself asking our Blessed Mother for help when you are struggling and need prayers? How can you be a source of comfort and help to those around you who are struggling? Like Mary, do you accompany them with trust in God in your heart?
Anh Clausen, Director of Family Ministry and Religious Formation
The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry His Cross
Once we were like Simon, minding our own business, with a job to do and the health to do it. Simon came into town on some errand of his own, when suddenly he was caught up in a terrible event, plucked from the crowd to help carry a cross for a stranger on His way to crucifixion. Yes, that’s how it was for us, living an ordinary life when suddenly God drew us to the side of Christ with sickness, asking us to carry his cross a little way. Yes, now we share in his passion, and other Simons come forth to help us on the way. We are grateful for them, and we want the grace to be grateful for this gift sharing in Christ’s passion, which is now ours.
Western culture has promoted the ideal of the self-sufficient person who does not need anyone else. We should stand on our own feet. It is humiliating to need others, especially strangers. But this dependency is part of being human, and it is embraced by God in Jesus at this moment. God said to St. Catherine of Siena, “I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritually and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me.” In Jesus we see God needing us, needing a drink from the Samaritan woman at the well, needing help with carrying his cross. It’s okay to be needy.
Jesus, may I be unashamed to accept help when I need it, and may I be eager to offer it when others have needs. May our mutual dependence be a source of joy and an occasion of grace, knitting us together in the community of your love. Amen.
Terri Balash, Director of Pastoral Care
The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
During this pandemic hospital staffs have become our heroes. Nurses, technicians, doctors, and hospital staff all have the opportunity to become Veronicas in this passion of ours. Some have developed a professional manner that is more businesslike than compassionate, and we pray for them. Others have become the Veronicas who dare to look deep into our eyes, to see and sympathize with the suffering they encounter in us. For them we thank you, Lord, and for them we pray as they step forward bravely, to ease our pain with the pure and tender fabric of their own humanity.
The face of God became flesh in the face of Jesus, who smiled upon sinners with tenderness. He looked with pleasure on pompous little Zacchaeus up in the tree and decided to stay with him rather than the self-righteous and respectable people. He smiled on Levi, another tax collector, and called him to discipleship. He looked with kindness on Peter after he had betrayed him. But what about us? We do not see his face and we do not even know what Jesus looked like. We are the body of Christ, and so we must be his face. It belongs to the ministry of every baptized person to be the face of Christ in the ordinary interactions of our daily lives. It is the small but necessary beginning of all Christian witness. According to the legend, Jesus on the way to the cross encountered a crowd of hostile faces. But not Veronica, she gazed upon him with pity, and to her he gave an image of his face. May our faces be shaped by the grace into tenderness and welcome “true images” of his.
Jesus, may I see with your compassion and smile with your radiance, so that your unfailing tenderness is made flesh and blood of me. May I always be alert to those who feel invisible and despised, recognizing that they are your brothers and sisters, sharing your dignity, however much this is concealed by the bruises of this life. Amen.
Terri Balash, Director of Pastoral Care