Stations of the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you,
Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
Traditional Stations of the Cross

During Lent, we have learned through prayer how many people there are to pray for, not least ourselves, and how limited is our ability to pray. Through almsgiving we have learned how many are the needy, not the least ourselves, and how limited our ability to help them. Through fasting we have learned our dependence on creature comforts, as means of repelling spiritual assault. And above all, we have learned how it hard it is to love ourselves, let alone our enemies or God.

In Holy Week, we contemplate the Cross, and think again of what the world does to those men and women who refuse to play by its rules. We take as central our devotions an instrument of execution, one designed not only to kill, but to torture and degrade – to give the lie, at every level, to the humanity of a rebellious slave. The man who suffered this death suffered also betrayal and abandonment by his friends, and everything in despair except the consent of the will.   Satan told Jesus,  as he hung on the Cross, not only that he was a loser, but also that he had been condemned to be such for all eternity. If we run too quickly to the belief that Jesus was destined to rise again glorified, we lose focus. The Crucifixion is the triumphant consummation of divine love, and the Risen Christ appears with his wounds.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28
Who did suffer a brief, anguished death,
And twenty centuries of planned obsolescence,
Be with me in the hour of my death,
And whenever else I find
I’m not quite as modern as anticipated.
Patrick Walker

The Stations
1. Christ is condemned to death.
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released to them Barabbas; and, having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified
Mark 15:15
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane.
The tane unto the t’other did say.
“Where shall we gang and dine today?

“In behind yon all fail dyke,
I wot their lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there
But his hawk, his hounds, and his lady fair.

“His hound is to the hunting gane.
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady’s ta’en another mate,
So we may make our dinner sweet.

“Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I’ll pick out his bonny blue een.
Wi’ ae lock of his golden hair.
We’ll theek our nest when it grows bare.

“Many a one for him makes mane,
But nane shall ken where he is gane,
O’er his white banes where they are bare,
The wind shall blaw for evermair.”

“The Twa Corbies,” Anonymous (date uncertain)
2. The cross is laid upon Jesus
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.
John 19:17
O Sight of Anguish! View it near—
What weeping innocence is here–
A manger for his bed!

The brutes yield refuge to his woe—
Men, worse than brutes, no pity show,
Nor give him friendly aid!

Say, radiant Seraphs thron’d  in light,
Did love e’er tower so high of flight?—
Or glory sink so low?

Samuel Worcester, Hymn #12, “Pilgrim,” as sung by Tim Eriksen.

3. Jesus falls.
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:13
“[Frodo] shut his eyes and struggled for a while; but resistance became unbearable, and at last he slowly drew out the chain, and slipped the Ring on the forefinger of his left hand. Immediately, though everything else remained as before, dim and dark, the shapes became terribly clear. He as able to see beneath their black wrappings. There were five tall figures, two standing by the lip of the dell, three advancing. …Their eyes fell upon him, and pierced him, as they rushed toward him. … The third was taller than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his helm was a crown. In the one hand he held a long sword and the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. Bk. I, chap. 11.

4. Jesus meets his mother.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son! Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!”
John 19:16.
Of the dark past
A child is born
With joy and grief
My heart is torn

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O father forsaken,
Forgive your son!

James Joyce, “Ecce Puer.”

5. Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross.
And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country … to carry his cross.
Mark 15:21

Sam looked at him and wept in his heart, but no tears came to his dry and stinging `eyes. “I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back,” he muttered, “and I will!”
“Come, Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.”
Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter 3

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.
Mark 14:9
marie farrar: month of birth, april
an orphaned minor; rickets; birthmarks, none; previously
of good character, admits that she did kill
her child as follows here in summary.
she visited a woman in a basement
during her second month, so she reported
and there was given two injections
which, though they hurt, did not abort it?
but you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.

between the servants’ privy and her bed (she says
that nothing happened until then), the child
began to cry, which vexed her so, she says
she beat it with her fists, hammering blind and wild
without a pause until the child was quiet, she says.
she took the baby’s body into bed
and held it for the rest of the night, she says
then in the morning hid it in the laundry shed.
but you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.

marie farrar: month of birth, april
died in the meissen penitentiary
an unwed mother, judged by the law, she will
show you how all that lives, lives frailly.
you who bear your sons in laundered linen sheets
and call your pregnancies a `blessed’ state
should never damn the outcast and the weak:
her sin was heavy, but her suffering great.
therefore, i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
Berthold Brecht, “on the infanticide marie farrar” (trans. anon.)

7. Jesus falls again.
When Judas, this betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. … And, throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
Matthew 27:3, 5

Frodo: “I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, to lose them, so that others may keep them.”

Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Bk. VI, chap. 9.

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.
Luke 23:28

Moan for man.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road
9. Jesus falls a third time.
And Peter remembered how Jesus had said, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times. And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:72

“I have come,” [Frodo] said, “but I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!”

Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Bk. VI chap. 3

10. Christ is stripped of his garments.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of his purple cloak.
Mark 15:20

Off with that girdle, like heaven’s zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
That th’ eyes of busy fools may be stopp’d there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th’ hill’s shadow steals.
Off with your wiry coronet, and show
The hairy diadems which on you do grow.
Off with your hose and shoes; then softly tread
In this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed.
O, my America, my Newfoundland,
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann’d,
My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
How am I blest in thus discovering thee ! …
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee;
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
To taste whole joys. ….
As liberally as to thy midwife show
Thyself; cast all, yea, this white linen hence;
There is no penance due to innocence:
To teach thee, I am naked first; why then,
What needst thou have more covering than a man?

John Donne, “To His Mistress Going to Bed,”

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross.
And it was the third hour when they crucified him.
Mark 15:25
The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre or pyre
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” Pt. IV.

12. Jesus dies.
And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabbactani?” which means, “My God, my God, why has though forsaken me.

Mark 15:34.
It is finished.
John 19:30
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine trees covered with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sum; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man.”
13 .Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross.
And he brought a linen shroud, and, taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud.

Mark 15:46
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.”

14 Jesus’ body is laid in the tomb.
And [Joseph of Arimithea] laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
Mark 15:46
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen, he is not here.” … And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark 16:8

Sam: ”Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue.”

Tolkein, Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Bk. VI, chap. 4.

Christ will be in agony until the end of the world; we must not sleep during that time.


2 Responses to “Stations of the Cross”

  1. Scott Says:

    Thank you for creating and sharing this compilation.

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