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Stations of the CrossHome / Services and Events / Stations of the Cross

These meditation on the Stations of the Cross have been written by Revd Margared Oldroyd. Click on an image to see a larger version.


Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus’ trial is a farce. Pilate doesn’t think he is guilty – he even makes a point of “washing his hands” so the onlookers won’t hold him responsible. Not that he does anything to save Jesus.

Is this because he is a weary cynic who doesn’t care? Or is he afraid of the accusers and opting to appease them? Or maybe he thinks it looks good to be tough on crime, even if the wrong person is punished. So, after token resistance, he goes with the crowd.

Don’t we do the same thing, go with the crowd? Condemning people without much thought about what they really think and do? We are quick to judge others, is it because we fear to stand out from the crowd, after all it is dangerous to disagree with the majority.

And Jesus. Hands, tightly roped together in such a way he can’t move his arms. How would you describe him? Submissive? Angry at the false accusation? All those words of contempt, malice, ridicule, with worse to follow. Resistant?

No, he is condemned to death, taking upon himself the sentence we all face. Obedient? If we remember that, we may live every day as precious and unrepeatable, with the gifts and graces the Lord will give us today.

 

Lord, give us gratitude for this day and every day that we may love you to the end.

the first station


Jesus receives the cross

Imagine the humiliation of having to carry the very instrument of death. It is like the Jews during the Holocaust and the victims of the Serbian massacres who were made to dig their own graves.

Look at his hands, the left one cupped, willing to accept what is placed in it, giving the impression that he TAKES the cross, rather than passively accepting it.

And us. We too have crosses to bear, some of our own making and others not. How are our hands when we lift our crosses? Can we find the courage to take up our burdens, our sorrows, our fears and walk with Jesus on this long and painful journey?

 

May Christ give us grace to grow in holiness, take up our cross and follow him...

the second station


Jesus falls the first time

Hungry, thirsty, tired, weak – it is obvious from the carving that the weight he carries is taking its toll, and his strength is ebbing.

Collapsed on his knees, foot braced to help him balance. And with that mockery of a crown digging the thorns into his head.

But look at his hands, they are firmly holding the beam of the cross to him, refusing to let go.

A first fall. We, too, have our first falls, whenever we fall short of the standards we aim to live by, the generosity we plan to extend, the evasion of lies and deceit and refusal to forgive those who hurt us.

Can we be like Jesus and hang on in there, grasping the wood of the cross to give us support and strength to continue our journey.

 

As the hymn says:
---- to follow close the print of thy dear footsteps, and when we fall – sweet heart O love us still

the third station


Jesus meets his mother

Mary is there at the beginning, the annunciation, she presents her child in the temple, she brings him up and is there at various moments in his ministry. But this – to see the suffering of one’s child is cruelty beyond imagination and Mary was no different to any parent in that respect. Others had deserted him, but not his mother. Imagine how she felt, seeing his grazed knees and remembering when she used to tend those same knees when he fell as a toddler. She was there for him, at great emotional cost. Did she remember when the old man in the temple 30-odd years ago told her “a sword shall pierce your heart, too.”

Would we have been there, not to stare but to support; could we have coped with that helplessness, both of Jesus and of ourselves.

But we are not helpless, we can, if we choose, still reach out to those hurting. A kind word, a smile a gesture, a phone call or email – these are all possible even at the moment; we can be there for those who need our comfort. 

 

To quote another hymn:
“When I needed a neighbour, were you there?”

the fourth station


Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross

Suddenly, from out of the crowd, someone pushes through the mob to approach Jesus. Not to hurt or mock him, but to offer kindness. A strong man, judging by the carving, who responds with generosity and courage to assist a battered, bruised, bleeding prisoner on his walk to the gallows. 

It isn’t easy to stand out from the crowd and declare support for a prisoner of the authorities. But Simon did it. Can we? How could we?

We know that in our own families and communities there are those bearing burdens too heavy to assess. Looking at it very simply: each tin of soup given to the needy eases the burden of weakening and gut-wrenching hunger. Every smile given to someone we pass by gives just a little more self-worth, value.

Jesus gave himself totally, by his life, his death and his abiding presence with us.

 

“In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

the fifth station


Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Veronica does not appear in the Gospels, she is a representation of kindness and compassion. It is suggested that she stepped forward, as Simon did, to ease Jesus’ suffering. In her case, she took her veil, or maybe scarf, and with it, tenderly wiped the blood, sweat, tears and spittle from the
face of Jesus. Blood which would have trickled from his brow, tears of exhaustion, sweat of endeavour – and the spittle of derision. She wiped his face, just as Mary would have wiped the face of the infant Jesus, with love and gentleness. The legend goes that as a result of her courage and compassion, Veronica’s veil was marked for ever with the features of Christ. Her name ensures her act won’t be forgotten; Veronica means “true likeness”.

Can we see the likeness of Christ in all we do? Gently washing the face of an elderly relative or neighbour? Do we care for others as Christ would want us to, bringing peace and healing.

 

“May the peace of God my Father rule my life in everything That I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.”

the sixth station


Jesus falls the second time.

Jesus falls again; this time despite the supporting hands of Simon from Cyrene. He must have been utterly exhausted – think back over the last 24 hrs. Arranging the meal which they shared on the previous night, explaining the enormity of that supper, seeing Judas leave to betray him and then going to the Mount of Olives, to pray, to think, to imagine what might happen. Then after a night of torment and sadness, to be arrested, dragged across the town, squabbled over, denied, deserted. 

Then this. If you look carefully, you can see the tension in his hands, the rough ground which would cut them, the muscles in his arms. And yet, you will see he is looking ahead, rather than down.

When we fall, letting ourselves down, how difficult do we find it to keep our head up, looking ahead to the journey to come. Isn’t it easier to look down and give up? When we look at the courage and determination shown by Jesus, we can take encouragement that we are accompanied on our journey by the One who knows how hard it is to keep going and yet did so for our sakes.

 

The hymn reminds us:
“Onward, therefore, Christian pilgrims, onward with the Cross our aid Bear its shame and fight its battle, till we rest beneath its shade.”

the seventh station


Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

A large number of women would have followed Jesus, a man who valued all people and all ages. In him they can see the love he has for everyone and in some way came to share in his ghastly journey.

Jesus tells them they don’t need to grieve for him but for themselves and their families because there will be times in the future when ill fortune will befall them and Jerusalem destroyed, with much loss of life. I wonder what they felt? How would they react to the sight of a young man, obviously badly beaten, staggering along to his death who tells them THEY are the ones who should be worried?

What would you do? We need to remember what St Paul wrote in a letter to the Corinthians, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

We should seek afresh ways to deepen our faith and serve our Lord.

the eigth station


Jesus falls the third time

The creator of the sculpture made her versions of the three falls very different. The first, to his knees, the second almost on the ground and the third, this one, falling backwards. See the hands, almost reaching for something to hold, the head – looking up, imploring. Here, Jesus identifies with those whose lives are torn, the fallen who hunt for scraps in Mumbai, or are crushed by poverty in the East Midlands. Often misrepresented by the media, some are depicted as low-life, worthless, to be pushed aside or ignored. There are those crushed by failure, at work, at home, in society. In his falling, Jesus knows what it is like to be absolutely crushed. 

St Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is the living poor person.” Jesus struggles to his feet and carries on, one step nearer the cross, one step nearer to death and one step nearer to resurrection. 

Then, whatever we have done, or failed to do, all Jesus asks is “Do you love me?” 

 

And we will reply, 
“Jesus, grant me this I pray ever in thy heart to stay. Let me evermore abide in thy heart and wounded side.”

the ninth station


Jesus is stripped of his garments

Is there anything more humiliating that having all one’s clothes torn from one’s body. Some fabric would have stuck to the broken bleeding skin, ripping some of that off too. Exposed to the sunlight and the gaze of the on-lookers, no respect, no dignity, no consideration. Looking carefully at the picture, you can see that the hands, grabbing the garments, are depicted as the claws of wild animals, huge, powerful and frightening. It is a scene of almost unbelievable cruelty. But it happened. And it happens today.

People are trafficked to be used a slaves or playthings for others, moved from place to place as though they were nothing. This too is degrading and dehumanising.

May we never add to the burden of humiliation or rejection of anyone.

 

“Jesus, our Redeemer, name above all names, Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, O for sinners slain.”

the tenth station


Jesus is nailed to the cross

How he suffered. Nails through the wrists and ankles, thirsty, tired, hot, in pain, on full view – and deserted by many of his followers. Two others were crucified near him, maybe many others in the area. The cross was hoisted up and all waited. He speaks occasionally, to his mother, his friend John, one of the robbers nearby...

He seems to be a helpless victim, but in John’s Gospel we can read that he seems to be in charge. The Dominican Colin Carr writes “He knows what is going to happen, the people who came to arrest him are more frightened of him than he is of them.” His strength and grace are in all who feel their lives are coming apart.

 

Pope Emeritus Benedict said, 
“Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart or to join others in mocking him.”

the eleventh station


Jesus dies on the cross

For three hours, Jesus hung on the cross, he spoke words from the psalms, he encouraged the penitent thief and eventually his ordeal was over. Given the ill-treatment he had ensured over the last two days, he died comparatively quickly and commended himself to God, knowing he had completed all that was asked of him. We are told there was darkness – an eclipse maybe – but certainly no respite. His mother and a few of the women remained there. Looking at the carving, it is worked in such a way that it appears he WAS in control, he looked to heaven and gave up his spirit, it was not taken from him. It is accomplished – but at what cost.

As we follow in his steps, we do not know how our lives will be completed; will we be able to surrender our will and know we have done what has been asked of us? How are we going to make good any omissions? Can we look at that love honestly and ask that we may be more loving.

 

“All you need is love, all you need is love; all you need is love, love; love is all you need.”

the twelfth station


Jesus is taken down from the cross

The next day is the Sabbath and so the authorities want everything tidied up before nightfall. Joseph, a citizen of Arimathea, offered his own tomb and hurriedly his body was laid here. The usual preparations for burial were not made, the body wrapped, laid to rest, tomb sealed and all at home before dusk. There was no chance for family to gather or respects to be paid, or even the body anointed. The soldiers would be able to say all was done. Pilate was willing to hand over the body [didn’t want souvenir hunters or any trouble] and that was it. 

How did his friends think? Do you imagine they were disappointed and expected something miraculous? Did they feel let down? And you, how do you feel when someone dear to you has died? Was that how it was?

 

Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side. Bear patiently the cross of pain and grief. Leave to your God to order and provide in every change he faithful will remain.

the thirteenth station


Jesus is laid in the tomb

So, gently they carried the body of Jesus to a new tomb, and laid him there. No liturgies or ritual, they would have to return after the Sabbath to anoint the body as custom required.

Most of the people had gone home, except for his mother, Mary Magdalene and a few others. A heavy stone was placed at the entrance, so that there was no possibility of grave robbers. All was completed.

And it was now the Sabbath. The women went home, John took Mary with him to look after her.

 

“I danced on a Friday when the sky turned back, it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, They buried my body and they thought I’d gone...”

Really?

the final station


These pictures of the Way of the Cross Low Stations at Lourdes Shrine were taken by Revd Margared Oldroyd.

The sculptures are dedicated to the sick and the handicapped and were commissioned by the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and financed by the donations of pilgrims. The stations were sculpted by Maria de Faykod and the work was carried out over several years. It took nearly 100 tonnes of Marble from the white mountains of Carrara.

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