The Way of the Cross – Holy Week

Introduction

 

This “Way of the Cross” helps us to reflect together on the great challenges and demands that we continue to face as a Congregation: we want to strive to persistently work for peace and justice and in defense of our common home. In this “Way of the Cross”, we are invited to recognize the great love that our good God has for each one of us - everyone; and, to recall the love of Jesus, his child, who came to this earth as one of us, and died so that we might live.

In this praying of the Way of the Cross, we are borrowing the most effective pieces of Taizé prayer—art, silence, and simple repetitive songs—all to take us to a place of deep contemplation. Although icons are images, they are not simply illustration or decoration. They are symbols of the incarnation, a presence which offers to the eyes the spiritual message that the Word addresses to the ears. By the faith it expresses, by its beauty and its depth, an icon can create a space of peace and sustain an expectant waiting. It invites us to welcome salvation even in the flesh and in creation. 

 

(Begin with the Sign of the Cross): + In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

Opening Prayer

Jesus you are the face of the Father’s mercy.  As we reflect on each step you took to the cross, console, inspire and give us courage to carry our crosses, and to reach out in mercy to others who also carry their daily crosses.  Let us never be trapped in the tomb of self-absorption, for only by being engaged in the world can we transcend voids of mercy with reconciliation, understanding, forgiveness and healing. 

All: Amen.

Music Reflection

Wait for the Lord
The First Station - Jesus is Condemned to Die 

Matthew 27:24-26When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.’ And the whole people said in reply, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children.’ Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified. 

 

Reflection: 

Jesus’ death sentence by Pontius Pilate and the Jewish authorities had many silent accomplices. These were the people who stood by, fearing that to side with the outcast and condemned would mean losing their position of security and comfort. Today, we can be silent accomplices in the death sentence of millions of refuges and migrants, condemned to the terror of being separated, alone, and abandoned. Let us pray for the eyes to see, and the courage to act.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Second Station - Jesus Accepts His Cross

John 9:16-17—So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” [But] others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 

 

Reflection: 

Women’s religious congregations have historically been a committed and generous presence in the Church, proclaiming the Good News with courage and creativity. As our congregations have aged, much of that zeal and fervor has dissipated. Simón Pedro states that there is no way forward for consecrated life if it does not embrace the Paschal Mystery in a deep, personal encounter with others. This goes beyond activism, or routine spiritual practices. It requires creating spaces of encounter, visualizing a new paradigm that responds to the cries of the world. Let us pray for a spirit of openness and renewed commitment.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Third Station - Jesus Falls the First Time

Isaiah 52:14—Even as many were amazed at him—so marred were his features, beyond that of mortals his appearance, beyond that of human beings. 

 

Reflection: 

It is impossible to overstate the impact social media and mass communication has had on society. They have been used effectively for change, to benefit a just cause.  Even so, we must be mindful of how they are used to manipulate the truth, causing division in many ways and places. Let us pray that we recognize the power of social media, and use it on behalf of the good of the whole.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Fourth Station - Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

Luke 2:34-35—And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 

Reflection: 

Mothers all over the world grieve for their children: the disappeared, the murdered, the trafficked, and those caught up in addictions and the violence of gangs. Too many grieve alone, and their children forgotten. The world cannot ignore this, and allow the perpetrators and their crimes to go unpunished. Let us pray to be in solidarity with these grieving mothers, in our thoughts, prayers, and especially in our actions. 

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Fifth Station - Simon Helps Carry the Cross

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. 

Reflection: 

We have been engaged in the ministry of education from the very beginning of our foundation, 150 years ago. While we have made a great contribution to the education of thousands of young persons, we have not yet achieved equality in rural areas, indigenous towns, and suburban areas. We value our strong presence in our schools, especially in poor areas. We must, at the same time acknowledge the serious conditions that are challenges in the schools: neglect and abuse against children, presence of weapons in some schools, and the sale and consumption of drugs.  Let us pray for perseverance as we continue to educate and form young persons in the Christian life.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Sixth Station - Veronica Offers Her Veil to Jesus

Isiah 53:2-3—He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, like one from whom you turn your face, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. 

Reflection: 

The Church is in the midst of a great crisis of sexual abuse and cover up by priests and bishops. We live with great pain and sadness for the victims, especially for children and their families. As Veronica offered care and comfort to Jesus in his suffering, we must do the same. Let us pray for the Church, but especially for the innocent who placed their trust in her pastors.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Seventh Station - Jesus Fall the Second Time 

Isaiah 53:5—But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. 

Reflection: 

The indigenous suffer under the weight of their cross of discrimination and displacement from their lands. They live in poverty, without access to healthcare and other social services. These people, their homes, and their land are vulnerable to ambitious corporations who are interested only in the wealth it contains, disregarding the dignity, value and respect due to the people, and the land. Let us pray for a continued awareness of the places and people suffering this abuse, and actions we can each take. 

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Eighth Station - Jesus Speaks to the Women

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."

Reflection: 

Society acknowledges that there have been advances made in recognizing the value of women, and the contribution of women to the common good. Despite the advancements women have made in general, unjust conditions still exist: in the work place, in families, in the Church, in society – single mothers who struggle, women who are vulnerable to human trafficking, so on and so on. There is still much to do on behalf of women and women’s rights. Let us pray for an end to discrimination of all sorts, but especially towards women.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Ninth Station - Jesus Falls the Third Time

Isaiah 53:6-7—We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. 

Reflection: 

Reflecting on Jesus’ suffering under the weight of the cross can help us remember the times our world has entered wars because of countries seeking power. Many wars start because of intrigue between nations, seeking to destabilize weaker countries to exploit their wealth. Peace has been threatened many times in recent years, in many parts of the world.  Many of these wars are in remote places, and we forget they exist. We can also easily forget the suffering that it causes the innocent victims of war. Let us pray for peace, and an end to all wars.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Tenth Station - Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

John 19: 23-24—When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]: “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” 

Reflection: 

The earth is a generous mother to humans, and is suffering because of it.  Large companies and factories strip her of her minerals and pollute her waters. Forests are destroyed, and her natural inhabitants – our brothers and sisters in creation -  become extinct. We, her children, cooperate in this plunder by our excessive use of plastic and through the careless ways in which we dispose of our trash. Let us pray for laws and practices that will put an end to the destruction of our home, Mother Earth.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Eleventh Station - Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

Luke 23:32-38—Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. 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.”] They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” 

Reflection: 

We feel anguish when we realize that so many, especially the elderly, are suffering from illnesses due to neglect, or poor lifestyle choices – unhealthy diets, and lack of exercise. There are many also who are suffering because of unjust healthcare laws and policies. Others, still, suffer for lack of adequate support systems. Some suffer depression or alcoholism because of loneliness or despair. Let us pray for the elderly, and all who care for them. Let us also pray for healthcare reform.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Twelfth Station - Jesus Dies on the Cross

Luke 24:44-49—He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 

Reflection: 

Our world has become very violent and aggressive toward the weak and the poor. Death, with different faces is taking over communities, doing damage and causing much anguish in the poor and the most vulnerable. Death is coming to human values, the family unit, opportunities for advancement, good paying jobs, fair and just laws and governments. Societies, who should offer all their citizens the conditions necessary to live with dignity, are damaged.  Let us pray for personal and corporate responsibility so our societies become places where all members can flourish.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Thirteenth Station - Jesus Is Taken From the Cross

John 19:18—There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. 

Reflection: 

The poor in the world suffer because of the powerful. As followers of Christ, we have the responsibility to take down the poor from the cross of torture where the powerful of the world have placed them. We must do as Jesus taught, and place them instead with those who will receive them with tenderness and love. Let us pray that we are strengthened in our mission to “actualize the saving and healing love of the Incarnate Word by promoting human dignity.”

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Jesus, Remember Me
The Fourteenth Station - Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb

Matthew 27:57-61—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. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb. 

Reflection: 

Those who killed Jesus did so because of great fear of the Utopia of God’s Kingdom he preached, and thought this Utopia was laid alongside him in the Sepulcher. We still run the risk of burying Utopias that might move us, despite the difficulties, to work for a better world. If we do, we leave the way open for the oppressors in the world who need persons without ideals or values to dominate and control. Let us pray for freedom and faithfulness in our work on behalf of the Utopia of God’s Kingdom.

Sacred Silence

Music Reflection

Wait for the Lord
Stay With Me

Closing Prayer

Jesus, thank you for helping us carry our crosses, our individual burdens and collective struggles. As you died on the cross, a symbol of justice, help us to see that acts against justice are acts against the limitless love of our all-loving God. May we always be a conduit of your love, serving in gratitude, fostering your peace and infusing your hope in our world with enthusiasm and conviction.  We acknowledge our humanity, living as your Body, sustained by our loving Father through the power of your Spirit. We ask that you are with us in our desire to respond to your call, now, to make the love of God a real and tangible presence in our world.

All: Amen.

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