Christ’s passion

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When we visit a church, new or familiar, I photograph the stations of the cross with relish.  Sometimes the end result includes dark, fuzzy, and/or cropped pictures that make me long for do-overs.  Other times I’m simply amazed at the beauties that pop out at me unexpectedly as I search my ever-expanding photo files for visuals that complement my writing.  But, always, I’m so drawn to the stations that I wonder how they were chosen to begin with.  And, if they could tell their story, what would they say?

Christ’s passion

July 2014, I fell head over heels in love with the stations of the cross during our eight-day silent retreat.  And, just last month, I serendipitously discovered why.

Thanks to a lifelong lingering memory, I can trace my initial fascination with the story of Christ’s passion to a long-ago prayer that mom recited nightly for my baby brother and me as we would “go to sleep with the angels.”

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar” (Mendoza, 1939).

Powerful devotion

Life never has seemed so full of trouble and strife as now.  But, amid our daily anxieties, we never lose hope.  God’s help is near at hand.  With it we look forward to a share in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Our present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that one day will be revealed in us.  All we need do is remain faithful and constant.  In our daily cares and preoccupations we must keep our heart steadily fixed on our true goal.

We will find it much easier to do so when we perform our work with the spirit and outlook of Christ.  In his sacred passion and death our Savior opened the way for us to follow.  There is no other path to God, our father.

The stations, [Christ’s] way of the cross, are our way to salvation, too.  We must often apply their power to our own life situation.  This can be done anywhere: at home, on a park bench, waiting for a train or a friend.  When our schedule is crowded, we can think and pray at least one station a day.

Our Lord doesn’t expect long or eloquent prayers.  We need not even use words; a brief silent lifting of our hearts to him suffices (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-8/14, p. 2).

Opening prayer

God, our heavenly father, we raise our minds and hearts to you in praise and thanksgiving.  Though weak and sinful, we wish to follow your only son, our Lord Jesus, on the way of the cross.  May your Holy Spirit help us use our Savior’s strength effectively in our place in life.  We ask the special aid of our blessed Lady, ever virgin and mother, in following Christ and in making his way of the cross our way of life.  Amen.

1: Jesus is condemned.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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2: Jesus takes his cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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3: Jesus falls the first time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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4: Jesus meets his mother.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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7: Jesus falls the second time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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8: Jesus speaks to the women.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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9: Jesus falls the third time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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12: Jesus dies on the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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Concluding prayer

O God, our heavenly father, by your great mercy we are born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your son.  We look forward to the inheritance, imperishable and unfading, which you have reserved for us in heaven.  We thank you for calling us to eternal glory in Jesus, our savior.  We ask your forgiveness for the many times we have failed in following Christ.  May the remembrance of his life, passion, and resurrection sustain us on our earthly way of the cross.  May his example strengthen us in faith, hope, and love.  And when we come to die, may we, by your gracious goodness, be born again to eternal life.  Amen.

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Contact information

Prayers are from Your Way of the Cross (FMA, B-13R, pp. 3 & 11, respectively).  Your Way of the Cross leaflets and the Retreat Booklet are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; and A Prayer in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows is from the Servants of Mary, The Servite Order, 1439 South Harlem Avenue, Berwyn, IL 60402-0712.

Stations of the cross (left to right, top to bottom) can be found in the following sacred spaces: Sts. Cyril & Methodius (Corpus Christi, TX), St. Anthony of Padua (Rockford, IL), Most Holy Trinity (Covington, LA), St. Mary Cathedral (Austin, TX), St. Anselm (Madisonville, LA), St. Mary’s (Brownsville, TX), Christus Spohn Hospital Chapel (Corpus Christi, TX), Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio, TX), and St. Joseph (Port Aransas, TX), respectively.

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February 25, 2016

Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a Christian spirit the pinpricks of each day!  Think, then, which is the more heroic
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

February 29, 2016

“We must not seek the cross in extraordinary sufferings seldom, if ever, encountered; we must look for it in the duties, the life, the difficulties, and the sacrifices of each day and of each moment” (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, Divine Intimacy).

March 9, 2016

“We could not go to Calvary to offer ourselves with him and thus share in the fruits of his sacrifice, so Jesus brought Calvary to us” (Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik, The Basic Book of the Eucharist).

November 10, 2016

“No one should be ashamed of the cross of Christ through which the world has been redeemed” (St. Leo the Great).

March 20, 2017

Christ’s whole being must ring in our hearts with blood and bone.  We must follow him.  We must strive to penetrate into the heart of his mystery, to what he really is.  Then things be­come plain to us, as we have found them here (Romano Guardini in Meditations on the Christ).

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St. Anthony of Padua Church – Rockford, IL

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Grounds at the Oblate School of Theology – San Antonio, TX

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In the pink

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I don’t often visit anyone at the hospital but Pat had undergone surgery, and I wanted to spend time with her and Carlos so they’d know that Steven and I had them in our thoughts and prayers.

Fortunately, I made it to eleven-thirty Mass in the chapel so I took some photos afterwards.

Mental note

On my way out I again noticed St. Basil’s picture opposite the table with the book of petitions at which I stopped to write.  I scanned the text above St. Basil’s frame, made a mental note to learn more later on, and quickly forgot by the time I reached Pat’s room.

St. Basil

Updating the church blog on New Year’s Eve almost two months since my visit to the chapel, I came across St. Basil’s name again.  Although I’d previously seen his name in the Word among us around this time of year, I didn’t know anything about him.

I searched the internet and learned that Monday, January 2, is the feast day of not only St. Basil, but also St. Gregory Nazianzen, both of whom were bishops and Church doctors.  Additionally, together with St. John Chrysostom, they were revered as the “three holy hierarchs.”

St. Basil was indeed one of the greatest pillars of the Church.  He loved children and always assisted the sick and the homeless.  He was the first bishop to establish orphanages and hospitals and old age homes.  He first directed the attention of the Church to these unfortunate victims of society (Poulos, 1974, p. 39).

                

    

               

               

Prayers

Almighty God, lord of angels and all creation who dwells on high yet cares for the lowly, who searches the heart and knows every hidden thing, eternal and unchanging light, we trust in your great mercy to hear the prayers offered from our unclean lips.

Forgive the sins we have committed in knowledge or in ignorance, in thought, word, or deed; and cleanse us, body and soul, from every stain.  Allow us to pass through the darkness of this present life watchful and alert, always expecting the coming bright day of your only begotten son, our Lord God and savior, Jesus Christ.  He shall come in glory to judge all people and reward us according to our deeds.

Help us to put away laziness, be full of courage, and be found doing his work ready to enter his glorious kingdom with joy.  You are the true light of every creature, and to you all creation sings.  Amen.

As I rise from sleep I thank you, holy Trinity, for through your great goodness and patience you have not been angry with me, an idler and sinner.  Nor have you destroyed me with my inequities, but have [instead] shown your usual love for mankind.  When I despaired you raised me up to keep the morning watch and glorify your power.  Enlighten my mind’s eye and open my mouth that I may meditate on your words and understand your commandments.  Do your will, and [I will] sing praises to your all-holy name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

O come let us worship God, our king.  O come let us worship and fall down before Christ, our king and God.  O come let us worship and fall down before Christ himself, our king and God.

Dear St. Basil, you lived among saints: your parents and your best friend, Gregory Nazianzen.  You were an inspirer of true monastic life and a reformer of priests and laity.  Help all who work for moral reform in our turbulent age.  Give them a true knowledge of Jesus so that they will draw all people to him.  Amen.

I bless you, Lord.  Though I am powerless, you strengthen my weakness.  You stretch from above your helping hand and bring me back unto yourself.  What shall I render to you, good master, for all the good things you have done and continue to do for me, the sinner?  I will cease not to bless you all the days of my life, my creator, my benefactor, and my guardian.  Amen.

January 2, 2011

The coloration of the stained-glass windows was stunning during my first visit to the chapel, July 27, 2010, no doubt attributable to the sun’s position mid-afternoon.

        

       

January 2, 2013

“Intimacy with the Lord is not a matter of physical kinship; rather, it is achieved by cheerful readiness to do the will of God” (St. Basil).

October 2, 2013

“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life” (St. Basil).

January 2, 2014

“The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings perfection to those who are making progress” (St. Basil).

June 16, 2014

What is the mark of love for your neighbor?  Not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in soul (St. Basil).

January 2, 2015

“Words are truly the image of the soul” (St. Basil).

July 24, 2015

“Prudence must precede every action which we undertake; for, if prudence is wanting, there is nothing, however good it may seem, which is not turned into evil” (St. Basil).

January 2, 2016

“O sinner, be not discouraged but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities”
(St. Basil).

April 1, 2016

“Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger” (St. Basil).

August 26, 2016

“A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love” (St. Basil).

January 2, 2017

The sun penetrates crystal and makes it more dazzling.  In the same way, the sanctifying Spirit indwells in souls and makes them more radiant.  They become like so many powerhouses beaming grace and love around them (St. Basil).

May 31, 2017

“He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love”
(St. Basil).

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