Friday, April 1, 2011

Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross.

The Physical Suffering and Agony of Jesus on the Cross.--->
<---The Holy Souls in Purgatory.


The Via Crucis, is one of the more expressive forms, more solid and established devotions of Christianity on the Passion of Christ.
Stations of the Cross or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, Path to the Cross, or simply The Way, refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem. But the desire to reproduce the holy place by where the Lord took up his cross, in other lands seems to have known manifest all the pain that Jesus suffered.

Since the first centuries the pilgrims from Jerusalem venerated the holy places, especially the Gólgota and the Tomb. According to the revelations from God to Saint Brígida, after the death of Christ, the great consolation of his Mother was to travel the path of the cross sprinkled with the blood of her Son.
The inability to go to Jerusalem or the desire to frequently recollect at the same place the moments of the Passion, compelled Christianity to represent, in diverse forms, the most salient places, to be traveled in a spiritual pilgrimage.
At the monastery of Santo Stefano at Bologna a group of connected chapels was constructed as early as the 5th century, by St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, which was intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem, and in consequence, this monastery became familiarly known as "Hierusalem.”

These may perhaps be regarded as the germ from which the Stations afterwards developed, though it is tolerably certain that nothing that we have before about the 15th century can strictly be called a Way of the Cross in the modern sense.

The devotion of the Via Dolorosa, for which there have been a number of variant routes in Jerusalem, was probably developed by the Franciscans after they were granted administration of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem in 1342.

The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period.
During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land.
It is less often observed in the Anglican and Lutheran churches. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.
The number of stations varied between eleven and thirty. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen stations.

In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop.
In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, as well as featuring other Christian artifacts of the local area.

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, as well as is observed by others christian religions.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, the meditation is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.

When the Via Crucis is done before legitimately erected stations, it carries a plenary indulgence. While customarily it is done by reading a text and saying certain prayers, it can be made meditating mentally what each station proposes.

St. Bernard says: "There is no more effective way to cure the sores of our conscience and to cleanse and perfect our soul as the frequent and continuous meditation of the holy sores of Christ and His Passion and Death".

Merciful Jesus said to him to Saint Faustina Kowalska: "Few souls contemplate My Passion with true feeling; to the souls that meditate My Passion very devotedly, I grant them greater number of graces"

Method to recite the Via Crucis:

To go over physically or mentally on the Stations of the Cross, meditating a little while in each one of them. If we wish, while we meditate at each station, we can say some prayer, for example an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory.



Via Crusis or The Path to the Cross

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.


FIRST STATION

Jesus is condemned to death


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


“Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33).
“My Kingdom is not of this world; if my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my Kingdom is not from the world” (Jn 18:36).

Pilate is a good example of man living in sin. For him the most important thing is the emperor of Rome. Not care about anything the suffering of Jesus.
The cruel punishment of scourging inflicted upon the Accused is not enough. When the Procurator brings Jesus, scourged and crowned with thorns, before the crowd, that wanted the death of Jesus.
Thus was Jesus, the Son of the living God, the Redeemer of the world, condemned to death by crucifixion.
Over the centuries the denial of truth has spawned suffering and death.
This is why Christ prayed so fervently for his disciples in every age:
Father, “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).

Stabat Mater:
At the Cross her station keeping stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


SECOND STATION

Jesus takes up his Cross


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


The cross. The instrument of a shameful death.
It was not lawful to condemn a Roman citizen to death by crucifixion: it was too humiliating. The moment that Jesus of Nazareth took up the Cross in order to carry it to Calvary marked a turning-point in the history of the cross.
The symbol of a shameful death, reserved for the lowest classes, the cross becomes a key. From now on, with the help of this key, man will open the door of the deepest mystery of God.

Through Christ’s acceptance of the Cross, the instrument of his own self-emptying, men will come to know that God is love.
Jesus chose the Cross as instrument of salvation.
The Father chose the Cross for his Son, and his Son shouldered it, carried it to Mount Calvary and on it offered his life.
“In the Cross there is suffering,
in the Cross there is salvation,
in the Cross there is a lesson of love.
The Cross is the sign of a love without limits!
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Stabat Mater:
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


THIRD STATION

Jesus falls the first time


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


“God laid on him the sins of us all” (cf. Is 53:6).
“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6).

Jesus falls under the Cross. This will happen three times along the comparatively short stretch of the “via dolorosa”.
Exhaustion makes him fall. His body is stained with blood from the scourging, his head is crowned with thorns. All this causes his strength to fail.
So he falls, and the weight of the Cross crushes him to the ground.
We must go back to the words of the Prophet, who foresaw this fall centuries earlier. It is as though he were contemplating it with his own eyes: seeing the Servant of the Lord, on the ground under the weight of the Cross, he tells us the real cause of his fall. It is this:
“God laid on him the sins of us all”.

It was our sins that crushed the divine Condemned One to the ground.
It was our sins that determined the weight of the Cross that he carries on his shoulders.
It was our sins that made him fall.
With difficulty Christ gets up again to continue his journey.
The soldiers escorting him urge him on with shouts and blows.
After a moment the procession sets out again.
Jesus falls and gets up again.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the wood of the cross, that we might no longer live for sin but for righteousness – by his wounds we have been healed” (cf. 1 Pt 2:24).

Stabat Mater:
Oh, how sad and sore distressed was that Mother highly blessed
of the sole begotten One!


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


FOURTH STATION

Jesus meets his Mother


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


Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and his kingdom will have no end” (Lk 1:30-33).

Mary remembered these words. She often returned to them in the secret of her heart.
When she met her Son on the way of the Cross, perhaps these very words came to her mind. With particular force.
“He will reign... His kingdom will have no end”, the heavenly messenger had said.

Now, as she watches her Son, condemned to death, carrying the Cross on which he must die, she might ask herself, all too humanly:
So how can these words be fulfilled? In what way will he reign over the House of David? And how can it be that his kingdom will have no end?
Humanly speaking, these are reasonable questions.
But Mary remembered that, when she first heard the Angel’s message, she had replied:
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
Now she sees that her word is being fulfilled as the word of the Cross. Because she is a mother, Mary suffers deeply. But she answers now as she had answered then, at the Annunciation: “May it be done to me according to your word”.
In this way, as a mother would, she embraces the cross together with the divine Condemned One.
On the way of the Cross Mary shows herself to be the Mother of the Redeemer of the world.
“All you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering, which has been dealt me” (Lam 1:12).
It is the Sorrowful Mother who speaks,
the Handmaid who is obedient to God,
the Mother of the Redeemer of the world.

Stabat Mater:
Christ above in torment hangs, she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying, glorious Son.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


FIFTH STATION

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his Cross


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


They compelled Simon (cf. Mk 15:21).
The Roman soldiers did this because they feared that in his exhaustion the Condemned Man would not be able to carry the Cross as far as Golgotha. Then they would not be able to carry out the sentence of crucifixion.
They were looking for someone to help carry the Cross.
Their eyes fell on Simon. They compelled him to take the weight upon his shoulders. We can imagine that Simon did not want to do this and objected. Carrying the cross together with a convict could be considered an act offensive to the dignity of a free man.
Although unwilling, Simon took up the Cross to help Jesus.

In a Lenten hymn we hear the words: “Under the weight of the Cross Jesus welcomes the Cyrenean”. These words allow us to discern a total change of perspective: the divine Condemned One is someone who, in a certain sense, “makes a gift” of his Cross.
Was it not he who said: “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38)?
Simon receives a gift.
He has become “worthy” of it.
What the crowd might see as an offence to his dignity has, from the perspective of redemption, given him a new dignity.
In a unique way, the Son of God has made him a sharer in his work of salvation.
Is Simon aware of this?
The evangelist Mark identifies Simon of Cyrene as the “father of Alexander and Rufus” (15:21).

If the sons of Simon of Cyrene were known to the first Christian community, it can be presumed that Simon too, while carrying the Cross, came to believe in Christ. From being forced, he freely accepted, as though deeply touched by the words: “Whoever does not carry his cross with me is not worthy of me.”
By his carrying of the Cross, Simon was brought to the knowledge of the gospel of the Cross.
Since then, this gospel has spoken to many, countless Cyreneans, called in the course of history to carry the cross with Jesus.

Stabat Mater:
Is there one who would not weep, whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


SIXTH STATION

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus


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


Veronica does not appear in the Gospels. Her name is not mentioned, even though the names of other women who accompanied Jesus do appear.
It is possible, therefore, that the name refers more to what the woman did. In fact, according to tradition, on the road to Calvary a woman pushed her way through the soldiers escorting Jesus and with a veil wiped the sweat and blood from the Lord’s face. That face remained imprinted on the veil, a faithful reflection, a “true icon”. This would be the reason for the name Veronica.
If this is so, the name which evokes the memory of what this woman did carries with it the deepest truth about her.

One day, Jesus drew the criticism of onlookers when he defended a sinful woman who had poured perfumed oil on his feet and dried them with her hair. To those who objected, he replied: “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . . In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Mt 26:10, 12). These words could likewise be applied to Veronica.

Acts of love do not pass away. Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7).
This is what shapes our identity and gives us our true name.

Stabat Mater:
Can the human heart refrain from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s untold pain?


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


SEVENTH STATION

Jesus falls the second time


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

“I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people” (Ps 22:6). These words of the Psalm come to mind as we see Jesus fall to the ground a second time under the Cross.
Here in the dust of the earth lies the Condemned One. Crushed by the weight of his Cross. His strength drains away from him more and more. But with great effort he gets up again to continue his march.
To us sinners, what does this second fall say? More than the first one, it seems to urge us to get up, to get up again on our way of the cross.

It tells us that every person here below meets Christ who carries the Cross and falls under its weight.
In his turn, Christ, on the way to Calvary, meets every man and woman and, falling under the weight of the Cross, does not cease to proclaim the good news.
For two thousand years the gospel of the Cross has spoken to man.
For twenty centuries Christ, getting up again from his fall, meets those who fall.
Throughout these two millennia many people have learned that falling does not mean the end of the road.

In meeting the Saviour they have heard his reassuring words:
“My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
Comforted, they have gotten up again and brought to the world the word of hope which comes from the Cross.
Today, having crossed the threshold of the new millennium, we are called to penetrate more deeply the meaning of this encounter.
Our generation must pass on to future centuries the good news that we are lifted up again in Christ.

Stabat Mater:
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender Child,
all with bloody scourges rent.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


EIGHTH STATION

Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem


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


“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me,
but weep for yourselves and for your children.
For behold, the days are coming when they will say,
'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore,
and the breasts that never gave suck!'
Then they will begin to say to the mountains,
'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.'
For if they do this when the wood is green,
what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23:28-31).

These are the words of Jesus to the women of Jerusalem who were weeping with compassion for the Condemned One.
“Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” At the time it was certainly difficult to understand the meaning of these words. They contained a prophecy that would soon come to pass.
Shortly before, Jesus had wept over Jerusalem, foretelling the terrible fate that awaited the city.
Now he seems to be referring again to that fate: “Weep for your children . . .”
Weep, because these, your very children, will be witnesses and will share in the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem which “did not know the time of her visitation” (cf. Lk 19:44).
If, as we follow Christ on the way of the Cross, our hearts are moved with pity for his suffering, we cannot forget that admonition.

For our generation, which has just left a millennium behind, rather than weep for Christ crucified, it is now the time for us to recognize “the time of our visitation”. Already the dawn of the resurrection is shining forth.
“Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).
To each of us Christ addresses these words of the book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (3:20- 21).

Stabat Mater:
Let me share with you his pain, who for all my sin was slain,
who for me in torments died.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


NINTH STATION

Jesus falls the third time


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


Once more Christ has fallen to the ground under the weight of the Cross. The crowd watches, wondering whether he will have the strength to rise again.

Saint Paul writes: “Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

The third fall seems to express just this:
the self-emptying, the kenosis of the Son of God,
his humiliation beneath the Cross.
Jesus had said to the disciples that he had come not to be served but to serve (cf. Mt 20:28).
In the Upper Room, bending low to the ground and washing their feet, he sought, as it were, to prepare them for this humiliation of his.
Falling to the ground for the third time on the way of the Cross, he cries out loudly to us once more the mystery of himself.

Let us listen to his voice!
This Condemned Man, crushed to the ground beneath the weight of the Cross, now very near the place of punishment, tells us:
“I am the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
“He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).
Let us not be dismayed by the sight of a condemned man, who falls to the ground exhausted under the cross.
Within this outward sign of the death which is approaching the light of life lies hidden.

Stabat Mater:
O you Mother, fount of love! Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with yours accord.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


TENTH STATION

Jesus is stripped of his clothes and offered gall and vinegar to drink


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


“When he tasted it, he would not drink it” (Mt 27:34).
He did not want a sedative, which would have dulled his consciousness during the agony.
He wanted to be fully aware as he suffered on the Cross, accomplishing the mission he had received from the Father.
That was not what the soldiers in charge of the execution were used to. Since they had to nail the condemned man to the Cross, they tried to dull his senses and his consciousness.
But with Christ this could not be. Jesus knows that his death on the Cross must be a sacrifice of expiation.

This is why he wants to remain alert to the very end.
Without consciousness, he could not, in complete freedom, accept the full measure of suffering.
Behold, he must mount the Cross, in order to offer the sacrifice of the New Covenant.
He is the Priest. By means of his own blood, he must enter the eternal dwelling-places, having accomplished the world’s redemption (cf. Heb 9:12).

Conscience and freedom: these are the essential elements of fully human action.
The world has so many ways of weakening the will and of darkening conscience.
They must be carefully defended from all violence.
Even the legitimate attempt to control pain must always be done with respect for human dignity.
If life and death are to retain their true value, the depths of Christ’s sacrifice must be understood, and we must unite ourselves to that sacrifice if we are to hold firm.

Stabat Mater:
Make me feel as you have felt; make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ our Lord.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


ELEVENTH STATION

Jesus is nailed to the Cross


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


“They tear holes in my hands and my feet; I can count every one of my bones” (Ps 21:17- 18).
The words of the Prophet are fulfilled.
The execution begins.
The torturers’ blows crush the hands and feet of the Condemned One against the wood of the Cross.

The nails are driven violently into his wrists. Those nails will hold the condemned man as he hangs in the midst of the inexpressible torments of his agony.
In his body and his supremely sensitive spirit, Christ suffers in a way beyond words.
With him there are crucified two real criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. The prophecy is fulfilled: “He was numbered among the transgressors” (Is 53:12).
Once the torturers raise the Cross, there will begin an agony that will last three hours. This word too must be fulfilled: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (Jn 12:32).

What is it that “draws” us to the Condemned One in agony on the Cross?
Certainly the sight of such intense suffering stirs compassion. But compassion is not enough to lead us to bind our very life to the One who hangs on the Cross.
How is it that, generation after generation, this appalling sight has drawn countless hosts of people who have made the Cross the hallmark of their faith?

Hosts of men and women who for centuries have lived and given their lives looking to this sign?
From the Cross, Christ draws us by the power of love,
divine Love, which did not recoil from the total gift of self;
infinite Love, which on the tree of the Cross raised up from the earth the weight of Christ’s body, to counterbalance the weight of the first sin.

Boundless Love, which has utterly filled every absence of love and allowed humanity to find refuge once more in the arms of the merciful Father.
May Christ lifted high on the Cross draw us too, the men and women of the new millennium!
In the shadow of the Cross, let us “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2).

Stabat Mater:
Holy Mother, pierce me through; in my heart each wound renew
of my Saviour crucified.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


TWELFTH STATION

Jesus dies on the Cross


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


Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
At the height of his Passion, Christ does not forget man, especially those who are directly responsible for his suffering. Jesus knows that more than anything else man needs love; he needs the mercy which at this moment is being poured out on the world.
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).
This is how Jesus replies to the plea of the criminal hanging on his right: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42).

The promise of a new life. This is the first fruit of the Passion and imminent Death of Christ. A word of hope to man.
At the foot of the Cross stood Mary, and beside her the disciple, John the Evangelist. Jesus says: “Woman, behold your son!” and to the disciple: “Behold your mother!” (Jn 19:26-27).
“And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:27).
This is his bequest to those dearest to his heart.

His legacy to the Church.
The desire of Jesus as he dies is that the maternal love of Mary should embrace all those for whom he is giving his life, the whole of humanity.
Immediately after, Jesus cries out: “I am thirsty” (Jn 19:28). A word which describes the dreadful burning which consumes his whole body.
It is the one word which refers directly to his physical suffering.

Then Jesus adds: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mt 27:46; cf. Ps 22:2). These words of the Psalm are his prayer. Despite their tone, these words reveal the depths of his union with the Father.

In the last moments of his life on earth, Jesus thinks of the Father. From this moment on, the dialogue will only be between the dying Son and the Father who accepts his sacrifice of love.
When the ninth hour comes, Jesus cries out: “It is accomplished!” (Jn 19:30).
Now the work of the redemption is complete.
The mission, for which he came on earth, has reached its goal.
The rest belongs to the Father:

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46).
And having said this, he breathed his last.
“The curtain of the temple was torn in two...” (Mt 27:51).
The “Holy of Holies” of the Jerusalem Temple is opened at the moment when it is entered by the Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant.

Stabat Mater:
She looked upon her sweet Son, saw him hang in desolation,
till his spirit forth he sent.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


THIRTEENTH STATION

Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother


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


In the arms of his Mother they have placed the lifeless body of the Son. The Gospels say nothing of what she felt at that moment.
It is as though by their silence the Evangelists wished to respect her sorrow, her feelings and her memories. Or that they simply felt incapable of expressing them.

It is only the devotion of the centuries that has preserved the figure of the “Pietà”, providing Christian memory with the most sorrowful image of the ineffable bond of love which blossomed in the Mother’s heart on the day of the Annunciation and ripened as she waited for the birth of her divine Son.

That love was revealed in the cave at Bethlehem
and was tested already during the Presentation in the Temple.
It grew deeper as Mary stored and pondered in her heart all that was happening (cf. Lk 2:51).
Now this intimate bond of love must be transformed into a union which transcends the boundary between life and death.

And thus it will be across the span of the centuries:
people pause at Michelangelo’s statue of the Pietà, they kneel before the image of the loving and sorrowful Mother (Smetna Dobrodziejka) in the Church of the Franciscans in Kraków,
before the Mother of the Seven Sorrows, Patroness of Slovakia,
they venerate Our Lady of Sorrows in countless shrines in every part of the world.
And so they learn the difficult love which does not flee from suffering, but surrenders trustingly to the tenderness of God, for whom nothing is impossible (cf. Lk 1:37).

Stabat Mater:
Let me mingle tears with you, mourning him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.


Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"


FOURTEENTH STATION

Jesus is laid in the tomb


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


“He was crucified, died and was buried...”
The lifeless body of Christ has been laid in the tomb. But the stone of the tomb is not the final seal on his work.
The last word belongs not to falsehood, hatred and violence.
The last word will be spoken by Love, which is stronger than death.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

The tomb is the last stage of Christ’s dying through the whole course of his earthly life; it is the sign of his supreme sacrifice for us and for our salvation.
Very soon this tomb will become the first proclamation of praise and exaltation of the Son of God in the glory of the Father.
“He was crucified, died and was buried,. . . on the third day he rose from the dead”.
Once the lifeless body of Jesus is laid in the tomb, at the foot of Golgotha, the Church begins the vigil of Holy Saturday.

In the depths of her heart, Mary stores and ponders the Passion of her Son;
the women agree to meet on the morning of the day after the Sabbath, in order to anoint Christ’s body with aromatic ointments;
the disciples gather in the seclusion of the Upper Room, waiting for the Sabbath to pass.
This vigil will end with the meeting at the tomb, the empty tomb of the Saviour.
Then the tomb, the silent witness of the Resurrection, will speak.
The stone rolled back, the inner chamber empty, the cloths on the ground,
this will be what John sees when he comes to the tomb with Peter:

“He saw and he believed” (Jn 20:8).
And with him the Church believed,
and from that moment she never grows weary of communicating to the world this fundamental truth of her faith:
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).
The empty tomb is the sign of the definitive victory
of truth over falsehood,
of good over evil,
of mercy over sin,
of life over death.
The empty tomb is the sign of the hope which “does not deceive” (Rom 5:5).
“[Our] hope is full of immortality” (cf. Wis 3:4).

Stabat Mater:
While my body here decays, may my soul your goodness praise, safe in paradise with you. Amen.

Brief pause for reflexion in silence, or repeat three times:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the Wounds of our souls"

PROMISES for devotees of the Via Crusis or The Path of the Cross

BROTHER ESTANISLAO (1903 - 1927)

At the age of 18 years, a young Spanish entered as a novice, "THE SCHOOL OF CHRISTIAN BROTHERS", in Bugedo.
In the religious life, this young man took the religious votes in fulfillment of the regulations; to advance in the Christian perfection; and to reach pure love.
In October 1926, this brother offered himself to Jesus through Most Holy Mary. Shortly after this heroic offering, the young monk became ill and was forced to rest. He died in sanctity in March, 1927.
According to the Master of novices, this religious was a chosen soul of God; who received messages from Heaven.
The confessors of this young man, as well as the theologians, recognized these supernatural facts like meaningful acts.
The young man was called Brother Estanislao. The spiritual director of Brother Estanislao had instructed him to write all the promises transmitted by OUR LORD. This would be for the spiritual benefits of those devoted to the VIA CRUSIS OR THE PATH OF THE CROSS.

The promises are the following ones:

1. I will grant all that is requested from Me with faith, during the Via Crusis or The Path of the Cross.

2. I promise eternal life to those that once in a while, recite the Via Crusis or The Path of the Cross.

3. All through their lives, I will accompany them everywhere, and will have My special assistance at the hour of death.

4. Even if they had more sins than the blades of grass that grow in the fields, and more than grains of sand in the ocean, all will be erased through this devotion to the Via Crusis or The Path of the Cross. (Note: This devotion does not eliminate the obligation to confess mortal sins. One is due to confess before receiving Holy Communion.)

5. Those that recite the Path of the Cross frequently, will enjoy an extraordinary glory in Heaven.

6. After death, if these devotees arrived at Purgatory, I will liberate them from that place of atonement, the first Tuesday or Friday after dying.

7. I will bless these souls whenever they recite the Path of the Cross; and my blessing will accompany them everywhere on Earth. After death, they will enjoy this blessing in Heaven, for all eternity.

8. At the time of death, I will not allow that they are subject to the temptation of the demon. To the malignant spirit I will strip to him of all power on these souls. Thus they will be able to rest peacefully in My Arms.

9. If they recite it with true love, it will be highly rewarded. That is to say, I will turn each one of these souls in a living Vessel, where I will be pleased to spill My Grace.

10. I will fix the glance of My Eyes on those souls that recite the Path of the Cross frequently and My Hands will be always open to protect them.

11. Just as I was nailed in the Cross, I will always be very united to those that honor Me, with the frequent recitation of the Path of the Cross.

12. The devotee of the Path of the Cross will never separate from Me because I will give them the grace of never incurring in mortal sin.

13. At the hour of death, I will console them with My presence, and we will go together to Heaven. Death will be sweet for all those that have honored Me during life with the recitation of the Path of the Cross.

14. For these devotees of the Path of the Cross, My Soul will be a protecting shield that always will render assistance to them when they resort to Me.

We conclude that it is very beneficial for us and our brothers, to recite the Path of the Cross not only during Easter but at any times.
This devotion can be offered: by sick, by priests, by Pope, by Holy Church, by our enemies, by souls in purgatory, by conversion of the whole world.

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