For the next fourteen days leading up to Easter Sunday I am going to write a brief reflection on the 14 Stations of the Cross. Every time I pray the stations I am struck by a few things: the love of Christ revealed in its fullness in the Passion, the nature of Christ’s suffering and loneliness, and the greater love I have for Him the more I meditate on them.
The Second Station: Jesus Accepts the Cross.
And carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
It was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
It’s an image I can never get out of my head: after being scourged nearly to death in the Passion of the Christ, Jesus is given the cross to carry the long road to Calvary. The moment that is indelibly etched in my mind is this moment:
I would try to give words to that image but what can I say? Could there be a purer image of surrender to the will of God? That he, who was unjustly condemned by a fearful human judge, would take up his cross and embrace it, because by his holy cross he would redeem the world… I can hardly fathom it.
For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”
“I come to do your will, O God.” That is what I see when I look at those images and I meditate on the Second Station. One of my favorite prayers was written by St. Padre Pio, and it includes these lines:
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!
The first time I read that prayer I was reading over the shoulder of a woman at Mass who had a copy to pray after receiving communion. I remember thinking, yes! that’s me. Those are my fears. Those are my weaknesses. That is why we pray in another prayer, “Passion of Christ, strengthen me.”
Strengthen me when my emotions get the best of me and I’m not sure of anything anymore. Strengthen me when my knees give way and I succumb to temptation once again. Strengthen me when the day is long and I just want to quit. Strengthen me to do your will.
Jesus is ever in your heart; lay down your whole being at his feet a hundred times a day, leaving him the full disposal of everything. And then, when he takes you at your word, when he cuts into the living flesh, shudder, yes, but kiss the hand of God who is preparing you for divine union with the Crucified.
Blessed Columba Marmion
V: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. (Genuflect)
R: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. (Rise)
V: Consider Jesus as He walked this road with the cross on His shoulders, thinking of us, and offering to His Father in our behalf, the death He was about to suffer. (Kneel)
R: My most beloved Jesus,
I embrace all the sufferings You have destined for me until death.
I beg You, by all You suffered in carrying Your cross,
to help me carry mine with Your perfect peace and resignation.
I love You, Jesus, my love;
I repent of ever having offended You.
Never let me separate myself from You again.
Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.)
St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Stations of the Cross
Prayer of Padre Pio After Communion