Catholics from all walks of life give their Easter reflections on the 14 stations of the cross
Jesus is condemned to death
Station One: In the world in which CAFOD works, millions of people are condemned to death by the sins of omission as well as commission.
From Sudan and Sarajevo, death comes quickly in the form of a sniper's bullet amidst the violence of war. Or it comes slowly, accompanied by the pain of starvation or disease. Structural injustice the trade and debt deals made in our name bring death in their trail as much as the wars we fight and the failure of the rains.
Every penny we give, and every time we stand up to be counted on the side of the world's poorest people, it is a reprieve from the death penalty. Cathy Corcoran Head of Projects, CAFOD
Jesus carrying the cross
Station Two. I always think of the old Irish revolutionary Tomas Ashe, and his martyred plea: "Let me carry-your cross for Ireland. Lord". Ashe died on hunger strike, no doubt believing his nationalism brought him nearer to God.
Generations later, people throughout the world still think fighting in religious wars makes them holy. The heavier their burden, they believe, the more like Jesus they become. The idea of sacrifice for the greater good has become horribly distorted, and people believe that suffering for any cause necessarily makes them holy.
Meanwhile. thousands of people around the world are carrying crosses for less romantic ideas than nationalism: for the right to eat, for the right not to be ;tortured: trforthe right vorto tie• execute, „like Jesus was. Crucifixions still take place in some countries. Too many people are still carrying crosses.
Brian Dooley Amnesty International
Jesus falls for the first time
Station Three. Life was already harsh enough for 8-year-old Maya from Missouri and then she was raped by her mother's boyfriend. To have one's aspirations for the future so cruelly crushed at such a young age leaves its scars; the bruises
from that first fall linger the longest.
To understand the complexities of life at any age is not easy but as a child, unfathomable.
Now a distinguished American writer and poet. Maya Angelou has endured many subsequent falls in her 64 colourful years and in her recent poem at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton summed up how any one of us can look back on that first fall:
"Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need/ For this bright morning dawning for you./ History, despite its wrenching pain./Cannot be unlived, but if faced/With courage. need not be lived again."
Terry Tinnier Editor of Chat Magazine
Jesus meets his mother
Station Four. Stumbling down the road, through the crowds, one face stood out his mother. Their eyes met and through her silent tears he felt the compassion she shared with them. The joy of meeting overshadowed by the impending doom.
My son, why have they done this to you?
There will be other mothers like me, treading their own personal Via Dolorosa: standing and watching whilst their sons give their lives to help humanity.
Like me, the torment of their anguish will be public. denied the dignity of bearing their grief within the privacy of their own home. Jesus, grant them the comfort and peace of your love and enable them to accept their sorrow as a true sign of faith.
Pat Durrant National Secretary, The Union of Catholic Mothers
Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross
Station Five. And they laid the Cross upon Simon of Cyrene; the scene haunts us. Suffering and brokenness; the man weighed down and unable to go on. The image of the Cross is never far away in prison. The anxiety of remand: the shame and fears of the "first time"; the injustice of the innocent man convicted; the powerless life of routine and enforced obedience;the worry for families and children.
Lord teach us to carry the Cross together, to build a just society and see beyond the bars and uniforms of our prisons the sacredness of human life redeemed by your Cross.
Praise to you Lord for those who share their few possessions, who encourage a cell-mate in the hour of need and who, knowing the pains of imprisonment, reach out to the one about to fall. Brother Philip Chaplain, Brixton Prison
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Station Six. A lone woman in that howling crowd. she pulled her veil around her head to block out the obscenities and jibes.
What kind of God, she asked herself. requires such hatred and against one whose crime had been to speak out for the poor. heal the sick, and challenge injustice?
Rage filled her: could they not see the man, his suffering. his pain? Strong in her anger, she thrust her way forward. A soldier fell back. and she came face to face with the prophet rejected by God She stripped off her veil. and wiped from his face the blood. The fine silk was stained. And then his painblind eyes cleared, and he looked at her. Saw her.
The soldier shoved her aside and the mob closed around the prisoner. Afterwards. she would see in the veil that face. slashed, bruised and broken and, she could not forget, a human face. In the image of another God.
Patricia Stoat Catholic Women's Network
Jesus falls for the second time
Station Seven. Jesus falls again. He is flesh and blood, and vulnerable.
This "nobody" with his little group of men and women.
--toaehes..us to live as equals to forgive, serve, love and help one another: to share. to live modestly and humbly, without violence. He is a danger to the established social order.
This ordinary "upstart-, excited by ideas and dedicated to truth, embraces religious integrity and calls for change.
He won't be quiet: he is a danger to religious orthodoxy. No fighting or killing, no competing, no losers, no financial interest, no oppression, no imposed authority, no religious barriers, no delusions of racial "purity", no standing still: this is anarchy.
He falls the second time, brought down lower than ever: but truth and love and the spirit
have also been crushed . and shall rise, for they are eternal.
Iiilary Fenten Editor of Renew. the bulletin of the Catholic Renewal Movement
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Station Eight. This is the station of compassion offered by this group of women who had followed Jesus in the good times. They are now openly there with him showing him love and compassion in his distress. His response was "Weep not for me.
but for yourselves and for your children".
In recent weeks people throughout this country have wept for the families whose boys have died in tragic circumstances. The depravity that could allow the crucifixion of Christ is again very close on our doorstep.
The women who weep today also lead and are leading in their efforts to bring about a realisation about the need to change this lack of value for human life in our society. so that our children may not weep.
Mary 0' Shaughnessy National Board of Catholic Women
Jesus falls for the third time
Station !Vine. As I reflect while walking the Stations of the Cross I think much about the troubled world we live in. Not a day goes by without tragedy to a family or a community.There seems to be no end in sight.
I hope very much that by the Worldwide Fund for Nature working to promote fundamental changes in lifestyles and in the way decisions concerning nature and the ecological processes are made by organisations and Governments, that we will leave a better world for the next generations, and that those generations will live in peace.
Mary Goodie Worldwide Fund for Nature
Jesus is stripped of his garments
Station Ten. Every day, both on the streets and concealed from public view, homeless people are stripped of their dignity. Like Jesus, they are innocent of any crime. They are being punished for our failure as a society to provide sufficient homes at a price which everyone can afford.
Men and women, sleeping on the streets, are shunned by passers-by who try to avoid coming too close or looking then in the eye.
Young people with no job. no home, are forced to beg and even to consider prostitution as a way of securing money for a bed for the night. Families who have lost
their home through unemployment, illness, inability to pay their mortgage, are dumped in a hostel, miles from family and friends, or cramped in a single room in a bed and breakfast hotel. They are hidden from sight.
Marriages break up under the strain, children suffer from depression: all suffer because of our failure to tackle the shortage of homes.
Robina Rafferty Director, Catholic Housing Aid Society
Jesus is nailed to the cross
Station Eleven. The cross is the epitome of love. This love is experienced in many ways but the central experience is the family. May this Easter be a source of
reawakening of family life in Britain and may all families experience the fullness of love as the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord expressed it.
Dr Jack Dominion Counsellor and author
Jesus dies on the cross
Station Twelve. "Carrying his own cross, he went out of the city to the place of the skull where they crucified him".
Jesus suffered and died on a cross with his arms outstretched. As we contemplate this we see the depth of his love for the Father and each one of us. To the repentent thief he promises, "today you will be with me in Paradise". As we reflect on the quality of his mercy we can also examine how we show his compassion and love to those in need. With Jesus there is no reproach, no judgment, no condemnation. only a promise of eternal life.
Life is God's supreme gift to us. yet Jesus surrenders himkelf on the Cross and shares our common experience of death. It is the privilege of those who work in hospices to accompany their patients as he calls them to a ntw and fuller life with the Father. " Cecilia Foley St Gemma's Hospice
His body is taken down from the cross
Station Thirteen. Mary at the foot of the cross accepts the dead body of her son. She sets the
example for mothers of our own day who see the lives of their sons cut off in their innocence. She has no bitterness. for she knows the outstanding value of innocent suffering befote God.
Fr Robert Bulbeck Si Parish priest, Charlbury, Oxford
His body is laid in the tomb
Station 14 The body of Jesus was tended with care by his friend. who wrapped it gently in linen and spices.
The tomb itself was iric purchased by his friend. Joseph. for his own use. They were the friends who were to look for him on Easter Sunday. They no doubt gathered together and talked of their friend. gaining consolation from their remembrances. rather as people do at a funeral today They remembered his kindness. his patience, his love and thoughtfulness.
Remembering all these things made them feel close to him They recalled what he had said: "For where two or three who meet in my name I shall be there with them." (Matthew 18:20) For us. his friends. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave what we most cherish life itself. By his death he promised us eternal life.
Help us to remember his care. love and selflessness in the way we treat others. May we grow in thoughtfulness by remembering his example and, as we do our friends. by getting to know him better each day.
Danny Mc Donald Headmaster, St Joseph's RC Primarv School. London