The Stations of the Cross are a beautiful expression of our faith, which is that Jesus Christ is Emmanuel (Matt 1:23)—God with us. In praying the Stations we accompany the Lord on his journey to Calvary. We watch him closely: how he suffers, falls, agonizes, perseveres, is strong in spirit even as his body weakens. We observe his valiant heart, loving eyes, beaten body. He is the Lord rejected and scorned. We accompany him all the way to Calvary. Why? Because we are drawn to him; made for him; because he loved us first. We see how he willingly suffers for love of us. Yes, we were there when they crucified Our Lord. He saw us in his infinite gaze, and he loved us.
Today, Christ accompanies us on the path of human suffering. He identifies with his people who are bewildered, sad, and insecure. A cross has been placed across our lives. Overnight our lives changed. The Lord draws nearer to us because he loves us, and he wants to strengthen our resolve to imitate him in the way of sacrificial love. Humanity is on the way of our cross now.
Many of us have prayed for the “best Lent ever” and signed up for daily spiritual exercises toward that end. We committed to more prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Does the Covid-19 pandemic impede or improve our Lenten practices now? We are in a war against a terrible disease. Dig a little deeper, and realize that we are in a real spiritual battle also (cf. Ephesians 6).
Perhaps this pandemic will bring out the best in us. It calls us to interiority. Times of trial and testing make or break the human spirit. We journey as brothers and sisters on our way to the mysterious place where this will lead us. For an interlude, physical closeness is not possible but spiritual closeness is necessary. On the Way of the Cross, we walk in solidarity. A season of interiority can yield abundant fruit.
Our leaders in the government, church, medical professions, priests, the sick, elderly, and vulnerable people are in great need of many resources. We each have something very valuable to offer them—resources material and spiritual; the gift of intercessory prayer and fasting, and almsgiving. While we are at home—which is a good place to be—let us pray more, be resourceful, and creative with our time and talents. God will do his part. Never doubt. He counts on us to do ours—to respond like fearless, courageous soldiers for Christ.
Let us prayerfully reflect on the Stations of the Cross.
The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death (John 19:14-16)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the one thing of which we are sure is that one day we shall die. We know our birthdays. We also have death days, but we do not know which day it is. If we will remember that we are going to die someday, then we will live every day as precious and unrepeatable, with the gifts and graces given us today, and every day until we die. Help us to live well. Please grant us a holy death. Please impart your divine wisdom that a cure for the COVID-19 virus is soon discovered. Amen.
The Second Station: Jesus Receives the Cross (Mark 15:20)
Prayer: Lord, you take upon yourself the burden of the cross and all that weighs us down. Give us the strength to walk onward, uncrushed by whatever is placed on our shoulders. May we help others to endure in the trials and suffering of their lives, with joy undefeated. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Third Station: Jesus Fall for the First Time (Isa 53:5)
Jesus, when we fall and feel discouraged, may we know that you are especially close to us then, bearing our shame and giving us the strength to stand up on our feet and begin to walk again. Make our hearts tender toward all those who fall under the weight of this cross. Grant us renewed charity and unity. May the desire for holiness burn within us. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Fourth Station: Jesus Is Met by His Blessed Mother (Isa 66:13)
All suffering is embraced by God when Jesus and his mother meet on the way of the cross. Jesus is every child lost prematurely; Mary is every parent grieving for his or her child. Lord be close to all who lose or become distant from people they love. During this pandemic draw families closer together; let barriers fall down and closer relationships form. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry His Cross (Luke 23:26)
Lord Jesus, may I be unashamed to accept help when I need it, and may I be eager to offer it when others have needs. May our mutual dependence be a source of joy and an occasion of grace, knitting us together in the community of your love. We pray for our government leaders, medical personnel, priests, armed services, first responders, all who need extraordinary grace at this moment. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus (Mark 14:6-9)
Lord Jesus, may I see with your compassion and smile with your radiance, so that your unfailing tenderness is made flesh and blood in me. May I always be alert to those who feel invisible and despised. May I help them to recognize that they are your brothers and sisters sharing in your dignity. We implore special graces for families, children, elderly, sick. We ask you to provide for the employed and the unemployed, for the economic needs of all people. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time (Heb. 2:17-18)
Lord Jesus, lift me to my feet when I feel that I can go no further. When I feel battered by the storms of life, with neither the energy or strength to carry on, then may I know that you, the strong Son of God, will bear me onward until I arrive at home in God. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-29)
Lord Jesus, give me a new heart of flesh so I may rejoice with those who rejoice and share sorrow with those who are saddened. Peel away the shell of my selfishness that holds others at a distance, so I may be one with their lives, free to act with your own spontaneous generosity. Dress us in the armor of your protection. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time (2 Cor 12:8-9)
Lord Jesus, after so many falls, let me not lose hope for happiness and holiness. If you are with me, then I am not doomed to be stuck in the endless repetition of my failures. May your grace arise in the wilderness of my heart. Grant a new beginning even today. Help your people to arise beyond what is physical to see the spiritual dynamic at work in our midst. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments (Ps 22:19-19)
Lord Jesus, I fear to be seen as I am, with my foolish fears and hidden failures. I would be ashamed and wish to hide, like Adam and Eve. But for us, you have been stripped naked and borne the jeers of the world. Comfort those who feel despised. Clothe me with your love, please. Clothe humanity in your garment of love. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross (Luke 23:33)
Lord Jesus, your life had seemed so full of promise, and yet it ended in the disgrace of the cross. Embrace all those who seem to be utter failures. And as you are close to us in these dark moments, so may we share with you in the radiance of your resurrection. As we journey our way of the cross now, help us to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel—resurrection. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34)
Lord Jesus, be with us in the hour of our death. May those who feel abandoned by God know that he is closer than we can imagine. May those who feel that there is no God at all discover his intimate presence. Before our death, inspire us to offer reparation for our sins that we may be well prepared for our particular judgment. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross (John 19:31)
Lord Jesus, now you are lowered from the cross into the hands of those who loved you and who stayed by your side to the end. May we have the courage to remain faithful to you when it is costly. Grant, us to be faithful to all those whom we love, even when you receive nothing in return. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb (Matt 27:59-60)
Lord Jesus, now you are laid to rest in the tomb. May we rest in your love, confident that even when the future is obscure, we nestle in your Father’s care. Grant us patient endurance until we hear your final summons to the fullness of life. Graciously calm our fears, and increase faith, hope,
and love. We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. Amen.
Author’s note: some prayers are loosely based on reflections by Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. in his booklet, “Stations of the Cross”, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2015.