I was a deacon the first time I led the Stations of the Cross. I remember that I made a few remarks before our prayer, inviting those who were there to call to mind the different passions the people of God were undergoing at that moment throughout the world, specifically referencing the persecuted Christians and those fighting cancer. As we walk with Jesus along his Way of the Cross, I believed we should identify with the suffering Church, to find their experiences intertwined with that of Christ’s own passion. We can see our own life as a Stations of the Cross, seeing different moments and experiences in light of Jesus’, and by looking to Christ, we can draw our strength to continue on.
As a pastor journeying with my parishioners, I know their struggles. A few weeks ago, while leading the Stations, I saw a woman who recently lost her husband to cancer. As I led the stations that day, I hearkened back to my comments during my deacon year about the Stations. That day as I prayed and walked the Stations, I kept in mind the families of those whom I buried this past year, especially those who died of cancer. Pausing for a moment of meditation, I called to mind the passion of those who died and their families who still grieve. Are you mourning the loss of a loved one from cancer? Do you know someone who is? Consider sharing these meditations with them. I hope it will help them pray the Stations, remember their loved one, and be a part of their healing process.
1. Pilate condemns Jesus to die
Death entered the world by the original sin of Adam and Eve, and now death will be redeemed by Jesus’ own death on the cross, as he is condemned to die beside two criminals on Calvary’s Hill.
At this station, we recall our loved one’s own sentence, the dreaded phone call or visit with the doctor to learn that one has cancer for the first time, or it has returned. As we walk with Jesus along His way of the cross, we journey with Him in His suffering.
Let us pray especially for those who will learn of their diagnosis today or in the days ahead. Please dear Lord, be with them and their families at this difficult time.
2. Jesus accepts his cross
As Jesus agonized in Gethsemane before he was arrested, He asked the Father to let this cup pass if it be His will. Jesus knew what was to come. Betrayed, arrested, and condemned, he willingly takes up the cross for the sake of our salvation.
At this station, we recall how our loved one accepted their cross. Questions and anxiety flooded their soul, but faith, trust, and hope in God accompanied them along the way of their own cross.
Let us pray for those fighting cancer today. Please dear Lord, give them the grace to continue fighting and to never give up.
3. Jesus falls for the first time
Before beginning the Way of the Cross, Jesus was tortured and beaten. As he accepts His cross and begins to climb Calvary’s Hill, he weakens, and falls under the weight of the cross.
At this station, we recall how our loved one experienced weakness themselves from chemo or radiation and how our souls were filled with sorrow watching them in those moments of struggle. Yet we are reminded how they continued day after day and the many memories we have.
Let us pray for those who are weakened now by their treatment. Please dear Lord, give them the strength to pick themselves up and fight forward for their family and friends.
4. Jesus meets his mother, Mary
Mary was the first disciple and follower of Jesus when she said yes to God’s plan for her life and role in salvation history. Throughout His life, she always was nearby. Now, on Calvary’s Hill, Mary follows her son, with each step it is as if her heart is pierced by a sword. She is pained by her son’s passion.
At this station, we recall the family relationships of our loved one. Parents, siblings, and other relatives standing close by, offering words of encouragement. Families gathered in prayer, pleading for a miracle and the intercession of the saints.
Let us ask Our Lady’s prayers for those fighting cancer right now. We invoke her many titles, Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick, and Comforter of the Afflicted. Dear Mother Mary, please pray for and obtain healing graces from your Son for all who have cancer.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross
Jesus staggers step after step. He is slowing down. The guards call forward a bystander and force him to help Jesus in these difficult moments.
At this station we recall all the people who helped our loved one during their fight. The people who brought meals, those who sent cards, others who visited and brought a smile to their face. They were Simon to the person we loved.
Let us thank the Lord for all the caring and compassionate people from the community who assisted our loved one with their kindness.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Sweat and blood gush forth from the sacred wounds of Jesus from the crown of thorns on His head. A woman from the crowd, Veronica, desires to bring comfort and relief to Jesus by wiping his face clean.
At this station we recall the moments in which we were Veronica. Soaking a sponge with water and washing our loved one’s face, wetting their tongue with water. Those small acts brought comfort to the one you loved.
Let us pray for all caregivers: spouses and family members, hospice workers, nurses, and doctors. May they always strive to be the healing hands of Jesus to those they serve.
7. Jesus falls for the second time
The help Jesus received from Simon and Veronica brought temporary relief to Jesus as he ascended Calvary’s Hill. With step after step, Jesus falls a second time, taking a momentary pause under the weight of the wood, in order to muster up strength to carry the cross once again.
At this station we recall the times when our loved one fell under the weight of chemo, giving rise to sickness or other complications. With their eyes set on family and friends, such setbacks were only momentary, and their resolve strengthened to press onward.
Let us pray for those overcome by side effects of their treatment, that they will not give up but find the strength to continue their fight.
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
A group of women gather on the side of the road who are weeping and crying out for Jesus. Jesus hears their cries and addresses them: “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
At this station we recall our own weeping and laments, shared with our loved one. Maybe we recall their words to us, telling us not to weep, but to hold on to our hope. Or maybe in their last weeks they helped to prepare us, telling us that they were at peace.
Let us pray for those who do not have faith in Christ, for without faith they do not know the hope it is to live with God forever or the peace God offers us. Dear Lord, console those who are inconsolable.
9. Jesus falls for the third time
As Jesus’ journey nears its end, before reaching the top of Calvary’s Hill, He falls a third time. He knows the will of God is about to be accomplished. His mission gives him the fleeting strength to complete the way of the cross.
At this station we recall the discouragement that our loved one experienced. Doctor visits after doctor visits. Hospitalization after hospitalization. Under the cross of discouragement, they may have fallen, but like Jesus they persevered until the end.
Let us pray for those who are currently hospitalized in oncology units or at the hospital. Surrounded by their family and friends, give them the strength to keep on fighting.
10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes
The Roman soldiers stripped Jesus of his garments and later casted lots for them. By being stripped of his clothes, Jesus lets go of the things of this earth.
At this station we recall the letting go our loved ones experienced. Letting go of their family and friendships; letting go of their hopes and dreams for the future; letting go of anger and resentment.
Let us pray for those who are beginning to come to terms with the future and accepting the reality of death. Dear Lord, prepare their hearts and souls now so they may have peace going forward from this world.
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
Having come to the end of the Way of the Cross, the climax of the passion approaches as Jesus is nailed to the cross. The final hours of life have arrived. Nailed to the cross, these wounds become the sign of resurrected life when Jesus appears to the apostles.
At this station we recall the wounds, agony, and pain our loved one underwent during their fight with cancer. Looking to the crucified Christ, we see redemption. Jesus redeems suffering. Those who are sick are able to unite their sufferings to Christ.
Let us pray for those beginning the active process of dying. As they rest on their bed of pain, dear Lord, draw near to them and their family members who are close by.
12. Jesus dies on the cross
For three agonizing hours, Jesus hangs on the cross, mocked and jeered. His Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John stand at the foot of the cross. Jesus speaks his final words and hands His Spirit over to the Father.
At this station we recall the last hours of our loved one’s life: our final words and all who stood by them in that last hour. As they drew their final breath, their suffering and pain has ended, but our grieving only begins.
Let us pray for those, who at this hour, keep watch at the bedside of their loved one in the last moments of their life.
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
Having died on the Cross, it was necessary for Jesus’ body to be taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of his loving mother. She holds Him for those final moments sorrowfully yet expressing her love.
At this station we recall our last moments with our loved one before leaving their room and seeing them again at the funeral home. We are grateful for their life and the memories we have, expressed by our final words of love and embraces of affection.
Let us pray for those who are in the first days of their grief. As they process all they have experienced, let them never forget all the good memories they have. Dear Lord, we thank you for the years you blessed us with our loved one.
14. Jesus is placed in the tomb
After Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea approached the Roman officials and asked if He could bury the body of Jesus. Little did Joseph of Arimathea know that such a simple action would become the sign and promise of eternal life for centuries to come.
At this station we recall the day of Christian burial our loved one experienced. Gathering and praying during the funeral liturgy and then continuing to the place of burial. Each time we visit the grave, we are reminded of the hope and promise of the grave, that death does not win, the final victory is with Jesus who conquered the grave. We hold on to the hope of seeing our loved one once again.
Let us pray for those who will bury their loved one today. Please dear Lord, turn their tears into joy.