Walking Through Calvary, St. Ignatius Style Part 5

Eighth Station: Jesus falls for the third time.

Once again, we see Jesus fall down. The first time was agony, the second time was just heartbreaking, and now, it just seems hopeless. As we come towards the end of Lent, I feel like it all hits us at some point that the forty days of fasting, prayer, and abstinence are almost over. For me, that feeling finally sunk in on Palm Sunday.

What has Lent been to you so far? Was it a struggle? Was it a learning experience? A bit of both? Or something in between?

This particular reminds me that we will always need God with us through the good times and the bad times. No matter how many times we fall, God will always be there to help us get back up.

Ninth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Society’s double standards never cease to fascinate me. Female celebrities willingly pose in stripperific outfits for music videos and glamorous magazine photoshoots, but it’s a big scandal when nude pictures of them are leaked to the public. While I agree that Renaissance naked statues are wonderful pieces of art, there’s a very fine line between the beauty of the human body and humiliating or perverting it.

So when Jesus is stripped of his garments, it’s pretty much easy to say that displaying his tortured body for all the public to see is an act of humiliation. It also reminds us of the old saying “You can’t take it with you.” I often wonder if Jesus was completely naked or if he at least had a loin cloth to cover himself.

It really ticked me when I saw this video of a preacher claiming that Jesus wore “designer clothing.” I read somewhere that the garment Jesus wore was a long tunic made by his mother. Which meant that he probably wore that same garment throughout most of his adult life. So no, Mr. Preacher, Jesus did not wear designer clothing. He most likely wore that one tunic every day. That tunic that Mary made was probably the only thing that Jesus owned other than a pair of sandals. It really puts a damper to the whole prosperity Gospel mindset when you think about it.

Walking Through Calvary, St. Ignatius Style Part 4

Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time

Once again, our Lord has fallen. Even with someone helping him carry the cross, he still falls down. If you’re imagining yourself as part of the crowd for this moment, what do you see in your mind? Are you seeing Jesus fall up close or do you see him from a distance? If you’re imagining yourself in Jesus’s place, how heavy is the cross or how deep are the wounds from the whip? Whomever you imagine yourself as, feel the dry, dusty air around you, the metallic scent of blood in the air, the harshness of the ground. Hear the noises of jeers and tears from the crowd around you.

Now what comes to mind when you think of falling down for a second time? Do you think of a frustrating point of your life? An addiction you struggle with? Place those struggles onto the cross and remember that Jesus has fallen for a second time, which means, sometimes we fail in trying to get out of these problems. But once again, Jesus gets back up and He calls us to get up alongside him.

Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

This particular station is painful for me. It’s one of the stations that can be found in Scripture. From Luke 23:28-31

Jesus turning to them said, “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?”

The passage is painful to read because what Jesus prophesied came true. Modern society would rather be childless, young adults are drawn to stories of apocalypses (yes, there is a plural for apocalypse), and fully grown adults watch shows about anti-heroes and fantasy worlds where anyone can die, choosing to make fun of straight laced heroes, looking at knights in shining armor with a cynical eye. People try to justify living life without having a family. Teens and young adults try to find meaning in a wasteland of Top 40 music and addictive technology. We are on constant watch for some kind of end to the world instead of looking towards the future, building houses on the sands of vaguely positive sounding ideas. Whenever I meditate on this station, I pray for life to be valued at all stages. I pray for the unborn, I pray for an end to the death penalty, and I pray for all the lost souls of teenagers and young adults.

Walking Through Calvary, St. Ignatius Style, Part 3

Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross

According to Wikipedia, Cyrene is a Greek city in Libya, located in northern Africa. It’s more than likely that Simon of Cyrene was black or Greek. He could’ve been a Jew on pilgrimage or a Gentile travelling through. Whatever the case may be, Simon was put into a situation not of his own choosing, being asked to help carry the cross of a supposed criminal. We don’t know if Simon believed in Jesus or not, whether he was sympathetic or only carried the cross because the Romans ordered him to. But what matters is that he helped.

It’s kind of funny how often people come around during hard times. How often do we ask others to help us with our burdens? Some of us are reluctant to ask while others have no choice but to beg for help. This station is often prayed (at least in my parish) with the intention of an increase of vocations to priesthood and religious life. We can all place ourselves in Simon because whether we don’t really know Jesus or are sympathetic to His plight, we are asked to help him carry His cross.

Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Whenever I participated in a Passion Play (I have about 3 under my belt so far), I always got cast as Veronica. She’s a hard saint to research about because there is little, if any, historical evidence of her. She is often associated with the bleeding woman, the woman that Jesus healed on his way to Jairus’s daughter. If that is true, I think the fact that Veronica chose to wipe the bleeding face of Jesus after he healed her from twelve years of bleeding is nothing short of poetic.

It always interested me that during the stations of the cross, Veronica arrives to help just after Simon of Cyrene came to help carry the cross and before Jesus falls for the second time. On his way to the cross, two people come to Jesus’s aid. One was called to help while the other willingly volunteered. One carried the cross with Jesus while the other only helped for a fleeting moment. I know you’re probably asking “What use is Veronica when Jesus is bleeding all over and is going to inevitably die?” Well,Veronica made the choice to help because it was the right thing to do. It might come off as a bit existentialist, that Veronica chose to do something good in what seems to be a bleak situation just because she felt it was a good thing to do, and I don’t mind if you think towards that mindset. The point is that every little bit helps, even in “unwinnable” situations.

Walking Through Calvary, St. Ignatius Style Part 2

Third Station: Jesus Falls for The First Time

It’s hard to imagine that almost as soon as Jesus carries the cross, he falls down straight out of the gate. Then again, it’s a miracle that he didn’t die during the scourging. It brings Jesus’s human nature to mind.

I think that people tend towards two extremes when it comes to Jesus. One extreme is just to see Jesus as just a human person (our current heresy) while the other extreme was that Jesus was never human, that he was some kind of demi-god(Gnosticism, Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophystism, etc.). In reality, Jesus was fully God and fully man. This particular station reminds us that Jesus was fully human because like every other human being, he can fall down when the weight of a burden is too heavy.

But Jesus got back up. And in turn, so do we.

It took me a while to think of a song associated with this particular station. But this song reminds me that God never abandons us, even when we fall down:

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets his Mother

There is no greater pain for a parent than to see their child suffer. I am not even going to try and place myself in Mary’s place in this scene. But I know a lot of parents can probably imagine this. Even though Mary was born without sin, she was still as human as the rest of us. All that she knew leading up to this point was that a sword would pierce her heart. It’s really hard for me to imagine the pain she went through. But again, I know a few people who probably know this pain all too well.

Whenever I go to the Stations of the Cross, each station ends with lyrics from an old song called Stabat Mater, which is a hymn about the sorrows of Mary. The lyrics were modified for each station (or were from a different English translation).