In the Catholic church that I attended this afternoon for a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross (the episodes of the Passion story from Jesus’ death sentence to his burial), the priest and lector read these amazing reflections by Mother M. Angelica, P.C.P.A., which can be found on the website of the Christian network EWTN. I encourage my readers to seek out the full text; below, I quote some passages that were especially meaningful to me:
The Second Station: Jesus Carries His CrossThat is my prayer today for all whom I have offended and all who have offended me.
How could any human impose such a burden upon Your torn and bleeding body, Lord Jesus? Each movement of the cross drove the thorns deeper into Your Head. How did You keep the hatred from welling up in Your Heart? How did the injustice of it all not ruffle your peace? The Father’s Will was hard on You – Why do I complain when it is hard on me?
…My worldly concept is that suffering, like food, should be shared equally. How ridiculous I am, dear Lord. Just as we do not all need the same amount of material food, neither do we need the same amount of spiritual food and that is what the cross is in my life, isn’t it – spiritual food proportional to my needs.
The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time
My Jesus, it seems to me, that as God, You would have carried Your cross without faltering, but You did not. You fell beneath its weight to show me You understand when I fall. Is it pride that makes me want to shine even in pain? You were not ashamed to fall- to admit the cross was heavy. There are those in world whom my pride will not tolerate as I expect everyone to be strong, yet I am weak. I am ashamed to admit failure in anything.
If the Father permits failure in my life just as He permitted You to fall, then I must know there is good in that failure which my mind will never comprehend. I must not concentrate on the eyes of others as they rest upon me in my falls. Rather, I must reach up to touch that invisible hand and drink in that invisible strength ever at my side….
The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
It is hard to imagine a God being nailed to a cross by His own creatures. It is even more difficult for my mind to understand a love that permitted such a thing to happen!…
It seems, dear Jesus, Your love has held You bound hand and foot as Your heart pleads for a return of love. You seem to shout from the top of the hill “I love you – come to me – see, I am held fast – I cannot hurt you – only you can hurt Me.” How very hard is the heart that can see such love and turn away. Is it not true I too have turned away when I did not accept the Father’s Will with love? Teach me to keep my arms ever open to love, to forgive and to render service – willing to be hurt rather than hurt, satisfied to love and not be loved in return.
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
God is dead! No wonder the earth quaked, the sun hid itself, the dead rose and Mary stood by in horror. Your human body gave up it’s soul in death but Your Divinity, dear Jesus, continued to manifest its power. All creation rebelled as the Word made Flesh departed from this world. Man alone was too proud to see and too stubborn to acknowledge truth.
Redemption was accomplished! Man would never have an excuse to forget how much You loved him. The thief on Your right saw something he could not explain – he saw a man on a tree and knew He was God. His need made him see his own guilt and Your innocence. The Promise of eternal life made the remaining hours of his torture endurable.
A common thief responded to Your love with deep Faith, Hope, and Love. He saw more than his eyes envisioned – he felt a Presence he could not explain and would not argue with. He was in need and accepted the way God designed to help him.
Forgive our pride, dear Jesus as we spend hours speculating, days arguing and often a lifetime in rejecting Your death, which is a sublime mystery. Have pity on those whose intelligence leads them to pride because they never feel the need to reach out to the Man of Sorrows for consolation.