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Understanding The Stations of the Cross in a new way

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Geralyn Nathe-Evens is a columnist for Catholic United Financial
Believe In Love

Blog by Geralyn Nathe-Evens

Catholic United Financial member Geralyn Nathe-Evans is a licensed nurse with a master’s degree in pastoral ministry. Through her education, career practice and suffering the death of her own husband in 2014, Nathe-Evans is a compassionate, optimistic voice finding the glory and comfort of God in our most trying moments. She can be contacted at believenlove@yahoo.com.

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I was a young wife and new mom the first time I was asked to lead the Stations of the Cross in my parish. I recall that first year and remember how the suffering and sacrifice we pray in the Stations of the Cross seemed new to me. The idea of the pain of experiencing suffering, (in comparatively small ways) was new. For the first time, I experienced the insight of a mom witnessing her child in pain. The stations now included a new depth, that of Mary.

As our sons grew, I remember the evolution of their pains and my emotional and sometimes physical reactions to their suffering. It tore at my heart. I identified with Mary, in a lesser manner, but nonetheless. I recall that protective nature of not wanting to see my child hurt. As our sons grew, so did my empathy for what they endured in a world that was less than kind, less than caring, less than supportive for a teenager.

I have moved from the home I loved, the home we literally built ourselves and raised our family in. Our lake home was our dream home, my sanctuary. It was where we gathered, where we kept it real. It was filled with joy and memories.

Several years ago, my husband was diagnosed with cancer for the first time. He was blessed with a miraculous cure, and then a recurrence. He then died suddenly and without warning. Later, I survived a sudden cardiac arrest.

I needed to leave the home I loved in response to where I am on my life’s journey. I have in some small and yet significant ways experienced the Stations of the Cross in my life. I believe the experiences of my life are interwoven with those of the Stations.

As I pray the Stations of the Cross, I am mindful of the experience of Christ’s suffering, his mother’s suffering, his community’s sufferings in a new way. As I pray these stations, I am called to recognize the suffering of others as well as the sufferings of our world. I am especially mindful of those in their last days, weeks and months here on earth.

I have come to pray the Stations of the Cross in a new way. I have come to recognize the different view I have for these prayers given my present life experience. With each Station of the Cross, I invite you to reflect, to pray as well as take action, to walk with others in these days of Lent and beyond.

Click on the gray boxes to read each Station.

The 1st StationJesus is condemned to die

What did it feel like to Jesus to be sentenced to death?

How does one navigate life with such reality of death before them?

My husband, during his illness embraced each day with the words, “Life is Still Good, today is a good day”. He proclaimed these words out loud. He was humbled by what seemed to be his condemnation. He lived each day with gratitude for all that was and placed his hope in all that was to be.

How might we support another in a health crisis?  What words of support might we extend to them?  How might we be Christ to all whose lives we intersect with each day?

Let us pray, especially for all who have received a diagnosis of challenging health.  Let us ask the Lord to show them signs of great care and peace in this time of turmoil. 

We can offer to reach out with a call a card or care in some way to one person today.

The 2nd StationJesus takes up his cross

Jesus asks His Father to let this cup pass, if it be His will. 

Jesus must have known what was to come in his future. Jesus was betrayed, arrested and condemned to die.

We may at this station, recall others who have accepted a terminal health diagnosis or prognosis. Fear and anxiety may be a part of the experience. We strive to have faith and hope in a God we trust. We may pray and grasp onto hope, knowing God will accompany us on our way.

Let us pray for those facing health challenges this day. Perhaps we can each reach out to one person or family member carrying this cross. 

We can offer our care, prayers and perhaps an action of support.

The 3rd StationJesus falls for the first time

Jesus, after his initial beating and persecution, carried his cross and fell. 

We are called to be mindful of the suffering of those with medical challenges and extend empathy. We may experience sorrow to hear of suffering. It may be difficult to witness the suffering of those we care about and love. We are called to love and stay close, even when we may not want to be present in such suffering.

Let us pray for those who are suffering, for those who may feel like they have fallen. Let us pray that they may have the strength to get back up and continue in life.

We can offer our words of encouragement to others. A note of support, a favorite quote of motivation may make a significant difference for a person’s well-being.

The 4th StationJesus meets his mother

Mary’s life was filled with many times of saying yes to the plan God had for her life. 

If you are a parent, you know the pain you may experienced watching your child hurt. Mary was always near Jesus throughout his life, imagine her pain. There are families we may know who are bearing the pain of their loved one’s illness or death.

Let us pray for all those who walk with a person suffering and facing health illness. Let us call upon Mary to intercede, to join with us, and to comfort our loved one and ourselves.

We can offer to listen to another to their pain and suffering in this journey. To listen without hesitation, without reservation, without judgment.  We, like Mary, may be the person to provide loving care to another person.

The 5th StationSimon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross

Jesus is tiring, he is worn and physically suffering. The guards grab a man from the crowd that had gathered to see Jesus. Unexpected and without request, he is grabbed by the guards to help Jesus – his name is Simon of Cyrene.

We recognize all who may be grabbed from their lives to help another carry a cross. The family, the friends, the community members who abruptly find themselves in a position to help may be suffering as well in life. 

Let us pray for all those who take up the cross of another. For those who offer the support of calls, cards, visits, gifts of support. We give thanks to God and the people who help carry the cross of another in life.

We can offer to lighten the cross of another person. Perhaps cooking a meal, a tank of gas, housecleaning or another errand for others we can support. We are called to be people of compassion and support for all.

The 6th StationVeronica wipes the face of Jesus

Jesus is physically worn and suffering from the wounds of the crown of thorns. The blood flows from his wounds in the heat of the day, the dirt and stones upon which he walks dig and gouge into his bleeding feet. Veronica steps forth to provide a bit of comfort to Jesus in the only way she knows. She wipes the face of Jesus, wetting his tongue perhaps with some moisture. 

We recall the moments we may have reached out to care for another. We may be reminded of those times in which, we have yearned for some comfort from another. 

Let us pray for those who companion those suffering, physically and emotionally. For all who companion another and provide comfort, we pray for their strength to care for another person.

We can offer with our words and deeds of support. We can be Christ to another person who is suffering either directly or indirectly.

The 7th StationJesus falls the second time

As the journey becomes heavy and long, Jesus feels the struggle. He may take pause to regain some energy, but the weight of the cross becomes overwhelming.

How do we recognize the weight of others in long term sickness and illness? How do we see the weight of depression, of grief, of loneliness in others? How might we be more aware of those around us that have fallen?

Let us pray for those who experience falls, repeatedly falling. We ask that they may be filled with hope, with strength for the journey.

We can offer words of encouragement and support. We can offer a listening ear and we can offer a non- judgmental heart. We can offer sacred silence. The gift of presence, of sitting together with another in care, can be of great support.

The 8th StationJesus meets the women of Jerusalem

The women gather at the roadside. The women cry and weep for Jesus. Jesus hears and replies, “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

We are mindful of the times we may be told not to weep, but to be filled with strength and hope. We may have cared for others as they feel the compassionate pain of another’s burden and struggles.

Let us pray for those who do not have faith in Christ. Let us pray for those who may be losing the faith they had in their life.

We can offer to pray for others, to listen, to share ocur witness of faith. We can offer by our actions and deeds to give witness to Christ in our world. We can be support, to provide a safe space for tears and fears to be shared. 

The 9th StationJesus falls the third time

Jesus is about to complete his walk to the top of Calvary’s hill. Jesus falls yet again, the third time.  Jesus knows God’s Will is soon to be. Jesus uses all his strength to complete the way of the cross.

We recognize the discouragement and exhaustion in friends and family in health crisis. They too may fall with discouragement and the weight of the cross they carry.

Let us pray for those currently who may be falling, who may be discouraged. We pray for those who care for and journey with them, when they fall.

We can offer a word of care, a word of support, a word of recognition for all they have endured as well as all that they continue to experience.

The 10th StationJesus is stripped of his garments

Jesus was stripped of his garments. Jesus was literally stripped of all his earthly possessions.

Letting go of this world may be frightening and hold anxiety. Letting go of hopes and dreams for the future can be filled with so many various emotions.

Let us pray for those with new diagnosis in their health and for those approaching their final hours and days, for all who care and love them in endless ways.

We can offer to listen as St. Benedict teaches us, “With the ears of our heart.” We can offer to be present for others, to love without ceasing.

The 11th StationJesus is nailed to the cross

The final moments have arrived. The wounds Jesus has endured are physical as well as emotional and spiritual. These wounds will become the signs of life totally given for us all. 

Let us pray for all who are near their the end of their life here on earth, for their families and friends.  We pray for all who care for the sick and dying. We pray for those whose lives on earth are nearing the end.

We can offer our care. We pray, we listen, we love without end.

The 12th StationJesus dies the cross

Jesus has hung on the cross for three hours of incredible pain and suffering. Mary, his mother, Mary Magdalene and John hold vigil. Jesus speaks his final words and dies. 

We may find this station invokes our loved one’s final days and hours, we may find ourselves reliving those moments as our beloved take their final breath and die. We see their life end and our pain of loss may intensify. It is final.

Let us pray for all who have died. Let us prayer for their families and friends. We pray for all who care for the bereaved.

We can offer to help carry the load in these days of deep pain and sadness. We begin a new journey of caring for the bereaved.

The 13th StationJesus is taken down from the cross

Jesus’ body was taken from the cross and placed in the arms of his loving mother. Mary holds Jesus close. She is filled with sorrow. 

We too, may find ourselves filled with sorrow. Those final moments with our loved ones as they pass from our arms to the arms of Jesus are so precious.

Let us pray for all who are embracing the reality of a death. We pray for all who are experiencing the loss of a beloved by their death. We pray for those who are grieving and those who have died.

We can offer to listen, to share memories, to hold space for another as we support them in their experience of grief.

The 14th StationJesus is placed in the tomb

Joseph was given permission to bury the body of Jesus. 

We are reminded at this station of the ritual of burying our dead. This station teaches of the value of the rite of wakes and funeral in our present church. We prepare to remember as a community, to celebrate a life, we mourn, and we believe in life everlasting. We hope and trust in our reunion one day in our heavenly home.

 Let us pray for all who are in the process of burying their loved ones. We pray for consolation, for hope and for peace.

We can offer to visit the grave of those we love, to walk with others to the grave of their beloved, to support each other.

Read more of Geralyn’s posts and about her background on Believe In Love blog.

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