The Way of the Cross

A Brief History

The Stations of the Cross have formed part of Christian devotion at Passiontide for many centuries because they enable us to engage actively with the path of suffering walked by Jesus. They originated when early Christians visited Jerusalem and wanted to follow literally in the footsteps of Jesus, tracing the path from Pilate’s house to Calvary. The pilgrims would pause for prayer and devotion at various points. Eventually they brought the practice back to their home countries, and ever since then Christians of differing traditions have used this form of devotion.

The Way of the Cross

Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’
Matthew 16, 24,25

‘ Once we were far off, but now in union with Christ Jesus we have been brought near
through the shedding of Christ’s blood, for he is our peace.’
Ephesians 2, 13,14

[ A brief moment of silence follows. ]

Prayer:
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

First Station: Jesus in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane 

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All ] because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ] :  A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’
Mark 14, 32-36

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you entered the garden of fear and faced the agony of your impending death:
be with those who share that agony and face death unwillingly this day.
You shared our fear and knew the weakness of our humanity: give strength and hope to the dispirited and despairing.
To you, Jesus, who sweated blood, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

 Second Station: Jesus betrayed by Judas and arrested.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him.
Mark 14, 43-46

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you were betrayed by the kiss of a friend:
be with those who are betrayed and slandered and falsely accused.
You knew the experience of having your love thrown back in your face for mere silver:
be with families which are torn apart by mistrust or temptation.
To you, Jesus, who offered your face to your betrayer, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Third Station: Jesus condemned by the Sanhedrin

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ] :  A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands”.’ But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power”, and “coming with the clouds of heaven”.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death.
Mark 14, 55-64

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you were the victim of religious bigotry: be with those who are persecuted by small-minded authority.
You faced the condemnation of fearful hearts: deepen the understanding of those who shut themselves off from the experience and wisdom of others.
To you, Jesus, unjustly judged victim, be honour and glory with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Fourth Station: Peter denies Jesus.

Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the High Priest came by.  When she saw Peter warming himself at the fire, she looked closely at him.
” You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.  But he denied it.
” I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entrance, and the cock crowed. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.”  Again he denied it.  After a little while those standing near said to Peter,” Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”  Peter began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, ” I don’t know the man you’re talking about.”  At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’  And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14, 66 -72

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as Peter betrayed you, you experienced the double agony
of love rejected and friendship denied: be with those who know no friends
and are rejected by society. You understood the fear within Peter:
help us to understand the anxieties of those who fear for their future.
To you, Jesus, who gazed with sadness at your lost friend, be honour and glory
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Fifth Station: Jesus judged by Pilate.

 [ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
” Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to them. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.  ” What shall I do, then, with the one you call the King of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.  ” Crucify him!” they shouted.
Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more,
” Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Mark 15, 9 – 15

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you were condemned to death for political expediency:
be with those who are imprisoned for the convenience of the powerful.
You were the victim of unbridled injustice: change the minds and motivations of oppressors and exploiters to your way of peace. To you, Jesus, innocent though condemned, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

Sixth Station: Jesus scourged and crowned with thorns.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ” Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.
Mark 15, 17-19

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you faced the torment of barbaric punishment and mocking tongue:
be with those who cry out in physical agony and emotional distress.
You endured unbearable abuse:be with those who face torture and mockery
in our world today. To you, Jesus, the King crowned with thorns,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Seventh Station: Jesus carries the cross.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Mark 15, 20

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you carried the cross through the rough streets of Jerusalem:
be with those who are loaded with burdens beyond their strength.
You bore the weight of our sins when you carried the cross:
help us to realise the extent and the cost of your love for us.
To you, Jesus, bearing a cross not your own, be honour and glory
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Eighth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ Allbecause by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
Mark 15, 21

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you were worn down by fatigue: be with those from whom
life drains all energy.  You needed the help of a passing stranger:
give us the humility to receive aid from others. To you, Jesus,
weighed down with exhaustion and in need of help,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

Ninth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 [ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Luke.
A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” 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?’
Luke 23, 27-31

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the women of Jerusalem wept for you: move us to tears
at the plight of the broken in our world.  You embraced the pain of
Jerusalem, the ‘city of peace’: bless Jerusalem this day and lead it
to the path of profound peace. To you, Jesus, the King of peace
who wept for the city of peace, be honour and glory with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Tenth Station: Jesus is crucified.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
Mark 15, 24

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you bled in pain as the nails were driven into your flesh:
transform through the mystery of your love the pain of those who suffer.
To you, Jesus, our crucified Lord, be honour and glory with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Eleventh Station: Jesus promises the kingdom to the penitent thief.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Luke.
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Luke 23, 39-43

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, even in your deepest agony you listened to the crucified thief:
hear us as we unburden to you our deepest fears.  You spoke words of love
in your hour of death: help us to speak words of life to a dying world.
To you, Jesus, who offer hope to the hopeless, be honour and glory
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Twelfth Station: Jesus on the cross; his mother and his friend.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to John.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
John 19, 26,27

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, your mother and your dearest friend stayed with you to the bitter end,
yet even while racked with pain you ministered to them: be with all broken families today
and care for those who long for companionship.  You cared for your loved ones even in your death-throes: give us a love for one another that is stronger even than the fear of death.  To you, Jesus, loving in the face of death, be honour and glory with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus dies on the cross.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which means, ” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ” Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’”
And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ” Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down .”
Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Mark 15, 34-37

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you died on the cross and entered the bleakest
of all circumstances: give courage to those who die at the hands
of others.  In death you entered into the darkest place of all:
illumine our darkness with your glorious presence.
To you, Jesus, your lifeless body hanging on the tree of shame,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Amen.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus laid in the tomb.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
Mark 15, 46

[ Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Lord of life, you became as nothing for us: be with those
who feel worthless and as nothing in the world’s eyes.
You were laid in a cold, dark tomb and hidden from sight:
be with all who suffer and die in secret, hidden from
the eyes of the world.  To you, Jesus, your rigid body imprisoned i
n a tomb, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

Fifteenth Station: Jesus risen from the dead.

[ Leader ] We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
[ All
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

[ Reading ]: A reading from the Gospel according to Mark.
When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them;
and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark 16, 4-8

[ Reflection / Meditation ]

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you were dead but now you are alive: transform
the torments of this world’s sin that we may see your radiant glory.
You were raised from death to life: may the power of your resurrection
live in us, that we may be channels of your true life beyond measure.
To you, Jesus, who have broken free from the bonds of death,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

The Conclusion

We pray for the coming of God’s kingdom in the words our Saviour taught us: 

[ The Lord’s Prayer is said. ]  Our Father…

Prayer:
Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of
your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

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