Good Friday: Stations Of The Cross

By Fr Barry Cairns

Fr Barry Cairns, from New Zealand, was ordained in 1955 first went to Japan in 1956 and is still there. He has contributed many articles over the years to Columban magazines.

The Stations of the Cross are a traditional Lenten prayer. The Presbyterian scripture scholar, Rev. William Barclay, helped me with the Stations. On TV he said, ‘We Protestants tend to pass over the Roman Catholic usage of Veronica and the three falls on the way to Calvary, because they are not in the Bible. But these scenes come from an ancient tradition, so let us treat them as we treat Bible scenes; namely, we ask ourselves: ‘What message does this scene have for me today?'

I see Veronica as a sensitive woman. She saw the tired eyes and blood-streaked face of Jesus. Veronica felt a deep compassion. But could she do something? She must have had a trembling heart. She would have felt safe among the crowd, but put aside her reticence and came out to gently wipe Jesus' face. In Japan we have the proverb: ‘The nail that stands out gets hammered.' 
Here we tend to stay in the crowd and do not want to stand out from others. But I feel this proverb applies to other cultures too. Veronica is a brave woman. I admire her bravery. Sometimes I feel a person is hurting or I see actual suffering but I tremble to stand out from others. I see Veronica as a true image of a Christian. She both challenges me and gives me courage. To me Veronica is a concrete example of Jesus' words: ‘Anything you did for one of my brothers here, however insignificant, you did for me’ (Matt 25:40).

The ninth station attracts me. ‘Jesus falls the third time.' How would the " human Jesus feel? Like me, I guess. At times of physical pain or at times of pain of the heart I feel like saying: ‘I've had enough! I can't go on. I'll just lie down, pull the blankets over my head, go to sleep and escape.' But Jesus getting up and going on gives me hope, strength and encouragement. His words, ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you’ (Gen 26:24) take on a deeper meaning. We get up together.

I am also attracted to the 11th station: ‘Jesus is nailed to the cross.' The executioners were driving nails through Jesus' hands and feet, and the elders were hurling insults at Him. Jesus says: ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing!' (Lk 23:34). I get hurt by others. Mine are wounds that cannot be seen, but to me they are real. They hurt! In His preaching Jesus tells me to forgive others, but in this Station He is preaching by example. 

How can I possibly forgive others? Well first I have to tell myself it is impossible - by my own effort and will power. 
Heart wounds can be so deep, like a hidden cancer. 

So I need to face myself and ask: ‘Do I really want to forgive him/her?' It's then I ask Jesus to please give me a forgiving heart like His. He becomes strength in my weakness. 

Finally, all these sufferings of Jesus, and my own, are given a very special meaning by what some churches have as Station 15 - the Resurrection. This is what gives suffering its meaning and worth. 

These Stations were designed and made by prominent Australian sculptor, Hans Knorr (1915-1987).They were originally in St Columban’s College, Hayes Park, North Turramurra, NSW. Hans Knorr was born in Germany and arrived in Australia in 1940.

Links To Stations Of The Cross

The traditional 14 Stations of the Cross
1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
4. Jesus is denied by Peter,
5. Jesus is judged by Pilate,
6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
7. Jesus takes up his cross,
8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross,
9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
10. Jesus is crucified,
11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the good thief,
12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
13. Jesus dies on the cross,
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Holy Trinity Church, Gainesville, Virginia, USA.

Creighton University. .

This has a link to Audio Stations of the Cross with Mary.

Stations designed for the internet, with drawings by students from Saint Patrick Catholic School, Onalaska,Wisconsin, USA.

St Jude Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA.

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Penang, Malaysia  from website of artist, Carolyn Gates.

There are alternative Stations.