By Lenora Grimaud


Jesus Is Condemned To Death

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh, Lord, you knew what was coming long before you went before Pilot to receive judgment and sentence; long before you went before the Sanhedrin. You knew at the "breaking of the bread" that you were about to be betrayed by one of your own disciples. Each of us must ask that question, "is it I, Lord?" For each of us, the answer would be "yes." How often we betray not only our enemies, but our friends - those we claim to love - without counting the cost, without seeing the consequences. Why did Judas betray you, Lord? Was it greed? Was it a desire to control or manipulate you into doing his will? Was he trying to force you into manifesting your power as you did when you escaped from the midst of crowds? Was he jealous of you, and want to take away your power and influence on others, not realizing that it would result in your death?

How often we betray you, Lord...each time we betray another; when we betray a confidence; when we rashly judge others; when we rejoice in others' downfalls; when we reveal or disclose someone's faults to another; when we are jealous or envious of others and want to see them suffer some form of loss; when we insult or put others down; when we put others to the test, insisting that they prove their worth; when we "look for the splinter in our neighbor's eye while having a plank in our own;" when we are angry at others and verbally attack them because they disagree with us or have different perceptions and points of view.

When you went before the Sanhedrin, Lord, they were jealous of you because of your gifts and power over the people. Even Pilot recognized their jealousy. Yet, they were self-righteous, refusing to acknowledge their jealousy, and, instead, put the blame on you. They were so blind that they convinced themselves and others that you were a heretic and a criminal, when you were innocent and only did good. You mirrored, to them, the truth about themselves, and they did not want to see it. How often we do this, Lord. We attack the Pope, the Bishops, Priests, and other Religious, when they say what we don't want to hear; but mostly, because others love them, and that makes us feel guilty. We seek to destroy their authority, power, and influence. We seek to silence them. We do not pray for them when we think they are in error; we are not moved to compassion with a Shepherd's heart for them. No, we are angry and indignant, and we either wash our hands of them in apathy, or we set out to destroy them. We do the same with parents, children, relatives, friends, competitors, those of other races or religions, those of other religious orders; with everyone who does not accept us, follow us, exalt us, or listen to us; with everyone who opposes us. We put others to the test in order to bring them down and to justify ourselves.

We were all there, Lord. We all denied you. We all betrayed you. We all judged you and condemned you. For, as we have done to the least of your brothers, we have done unto you. You knew what it was to suffer, Lord. You suffered being misunderstood by your relatives and friends. You suffered their rejection of your gifts and of your love. "A prophet is not accepted in his own town."

What were you thinking, Jesus, as you stood before Pilot? Were you thinking of what you saw in that last supper, "the breaking of the bread"...seeing yourself as being broken for the sake of others? Were you remembering that you would be betrayed in some way, first, by Judas, then by the rest of your disciples? Were you crying inside, “Mercy, Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing?" Were you remembering the anguish in the Garden as you prayed, "Thy Will be done, Father, not mine?" Were you remembering your anguish as you prayed for your disciples? You knew how weak and vulnerable they were. They couldn't even stay awake one hour to pray with you, when you needed them most. You knew their fears and doubts. You knew they would be tested, sifted like wheat, and that they would deny you. Were you crying inside, "Mercy, Father, forgive them, they are weak and helpless?" Were you remembering your anguish as you stood before the Sanhedrin, your brothers in the faith, the children of Israel; the keepers of the Law? You saw their prisons of greed, jealousy, envy, anger, and strife. You saw their lack of faith, hope, and love. Were you crying inside, "Mercy, Father, forgive them, too, for they know not what they do?"

What were you thinking as you looked into the face of Pilot, Lord? Did you think of all those who desire to please man, rather then God; those who deny the truth rather than lose the admiration and respect of those with worldly power? Were you crying inside, "Mercy, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?"

The people were given a choice for life. They chose Barabbas, a notorious criminal, over you, Lord, crying out, "we want Barabbas!" For you, they cried out, "Crucify him!" What were you thinking, Lord? Were you crying inside, "Mercy, Father, have mercy on them?" Was your heart crying, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused!" (Mat.23:37). Were you crying inside, "If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes!" (Luke 19:42). Were you crying inside, "Mercy, Father, mercy; forgive them for they know not what they do?"

Oh, Lord, we call evil good and good evil; we judge and condemn the innocent and honor and exalt the guilty. We refuse to take responsibility for our own sins, and shift the blame onto others. We abdicate our authority when it suits our purpose; when it involves risk to ourselves. Lord, have mercy on us, for we know not what we are doing. We are blind, Lord. Heal our blindness, Lord, and let us see. Give us the grace to recognize you, and to see you in our brothers, especially in your disciples...the Pope, your Priests and Bishops, all Religious, all who consecrate their lives to you. Help us to say from our heart: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Is Made To Carry His Cross

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh Jesus, Pilot knew you were innocent. He knew that you didn't deserve to be punished at all, let alone to die, to be crucified, to suffer the punishment of a notorious criminal and murderer like Barabbas. He was afraid of the mob, afraid of losing face with Caesar. He couldn't take a stand for the truth, for what he knew was right. So, he tried to manipulate them into doing what he wanted. He sentenced you to be scourged and mocked in order to placate the mob. But, it wasn't enough for them. They wanted more. They wanted your life. You suffered, Lord, what would be an injustice even for a notorious criminal. You received two sentences, two judgments...mocking and scourging for the sake of the pagan world, at the hands of Pilot, and crucifixion for the sake of Israel, at the hands of the Chief Priests. It seems, Lord, that when a believer (heir of the promise) chooses to do what is evil, the consequences are so much more destructive to him and others, then when a pagan or non-believer chooses to do evil. It can be compared with the difference between the scourging and the crucifixion. So it is, in the world today. Those who spit upon you and mocked you were Jew and Roman, alike. But, we were all there, Lord. We are all guilty. We all mocked and ridiculed you. We all listened to the lies and slander of your enemies. We all used you as a scapegoat, projecting our own faults onto you and our own self-hatred. We all wanted to be numbered as part of the crowd, the majority, the "in" group. We all vented our anger and prejudice onto you, crying out "crucify him." Our jealousy and self-righteousness caused us to deny your personhood and to project onto you the world's stereotypes. For as we have done this to the least of your brothers, we have done it to you.

We are all guilty, Lord, whenever we listen to, believe, or pass on what we hear in the news and from others that defame the Pope, the Church, Priests and Religious. You warned your disciples: "A servant is not greater then his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well." (John 15:20).

We are guilty whenever we distort the truth and pass on to others our false impressions and perceptions of what we see and hear. We are guilty when we follow the crowd even when they are unjust, because we don't want to be left out of the majority. We are guilty when we are passive and look the other way, pretending not to see injustice because we don't want to get involved; we don't want to lose face with the majority. We are guilty when we project our sins, anger, and faults onto others, because we don't take time to examine ourselves, repent, and seek your mercy and healing.

How many families and friendships are destroyed by these same sins; how many religious communities? How often those of one religious denomination will rejoice in the downfall of another, especially the downfall of the religious leaders? How often those of one religious order will delight in the downfall and failures of another religious order, especially their leaders?

Lord, have mercy on us. Help us to guard and protect the good name and reputation of others as we do our own. Help us to recognize you in all of our brothers and sisters. Help us to have compassion for those who are being persecuted. Send your Holy Spirit to help us to know ourselves, to repent, and to amend our lives. Help us to do penance and to repair the damage we have done to the personhood of others. Help us to close our ears to gossip and slander.

Even so, Lord, your love is so much greater than all our sins. You held no malice or bitterness against those who mocked and ridiculed you, those who spit upon you and crowned you with thorns, and those who laid the heavy cross upon your back. Neither do you hold any malice or bitterness against us, your persecutors of today. You gladly accepted the weight of all our sins in taking that cross upon your shoulders. Though you abhor suffering, you accepted it for our sake. You said, "no one takes my life from me, I lay it down freely." You chose to be our victim, making you not a victim, but the victor. Help us to see, Lord, that we cannot be a victim; we cannot really be abused by others, if we follow in your footsteps and freely choose to carry our cross.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Falls the First Time

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Oh, Jesus, you began your journey towards your death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. How long and hard that road must have appeared to you. You were so weak; the blood from your body slowly draining out of you like the sacrificial lamb being prepared for the Passover meal. Yet, you persevered to the end. You did not give up. How easy it would have been to just lie there when you fell, refusing to get up, to die before your time. You showed us how to carry the cross, to persevere. You showed us even how to be weak, by falling. You knew we would fall many times on our journey of the cross. You gave us an example of your humility and showed us that falling is inevitable; getting back up again is what is important.

What were you thinking of, Jesus, as you fell that first time? Were you remembering the Israelites as they made their journey through the desert; how when things got hard, many of them gave up and wanted to return to Egypt? Were you crying within, "Father, have mercy on them?" Were you remembering Peter when he denied you that first time? Were you crying within, "Father, have mercy on him?" Were you remembering Judas as he dipped his hand to take bread, along with yours, preparing his betrayal of you? Were you crying within, "Father, have mercy on him?" Were you remembering your disciples when you found them sleeping instead of praying, that first time in the Garden? Were you crying within, "Father, have mercy on them?" Were you remembering your disciples as they all lost hope and scattered in fear and discouragement? Were you crying within, "Father, have mercy on them?" Were you thinking of those who would follow your disciples, of us today, of me? Were you crying within, "Father, have mercy on them?" Were you remembering your fast in the desert when Satan came that first time to tempt you? What was it he said? "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves." You replied: "Scripture says: Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Mat.4:3-4).

Oh Lord, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Help us to pray, to stay awake with you, that we may not be put to the test. Give us a love and hunger for the Word of God, for without it, we perish. Write your word upon our hearts and minds so that we will not be deceived by Satan when he comes as an "angel of light," quoting scripture out of context and distorting it, so as to lead us away from the will of God.

Lord, help us to have faith, to persevere in our way of the cross. Help us to get back up again when we fall and are weak. Help us to forgive those who hurt us, and those who hurt the ones we love. Help us to be faithful to you, Lord, not to give in to discouragement or to lose hope. Help us to walk with others as they carry their crosses. Help us to forgive when the weight of other people's sins weigh us down and cause us to fall.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

.... and a sword will pierce your own soul too,
so that the secret thoughts of many
may be laid bare. (Luke 2:35).

Oh Jesus, what loneliness you must have felt in this your last hour. All your friends and disciples abandoned you. You faced this last judgment all alone. You endured the mockery and insults, the scourge of the whip, and the crowning of thorns, all alone, with no one near to comfort or console you. You felt the weight of that heavy cross cutting into your wounded flesh and began to walk that lonely treacherous road to Calvary. Your knees buckled beneath you and you fell to the ground. Strangers prodded and poked you, and you got back up again. Did you wonder if you would ever experience human consolation and love again? Everyone lost faith in you. No one could read your heart and know the pain you experienced.

Suddenly, you heard a familiar cry in the was your dear mother, Mary. She never lost faith in you. She never lost hope in the promise that was revealed to her. At last, a final consolation for look upon the sweet face of the woman who bore you, who loved you into life, with the Holy Spirit. How you must have wanted to run into her arms and feel the comfort of her love release you from all the pain and sorrow you were feeling. At last, here was someone who knew your heart and your mind, someone who could share your sorrow. You were no longer alone. No words were necessary...only to look upon her face.

Oh, Mary, how your heart must have ached for your beloved son. He was barely recognizable after all they had done to him. How you must have wished you could have been there with him to comfort him, from the very beginning of his journey to Calvary. Knowing that he was alone must have caused you great sorrow. You would have gladly traded places with him, if that were possible, rather then see him suffer so much. This man before you was the Christ, the Son of God, but, you knew him as your son, the child of your womb. How helpless you must have felt. You felt within your own soul all that he was suffering and there was nothing you could do to take it away. You read his mind..."Mercy, Father, have mercy on them...this is why I came...let it be done to me according to your will." Did you recall the words of the prophet, Simeon? Was your heart saying to your son, "just a little longer, my son, it will soon be over." Did you cry out, "Father, forgive them for what they are doing to my son and your son, for they know not what they do?"

Oh, Jesus, fill our hearts with that same love and grace. Let a sword pierce our souls, too, so that we can enter into your sufferings and the sufferings of your people; so that we can see the cry deep within their spirits that longs for the God who created them. Fill us with a mother's love. Help us to recognize your mother along the way of our journey to Calvary and to be strengthened and consoled by her intercession.

Holy Mary, mother of God, and our mother, too, be with us in our hour of need. Intercede for us. Pray for us, holy mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Console us with your presence and renew our hope, especially at the hour of our death.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry His Cross

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a gentle Father and God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows, so that we can offer others, in their sorrows, the consolation that we have received from God ourselves. Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so, through Christ, does our consolation." (2Cor.1:3-5).

Oh, Lord, what a consolation it must have been for this stranger to come to your aid and help you carry that cross. How humbling it must have been, too, for you, the Son of the living God, to allow yourself to be helped by this stranger, to be so vulnerable and helpless. You knew and experienced total powerlessness and helplessness even though you are the source of all power and strength. You had need of comfort and consolation and you received it from your beloved Father, interiorly, and through his working through mere men. Even in this you show us how we are to carry our cross, how we are to accept powerlessness and helplessness, how we are to receive help from others when we need it. Who was this man, Simon, for you, Lord? Was he your dear mother, Mary, who shared in your suffering, walking with you throughout your life? Was he your beloved disciples who eventually left all to follow in your footsteps? How can I be Simon for you, Lord? Who are the Simons in my life?

Oh, Jesus, help me to recognize all the Simons you bring into my life to help me carry my, your mother, the angels and Saints, my family, the friends you give me, the Church, my religious community of Sisters. Help me to be Simon for share in your sufferings, to be ready to help others to carry their cross when they need it. Help me to be humble enough to accept my weakness and powerlessness; to be vulnerable enough to let others see my need; to be dependent enough on you to allow the Father to comfort and console me interiorly and through others. Help me to be able to receive as well as to give. Help me to be there for all those you bring into my life, to recognize when they need help to carry their cross and to be willing to help them.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh Jesus, how great must your suffering have been to so move Veronica to such compassion and courage. Your face must have been covered with blood, sweat, and tears, filling your eyes so that you could not even see where you were walking. Veronica saw you, only you, forgetting herself completely. Courageously, she defied the crowds and the guards and ran to you. She stripped herself of her veil, exposing her head and face to the shocked crowds. The veil...symbol of her covering, protection, security, and authority. Her nakedness was exposed for all to see. Her masks were gone. Unlike Adam and Eve, she felt no shame in being exposed.

Oh Jesus, you taught us that one act of perfect love washes away a multitude of sins. In this one act of perfect love, Veronica left everything for love of you. As she removed her veil...the natural symbol of women of her day...of their life in the world...and presented it to you, you elevated that veil and gave it new meaning. You imprinted the image of your holy face upon that veil, making it a symbol of consecration to you, for all women who would follow in her footsteps. The veil is transformed from an earthly covering that hides women from the world, to a heavenly bridal veil that reveals women to others as the bride of Christ, bearing witness to your holy face.

Oh Jesus, let me be so moved with compassion and love for your suffering love that I too will transcend myself and run unashamedly to express my love to you. What can I offer you, Jesus? Take my heart, Lord, and imprint your holy face upon it. I consecrate my whole being and my life to you, Lord. Do with me as you like. Help me, also, Lord, to be so moved with love and compassion for others who are suffering, as to forget myself and wipe their tears with my heart. Show me, Lord, the things I hide behind in order to hold onto my life, in order to preserve my independence, security, and control.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Falls the Second Time

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh Jesus, how humbling it must have been for you to have to endure the weakness and frailty of the human body. With only a word you could have summoned all the angels and powers of heaven to come to your aid. But, you didn't give up. You walked in our footsteps so that we could walk in yours.

What were thinking of, Lord, as you lay there? Were you remembering your anguish in the Garden? Even then, knowing the suffering that was before you, you were more concerned about your disciples being put to the test. This was the second time you returned to find them sleeping. Even so, you were moved with compassion because you knew that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." You had already warned them to pray not to be put to the test, but they couldn't stay awake. You saw the enemy, Satan, waiting for the right moment to make his attack. A second time you fell...and got back up again.

Were you thinking about the second time Peter would deny you and praying that his faith would not fail him? Were you thinking of all those who begin the spiritual life and fall again and again through sin and suffering, and praying that their faith would not fail them? Were you thinking of me, Jesus, and all the times I have fallen down through sin and the lack of prayer, and praying that my faith would not fail me?

Were you remembering how Satan tested you in the desert when you went off to fast and pray for forty days? What was it he said? "The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down; for scripture says: He will put you in his angel's charge, and they will support you on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone." Then you said to him: "Scripture also says: You must not put the Lord your God to the test." (Mat. 4:5-7). Were you thinking of us, how often we would fall through presumption and pride, and a lack of the virtues of humility and fear of the Lord? How often we put God to the test and assume that He will do our bidding; that we can take him for granted and manipulate him as we do our fellow man?

Oh, Lord, instill within us a true reverence for God and a holy fear of offending you. Make us truly humble so that we will not attempt to glorify ourselves, but, live to glorify God; to humble ourselves rather than exalt ourselves. Help us to stay awake; to pray and fast as you did. Help us to be dependent on God instead of trying to control him by putting God to the test. Help us to have the faith to get back up again when we do fall.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


The Women of Jerusalem Weep Over Jesus

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

"Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For the days will surely come when people will say, "Happy are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne, the breasts that have never suckled." Then they will begin to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!"; to the hills, "Cover us!" For if men use the green wood like this, what will happen when it is dry?" (Luke 23:28-31).

Oh Jesus, who were these women of Jerusalem? Why were they weeping? What was the message you wanted them to hear; want us to hear? How different our values are from yours, Lord. How different our understanding of happiness is from yours. Many of these women were most likely noble women of the day who were accustomed to giving soothing drinks and weeping over the condemned criminals. Did they see you as a criminal, Lord, or did they realize that you were truly innocent? Did they weep because of the injustice done to you or were they simply moved to pity? Were they filled with true compassion or was their love condescending?

So often, Lord, we are moved with pity for those who appear to be worse off then ourselves. We pity the poor, the helpless, the handicapped, the dying, the persecuted, and sinners, because we value the well being of the physical body and our temporal life in the world more then we do the soul and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Yet, you taught us, Lord, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell!" (Mat.10:28). You said, "What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?" (Luke 9:25).

We are blind guides, often attempting to lead the blind because we are too blind to recognize our own blindness. We look for the splinter in our neighbor's eye when we have a plank in our own. We are quick to show mercy and to forgive others who have done nothing to warrant our forgiveness, when, often it is we who need to ask for their mercy and forgiveness.

We are quick to weep for the sins of others, yet, we do not weep for our own sins. We pray for others, that they will see the light and be changed, but we do not recognize that we need to see the light and be changed. We want to fix and save everyone else but we see no need to be saved, ourselves. We want to give to those who have no need of our gifts and resent it if they do not receive them.

Were you calling these women to weep for their sins and the sins of their children, to recognize that it was their (our) sins that were responsible for your great suffering?

Oh Jesus, I ask you to give me a true sorrow for my sins and the suffering they caused you, as well as the suffering they cause others. Lord, have mercy on me. Change and transform me, Lord, so that I will be filled with compassion, rather then simply pity for others. Enable me to enter into their suffering, and your suffering, as your mother, Mary did. Have mercy on my children and those that are placed in my care, Lord, and forgive them their sins, for they learned to sin from me. Do not let us suffer as our sins deserve.

I thank you, Lord, for the gift of tears. Let me never be ashamed of those tears, but never let them be tears of condescension, tears of pity. Let me see others as better then myself. Let me weep, first, for my own sins; for a desire for union with God; and for the spiritual well-being of my children and those you have placed in my charge. Then, I will be more ready to weep true tears of compassion for others. May I never abuse those tears and use them to manipulate others, to exalt myself, or in order to draw attention to myself.

Oh Jesus, it would seem that the tears of those women strengthened you and reminded you that your suffering was not in vain and would soon be over; bringing you into your glory with the Father, as well as salvation for all man-kind. Perhaps, it was their tears that reminded you that their Calvary was yet to come, and you were moved with compassion for them. Some of those women were women who knew and loved you, and shared in your pain. You called them to weep for themselves and their children. Those tears became a gift and expression of prayer; an outward sign of the release of the Holy Spirit. To the world, tears are a sign of weakness; to you they were made a sign of Beatitude. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Mat.5:5).

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Falls the Third Time

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Jesus, three times you asked Peter, "Do you love me?" Then, you showed him how to feed your sheep. Three times you fell under the heavy weight of the cross. Were you asking us, "Do you love me?" It seems, Lord, that when a person falls, it is often a test of their love; a call to love, to feed your sheep. Do we really love you, Lord? Do we really love your people? Are we ready to forgive, nurture, and feed them when they are weak and fall down? Or, do we, instead, kick them while they are down? When we fall, you are there, Lord, to forgive us and feed us, the moment we turn to you, and even when we are too weak to turn to you.

Lord, what were you thinking as you lay there this third time? Were you thinking of Peter when he denied you for the third time? We deny you over and over again, Jesus, not just three times, but seventy times seven. Yet, we cannot exhaust your patience and mercy.

Were you remembering that third time in the Garden, when you returned to find your disciples asleep? The time of testing was now beginning, and their prayers were no longer necessary, so you left them to sleep. You knew that you would have to go through this time of testing all alone. You would experience abandonment from God the Father, upon the Cross, when you would cry out with David, "My God, My God, why have you deserted me?" (Mat.27:46). Were you thinking of the times your disciples would also have to endure this time of testing, feeling alone and abandoned by everyone, even God?

It seems, Lord, that there is a time to pray and a time when we may as well sleep, because the testing is begun and our prayers are too late. When others are tested by Satan and fall, Lord, how much do we contribute to it by not praying for them when they most need our prayers? When we fall and give in to temptation and trial, is it due to our failure to stay awake and pray, while we have the chance? Who is praying for us, Lord? "Simon, Simon! Satan, you must know, has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus, pray for me, too, that my faith will never fail me.

Were you recalling Satan's words to you in the desert? "The devil then took him up a very high mountain and displayed before him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, promising, "All these will I bestow on you if you prostrate yourself before me?" (Mat.4:9). It was for our sake that you endured Satan's presence and allowed him even to speak. You knew that all your disciples would be subjected to his empty promises and the allurements of the world. You showed us how to respond: "Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone." (Mat.4:10).

Oh, Jesus, help me not to lose faith, but to persevere in times of testing and suffering. And, when I fall, help me to trust in your mercy, to get back up again, and pick up my cross and follow you to Calvary. Help me to recognize temptation and the empty promises of Satan, and to resist all the allurements of the world. Help me to love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. Help me to stay awake and pray for myself and others, that we may not be put to the test. When I do fall, help me to recover and to use that experience to strengthen others in their faith in your mercy, love, and power.

Oh Jesus, every step you took in your last hour, on that way of the cross, and every fall you experienced, you plumbed the depths of suffering and merged yourself with our humanity, making of them touchstones and memorials of "God with us," as Jacob did in each place that God visited him.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

"Though he was in the form of God,
he did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at. Rather, he
emptied himself and took the form of a
slave, being born in the likeness of men."
Phil. 2:6-7

Lord, when Adam and Eve were created in innocence, they had no need of earthly garments to hide behind because they had no shame. But, because of sin they no longer could stand naked before God and man. Then God gave them skins to hide their shame and nakedness. Those garments became our dignity, hiding us from shame. You, Lord Jesus, took upon yourself the sin of Adam and our sin, though you were innocent. You shared that dignity of man and allowed yourself to be stripped of it for all to see. Your naked body became a mirror for us, reflecting back, not your shame, but our own shame. Those who looked upon you did not recognize that it was their shame they were seeing, not yours. Though you were sinless, you bore the marks of sin in full view of all to see. In doing so, you revealed yourself as the New Adam, the New Man, created in innocence, undoing all that was done through the sin of the First Adam. Your garments were the last vestige of what the world has to offer, and you gave them up willingly for our sake. You detached yourself from everything, though everything belonged to you.

Lord, help me not to cling to earthly possessions, but to surrender all for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Help me not to hide behind my dignity in order to cover my shame, but, instead, to be covered with the mantle of your mercy and love. Help me to be truly poor in spirit, embracing simplicity, and living in dependence on God; setting my heart on your kingdom.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh, Jesus, even if I should escape from the bondage of material things and possessions, how dependent I am upon this body you have given me, these hands, these feet. So often, I take them for granted, forgetting what wondrous gifts they are. My feet, Lord, carry me wherever I want to go and can be used for vice or virtue. My hands, too, Lord give me such a sense of worth and satisfaction. I can use them to touch, to feel, to give, to receive, to do, to praise. What a heavy cross, Lord, to have no hands, to have no feet.

You let them nail your hands to the cross, and your feet, surrendering all your freedom and independence for the sake of my sins. No longer would those beautiful feet carry you through the villages to proclaim the Good News. You gave them up to use our feet. No longer would those holy hands reach out in praise to God, reach out to touch and heal, reach out to feed the people. You gave them up to use our hands to praise, to heal, to console, to bless, and to feed others.

Lord, help me not to take my hands and feet for granted, and to allow them to become your hands and feet. May I never use my hands and feet for the sake of evil. Sanctify these hands and feet, Lord, so I may be a part of continuing the work you began. And, when I no longer have or can use these hands and feet, let me surrender them willingly, as you did, knowing that eternal life is not in my hands and feet or in what I can do, or cannot do. Eternal life is in doing the will of God; and sometimes doing the will of God is being able to do nothing but to wait, and to accept.

Oh Jesus, you did more then to surrender the use of your hands and feet, you allowed them to be nailed to the cross. It was our sins, my sins that drove those nails into your hands and feet. I can't even imagine the pain and agony that must have been for you. Lord, it wasn't enough that you should have to carry that cross, but you also had to be grafted onto it, forever binding you to the mystery of the cross; causing it to become the very instrument of salvation. That cross symbolized not just our sins, but all of suffering and fallen humanity. You carried the world, Lord, to Calvary, and allowed yourself to be grafted onto it. You carried me, Jesus, to Calvary. Jesus, help me not only to carry my cross and follow you, but to die with you, so that I might live with you; so that I can say with St. Paul, "It is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me."

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Is Raised Upon the Cross and Dies

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Jesus, King of the Jews, yet, truly King of Kings; Lord of Heaven and Earth, Son of the Living God, hung upon a cross to die in shame and ridicule, at the hands of mere men. What greater crime could there be upon all the earth; greater then the sin of Adam which brought down judgment, punishment, sin, and exile upon all of humanity. Yet, Lord, your words of mercy shook the heavens: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!"

Oh, Jesus, how much more then the pain to your flesh, must it have grieved your heart to look down and see your people standing there; the chosen people; a chosen race. Many knew you since you were a child. Among them also, were the Chief Priests and Scribes, chosen to carry out the will of your Father, to be shepherds to the people. Among them were many who mocked and ridiculed you, who hated you for no reason, who were so blind that they couldn't recognize what they had in you; couldn't see that you were their hope of glory. You loved the Church so much; Israel, your daughter, your child, your spouse. How it must have grieved you to be abandoned and rejected by her. You loved the Pagans too, and all Gentiles, and counted them among the people of God. Yet, Israel was like your first-born. When you cried out, "My God, My God, why have you deserted me," were you also thinking of Israel and all of humanity? Were you thinking of David in his time of suffering? Were you thinking of us in ours, when we, too, would feel like outcasts, and abandoned by God? You experienced and understood the "dark night of the soul," that even the Saints would experience.

Looking down from the cross, you also saw all those who loved you, who mourned your suffering and loss...your mother, your brethren, your disciples. You even saw us, today. You were so filled with compassion, knowing that a sword would pierce their hearts, too, as the soldier's lance would pierce your own most sacred heart. You comforted them, and strengthened them. You commissioned them to nurture, support, and strengthen each other. You gave your disciples your own mother, saying to them, "this is your mother." You gave your mother her son, saying to her, of your disciples, "Woman, this is your son." (John 19:26).

Oh, Mary, what anguish you must have felt looking upon your precious son being mocked and crucified before your very eyes. How you must have wished you could trade places with him...your son, whom you carried in your womb from the moment of incarnation to birth, and whom you would always carry within your heart. Yet, you felt no anger, no malice towards those who did this terrible thing. You felt only love and compassion. Your eyes were only on Jesus, your son. What anguish you must feel, too, when you look upon all those who follow in his footsteps...the anguish of a mother for her child. Oh, Mary, Mother of Sorrows, how helpless you must have felt as you gazed upon your son, Jesus. But, you are not helpless now. Pray for us and intercede for us, especially at the hour of our death.

Jesus, I cannot even begin to contemplate what you experienced on that cross. My sufferings are nothing in comparison. But, I too, am a mother. As I gaze upon you, I see my own children on that cross, and I see my family, my friends and neighbors, my sisters, my community, my beloved Priests and Bishops. I see all those I hold in my heart...everyone who has touched me in some way throughout my life. I see the Church, the poor, the children of the world. My heart aches, and I want to cry our, "My God, My God, why have you abandoned us."...Then, I am still. I hear you say: "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." (ISA.49:15).

I listen again, Jesus, and I hear you say, from the cross, "It is accomplished! Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Again, I am still, and I remember your words, "and when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself....I am the resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 12:32; 11:25-26). My hope is restored.

Jesus, help me not to run away from the cross, from suffering and pain. Like the thief on the cross next to you, I deserve whatever crosses come into my life. We all do. You were innocent and did not deserve to suffer at all, let alone to be crucified, yet, you accepted it for our sakes and through it, brought life. With that thief, Lord, I ask that you remember me at the hour of my death and allow me to enter into paradise to be with you forever. I ask this, also, for all those you have given me...all those I love and pray for. I ask this also for all my enemies, all those who have ever hurt me in any way and all those I have hurt, knowingly and unknowingly.

Oh, Jesus, all of heaven gave its Amen when you were born into this world, as "there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor." (Luke 2:13-14). So, too, the heavens cried out at the moment of your death: "At that, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked; the rocks were split" (Mat. 27:51). "It is accomplished!" (John 19:30). Victory belongs to our God. Jesus, increase my faith and hope. Don't let me be amongst those who taunted you, saying, "let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him." (Mat. 27:42). Instead, let me cry out, always, with the Centurion, "In truth this was the son of God." (Mat. 27:54).

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross
And Placed In the Arms of His Mother

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The Jewish Day of Preparation is over, and like the Lamb of God, the ewes have been slaughtered (their blood poured out) and prepared for the Sabbath meal. The Chief Priests are now in a hurry to dispose of your body so they can began to celebrate the Sabbath, not recognizing that you were the true "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." In the desert, you gave them manna to eat, and water to drink from the rock that Moses struck. Now, a soldier pierces your side, (the rock) and blood and water pour forth. As Eve was taken from the side of Adam, now the Church is taken from your side, built upon this "rock," symbolized by your most sacred heart, as well as Peter. "It is accomplished!"

"Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. "Take it and eat;" he said, "this is my body." Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them. "Drink all of you from this," he said, "for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father." (Mat. 26:26-29).

Oh, Jesus, even after your death the hearts of many were still hardened. They continued to mock you even as you were taken down from the cross. Like vultures they grabbed at your clothing and, with indifference to your mangled body, divided them amongst themselves. Still they did not recognize your goodness and their sin.

Oh, Mary, how great was your Rachel crying out to heaven for her children. Perhaps it was the Centurion who was so moved as to place the body of your son upon your empty and waiting lap. How you must have clutched him close to you, rocking him as you did when he was a babe in your arms. Holding him, you could touch the wounds in his hands and feet and side. You could wash away the blood running down his face with your tears as you gently and lovingly brushed his hair and face with your hands. He was unrecognizable from your son, but you knew him. How great must have been your lamenting. Your tears and touch prepared him for burial, more appropriately then myrrh and aloes. What was in the mind and heart of the onlookers as they watched you holding your son? Perhaps the mocking stopped. Perhaps the hardened hearts began to soften and melt. Perhaps those who did not recognize him before began to wonder and question what they had done. Perhaps some were even moved to repentance seeing how much you loved him.

Oh, Mother of Sorrows, what man could gaze upon you holding your son and not be moved with compassion and regret for their sins? What a divine grace this must have been for many who were there, perhaps their last chance to repent. Oh, Mary, what were you praying as you held your son close to you? Were you praying, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?" How could they know, for if they really knew what they were doing and who it was they were doing it to, they could never have done such a terrible thing! Many people are incapable of recognizing Jesus by himself, but when they see him in your arms, Mary, they recognize him through your love for him.

Oh, Jesus, grant me knowledge and true sorrow for my sins. Help me to see how much they cause you and others to suffer. Reveal yourself to me more and more and help me always to recognize you in the Eucharist, in the Church, in your dear mother, Mary, in the suffering, the poor, the persecuted, and in all those who love you. Melt my hardened heart and put your heart and the heart of your mother within me. Protect me against indifference and apathy. Enable me to forgive everyone, Lord, especially my enemies and your enemies.

Mary, my mother, hold me in your arms and intercede for me, especially at the hour of my death. Jesus, grant that I may always rest with you in the arms of your mother, Mary. Mary, grant that I may always hold, with you, your son, in my arms. You said, Lord, that others shall know we are your disciples by how we love one another. Let your love show through me and let me recognize you in everyone I meet.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Jesus Is Laid In the Sepulcher

We adore you, Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Lord, you came into this world, born in a stable, a bed borrowed from animals, having no home of your own. You lived out your ministry having no home of you own. Now, you are laid in a tomb that is also not your own, but borrowed from another.

You came into this world through the womb of Mary, your first resting place. Now you will leave it through the tomb of Joseph, your final resting place. What an honor that must have been for Joseph to give up his tomb for you; a tomb freshly carved out of a rock. You rested in that tomb for three days.

In the beginning, God created Adam and caused a great sleep to come upon him. While he was asleep, God took one of his ribs from under his heart, and formed Eve. When Adam awoke, he was no longer one, but two, made one. Jesus, what a great mystery unfolded within that Holy Sepulcher. You, too, would awake as the Bridegroom with his Bride, the Church. On Pentecost you would betroth her to yourself at a wedding banquet, adorning her with the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and feeding her your body and blood, making her one with you. The Holy Sepulcher was a place of transition and metamorphosis for you...a place of great change, like a fetus growing and changing in the womb of its mother; like a caterpillar, silently changing within a cocoon into a beautiful butterfly.

This was all for our sake, Lord, to show us what we must go through. We must die and go into that tomb with you in order that we can rise with you. Though your body was resting and changing, your spirit was wide awake and active. You descended down into the place of the dead to extend your mercy and the good news of salvation to all those who passed forth from the earth. Your spirit stretched out like a great highway in the sky, opening a passage for all those souls to enter into your kingdom to the Father.

Lord, what message do you want to teach us about those three days in that tomb? We go through many changes in our life, many transformations and metamorphoses, many deaths and resurrections, many transitions. We go through the change from fetus to infant; from adolescent to adult. We go through changes in mid-life and old age. Our body never remains the same, but is always changing. We go through transitions whenever we experience the birth or death of loved ones, when we marry or divorce, when we suffer great illness or loss, when we change jobs, careers, vocations, when we experience retirement. Every change is a transition; the closing of one door and the opening of another. Transition is a time of preparation, a time of waiting and endurance, a time of trust and faith. It can also be a time of testing, struggle, confusion, darkness, and anxiety. We are like a woman in labor, about to give birth. "A woman in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering in her joy that a man has been born into the world." (John 16:21).

Oh, Jesus, during these times of transition, preparation, and formation in my life, help me to rest in you, to wait patiently for resurrection, to trust in you and not lose hope, to know that you are with me and that it is not in vain. Help me to remember that three days, months, years, decades, or centuries is nothing compared to the promise of resurrection and eternal life. Help me to believe that even if I could do nothing through my body; if my body was limp and useless; my spirit is not useless, but, alive and active with you.

Oh, Jesus, what great anxiety those holy women must have felt as they waited for dawn to come, so that they could prepare your body, and look upon your holiness once more; to see the Lord of their life, their hope of salvation. What a "dark night of the soul" they must have experienced, having not your presence to sustain them. They waited, not knowing what they were waiting for. Their souls were restless and could know no rest until they rested wholly in you. What a paradox...waiting and anxiousness...yet, the two, often, cannot be separated.

Lord, it seems that like these holy women, we also must experience, at times, periods of darkness, where we feel separated from you; like one in exile. We experience our own nothingness and aloneness. We experience both, being in the tomb with you, and waiting for you outside of the tomb. "yet when he heard that Lazarus was ill he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, "Let us go to Judaea"...."Are there not twelve hours in the day? A man can walk in the daytime without stumbling because he has the light of this world to see by; but if he walks at night he stumbles, because there is no light to guide him." (John 11:5-7; 9-10). Fill me, Lord, with a hunger to see your face, a desire for union with you, and give me the trust and faith to wait for it. Grant that I will always be spiritually awake to do your will. Waiting is so hard for me, Lord. I can do nothing good on my own. I cannot love or even have a good or loving thought or desire on my own. When I am barren, Lord, or being pruned, help me to wait patiently for your grace to renew me. Give me the patience to wait for you to deliver me when I experience "dark nights of the soul;" to wait upon the will of God. Keep me from trying to run ahead of you. Grant me the courage to change the things I can, the humility to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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