Down the Via Dolorosa
Allow me, O lord, to walk with you, despite the shadow of my sins, the stations of pain, where your Paschal mystery materialized at the heart of my faith…. On that road of suffering: I shall follow your Journey from condemnation to execution.
Station I: Condemnation
On the nowadays courtyard of the El-Omariye School, almost 2000 years ago stood Pontius Pilate and exclaimed:“Behold your king!’(John 19:14)… and in a moment of human madness a cry was heard: "Crucify him, crucify him" ... here I am lord, between standing with the right or against it, how many times: my fear, ignorance, cowardice, fanaticism, my love for riches and power conclude the matter…
Second Station: Jesus takes up his Cross
Here, under this archway, you bowed down to take my cross Lord, and made it the rise when I fall and the support when I stand and the cane when I’m weak … I’m unable to speak… Words are not needed. I Look at you: your Sacred Humanity became an open wound crowned with thorns…
And from now on can I ever fear penance?”…
Third Station: Jesus falls the first time
The road continues, sloping slightly downwards, to cross a road leading in from the
Damascus Gate, It is called El-Wad, (“The Valley”). Turning to the left, almost on that corner a sharp pain on my ungratefulness pierces your soul my Jesus: you fall to the ground exhausted. And here I am while I grieve over my pitiful failings, I utter a silent prayer may your love heal the ingratitude of my human heart.
Fourth Station: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother Mary
Further south on El-Wad Street, behold Holy Mary…
Mother of my Lord, you remained faithful when my coward humanity fled.
On that crossroad, at the hour of the cross, at the hour of the darkest night of the world, you became Mother of believers… O Mother of the Church: pray for my frail heart that it may meet your courage to serve and your love to forge a way of 'com-passion”.
Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross
At the right corner of Via Dolorosa and El-Wad road I climb up the hill with a series of stairs and I can feel your weary breath lord… but here he is: Simon of Cyrene!! you gave him, by his share in your Cross, the grace of faith…today, you still suffer in every poor of the world: O Lord, how I wish to alleviate this pain!! So, Grant me, mighty Love, to become a “Cyrenian” serving your salvation.
Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Here in front of "The Holy Face" Chapel, I recall Saint Veronica’s wiping your adorable face my Jesus … little is known about this woman. A tradition based on apocryphal writings says that she was the same as the woman with the hemorrhage whom Jesus cured at Capernaum, and that her name was Berenice, which in Latin is Veronica. In the Middle Ages her house was reputed to be here, at about the mid-point of the Via Dolorosa. On this spot, I will borrow your heart Veronica, and moved by compassion, I’ll step forward into the line of lord’s vision and enter this holy moment of brief exchange… there, I’ll still be able to see the glory of God in your bloody agonized face my Christ… and how I wish, to restore “your true image” in my disfigured humanity.
Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time
At the end of the upward slope, the Via Dolorosa joins the Khan ez-Zait, the oil market, running down from the Damascus Gate… There, on the crossroads, a small Franciscans chapel commemorates your second falling under the burdens of my sin … still I can see you continue to carry me. Hear my silent supplication, Lord: always make me aware of your presence, capable of resisting the forces of evil and Give me your hope at every moment of darkness, O source of every hope.
Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Just a few yards from the place of the second fall, along a westward direction of St Francis’s street there is a prolongation of the Via Dolorosa: there, I saw among the people a number of women who are unable to restrain their compassion, I saw their tears… But you my Lord, in the midst of your ache, invited them to weep for sins, which are the causes of this pain… O Gracious God, Help me not to blame others but to see my own sin in every lacking of love in my surrounding. While weeping over my own failing, help me to grasp the mystery of your grace and the majesty of your mercy.
Ninth Station: Jesus falls for the third time:
While my heart beats retrace my own steps southwards the souk, I saw at the end of the alleyway a pillar marking your third fall. There, on that corner, where your strength has failed you, my longing for atonement couldn’t be contained in my breast! Here while you are laying on the ground in total exhaustion, let me not forget O Lord that “the spirit of penance consists mainly in the fulfillment of the duty of each moment, however costly it may be.”
Station 10: Jesus is stripped of His garments:
Towards the entrance of what is known today as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and in the room called the Chapel of the Franks a sad moment is commemorated: it is where I, the human, have decided to strip my poor humanity of any trace of your divine clothing… by excluding you, lord, I thought I’m deifying myself…. Poor me, without the cloth of your grace, O lord, there is nothing in my broken humanity, absolutely nothing but nakedness and darkness!! And only, via your mercy, a metamorphosis will take place!! There, the worm called me shall be transformed into a magnificent butterfly …
Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross:
“The place that is called The Skull”, Golgotha, nowadays inside a latin chapel in the holy Sepulcher, is a real place for a real happening:
The Lord of Glory suffered and my sins crucified Him on a cross!! Forgive me Lord, every time my deeds are the nails that pierced your hands, my thoughts are the disciples when they fled, and my words are the words that priests and soldiers said…
Stations 12: Jesus dies on the cross:
Like the centurion, I look upon your cross today with wonder, my Lord… But I’m not only struck by your legal innocence, I’m at awe by your willingness to suffer and die for me…
I look at the new tree of life that you’ve planted in our lives… O glorious, gracious, giving Lord: how I wish to allow it, to take root and to grow in my life, so it begins to bear the fruit of your grace in a new, abundant life…
Station 13: Jesus is taken down from the cross:
Looking at your lifeless body, Lord, I see the death of my beloved ones, even my own passing away: It is a harsh reality that we must all face… here, I have no greater teacher and example, than you Mary, who stood at the foot of your Son’s Cross and received His wounded dead body… O Lady of Sorrows, lead my steps into the road of hope amidst the shadow of death.
Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb
It is the last station of the Cross: Jesus' body is placed in the sepulcher. The crowds are gone. In the doomed silence of the tomb, when it seems I have been totally defeated: a light comes out!! it is the time, Lord, when you deliver me in an unexpected and glorious way…. No, mere physical death means nothing and I can still hear your words "fear not them that kill the body”…. Your tomb, O lover of my soul, wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning: Your Love will defeat my death… and all our tombs, just like the sepulcher tomb, shall be bathed in an eternal light for With Your resurrection, the Stations of the Cross lead, not to death, but to life.
With Your resurrection, a living hope is celebrated to the whole world.
Yes, Lord, Your victorious resurrection shall have the last word.