he Holy Spirit inspired me to combine spiritual meditation with
physical exercise by envisioning the Stations of the Cross in
my neighborhood. I walk approximately 10 blocks with stops at
places that suggest the 14 locations associated with the Passion
The selection of
14 places has become part of my spiritual contemplation. I offer
you a description of locations I chose along with short prayers.
You can choose your own special places and formulate your own
prayers, or use prayers from other versions of the Way of the
One: Jesus Is Condemned to Death
I chose a tree a
few blocks from my house. Four teenagers lost their lives there
one night when one drove the car in which they were riding into
the tree. After the accident, parents and friends painted a cross
on a bare spot on the trunk. I continue to walk a half-block and
stand outside the hospital emergency room where the youngsters
were taken before being pronounced dead. Here at the hospital
many people enter into eternal life as did those teens. Others
may accept as a cross such challenges as long-term illness or
permanent loss of a limb or faculty.
us for condemning you through our failure to love others. Sometimes
we feel that life is against us and we fail to realize that challenges
are as much a part of life as rewards. Lord, we love you and thank
you for undergoing your passion to save us.
Refrain: We adore
you, O Christ, and
we praise you.
Because by your holy cross,
you have redeemed the world.
(I repeat this refrain
after each station. As you walk between stations, you may want
to add an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.)
Two: Jesus Accepts His Cross
I walk two blocks
to a care center for people who have fallen victim to some long-term
illness. Many, like Jesus, will fall with the weight of their
Lord, all of us
have crosses in our lifetime, large and small crosses. Please
help me shoulder mine. Thank you, God, for giving me my guardian
angel in order to help me bear these crosses. May I learn from
these experiences and be able to love myself and others better
as a result.
Three: Jesus Falls the First Time
I cross the street
to a public park located near the care center. In the park I spot
the ramp from the street where I once observed a Boy Scout assist
an elderly lady who could not manage to force her wheelchair up
Lord, I have fallen
victim to sin so many times that I cannot recall the first occasion.
Please help me resist Satan and his associates as I attempt to
avoid those occasions of sin which have been habits over a period
Four: Jesus Meets His Mother
In the park, I can
nearly always spot a mother playing with her child, offering love
that only a mother can give.
it must have been for Mary to meet her beloved son covered with
blood and saliva. How hard it is for mothers today who meet their
children in jails, hospitals and detention homes for drug and
alcohol addiction. Lord, help those mothers who are challenged
by the actions of their offspring.
Five: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Near the park where
I have been walking is Temple B’Nai Jehudah, a Jewish place of
worship. I walk to the bench beside the door. I think of the Holocaust
and how the Nazis made my Jewish brothers and sisters fall under
their yoke just as the Romans had tortured and crucified Jesus
the Jew two millennia ago.
Lord, would that
I had been there to assist you to carry your cross! Help me to
assist others who have crosses such as illness, confusion, poverty
and prejudice to bear. Let me not fail to assist them in bearing
their heavy weight.
Six: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
I walk to a small
fountain where I reach out for some water. I make the Sign of
the Cross on my forehead and lips. This is a reminder of the cooling
water on the cloth of Veronica.
Jesus, at times
I feel depressed because of my own weaknesses. Lord, at those
times help me remember that, like Veronica, I can reach out to
the rejected in our society. I, too, can wipe a face by extending
a smile, a handshake, cheering words or funds.
Seven: Jesus Falls the Second Time
Some public workers
are digging a hole to install new pipes under the street. As I
spot the hole, I think about falling into holes. I doubt that
Jesus fell on soft dirt like what I see before me.
Jesus, how we
humans have made each other suffer over the centuries. Forgive
us for the ways in which we have hurt others. Forgive us for the
terrible suffering visited upon your people in just the past century,
like the world wars, the famines in Bangladesh and the Horn of
Africa, oh so many terrible happenings. As you fall for the second
time, I am aware of the many times I have fallen due to my sins.
Eight: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
from the care center spend some time every day in the park. I
ponder their fragility and wisdom. Most, no doubt, are mothers,
grandmothers and great-grandmothers. How much they are like the
women of Jerusalem who were comforted by Jesus on his way of the
Jesus, even in
your very personal torment, you were willing to speak to the troubled
women of your city. Grant that I may never be so beset with misery
that I am unable to comfort others who are hurting. Help me to
share my sympathy and thus gain support with and from those who
also are in distress.
Nine: Jesus Falls the Third Time
As I start toward
home, I take my rosary from my pocket. I sit on a wall and trace
the lines of the crucifix. Oh, how much Jesus suffered for us,
so much that he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?” When I feel as if I’m falling or feel the weight of a great
burden, I beg, “My God, my God, do not forsake me.”
As Simon assisted
you, dear Jesus, in regaining your stance, so may I find assistance
when I am down. May I also take advantage of opportunities to
help others. When we work together to assist one another, life
becomes bearable as challenges arise.
Ten: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
It is a brisk, windy
day and flags are flapping in the gale. How much they seem like
clothes being torn from human bodies! I’m reminded of how much
Jesus was hurt as the garments were snatched off his body.
Lord, help us
to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Let us always be aware
of the beauty of the human body and do nothing to bully or soil
it. Help us cover one another, whether with clothing or the comfort
of a smile and kind words.
Eleven: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
I pass the hospital
again on the way home. I know that inside humans are dying, either
now or in the near future. I pray that they can join Jesus with
his Father, Holy Spirit, beloved mother Mary and all the saints
As we suffer our
challenges and setbacks like little crosses, let us not forget
your Cross. You need not have accepted being nailed to a cross.
With each spurt of your blood, we are saved, we are redeemed.
Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross
The hospital also
reminds us that the one certainty of our lives is that they will
end in death. Your death, particularly painful, however, was chosen
by you, for our sake. With it, O Lord, you secured our redemption.
Our death has meaning if we can connect it to yours. Help us to
leave this mortal life to enter into eternity.
O my Jesus, I
pray for those dying at this moment. I place myself at the foot
of your cross with Mary and John. As you expire, my head falls
against your feet, and I whisper with the good thief, “Jesus,
remember me as you enter into your Kingdom.”
Thirteen: Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross
As I start down the
slope beside the hospital, I see a mortuary in the distance. It
is at such a place that my earthly body will rest before I am
placed in the ground. As I go down the hill, I feel I am helping
to take our Lord’s body from the cross.
Lord, when our
earthly lives have ended, may we too breathe, “It is finished,”
before our family, relatives and friends pray for our souls in
departure rituals. Lord, may I be supportive of others who have
lost loved ones recently.
Fourteen: Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb
On my return home,
I pass tombstones in a cemetery and think of my final resting
place. As a Catholic Christian, I am aware that my innermost soul
will have gone away from this tomb. You showed us, Lord, on that
first Easter how the real person does not stay in the ground or
vault but resurrects with you in eternity.
Lord, thank you
for being with me as I meditate on your passion and look forward
to eternity. Help especially those who are most in need of your
mercy. Grant that we may resurrect with you in paradise. Help
us to conquer the grave and rise to discover the beauties of heaven.
No more will there be sin, hurt or evil; all will be love with
Harry Langdon is a professor at Rockhurst University in Kansas
City, Missouri, who earned his Ph.D. in theater and communications
from the University of Iowa.