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A Scriptural Way
of the Cross

by Patti Normile

Leader: Loving God, as we begin this Way of the Cross, help us to discover through Jesus— journey how much you love us. Help us to know that we can turn to you in good times and in troubled times. The joy of salvation through Jesus— resurrection is your gift to us. We prepare to receive that gift by expressing our sorrow for our sins.

All: I confess to almighty God,/ and to you, my brothers and sisters,/ that I have sinned through my own fault/ in my thoughts and in my words,/ in what I have done,/ and in what I have failed to do;/ and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,/ all the angels and saints,/ and you, my brothers and sisters,/ to pray for me to the Lord our God.

I. Jesus Prays in the Garden

Leader: When Jesus and his disciples arrived at the Mount of Olives, he said to them, —Pray now, that you may be faithful to what God wants.— Then he withdrew from them and prayed, —O Holy One, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Still, not my will but yours be done.— Then he returned to his sleeping disciples and said, —Why are you asleep? Rise up and pray so that you may be faithful.— (See Luke 22:39-46.)

Reader One: Maggie remembers the day when her parents said they were separating. Her brother punched the sofa so hard that the cover split. Maggie ran from the house crying. But neither of them could change their parents— decision.

Reader Two: In the garden, Jesus prayed to do God—s will. He realized his Father wanted him to change his own attitude and approach to death. Maggie prays to be a faithful daughter to both her parents and to be a faithful follower of Jesus. How can you remain faithful when circumstances make you feel hopeless?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

II. Jesus Is Betrayed

Leader: While Jesus was speaking, Judas arrived. With him was an armed crowd, to whom Judas had said, —The man I kiss is the one. Arrest him and lead him away under guard.— So Judas went up to Jesus and kissed him. Then they arrested him. (See Mark 14:43-46.)

Reader One: You trust your parents and teachers, sisters and brothers, coaches and leaders, friends and classmates. At times, someone in whom you have faith shatters your trust and it hurts. Jesus had trusted Judas as a friend, as a disciple. And Judas betrayed him with a sign of love!

Reader Two: Have you ever betrayed someone with a sign of love? For example, have you ever smiled at a schoolmate who was walking by, then murmured to a friend, —That jerk!—? How can you be a more faithful friend, brother or sister, son or daughter, teammate or classmate?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

III. Jesus Is Condemned

Leader: The high priest asked him, —Are you Christ, Son of the Blessed One?— Jesus said, —I am. You will see the Human Son seated at the right hand of the Power, coming with the clouds of heaven.— Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, —Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard him. What is your decision?— They condemned him as deserving death. (See Mark 14:56, 61-64.)

Reader One: Christy was called to the office where the police waited. —Your car was reported speeding through town at 11:45 this morning,— an officer stated. —But I never left the building!— Christy protested. Investigation revealed that her friend had stolen her car keys and gone for a joyride. That friend denied wrongdoing and blamed Christy. But the police found her keys in the friend—s pocket.

Reader Two: Many lied about Jesus and he was condemned. How would you respond to a friend who lied about you as Christy—s friend did? How will you find strength to be faithful and truthful?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

IV. Jesus Is Denied

Leader: A servant girl said to Peter, —You also were with Jesus the Galilean.— But he said, —I don—t know what you are talking about.— When he went out to the porch, another servant said loudly, —This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.— Peter swore, —I do not know the man.— Later, some bystanders came up and said to Peter, —Certainly you are one of them, for your accent betrays you.— Then he began to curse and swear, —I do not know the man!— At that moment the cock crowed. (See Matthew 26:69-75.)

Reader One: Jeremy, a freshman, was walking into the library when he saw Alex, his group leader from a summer program, with some friends. —Hey, Alex! What—s up?— Jeremy called. Alex, a senior, looked at Jeremy but ignored his greeting. He said something to his friends that Jeremy could not hear, then walked away laughing.

Reader Two: Jesus was Peter—s friend for nearly three years. When Jesus needed him most, Peter swore that he didn—t know who Jesus was. Fear made him reject his Lord. When you are rejected as Jeremy was by Alex, how will you deal with your feelings of hurt and anger?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

V. Jesus Is Judged

Leader: Pilate wanted to release Jesus and asked, —What evil has he done? I have found him guilty of nothing serious. I intend to give him a warning and release him.— But the crowd screamed to have Jesus crucified. Pilate handed Jesus over and let them do with him whatever they wanted. (See Luke 23:20-25.)

Reader One: —Do it! Do it! Do it!— The screams from the riverbank where friends had gathered for a picnic grew louder and more intense. Jessica looked at the water far below and shuddered. No, she thought, it would be stupid! But I don—t want to be a wimp! The cries —Do it! Do it!— grew louder. Jessica poised to dive, then hesitated. At that moment someone gave her a shove and she dived into the unknown. Later, in the hospital, the doctor reminded her that she was fortunate to come away with only broken bones. Why, thought Jessica, did I let them push me to the edge?

Reader Two: Pilate listened to the crowd even though he wanted to free Jesus. How can you find strength such as Jessica needed to make a good choice when everyone else seems to be telling you to choose the opposite?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

VI. Jesus Is Crowned With Thorns

Leader: The soldiers clothed Jesus in a purple cloak. After twisting some thorns into a crown, they put the crown on Jesus. They began saluting him, —Hail, King of the Jews!— They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him and knelt down in mocking homage. (See Mark 15:16-19.)

Reader One: Richard was on his way home from his flute lesson when a group of guys grabbed him. They shoved him, pushing him down in the dirt, then hit him with his own flute case. Then they ran off, yelling, —Show off with your flute-playing now, you pansy!—

Reader Two: Jesus knew the humiliation of being abused and mocked. Yet he never lost sight of who he was—God—s beloved. So is Richard. So are you. So are those who hurt Richard. Who do you need to see as God—s beloved one?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

VII. Jesus Carries His Cross

Leader: Then Pilate handed Jesus over to the crowd to be crucified. Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went out to what is called The Place of the Skull. (See John 19:16-17.)

Reader One: Sean—s dad had been sick a long time. His mom worked long and hard to support their family. Sean had been coming home right after school every day to cook, watch his little brother and help his dad. Some days it was just too much. Sean wanted to play sports and be with his friends.

Reader Two: Jesus carried a heavy cross made of wood. Sean carried one made of heavy responsibility. How can Jesus help you and kids like Sean carry burdens that seem like too much?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

VIII. Jesus Is Helped by Simon

Leader: The soldiers forced a passerby, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross. It was Simon of Cyrene. (See Mark 15:20-21.)

Reader One: When Coach Summerside asked Sean to come out for the team, Sean told him that he couldn—t do it. Then he shared the heavy burden of his homelife. Though the coach wasn—t forced to help Sean as Simon was forced to help Jesus, he wanted to help. He offered to contact people who could help. Eventually, members of their parish, the school, the PTA and the community hospital worked together to assist Sean—s family.

Reader Two: Simon helped Jesus carry his cross. Members of Sean—s community took on some of his responsibilities. Do you know someone with a burden you might help carry?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

IX. Jesus Comforts

Leader: Among the large number of people who followed Jesus on his way to Calvary were women who were calling out their sorrow and support 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.— (See Luke 23:27-30.)

Reader One: Leslie avoided her friends. She didn—t call Angie or wait for her after school. Angie saw that Leslie had changed since her grandma died and suspected that Leslie really missed her. She knocked at Leslie—s door one day. When Leslie answered, Angie said, “Thought we could talk about our grandmas. Mine died just before we moved here.— The two friends talked and cried about the fun things they and their grandmas had done together. Leslie no longer felt alone.

Reader Two: Jesus reminded those who followed him to Calvary to weep together for each other. Who is the Leslie in your life? Who needs your comfort?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

X. Jesus Is Crucified

Leader: The soldiers crucified Jesus there with criminals on either side. Jesus said, —Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.— The leaders scoffed at Jesus. The soldiers also mocked him, offering him wine and saying, —If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!— (See Luke 23:33-38.)

Reader One: —Wait till you hear what I heard about Melinda!— Janie whispered to Jake. She proceeded to tell him a rumor she—d heard. Janie didn—t bother to learn that the person telling the story typically exaggerated everything and was jealous of Melinda as well. The story spread all over the school. Melinda was socially crucified by gossip.

Reader Two: Jesus did an amazing thing for those who crucified him. He freely forgave them even though they had not earned forgiveness. Who has hurt you by gossiping as Janie did? Who has caused you to suffer? Who needs your forgiveness—whether they deserve it or not?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

XI. Jesus Promises the Thief Paradise

Leader: One of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus taunted him, saying, —Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!— But the other one said, —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.— Jesus replied, —Today you will be with me in paradise.— (See Luke 23:39-43.)

Reader One: When Hank and Jason heard that David—s parents were out of town, the boys decided to party at his house—without asking him. Others heard their plans and spread the word. Dozens of uninvited guests showed up. Some drove on the lawn. A fight broke out. David got really angry and called the police. A lot of kids got in big trouble. Jason cautioned Hank, —Keep your mouth shut!— But Hank decided to admit his guilt to David and his parents. —I really messed up. I—m so sorry. I can help fix your yard.—

Reader Two: One thief tried to defend his wrongdoing as he hung on the cross next to Jesus. The other admitted his guilt. Jesus offered the second thief paradise. Hank followed the good thief—s way by admitting what he had done wrong. Who will you imitate when you have done something wrong?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

XII. Jesus Provides for His Mother

Leader: When Jesus saw his mother and his beloved disciple standing beside her beneath his cross, he said to his mother, —This is now your son.— Then he said to the disciple, —Here is your mother.— From that moment, the disciple took her into his home. (See John 19:25-29.)

Reader One: Over 100 teenagers gather each week at St. Cecilia Church to honor Mary by praying the rosary. Sometimes friends chide them, —You—re gonna do what? It—s Saturday night!— But the young people keep gathering and new friends come too.

Reader Two: Jesus asked John, his beloved disciple, to care for his mother, Mary. She is known as the first member of the Church. Are you willing to suffer criticism from some in order to give time to your Church? How can we turn to Mary for help in following Jesus as she did?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

XIII. Jesus Dies

Leader: It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because of an eclipse of the sun. Then Jesus cried out, —Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.— Then he breathed his last. (See Luke 23:44-47.)

Reader One: Greg, a good guy and super-athlete, was only 17 when he slumped over in math class and fell to the floor. He had died instantly of an undetectable heart condition. His friends were grief-stricken. Some were angry with God that this happened to someone nice like Greg.

Reader Two: Jesus was innocent and good, but he died. With his dying breath he cried out, giving himself totally to God. How can Jesus— death help you to deal with major losses like the death of friends as good and true as Greg? Pray for strong faith to help you through life—s difficult times.

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

XIV. Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb

Leader: When evening had come, a wealthy man from Arimathea named Joseph (who was also a disciple of Jesus) arrived on the scene. He asked Pilate for Jesus— body and Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb. (See Matthew 27:57-60.)

Reader One: —So what—s the big deal about your little sister—s first Communion?— Joey—s teammate challenged. —We—ve got a big game Sunday. You better be there!— Joey was uneasy but he said, —It—s really important. This is a special time and all my family will be there.— His teammate retorted, —Big deal. What is it? A Jesus sandwich?— Joey replied, —No sandwich, but it really is Jesus.— Laughing, the teammate strode away.

Reader Two: Joseph took Jesus— body and laid it in his tomb. This was a risky thing to do. Joey took a risk, too, defending his belief in Jesus. We might say that Joey wrapped Jesus in his care. When your beliefs are challenged or mocked, how can you wrap Jesus in your care?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

XV. Jesus Rises

Leader: The women found the stone rolled away from the tomb. When they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Two men in dazzling garments appeared to them and said, —Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.— (See Luke 24:1-6.)

Reader Three: —He has been raised.— How have these words made a difference in your life up to now? How can you allow them to guide your life in the future?

All: Lord, help me to follow your way.

Patti Normile has written four previous Youth Updates, including an earlier Way of the Cross.

Seth Everhart (15), Adam C. Honnold (15), Jonathan Iseman (15) and Adam M. Schmidt (15), all of St. Benignus Parish in Greenfield, Ohio, responded to the Rev. Ronald C. Cooper's invitation to gather at the rectory to critique this edition. They suggested ways to make it work for group prayer and offered other valuable suggestions.

 

Q.

When was the Way of the Cross first prayed?

A.

Believers in Jesus who visited Jerusalem often walked the way that Jesus had walked before them. Praying the Way of the Cross outside Jerusalem appears to have begun in the 12th century. The tradition of 14 stations was first seen in Spain in the 17th century. It was encouraged by the Franciscans, and Pope Clement XII officially recognized the devotion in 1731.

Q.

Why is this Way of the Cross different from the Way of the Cross in our church?

A.

Your church's Stations of the Cross may include the traditional stations, including the three times Jesus fell and his meeting with his mother and Veronica. These events are not found in the Bible, though they have been used for several centuries.

Q.

Whose idea was it to change the Way of the Cross?

A.

It's changed many times since early Christians first tried to trace the path Jesus took to Calvary. But this particular set of stations was adopted by Pope John Paul II in 1991, recalling Jesus at the Mount of Olives, his later arrest, Peter's denial, Pilate, the scourging, the good thief and Jesus caring for his mother.

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