Monday, April 2, 2012

The Eighth Station of the Cross

Monday, Last Week in Lent:
Jesus Speaks to the Sorrowing Women of Jerusalem

A fascinating theory about the Daughers of Jerusalem is that they were not, in fact, followers of Jesus' but devout Jewish women who mourned in a customary ritualistic manner the death of a condemned man.  This interpretation of Jesus' use of the precise words "Daughters of Jerusalem" (Luke 23: 26-31) lends a slightly different understanding of His admonition: "Weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children."  We know that Jesus wept over the fate of Jerusalem  and, knowing the rest of the sorrowful history of the Jewish people, we can see reason for His warning.  It's an interesting theory. But, if we believe the Daughters of Jerusalem were some of the first Christian women, we would not be surprised, either, that they courageously took their place at the center of the Passion.  Women are like that.  They were guarding their own in the best way they could. 

In one of  Bp.Fulton J. Sheen's TV programs in the '60s, he praised the women in Jesus' life.  In the story of the crucifixion, the bishop asserted, "none of the women failed."   It's true.  Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but bowed to pressure and allowed Him to be condemned to death; Peter flew off the handle in the Garden of Olives slicing off a guard's ear, then later, as Christ foretold, he denied even knowing his Master;  all the rest of the apostles save only John, hid in fear and trembling from the arrest of Jesus until the Pentecost.  But the women, leading with their hearts, followed Our Lord as closely as they could from the moment they heard there was trouble.  The Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalen were present through the crucifixion, together with St. John; Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate, tried to influence her husband to save Jesus; St. Veronica braved the wrath of the Roman soldiers to wipe the face of Our Lord; Mary Magdalen and Mary, the mother of James, seeing that well-meaning Joseph of Arimethea had not properly prepared Jesus' body for burial, got ready the oils and spices they would need to do so themselves after the Sabbath and so it was they (and Salome) who first discovered that Jesus had risen from the dead; and it was Mary Magdalen who first saw Him. (Mark 16)  Men (often) scratch their heads, puzzle things through and hesitate; women  think with their hearts -- and their feet and their hands. 

Talking with the children about the eighth station...

Isn't it amazing that, in the midst of His pain and suffering, Jesus pauses on the path to the crucifixion to show sympathy to the women of Jerusalem?  This is so typical of our loving God.  But do we imitate His example of selflessness, or do we sometimes get so wrapped up in our own troubles that we forget others'?  If we're having a hard time, are sick, or troubled it's easy to forget that our own problems aren't the center of the universe. We're all guilty of this kind of bottomless vortex of self pity at times.   But Jesus was never so selfish.  In His worst agony, He was thinking of us. And we need to learn from Him as in all things.   No matter how hard our lives are, we can always find someone in more need of sympathy.  The best remedy for the disease of self pity is to seek out others less fortunate and to lose track of our own sorrows in finding a way to help them. 

The Eighth Station (St. Alphonsus deLiguori)
Jesus Speaks to the Women

V: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. (Genuflect)
R: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. (Rise)
V: Consider how the women wept with compassion seeing Jesus so distressed and dripping with blood as he walked along. Jesus said to them, ``Weep not so much for me, but rather for Your children.'' (Kneel)

R: My Jesus, laden with sorrows, / I weep for the sins which I have committed against You / because of the punishment I deserve for them; / and, still more, because of the displeasure they have caused You / who have loved me with an infinite love. / It is Your love, more than the fear of hell, / which makes me weep for my sins. / My Jesus, I love You more than myself; / I am sorry that I have offended You. / Never allow me to offend You again. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)

O sweet Mother! Fount of Love,
Touch my spirit from above
Make my heart with yours accord.

Eighth Station ( St. Francis of Asissi)
 Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.

Moved by compassion, these devoted women weep over our suffering Savior. But He turns to them and says: "Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. Weep for your sins and those of your children; for they are the cause of My suffering." You also must weep over your sins, for there is nothing more pleasing to our Lord and more useful to yourself than the tears you shed out of contrition for your sins.

O Jesus, * who shall give my eyes a torrent of tears, * that I may day and night weep over my sins? * I beseech Thee by Thy bitter and bloody tears * to move my heart, * so that tears may flow in abundance from my eyes, * and that I may weep over Thy sufferings * and over my sins until death.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

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