Friday, Fifth Week in Lent
Simon the Cyrenean helps Jesus Carry His Cross
"As they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon the Cyrenean who was coming in from the fields. They put a crossbeam on Simon's shoulder for him to carry along behind Jesus." —Luke 23:26
Talking with the children about the fifth Station of the Cross
Isn't it a comfort to know that in the midst of all the horror and agony of the passion and crucifixion, Our Lord did receive some moments of love and compassion? The first such instance recorded in the Stations is His meeting with His mother (in the fourth Station); the second is His meeting up with Simon of Cyrene; the third we will pray about tomorrow when Veronica aids Him, and before He reaches Calvary, at the eighth Station, Jesus meets the sorrowing women of Jerusalem. Every one of these examples shows us that all the world was not filled with hate that terrible day, but there's a difference about the comfort given by Simon the Cyrenian in the fifth Station: it was not voluntary.
But what are the lessons here? First of all, it's always interesting to see how conversions can come in the most unlikely ways for the most unlikely people! It's a wonderful study reading about remarkable conversions. There is a website devoted to these tales that is fascinating to read with the children.
By the time Simon got Jesus and his Cross to the top of Calvary, he probably wished he'd been there to help at the start of the journey instead of just the last leg of it. No doubt he was sorry he'd been so reluctant to take up the cross in the first place, but there is little doubt that in the end he was glad he'd been given the job. He lost a few hours of a Friday morning, but he gained his immortal soul. We can learn and merit like Simon did. Our daily calls to help -- we often call them "chores" -- are the duties of our station in life also given to us by God. If we choose to think of them that way we are taking the part of Simon, ascending Calvary with Christ. And at the end of the road is Paradise.
The Fifth Station (St. Alphonsus de Liguori):
Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
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 weak and weary Jesus was. At each step He was at the point of expiring. Fearing that He would die on the way when they wished Him to die the infamous death of the cross, they forced Simon of Cyrene to help carry the cross after Our Lord. (Kneel)
R: My beloved Jesus / I will not refuse the cross as Simon did: / I accept it and embrace it. / I accept in particular the death that is destined for me / with all the pains that may accompany it. / I unite it to Your death / and I offer it to You. / You have died for love of me; / I will die for love of You and to please You. / Help me by Your grace. / I love You, Jesus, my Love; / I repent of ever having offended You. / Never let me offend You again. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)
Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain
In that Mother's pain untold?
Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Simon of Cyrene was forced to help our exhausted Savior carry His Cross. How pleased would Jesus have been, had Simon offered his services of his own accord. However, Simon was not invited by Christ as you are. He says: "Take up your cross and follow Me." Nevertheless you recoil, and carry it grudgingly.
O Jesus, * whosoever does not take up his cross and follow Thee, * is not worthy of Thee. * Behold, I cheerfully join Thee on the way of the cross. * I desire to carry it with all patience until death, * that I may prove worthy of Thee.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
Lenten Stational Church in Rome
Thursday, fifth week in Lent, S. Apollinare in Campo Marzio.
You can find a great little history of this church here. And, for more information, pictures and an aerial map of St. Apollinare's location in Rome, you can go here.