The cross that we behold, the cross that is the central symbol of our faith, held the body of the One whose only crime was that He loved us without condition or reservation and that Jesus was willing to show the depth of His love with the ultimate and absolute sacrifice. “Greater love than this no man has than that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) This was the love of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for us, His friends. It was He, this criminal who was considered unworthy of human life and breath and, so, put to death on a cross, it was Jesus whose death made all human life worthy; whose sacrifice made every human breath holy.
The cross is the central and most widely known symbol of Christianity and has been for over two thousand years. In a world where little seems permanent, where things come and go easily, where passing fads are commonplace, where so much is considered relative, the fact that a symbol has endured for so long everywhere should convey something to everyone who sees it, even to those who do not believe in Christ or Christianity or religion.
My sisters and brothers, the cross is not a decoration or merely a symbol. The cross is the most powerful reminder of the greatest love the world has ever known: one wooden beam pointing from the earth to the sky, pointing our attention to God; another wooden beam pointing from east to west, pointing our attention to our fellow human beings. And what brings those two wooden beams, those two directions together, is a single body, His body, Jesus Christ, whose life of suffering and transforming love was a life and a love for all: a crucified love that has endured and will continue to endure. A love that transformed the world. It is love that binds us together as one universal Christian body.
As Benedictine sisters the Stations of the Cross allow us to pray with scripture and be with our Beloved on Good Friday. Please join us as we pray the stations (see below). As you reflect on the stations or the journey of Jesus to his death I would suggest that you personalize the prays to reflect your experience. This is transformational journey engulfing our pain with Jesus and releasing its hold on us so we can be free to love more deeply. Let us keep our eyes on the cross knowing in our hearts how deeply we are loved and forgiven Christian people.
First Station: Bless each Sister in our Community to embrace the struggles of life whither that be health, broken relationships, and quick judgments of the other. Give each of us the strength, perseverance, endurance and unceasing pray to stay the course.
Second Station: Each member of our Community has crosses to bare, grant us the wisdom, kindness and love to support our sisters when their cross becomes a burden.
Third Station: As a community we assist with charity each sister that has fallen do to the weight of their cross. My heart is filled with compassion.
Fourth Station: We pray for our mothers here on earth or in heaven thanking them for their unconditional love. Our dearest Blessed Mother, it is with humble hearts that we ask for prayers to assist us to love your Son and all the members of the body of Christ.
Five Station: We pray that we are pillars of strength for those in need. For each Sister in our Community that have hidden, broken relationships and unable to ask for assistance.
Sixth Station: A question, “Do I need to be asked before I act in consoling manner to one of my sisters?” Our prayer is to move with Compassion as our beloved Jesus modeled.
Seventh Station: Do I/we have to fall before we can heal? What cruelty did we inflict on the members of the body of Christ or on one of our sisters?
Eighth Station: Bless the holy tears of our community as we recognize our short comings and the times we have failed to love. As Benedictine women may we be united to all our Religious Sisters in America in wisdom, prayer and love.
Ninth Station: Let us not reopen old wounds. Create in us a new heart to spread the news of the Gospel. Enkindle in us a sincere desire to amend our lives.
Tenth Station: Assist us to live our monastic vow of poverty. Let us recognize and strip away our false self.
Eleventh Station: We pray to be a model of contemplative living. My outward approach to speech, gestures and actions are reflective of a nonviolent way to live with in community and with our neighbors.
Twelfth Station: Let us be merciful, kind, and live in gratitude and wonderment.
Thirteenth Station: Let us embrace silence and hear the voice of God within and rest in knowing we are deeply loved, blessed and forgiven.
Fourteenth Station: Let all who step over the threshold of our Lady of Peace Chapel be blessed and healed and find the love of Christ amongst us.
Mary Colleen Schwarz, OSB