The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time
Walking through the Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill with our young daughters, we paused at each one to explain what the station depicted. It didn’t take long for my toddler to notice a pattern, related to her own life experience, which became her mantra for the rest of the day: “Jesus fell down.” Over and over, she repeated those words. This was something she could relate to, a connection to her own life experience of falling down again and again, skinning her knees, unbalanced by the weight of her impulsive desire to do things her own way, to satisfy her need for autonomy, which so often sends her careening out of control. (Quite literally. They don’t call them “toddlers” for nothing.)
The difference, of course, is that Jesus falls, crushed by the weight of our sins, not his own. The weight of our impulsiveness, our greed, our need to seize control of our lives which so often results in us becoming unbalanced, careening out of control, hurting ourselves and those around us. Everyone we encounter has had this experience of falling down. Reflect on the love that drove the Son to enter our weak and vulnerable condition, that drove him to skin his knees for us. What burden causes you to stumble as you follow Jesus? Are you ready to ask Jesus to bear it away – to give him control of your life? To help you see and love others as Jesus sees and loves them?
Associate Director of Family Ministry and Religious Formation
The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets his Mother
My youngest son is by far the most adventurous yet accident-prone of my three children, which is an unfortunate combination of traits to have. I will never forget the two ER visits that resulted in stitches and staples in his head. As a mother, my heart aches whenever I know that my child is suffering, and I would do absolutely anything to take away their pain. That’s what mothers do. When my children were younger, I would hug away their hurt and kiss their ouchies good bye. I wish it was that easy now. As my children grow older, I know that I can’t protect them from all the heartache and challenges that they will face. My role is not to make it all go away but to listen and ask questions which help them navigate their next steps. As they become adults, my hope and prayer is that they will always go to their mother as a source of comfort and help during their trials of life.
When Jesus meets his mother on the side of the road after having fallen, imagine how much comfort he must have felt with her embrace and words of encouragement and faith. Mary’s trust in God didn’t take away her heartache, confusion or grief but, as she bore those things in her heart, she remained hopeful in God’s love. Mary is our Mother who loves us and wants to provide us with comfort and reassurance when we are bearing our own crosses. Do you find yourself asking our Blessed Mother for help when you are struggling and need prayers? How can you be a source of comfort and help to those around you who are struggling? Like Mary, do you accompany them with trust in God in your heart?
Director of Family Ministry and Religious Formation
In lieu of the weekly message from the Priests, the staff of the Family of Four Parishes will be sharing personal reflections on the 14 Stations of the Cross throughout the six weeks of Lent. We hope that these reflections will be a prayerful way for our parish community to collectively walk alongside each other to follow Jesus during his last steps on earth. With each station, we challenge each other to respond to Christ’s call to encounter Him and others in a different way this Lent and every day of our lives.
The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death
This is how it all begins, sentenced like a common criminal, accused of crimes he has not committed. Yet, our Savior humbly accepts the criminality of all of humanity placed on His shoulders as our Passover lamb. It shakes me to think that just a few days previous, people from all walks of life were praising His name as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Now here they are, rejecting His name, casting blame on Him and sentencing Him to die.
Lent is always a time for reflection. Reflecting on ourselves, reflecting on our relationships with God, thinking of ways we have been strong in faith, and ways that we have fallen in faith. Specifically with this First Station of the Cross, I think about an aspect of living our faith that I think everyone has dealt with in positive and negative ways: going with the crowd.
How often do I put a child lock on opportunities for evangelization and Truth? Probably more than I’d care to admit. But, it is in these moments that I remember that Jesus willingly knows there will be times in my life where I let Him down, and yet, he will still go to the Cross for me, for us! Yet, we are constantly reminded that, even if we fall, there will be new opportunities in the future.
This Lent, let us call upon the Holy Spirit to provide boldness, strength and courage when opportunities come our way. The opportunities will come and, when they do, let us have the strength to stand up for what we believe in, because we never know what hangs in the balance of our decision to speak truth, even if the crowd is against us.
I pray that God will be ever-present in our interactions with ‘the crowd’ and to let His words be our words.
Associate Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry
The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Our beloved Jesus is now bearing the heavy weight of the Cross on his body. He not only carries the burden of the Cross but all the heaviness and darkness of our sin and the sins of the whole world throughout time onto his shoulders. Jesus knew how hard this journey would be for him. The previous night in his distress in the Garden of Gethsamene, Jesus fervently prayed not once but three times, “My Father, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26: 39-44). Yet because of his surrender and obedience to his Father, Jesus willingly accepted what he knew will be a long and difficult road ahead, and he now takes up the Cross with quiet humility out of his love for all of us.
My dear mother was one of the most faith-filled people I will ever know. When my siblings and I were with her four years ago at the end of her life, she shared with us a message that I will never forget – she said that we should not be afraid of the cross and that the only way to be with Jesus is to walk towards the cross. I didn’t know how that message would impact my life until this last year when I felt the burden of many crosses on my shoulders. We will all experience trials and tests in life, but the true test will be if it brings us closer to Christ. God will never give us a cross that is too heavy or a challenge too difficult for us if we remain close to him in prayer and reach out for help. He will always be there to comfort and give us hope on the journey, because it is through the Cross that we can have eternal life and happiness with our Lord – AMEN to that!
Blessings on your Lenten journey,
Director of Family Ministry and Religious Formation
February 14, 2021 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Turn Away from Sin, and Be Faithful to the Gospel
As we enter the 40 Days of Lent, the Crosses we have been carrying this past year, both individually and collectively, can make this Lent a particularly powerful time of conversion and new direction.
Jesus’ journey to the Cross is our journey, and he walks every step of the way with us! As we find new ways of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, let us be ever aware of our dear friend Jesus, urging us on to deeper trust that the Way ALWAYS leads to new and more meaningful life.
A blessed Lent!
February 7, 2021 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. They are offering up their sufferings to God, and many a time they are praying much more truly than one who goes away by themselves and meditates.”
Saint Teresa of Ávila
Peace of Christ. Though we have a God who promises to heal the brokenhearted, it is our daily experience of suffering that can make us wonder – where are you, Lord? Why did you allow this to happen? What are you trying to say in all of this? In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear not only how Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever, but also that so many others were in need of healing by Jesus. In fact, the passage tells us that the “whole town was gathered at the door”.
As we approach the year mark of the shut-down, I’ve been increasingly aware in recent days of the many people I have not been able to see for a long time. I can only imagine the areas in peoples’ lives that are in need of both physical and spiritual healing, as was the case in the Gospel. Perhaps the best thing I can do is to simply say – you are not alone! Please know that you are still remembered and prayed for. Our Lord desired to come close to those who were suffering, and your priests and parish staff want to do the same. Thanks for your faithfulness! Even if it doesn’t feel like you’ve prayed much, as St. Teresa reminds us above – if you’ve suffered much, you’ve prayed much!
Sincerely, with love,