A Gospel Way of the Passion with St Francis and St Clare
The Paschal Mystery is the heart of our faith as Christians.
René Giraud, the French philosopher who returned to his belief as a Catholic said,"violence is the heart and secret spirit of the sacred." He goes on to point out that, in the paschal mystery of Christ, this terrible chain is broken forever. According to him, Jesus unmasks and breaks the mechanism of the scapegoat that makes violence sacred, making himself the victim of all violence.
It is no longer man who offers sacrifices to the gods, but God who 'sacrifices' Himself for humanity. The Son of God, as St Clare says, has become our way; we follow the fulfillment of the Lord Jesus giving himself in the Last Supper through the path of the cross to the victory over all violence and death that is His resurrection.
The Way of the Cross is a Franciscan devotion, originally suggested by St Leonard of Portmaurice to help those who came to pray at his 'retiro' to discover their own worth in God's eyes. He would say to those who came to pray with him: "You, you alone, were worth all this to God!"
The Son of God has become our way, freely and in joy we live with Christ on this journey:
In the silence that envelops this night, in the silence that envelops Holy Saturday, touched by the limitless love of God, we live awaiting the dawn of the third day, the dawn of the victory of the love of God, the dawn of the light that enables the eyes of the heart to see life, difficulties and suffering in a new way. Our failures, our disillusionments, our bitternesses that seem to signal the collapse of everything, are enlightened by hope. The act of love of the cross, confirmed by the Father and the radiant light of the resurrection, envelopes and transforms everything.
From betrayal, friendship can be born;
from rejection, pardon;
from hate, love.
End of the Via Crucis April 2 2010
I The Last Supper
During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it and gave it to his disciples:
"Take, eat. This is my body."
Taking the cup and thanking God he gave it to them: 'Drink this, all of you. This is my blood,
God's new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins. I'll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I'll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father."
Behold, each day he humbles himself as when he came from the royal throne into the Virgin's womb; each day he himself comes to us, appearing humbly; each day he comes down from the bosom of the Father, upon the altar, in the hands of a priest.
As he revealed himself to the holy apostles in true flesh, so he reveals himself to us now in sacred bread. And as they saw only his flesh by an insight of their flesh, yet believed that He was God as they contemplated him with their spiritual eyes, let us, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, see and firmly believe that they are his most holy body and blood, living and true. And in this way the Lord is always with his faithful, as he himself says: Behold I am with you until the end of the age.
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
and transform your entire being into the image
of the Godhead itself through contemplation.
So that you too may feel what his friends feel
as they taste the hidden sweetness
that God himself has reserved from the beginning
for those who love him.
Letter III to Saint Agnes of Prague.
II The agony in the garden
Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation."
He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, 'Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want, but what do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
Nevertheless, he placed his will in the will of his Father, saying: Father, let your will be done; not as I will, but as you will. His Father's will was such that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should offer himself through his own blood as a sacrifice and oblation on the altar of the cross: not for himself through whom all things were made, but for sins, leaving us an example that we might follow his footprints.
And he wishes all of us to be saved through him.
Letter to all the Faithful
Once it was the day of the Most Holy Supper on which our Lord loved his own unto the end. Towards evening, as the hour of the Lord's agony drew near, Clare, in sorrow and sadness, shut herself up in the seclusion of her cell. In prayer she followed the Lord in his prayer, and in soul sorrowful even unto death felt and shared the sorrow of Christ.
Life of St. Clare. Ch. 21.
III Judas betrays Jesus
He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said,
"What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give into temptation."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one
from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said Judas,
you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
Consider in what great excellence the Lord God has placed you, for he created and formed you in the image of his beloved Son according to the body and to his likeness according to the Spirit.
And all creatures under heaven serve, know, and obey their Creator, each according to its own nature, better than you. And even the demons did not crucify him, but you, together with them, have crucified him and are still crucifying him by delighting in vices and sins.
Through your sacred wounds I beseech you
forgive me all the sins I have committed
in thought, word and deed
by neglect in your service
and by following my own will.
Prayer of the Five Wounds.
IV Peter denies Jesus
Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed but
at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and
said "This man was with him!"
He denied it. "Woman, I don't even know him."
A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, "You're one of them."
But Peter denied it: 'Man, l am not."
About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "He's got to have been with him! He's got 'Galilean' written all over him."
Peter said, 'Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.
Let us all love the Lord God
who has given and gives to each one of us
our whole body, our whole soul and our whole life,
who has created, redeemed and will save us by his mercy alone,
who did and does everything good
for us; miserable and wretched,
rotten and foul,
ungrateful and evil ones.
Rule of 1221. (Ch.2.3).
Close your ears to the whispering of hell
and oppose its onslaughts with all your might,
gladly undergo ill fortune,
and let not prosperity lift you up.
All this calls for strong faith for
these things could bring it to destruction.
What you have promised to God render to him faithfully
and he will reward you.
Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges.
V Jesus is mocked, scourged, and crowned with thorns
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried -
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him - our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
Let every creature
in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths,
give praise, glory, honour and blessing
to him who suffered so much,
who has given and will give in the future every good,
for he is our power and strength,
who alone is good,
who alone is almighty,
who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious
and who alone is holy,
worthy of all praise and blessing
through endless ages.
Letter to the Faithful.
Your Spouse, more beautiful than the sons of men, became, for your salvation, the lowest of men, despised, struck, scourged untold times in his whole body.
Letter II to Agnes of Prague.
VI Jesus is condemned to death
Pilate went back into the palace and said to Jesus, "Where did you come from?" Jesus gave no answer.
Pilate said, 'You won't talk? Don't you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to - crucify you?
Jesus said, 'You haven't a shred of authority over me except what has
been given you from heaven. That's why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault."
At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down: If you pardon this man, you're no friend of Caesar's. Anyone setting himself up as 'king' defies Caesar.
When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside. He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (in Hebrew, Gabbatha).
It was preparation day for Passover. The hour was noon. Pilate said to the Jews, "Here is your king."
They shouted back, "Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him."
Pilate said, "Am I to crucify your king?"
The high priests answered, "We have no king except Caesar."
Pilate caved in to their demand He turned him over to be crucified.
The proud have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life.
To you they pay no heed.
I am reckoned as one in the tomb;
I have reached the end of my strength,
like one alone among the dead.
You are my most holy Father,
my king and my God.
Make haste and come to my help,
O, Lord, my God, my Saviour.
St Francis' Office of the Passion, Matins.
Grant me to be victorious over your enemies,
so that by the power of your grace I may overcome them.
And by your holy death deliver me from all dangers,
present and to come,
and make me worthy to share the glory of your kingdom.
Prayer of the Five Wounds.
VII Jesus Falls Beneath the Cross
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began
and finished this race we're in. Study how
he did it. Because he never lost sight of
where he was headed - that exhilarating
finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he is there, in the place of honour, right alongside God.
O how glorious it is to have a holy and great Father in heaven! O how holy, consoling to have such a beautiful and wonderful Spouse! O how holy and how loving, gratifying, humbling, peace-giving, sweet, worthy of love, and, above all things, desirable: to have such a Brother and such a Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for his sheep.
Letter to all the Faithful.
Consider the humility,
the blessed poverty,
the untold labours and burdens he sustained for the human race.
"All you who pass by,
look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow."
Letter IV to Agnes of Prague.
VIII Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross
There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father
of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus' cross.
Let all of us, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who bore the suffering of the cross to save his sheep. The Lord's sheep followed him in tribulation and
persecution, in shame and hunger, in weakness and temptation, and in others
ways; and for these things they received eternal life from the Lord. Therefore it
is a great shame for us, the servants of God, that the saints have accomplished
great things and we want only to receive glory and honour by recounting them.
Look upon him
who for your sake became despised
and follow him,
even though for his sake you are despised in this world.
Letter II to Agnes of Prague.
IX Jesus Speaks to the Sorrowful Women
A huge crowd of people followed along with women weeping and carrying on.
At one point Jesus turned to the women and said "Daughters of Jerusalem,
don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming
when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs
that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll
start calling to the mountains, 'Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, 'Cover us up!'
If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do
Adore the Lord God with a clean heart and a pure mind; that is what he wants above all else.
Let us always make a home and dwelling place there for him who is the Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who says: Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.
Rule of 1221, Ch 22.
Deep and full of tenderness was her lament over the Passion of the Lord. The tears of the suffering Christ inebriated her, and her memory often recalled to her him whom love had impressed so deeply on her heart. She taught the sisters to lament Christ crucified, and what she thus taught by words she showed forth in her life. For often when she was leading them to pray in secret for these things she would give way to tears before she began to speak.
Life of St.Clare. Ch. 20.
X Jesus is stripped and nailed to the cross
These are the wounds I received in the house of my friends.
Christ to Francis on La Verna:
Do you know what I have done for you?
I have given you the emblems of my passion,
so that you may be my standard bearer."
The love of him who loved us is much to be loved.
Love him in complete surrender,
who has given himself entirely for your love.
Letter III to Agnes of Prague.
XI Jesus promises Paradise to a thief
One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"
But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God?
You're getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him - he did nothing to deserve this." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."
He said, "'Don't worry. I will. Today you will join me in paradise."
All-powerful, most holy,
Almighty and supreme God,
Holy and just Father,
Lord King of heaven and earth
we thank you for yourself
for through your holy will
and through your only Son
with the Holy Spirit
you have created everything spiritual and corporal
and, after making us in your own image and likeness,
you placed us in paradise.
Through our own fault we fell.
We thank you
for as through your Son you created us,
so through your holy love
with which you loved us
you brought about his birth
as true God and true man
by the glorious, ever-virgin, most blessed, holy Mary
and you willed to redeem us captives
through His cross and blood and death.
Rule of 1221, Ch.23.
Look up to heaven, dear one which beckons us on and take up your cross and follow Christ who has gone this way before us. For whatever we may suffer here we shall enter through him into his glory.
Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges.
XII Jesus gives his mother to the Church
Jesus' mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then to the disciple, 'Here is your mother." From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.
Holy Virgin Mary,
Of all women on earth
there is none like you;
you are the daughter and handmaid
of the most high king and Father of heaven;
you are the mother
of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ;
you are the bride of the Spirit.
Pray for us,
with St. Michael the archangel
and all the powers of heaven
and all the saints,
to your most holy beloved Son,
our Lord and Master.
Antiphon to the Office of the Passion
Love God from the depths of your heart and Jesus, his Son, who was crucified for sinners. Never let the thought of him leave your mind. Meditate constantly on the mysteries of the cross and the sorrows of his dear mother as she stood beneath the cross.
Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges.
XIII Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, "I am thirsty."
A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the Wine, Jesus said, "It's done - complete." Bowing his head he offered up his spirit.
My Lord Jesus Christ, I pray you to grant me two graces before I die: the first is that during my life I may feel in my soul and in my body, as much as possible, that pain which you, dear Jesus, sustained in the hour of your most bitter Passion. The second is that I may feel in my heart, as much as possible, that excessive love with which you, O Son of God, were inflamed in willingly enduring such suffering for us sinners.
Prayer on La Verna - Fioretti.
desire to imitate him:
if you suffer with him, you shall reign with him,
if you weep with him, you shall rejoice with him.
If you die with him on the cross of sorrow,
you shall possess heavenly mansions in the brightness of the saints
and your name shall be ever, in the book of life,
called glorious among humankind.
Letter II to Agnes of Prague.
XIV Jesus rises from the dead
Jesus had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death - and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth - even those long ago dead and buried - will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour of God the Father.
Sing a new song to the Lord,
for he has worked wonders;
his right hand and his holy arm
have consecrated his beloved Son.
The Lord has made known his salvation:
he has shown his justice to the nations.
By day the Lord will send his loving kindness;
by night I will sing to him, praise the God of my life.
This day was made by the Lord,
we rejoice and are glad.
Blessed in the name of the Lord is he who comes:
the Lord God is our light.
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad;
let the sea and all within it thunder praise;
let the land and all it bears rejoice.
Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name!
Office of the Passion. Matins for Easter Sunday.
Happy the soul to whom it is given to attain this life with Christ,
to cleave with all one's heart to him
whose beauty all the heavenly hosts behold forever,
whose love enflames our love,
whose contemplation is our refreshment,
whose graciousness is our delight,
whose gentleness fills us to overflowing,
whose remembrance gives sweet light,
whose fragrance revives the dead,
whose glorious vision will be the happiness of the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.
For he is the brightness of eternal glory,
he splendour of eternal light,
the mirror without spot.
Letter lV to Agnes of Prague.
The scriptural format of the Stations that follow has been used on Good Friday in the Colosseum. The Scripture quotations used here are taken from the message version. We have chosen it for the sense of urgency it imparts.The illustrations are from our public chapel,
Message translation. Copyright © by Eugene Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995. NavPress Publishing Group.
Quotations from St Clare mainly from Regis Armstrong OFM Cap Clare, the Early Documents.
Quotations from St Francis mainly from Regis Armstrong OFM Cap Francis, the Early Documents