The following Stations of the Cross were written by students at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Boston in 2002. On Good Friday of that year, the stations were prayed by more than 400 people in Boston’s Cathedral. In solidarity with victims of abuse worldwide, especially by ministers of the church, we offer them for your prayerful consideration.
Used with permission from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology (now part of Boston College). These prayers are suitable for use throughout the year, either in their entirety or as individual prayers when opening or closing a regional or affiliate VOTF gathering.
The First Station: Jesus Is Condemned -- The silence of the innocent
Though he was harshly treated he submitted and opened not his mouth: Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
Let us pray: God of Justice, we pray for our church and our world, we pray with and for our brothers and sisters who suffer, but have no voice, especially for children marked for life by violence and betrayal. You hear the cry of those who are most vulnerable and come to their defense. Help us to be attentive to their voices and their needs, that with Your strength, we may work together for justice, truth, and right. Amen.
The Second Station: Jesus Takes up His Cross -- The burden of suffering
Surely he has borne our infirmities and endured our sufferings: yet we accounted him guilty, afflicted and struck down by God. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities: upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by His bruises we are healed.
Let us pray: Jesus chose His cross and graciously bore it. We too are burdened. If we choose some suffering, most suffering is thrust upon us: we learn of a death, are diagnosed with illness, lose a job, or endure abuse. We do not choose this suffering, but we can choose how we will bear it
0 gracious God, help us to bear our burdens. When they are too heavy for us, we call on You to lift them up. For You tell us: "Come to Me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens. and I will give you rest." Amen.
The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time -- Crushed by sorrow
Psalm 69: 1 -3, 19-20
Save me, 0 God, for the waters have risen to my neck. I have sunk into the mud of the deep and there is no foothold. I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me. I am wearied with all my crying, my throat is parched. My eyes are wasted away from looking for my God.
You know how they taunt and deride me; my oppressors are all before you. Taunts have broken my heart; I have reached the end of my strength. I looked in vain for compassion for consolers; not one could I find.
Let us pray: For all abuse victims falling under the heavy burden of anguish too heavy to carry, we pray with them in their pain, fear and confusion, that they may have the endurance and receive the love that enables them to rise again. Amen.
The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother -- We grieve with our sisters and brothers
Jesus' mother and brothers came: and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd , was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking tor you." And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, '"Here are my mother and my sisters and brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Let us pray: For our children who have been hurt by their ministers, we pray. For mothers and fathers who have borne the pain of their children's suffering, we pray. For all our sisters and brothers who are angry, ashamed, saddened and disillusioned by the crimes that have been committed within the Body of Christ, we pray. Amen.
The Fifth Station: Simon Helps to Carry the Cross -- The burden of isolation
Ecclesiastes 4:7-10, 12
I found this vanity under the sun: Those who are solitary with no companion: with neither child nor sister nor brother, endlessly laboring alone. Two together are better than one alone. If one of the two falls, the other will lift them up. Woe to those who are alone! For if they should fall, they have no one to lift them up. Where one alone may be overcome, two together can stand. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.
Let us pray: Faithful God, You promised to remain with Your people until the end of the age. Do not abandon our brothers and sisters who suffer the trauma of sexual abuse, especially those abused by ordained, religious, and lay ministers in the church. Help Your people and your ministers to accompany them so that they may be supported and encouraged in their struggles and find your healing and consolation. Amen.
The Sixth Station: Veronica Offers Her Veil to Jesus -- Bearers of the image of Christ
Corinthians 15:35, 37, 42-43, 47-49
Someone may say, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?" What you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel. The seed is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown humble: it is raised glorious. It is sown weak: it is raised powerful. The first Adam was from the earth, earthly; the second Adam, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly. And as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
Let us pray: O Creator and Bearer of all that is, You formed human beings to be in Your image and have given Your faithful ones new birth through water and the Spirit. May the love of Jesus be inscribed in the hearts of Your people, bearers of the image of Christ Who has died and risen to free them from fear and shame and make them bearers of light to the world. Amen.
The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time -- Overcome with weariness
Have mercy on me, 0 God, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. I am the scorn of my adversaries. A horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my friends: those who see me in the street flee from me.
Let us pray: Help us, 0 God of all strength and compassion. Lift us up when we fall
faint from hunger,
defeated by ridicule,
silenced by force or threat,
beaten into submission.
Renew us, for gently You raise us and heal our weary souls. Amen.
The Eighth Station: Jesus meets the weeping women - Let there be no more tears
A poem by Gilbert Shaw
Weep not for me.
Weep for the Church if it should speak of peace when peace is not
Weep for shepherds who neglect the flock and fail to seek the lost.
In the wide place between the city that is lost, seeking its own good,
And Mount Golgotha, the steep ascent that leads to life.
Human beings stand
In every age and time and place
Looking upon the sacrifice
Let us pray: For victims and survivors of abuse, for those bereft of all that sustains and nurtures life, as men and women, mothers and fathers, we cry for our children and for the loss of hope. Give us the resolve to restructure our church in truth and integrity that the sound of weeping may be heard in it no more. Amen.
The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time - Forgive us our trespasses
Jesus said to his disciples, "Occasions for stumbling are sure to come, but alas for those by whom they come! It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around their neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones.”
Let us pray: God of Life, we turn toYou, the source of creation and recreation; The source of healing; The source of forgiveness. We ask Your forgiveness for great pain and injury done to Your dearly loved children. We ask Your forgiveness for failing to protect Your children entrusted to our care. We ask Your forgiveness for our complicity in a culture of silence and secrecy. We ask Your forgiveness for the mistrust and suspicion that weighs on Your faithful ministers We ask Your forgiveness for undermining the faith of Your people through this scandal. Amen.
The Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped - Human vulnerability
Psalm 28:1, 3-4
O God, my defender, I call to you. listen to my cry! I f you do not answer me, I will go down to the world of the dead. Do not condemn me with my abusers; With those who do evil; Those whose words are friendly, but who have evil in their hearts.
O God, you know, remember me and vindicate me. Avenge me on my abusers. Do not put me off: see what reproaches I endure for your sake.
Let us pray: God of salvation, heal our brothers and sisters who have been stripped of their dignity and self worth, exposed to the world in total vulnerability. Raise them up with Christ, and restore to them their dignity as children of God. Amen.
The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross - The compassion of God
2 Corinthians 4:8-11
We are aff1icted in every way, but not crushed: perplexed, but not driven to despair: persecuted. but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus. so that the life of Jesus may also he made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.
Let us pray: God of mercy and compassion, You became a human being like us in all things knowing our joys and sorrows sharing with us the labor of love, constant through abandonment, betrayal, humiliation, and torture. We live in a world that knows horrors greater than crucifixion. Do not let those who trust in You be crushed by terrors. Grant Your people the courage to remain with Your daughters and sons who suffer. Let us not become hard of heart. Help us to consider the sufferings of our brothers and sisters as our own, and to commit ourselves to opposing what threatens their humanity and their lives. Amen.
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross -- Save us O Savior!
We remember Jesus Christ, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and was born a human being. And having become in every way human, He humbled Himself in obedience to the point of death- even death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name.
Let us pray: We look to you, O Jesus, Who poured out Your life for us. Be with us when we are weak, when we are dead, when we have been betrayed and deserted by those we loved and trusted. In our weakness grant us Your courage and strength. Amen.
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken down from the Cross -- Pieta: The pierced heart cries
Jeremiah 4:19-20, 23-26
My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly: Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste.
I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; they were quaking. I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were lain in ruins.
Let us pray: For all innocent victims taken down from their crosses and for those whose arms receive their crushed bodies and spirits. We embrace all of humanity with our sorrow and pray for renewed life for those who have been humiliated and tortured. Amen.
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb -- Raise the dead
My enemies pursue me. They have crushed my life to the ground
They have left me in darkness like those long dead.
My spirit is faint within me; my heart is dismayed.
I remember the days of old; I ponder all your deeds
The works of your hands I recall. I stretch out my hands to you:
I thirst for you like a parched land. Hasten to answer me, Lord; for my spirit fails me.
Do not hide your face from me, lest I become like those descending to the pit.
At dawn let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust.
Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me, Lord from my foes, for in you I hope.
Let us pray: Font of all Grace, we ask you to restore to life those whose love has been killed by physical and emotional violation, those whose faith has been killed by secrecy and lies, those whose hope has been killed by refusal to hear their voices. Amen.
The Fifteenth Station: The Resurrection -- "Receive the Holy Spirit"
On the evening of the first day of the week when the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you.” When he said this. he showed them his hands and his side. And the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.” And He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
Let us pray: Christ of our suffering be with us now as we hope for the resurrection. Let the Spirit move freely throughout Your people. May the voice of the Spirit no longer be silenced in any member of the Body of Christ. Bring us solace. Bring us hope. Bring us a renewal of Your Church. Amen.
Concluding Prayer (to be read together by all)
We believe. loving God, that You are creating us, walking with us, helping us to be co-creators of a renewed church where all might flourish and thrive.
We believe, loving God, that You are calling us to compassion for our wor1d, our neighbors, the least among us, and at this time, the victims of sexual abuse.
We believe in a God Who is poor, Who lives in the streets, Who suffers from AIDS, Who is the target of repression, Who has been a victim of abuse, a God Who knows our sufferings and calls us to be one with each other in this world and in our church.
We believe, loving God, that You are with us in history and call us to make real the words of the prophets, that we might heal the suffering caused by sin, secrecy, deceit, the misuse of power, and all structures of domination and oppression.
We believe in a God who is human, a God among us, a God who is revealed in Jesus, who calls us to build a world of life and love and to find in that work the transcendence of divine joy.
We believe in the community of faith planted on this earth to carry out the witness of Jesus, to nurture one another on this journey with love and tenderness, to heal all who have been crucified among us, to make whole the Body of Christ.
We believe in a world and a church where there are no longer rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed, those with power and those without, those with a voice and those who are voiceless; But, where all are welcome at the banquet table, sharing the one bread in the dignity and sacredness that God has bestowed on all creation through Jesus our crucified and risen brother. Amen.