As we find ourselves in the midst of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, may these reflections on the Stations of the Cross help you and your families feel Christ's presence with you. It is my hope and prayer that each station will help you find Christ in our current suffering and guide you towards praying for individuals and groups directly impacted by this pandemic. As we journey with Christ, may he journey also with us. And now let us pray together.
The First Station – Jesus is Condemned to Die
As Jesus receives his death sentence, he is passive, silent, and willing to embrace the inevitable suffering that awaits him. In his passivity, Jesus actively embraces the Father and takes his first steps towards redeeming humanity.
In the midst of this pandemic, Jesus stands with all whose suffering renders them passive. We remember especially patients who must endure their illnesses and rely on the care of others. As the virus renders their bodies passive, may they actively turn to Christ, who also experienced a body made passive by suffering.
We pray now in silence for all patients ill with COVID-19.
The Second Station – Jesus Carries His Cross
As a cross beam weighing over 100 pounds is placed on his shoulders, Jesus is utterly alone and left to carry his cross by himself. No one is there to ease the burden, to help lighten the load. What loneliness Christ must have endured, as he began his climb up Golgotha.
In the midst of this pandemic, we remember that Jesus stands with all who carry their burdens alone. We remember individuals who have lost their jobs and now shoulder financial burdens. We remember the elderly who can no longer receive visitors. As they carry these crosses in isolation, may they turn to Christ, who also shouldered his cross alone.
We pray in silence for the lonely, the elderly, and those with financial struggles.
The Third Station – Jesus Falls for the First Time
The weight of the cross is too much for him. Jesus collapses onto the ground, inhaling the sand and dust of Golgotha, no doubt coughing and struggling to breathe. As he lies motionless, trapped by the weight of the cross beam, continuing on seems impossible. He doesn’t even have the strength to stand.
When Jesus collapses onto the ground, he reminds us that he stands with all who collapse under the weight of pain and suffering. We remember especially those whose lungs have collapsed as a result of this virus or complications from it. May Jesus be present to all whose bodies are crumbling under the weight COVID-19.
We pray in silence for those experiencing any type of breathing problems.
The Fourth Station – Jesus Meets His Mother
Perhaps it is the familiar face of his mother that gives Jesus the courage to stand again. Maybe he remembers a moment when he fell as a child and saw those same eyes encouraging him to get up and try again. Although Mary cannot carry the cross for him, Christ is strengthened by her love. It blankets him in his suffering.
Just as Mary’s love embraced Christ, we remember all parent’s whose love surrounds their children, especially children who are ill. We pray in a particular way for parents who are supporting their children in this time of social distancing and isolation. May the love of parents bring comfort to children and may our Blessed Mother intercede for their intentions.
We pray in silence for parents whose love and good works strengthen their children.
The Fifth Station – Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry His Cross
Simon of Cyrene is not a friend or acquaintance of Jesus. He is no family member nor disciple. He is simply a passerby, drawn in to help Jesus because time and space put them together. No longer able to carry his cross alone, Simon is asked to help Jesus, because he is nearby.
During this pandemic, there are many following in the footsteps of Simon of Cyrene. We remember in particular all doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers, who like Simon are asked to help carry the heavy crosses of patients, who are neither their friends nor family. And this often results in their need to distance themselves from their own families.
We pray in silence for all doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers.
The Sixth Station – Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
As Jesus continues his climb up Golgotha, his vision is obscured, no doubt from sweat and blood dripping from the crown of thorns. Hands occupied with the weight of the cross, Jesus is unable to wipe the sweat from his brow. Veronica, whose name means beautiful image, wipes the sweat away and does what he cannot do alone.
In the midst of this pandemic, we give thanks for all essential workers and those working tirelessly to create a vaccine, and others, who follow in the footsteps of Veronica, and keep us going because of their selfless actions. We pray for each of them and ask that they might see the face of Christ in those they serve.
We pray in silence for all essential workers and ask that God grants
wisdom to those working on a vaccine.
The Seventh Station – Jesus Falls A Second Time
Despite the help of Simon of Cyrene, Jesus falls a second time. His weakened body and the constant weight of the cross are too much for him. He collapses once more onto the ground of Golgotha, not knowing if or when he will be able to stand.
As we move through this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we hear stories of relapses, stories of patients getting better, only to have their bodies collapse once more. We remember that Jesus is present to all whose bodies collapse again and fall for a second time under the weight of illness, pain, or suffering.
We pray in silence for those who have had to return to the
hospital due to COVID-19.
The Eighth Station – Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Perhaps the familiar faces of the women, who followed him, give Jesus the strength to stand, after falling a second time. That community of women is there to support him, encourage him, pray for him, even though they cannot help bear the physical weight of the cross.
During this time of social distancing and self-isolation, we pray in gratitude for the communities, near and far, who support us, pray for us, and encourage us. We give thanks for the Saint Thomas More community that continues to pray for all its members. Like the women of Jerusalem, these communities sustain us, as we continue to bear the weight of this pandemic.
We pray in silent gratitude for the support of our communities.
The Ninth Station – Jesus Falls for the Third Time
The long and painful journey continues. Almost at the top of Golgotha, Jesus falls for the third time. His body is crumbling under the weight of suffering. Hands pressed to the ground as though in prayer, Jesus pauses for a moment, perhaps embracing the reality that awaits.
Jesus reminds us that he knows the experience of walking in fear and uncertainty. He knows the terror, the questions, the fright that accompanies such a journey. In the midst of this pandemic, we remember those who are fearful, in pain, and those who like Jesus will not recover from a third fall. May Jesus be especially present to each of them as they seek to continue on.
We pray in silence for all who are struggling with fear and uncertainty.
The Tenth Station – Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
The final act of humiliation for this condemned prisoner: the stripping of his garments. As Roman authorities strip Jesus, they remove what little is left of his dignity and personhood. He is now nearly naked and unidentifiable from the others who will be crucified with him.
In this moment of profound vulnerability, Jesus stands with all poor and marginalized people experiencing this pandemic. We remember the homeless, who cannot self-isolate; prisoners, who cannot maintain social distance; and the poor, who are without health insurance. We pray also for policy makers, that their decisions will support the vulnerable, keep us safe, and inspire us to protect one another.
We pray in silence for the poor, the homeless, prisoners, and all policy makers.
The Eleventh Station – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Nails don’t hold Jesus to the cross; love does. It is his love for each of us, his desire to die for our sins, his yearning to grant us salvation that fastens him to the wood cross. Nothing can separate us from his love.
In the midst of this pandemic, we pray for all who feel separated from Christ’s love and for those who doubt God’s presence. May God grant each of us the grace to view this pandemic through the lens of the cross. Trusting that even in the midst of death and darkness God’s love is still there.
We pray in silence for those who feel separated from God.
The Twelfth Station – Jesus Dies on the Cross
With head bowed, Jesus breathes his last. It is finished, and in this moment, we gaze upon the humility of our God, whose love will defeat death. As the earth shakes and rocks are split, the cross remains, and the redemptive power of love takes root.
In this pandemic, we remember in a special way, all who have died, particularly those who have died alone, and those who have died with no one to pray for them. We remember that Jesus died on the cross so that we do not have to face death alone. He is present, and his redemptive love accompanies us home.
We pray in silence for the souls of all who have died in this pandemic.
The Thirteenth Station – Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
The hands that remove the body of Jesus do not belong to a close friend or family member. They belong to Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple who asked Pilate if he might take Jesus’ body off the cross. Like with Simon of Cyrene, Joseph is outside of Jesus’ intimate circle, but there to offer him mercy at the time of his death.
In the midst of this pandemic, we remember again the compassion of all nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers who accompany patients as they die. Although not part of their intimate circle, they are there to offer mercy at the time of death. We pray in gratitude for all morgue workers, funeral homes, and all who labor to care for the dead.
We pray in silence for those, who like Joseph of Arimathea, bring
dignity to those who have died.
The Fourteenth Station – Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
Together, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, give Christ a dignified burial. The smells of myrrh and aloe fill the air, as they clean the body and blanket it with a shroud. As the body is placed in a garden tomb, darkness approaches. Being observant Jews, Joseph and Nicodemus head back to their communities for the Sabbath.
Little did they know that our community would be remembering them 2,000 years later, remembering their courage, when other disciples had scattered. Joseph and Nicodemus, two secret disciples, found strength in one another to publicly bury our Lord. In this pandemic, we, too, find our strength and courage in each other. We pray together and accompany one another in the stillness of the garden tomb.
We pray now for each other and all the intentions you wish to
place in the darkness of Christ’s tomb.
To view the recorded livestream presentation of Stations of the Cross in a Pandemic visit https://stm.yale.edu/youtubelive-mass.