Once, it was pointed out to me that the Stations of the Cross can be sort of fit into this mystery. I've been praying it that way ever since. (The first station has kind of already happened by this point, though, and it works out best if you just gloss over that as far as counting them on the Hail Mary beads goes.)
Jesus Takes Up His Cross
Jesus Falls the First Time
He's only just picked up the cross and already He's fallen? Little wonder our New Year's resolutions and whatnot last mere days before we slip. The important thing, of course, is that He gets right back up.
Jesus Meets His Mother
The most striking commentary I've ever heard on this mystery is from a homily of my old pastor, Fr P. I can't recall how he phrased it so as not to sound cumbersome at the outset (as my own words here are bound to do), but he asked what words Jesus would have read in her eyes in that one moment? Fr P then declared that they must have been words of encouragement, a sort of "You can do it!", with perhaps a hint of "I'm so proud of you!" (ok that last part I think I've added on over the years). When he first said that, I thought it was cool but VERY hard to wrap my mind around! But as time has gone on, I've come to see how one can put aside one's own feelings in support of another, knowing that the greater good was truly being served. I'm not doing justice to the idea here, but I really do think it's the most perfect presentation of this moment of connection between the New Adam and the New Eve on the path to Calvary that I've ever heard.
Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
I've always identified with Veronica. Anybody know where we keep her veil? 'Cuz undoubtedly it's perfectly preserved somewhere in Christendom. I love being Catholic!
Jesus Falls the Second Time
I have long found this to be one of the more painful stations. After three stops of other people providing aid or comfort to our Blessed Lord, He falls again - so soon after Veronica had wiped His Face! If only this station was switched in order with the one before it; then at least her kindness to Him would have lasted longer. But alas!
Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Can you imagine being one of those women? Upset for the injustice to this poor innocent man (or maybe they actually believed in Him; who knows?), and expressing to Him their sympathy, and instead He tells them to shove it? Not really, but that must be what they felt like at the time. 'Don't cry for me, but for yourselves and your children.' Seriously? Why should I weep for my perfectly happy, healthy child when you're over here being beaten slowly to death? Scary words!
Jesus Falls the Third Time
I once read reference to someone "sinning like a Christian" - that is to say, he'd fall into sin, but he'd get right back up again and keep trying, no matter how many times he sinned. That's where we should be.
Jesus is Stripped of His Clothes
The pain of clotted wounds being ripped open! The humiliation of being stripped naked for all to see! *sighs* I'm so glad He did this so I wouldn't have to.
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
When I was a child, this was always the station that sent shivers down my spine. Of all the painful things Jesus went through, having nails pounded through your hands and feet always took the cake for me. My hands almost hurt just thinking about it!
Any stations that occur after this point belong more properly to the fifth sorrowful mystery, so I'll address them next week. I hope.