Our Lady requested of Bernadette that people should come to Lourdes to do Penance. To help us understand our need of penance we meditate on the Passion and Death of our Blessed Lord, since this was the means by which our redemption was brought about. All those on pilgrimage who are able will make the Stations of the Cross together with His Lordship the Bishop, up the hill above the Grotto, to accompany Jesus in the spirit of his last journey. A separate recitation of the Lower Stations will be led by Father John Mackie, Chaplain to the Sick, for the sick and those unable to climb the hill.
At Each Station
Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
All: Because, by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.
I love you Jesus, my love above all things; I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always, and then do with me what you will.
Our Father…, Hail Mary… , Glory be to the Father…
O Jesus who for love of Me, Did bear thy cross to Calvary,
In thy sweet mercy grant to me
To suffer and to die with thee, To suffer and to die with thee.
Jesus is condemned to death
Pilate and Jesus are two very different kinds of men. The man Pilate is a symbol of pride, the wealth and the power of the Roman Empire. The man Jesus is the true man, another humanity, a divine humanity. When Pilate condemns love, he makes the choice we sometimes make by refusing to follow a way of life open to God.
In 1858, Bernadette Soubirous was a young girl of fourteen years, uneducated, sick and living in extreme poverty with her family. Yet her life was rich because her heart was open to God and filled with the riches of his love.
At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
Jesus receives his cross
The Cross is something we often see as a burden, something heavy, painful, unwanted. Jesus did not come to glorify suffering but by taking up his cross he shows us how precious we are in the sight of God. There is no limit to his love for us which teaches us that we can turn each cross into a victory of love just like Jesus.
Bernadette had to bear many crosses in her life. But it was through carrying these crosses faithfully that she entered into the happiness of the “other world” promised by Our Lady at the Third Apparition
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing
all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has pass’d
Jesus falls a first time under the cross
Jesus came as a human being sharing all the limitations and weaknesses of human nature. His falling to the ground reminds us of our weaknesses. His getting up again reminds us that only love can enable us to overcome our wrong-doing and help us begin again.
Our Lady asked Bernadette to kiss the ground for sinners, a kiss of love, and act of self-sacrifice to heal the sins of many, to put the sinner back on his feet, to walk and walk again with Jesus.
Oh, how sad and sore distress’d
was that Mother highly blest,
of her sole-begotten One.
Jesus meets his Blessed Mother
A mother meets her Son—both in agony, both in indescribable heartache. In this man, Jesus, and in this woman, Mary, there is spoken a ‘YES’ to the Father, a ‘YES’ to love, to that divine desire to restore human relationships within the heart of love itself.
In saying ‘yes’ to the request of Our Lady, Bernadette has played her part in helping us to rediscover the wonderful message of the Gospel, the message which is the message of the plan of divine love for the human race.
Christ above in torment hangs;
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross
Simon was hauled from the crowd and forces to help. Jesus needed Simon, the Cross was heavy and he was getting weaker. We encounter those who suffer but do not want to do anything that might make us unpopular. Let us be like Simon and help others with their crosses.
Bernadette helped lighten the crosses of the sick Sisters at Nevers when she was helping in the Infirmary.
Is here one who would not weep,
whelm’d in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold.
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
A woman sees the Holy Face disfigured. She wipes that face. This simple act leaves her with the imprint of the face of Jesus on her towel. In fact, the Saviour leaves his imprint on every single act of charity as on Veronica’s towel. Let us be like Veronica and respond to those who suffer.
The muddy water that Our Lady asked her to wash in disfigured Bernadette’s face. It is a reminder to us of how our souls are disfigured by sin.
Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in the pain,
in that mother’s pain untold?
Jesus falls a second time under the cross
Jesus falls again. We fall again and again because of infidelity or hardness of heart. God does not leave us crushed by our burdens and our sin but he saves us.
Our Lady said to Bernadette: “Penance, penance, penance, pray for sinners.” We are all called to this conversion through the love God has for each of us. In this way he helps us to rise again and walk further with him.
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender child,
all is bloody scourges rent.
The women of Jerusalem mourn for Jesus
Jesus reminds us that it is not enough to have pity on those who suffer and are subject to injustice. We have to act, to commit ourselves to changing what needs to be changed in our lives and in our society.
Bernadette said: “I ask you to pray to the Immaculate Virgin to obtain for me from her Son the grace to co-operate faithfully in the plans God has for me. “
For the sins of his own nation,
saw him die in desolation,
till his spirit forth he sent.
Jesus falls a third time under the cross
Every station along this way of the cross is a mile-stone of obedience and self-deprivation. When we see Jesus failing the third time we appreciate how much he loved us.
In her last agony, Bernadette said: “I would not have believed that one has to suffer so much to die.
O thou mother! Fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.
Jesus is stripped of his clothes
When Jesus is stripped at Golgotha, not just is he stripped of his clothes, but also of his dignity, his respect, and his rights. He is also stripped of his life by the Romans. He was naked and vulnerable before the people.
Bernadette humiliated herself by kissing the ground, eating grass and washing her face in the muddy water. But she then allowed God to clothe her in his love, a love she lived the rest of her life.
Make me feel as thou has felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.
Jesus is nailed to the cross
We are surrounded by many people ‘nailed’ as it were to a bed of sickness, to a wheelchair, to pain, to suffering. It is this reality that Jesus shares as he remains nailed to the Cross. It is this suffering, this reality that Jesus wished to transform with his love. It is this suffering that He calls us also to care for and fill with his love by giving hope and giving our time, by sharing with those in need. Only love can give heart to our wounded brothers and sisters.
When nailed, as it were, to her bed of pain, Bernadette spoke of the transforming power of love when she said: “I am happier on my bed of suffering with my crucifix in my hand than a queen on her throne.”
Holy Mother, pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my saviour crucified.
Jesus dies on the cross
While pinned immobile to the cross, Jesus cried out ‘I am thirsty’. They gave him vinegar, sour wine, wine pressed form the vintage of our toil, a symbol of the bitter taste of our sinfulness.
Bernadette in her dying moments, was also given vinegar, it was used in her day as a kind of aid to revive those who had difficulty in breathing. But it also reminds us that her whole life has been a sacrifice for sinners. Bernadette’s life is an echo of the cry of Jesus dying in thirst for our love.
Let me share with thee his pain
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.
Jesus is taken down from the cross
The friends of Jesus acted out of love and they also acted out of haste in order to bury Jesus before the Feast of Passover. The Jews wanted no reminders of the Cross. But the Cross remains throughout history as a sign of God’s love for us. Jesus, taken down from the cross, is again in the arms of his mother as he was in the stable of Bethlehem and at Nazareth.
Bernadette described the Cross as the tree of life, the mysterious ladder which unites heaven and earth. God’s embracing of all peoples.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning him who mourn’d for me
all the days that I might live.
Jesus is placed in the tomb
From the moment when man, because of sin, was banished from the tree of life, the earth became a burial ground. In one of the innumerable tombs scattered all over the continents of this planet of ours, the Son of God, the man Jesus Christ conquered death with death. Jesus lies in the ground dead, yet now the earth is pregnant with eternal life.
Bernadette lived in the same hope as she looked to the happiness of the “other world” promised to her by Our Lady. Like Jesus in the tomb she waited for the life of the Resurrection.
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of you to give.
Jesus is risen from the dead
The life of Jesus does not stop at the Cross. If it did our faith would be in vain. Christ’s death won us back from death. His resurrection gives us new hope. The Cross and the Resurrection can never be separated-they are the one movement of Jesus towards the Father.
The first thing Bernadette did with our Lady was to make the Sign of the Cross. The last things Bernadette did on her death-bed was to summon up all her energy to make the Sign of the Cross. She then passed with the Sign of the Cross from this world to “the other world” the world of the Resurrection. Let us always remember that for every Good Friday there is always an Easter Sunday.
Christ has died, alleluia! Christ is risen, alleluia!
Christ will come again, alleluia! alleluia!