Everyman's Way of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross commemorate fourteen key events in Christ's last earthly journey, culminating in his crucixion and being laid to rest in the tomb.

For many years, the observation of the 'Stations' has been an important feature of week-night worship during Lent and Holy Week at Saint Faith's, as at countless other Christian churches worldwide. Each week the faithful move around the church, pausing in turn at each of the representations of  a stage in Jesus's journeying to his death. At each, we listen to readings and prayers, which highlight the meaning of each event and seek to interpret it in terms of the Christian life today. The observation of the fourteenth and final station is followed by a celebration of the Eucharist.

During the course of Lent, and over the years, we have listened to many different sets of readings and prayers. The service on the evening of the Monday in Holy Week, 2007, however, was memorable in that a different member of the congregation read the words and prayers at each station. The version that was used was equally distinctive: "Everyman's Way of the Cross" put powerful and challenging words in the mouths of various participants and bystanders at each of the staging points of the journey.

Below we reproduce, as an aid to devotion and contemplation during  Holy Week, and  indeed at any time during the year, the words we used.

The striking Stations of the Cross at St Faith's are positioned around the church. The pilgrimage begins in the Lady Chapel, proceeds down the south side pillars to the back of church, then back up the north side pillars, with the final four stages fittingly positioned in the Chapel of the Cross. The Great Crucifix, normally hung on the east wall of the chapel to which it gives its name, is moved during Lent to a position above the High Altar, in front of the closed reredos.

Click here to see pictures of the Stations of the Cross at Saint Faith's, and to read more about their history and meaning.


We adore you O Christ, and we bless you;
Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

1st Station:    Jesus is condemned to death

Pontius Pilate
I am Pilate, Roman Procurator. Yes it is I.
I am condemned, in the 19th year of the Emperor Tiberius, to put this man Jesus to death for you. Yes YOU! I will wash my hands of this man's blood, but how will you wash your souls? For me it is a matter of `keeping the peace' - the peace of the empire. In positions like mine there are so many considerations. It is expedient for one man to die and to prevent a violent revolt when many might be killed. But what's your excuse?
Oh, you think that because you live after the event there can be no blame!
"What have I got to do with it?" you ask. Look around friend. Look at your society: the violence, the lack of justice, the poverty, the sickness brought about by a divided world of rich and poor. Do you protest? All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
The crowds were all calling for blood; the few couldn't be heard amidst the clamour for vengeance. I gave the crowd what they wanted. You do exactly the same. You are Pilate as much as I. You have no excuse. I have no excuse. Jesus, I wash my hands of the deed. Only your blood can wash my soul.

You are right Pilate, we are as guilty as you. There is NO excuse. And yet Jesus says, "Father forgive ..." For us, there is still time to change our verdict. Have we the strength of character to say `no'?
Remember us, Jesus, when you come as King.

Lord, faced with. the truth of your life and passion,
we turn inwards to repent, outwards to forgive,
and God-wards to receive the strength of your grace.
Help us to follow your way, even if it may lead us to the cross.
For there you reign in glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2nd Station:    Jesus receives his cross

Roman Guard
Don't you look at me, I'm only doing my duty. "Scourge him and crucify him",
those were the words of my officer. Just another troublemaker as far as I was concerned. How did I know who he was? And what do you think would have happened to me if I refused to obey orders? What about my wife and family? You blame the Jews: they forced the issue. Peace in our time, that's what we want. Get back home safe, that's what I want. Don't be difficult: follow the party line. Are you under orders? Have you joined up? You joined the Church but so what?
Look holy on Sundays and do what you like during the week.
I can't see you protesting when the cross is placed on the shoulders of others. Can't see you breaking ranks to accept it yourselves.

We want to have the strength. We want to say "no". We want time to think -- to weigh up the merits of the case. But it's too late, he's on his way. Nothing can stop him now.

Father, we stand as witnesses to your Passion in the life of today. Help us to protest when you are led out to die,
when you and your children are tortured may we speak up and act before the first blow, not the last: before it is too late, and not after.
May your journey to Calvary end today. We ask this for your name's sake. Amen.

3rd Station:    Jesus falls the first time

We fled. We were his friends. Did I say "were"? I was with him through his ministry; I saw and believed. Peter said "You are the Son of God" and I believed it. Now he falls beneath the heavy load of his cross; my disbelief. Yes, I fall too. I have fallen away from him, my friend, my Lord. He is the only one who can raise me to my feet again, and yet I am afraid to look into his eyes. Will you guide my hand and place it in his? Or perhaps you too cannot face him? It is for you as well as for me that he carries his cross. This is his sign of friendship to the world. What is yours?

I cannot face him either. I raise my hands everytime the bread is broken and he freely gives. No questions are asked, and yet "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you."

Lord, only say the word and I shall be healed from my many falls away from your truth. My faith is so weak and the cross so heavy: life is a struggle. May you always be with me to share my load. You fell under a cross of wood; give me the strength not to fall away from you; by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

4th Station:   Jesus meets his mother

My life must go on even though my heart is nailed upon a cross. Life is so precious for you and yet mine is empty. I held him as a child, played with him as a boy, followed him as a man. I didn't understand him at times. Yet he was mine. And now he dies. For what? Yet, in my heart 1 know he will never leave me alone, "Woman, behold thy son - behold thy mother". Son, it is you that I love, but you push me into the world, to care for all people. I will do as you ask, but never leave me.

He will never leave you Mary.
He will always listen to you and hear your prayers. Mary, remember us.

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women. For you conceived the Son of God, the Christ, our Redeemer. Amen"

5th Station:  Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross.

Why me? I just came in from Libya on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and now I've become involved.
A privilege, you say? If it's such a privilege why are you not pushing forward to help?

You are right, Simon, we are always asking the question 'why me?' when something goes wrong. The cross is heavy. It's embarrassing; it requires time and effort. But, why not me if that is what our Lord requires?

Lord, there is no excuse from taking taking up your cross; and yet we are weak and afraid of what people may say.
Fill us with the spirit of mission that we may walk with you to the cross and herald you as Christ the Keng. For you reign for ever and ever. Amen.

6th Station:   Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

I saw him in the market place. He was a good man!
"He helped others, let him help himself' they will say, Is that your blend of Christianity? Why not help him?
A small act of charity to relieve his pain. It didn't hurt me. My pride, perhaps, but nothing else. In return I am left with the imprint of his love. He was too tired to say "thank you'", but his eyes promise eternal thanks.

Veronica, we have the chance to wipe his face again and again. He is the stranger, the destitute, the unloved. We have a chance.

Lord, help me wipe away the tears of the world in my life and in the lives around me. Make me realise that as I do it to the least of my brothers and sisters I do it for you. For you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

7th Station:  Jesus falls the second time

As he falls so do I.
I fell once when I ran away. I fell again when I denied him three times. Unlike Pilate and the guards I've not looked for excuses.
I was his friend and yet I failed him. I knew he was the Son of God. In him rested the salvation of the nations. It wasn't enough. The load he placed on me was too great, "You are Peter, the Rock".
Why build his Church on me? He will come again to make more demands of me; "Feed my sheep". You are the sheep. Will you be fed?

Peter, we long for the food of life. We deny him again and again yet he forgives us. Pray for your fellow Christians that they may not fall again.

We praise you, Lord Christ, in your saints, and especially for Simon Peter, `the rock.' May his weakness remind us of your strength, his strength proclaim your love, and his faith guide your Church into the way of all truth. We ask this in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

8th Station:   Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem

I am still weeping. Just as he said, "weep for yourselves and for your children". For the Church of God lacks people to stand up and fight for the truth.
Jesus is the Son of God, yet how many among you will openly speak these words? He promised us he would come soon, and he is coming. Are you ready?

If only there was time! There is so much to do.
There are so many who shed. the same tears as these women when they are faced with the horrors of the world.

Lord, help us to comfort one another when we are faced with grief caused by bereavement and loss. When others are faced with problems and guilt may our presence fill them with knowledge of your constant care and protection. May we never pass them by. For you are with us always, to the end of the world. Amen.

9th Station:   Jesus falls the third time

I rehearse a story of absolute guilt.
It is better for me that I should never have been born. I am the traitor: my kiss of affection has stagnated into one of betrayal. I am the outcast: the turncoat. Yet I wanted him to be king. But the kingdom I wanted was in this world - a kingdom where I could tell others what to do. I wanted to be king. I wanted the glory.

There are times when I want that as well, Judas.
You are not alone. I want the power and glory as well; and I don't mind how I get it. But how lonely I am.

Glory to the father who created us!
Glory to the Son who died for us!
Glory to the Holy Spirit who comes among us! Glory to God theTrinity!

10th Station:   Jesus is stripped of his garments

I am still here. Barabbas, insurrectionist and murderer, They called for me to be released and now, as this innocentt is being undressed ready for his fate, the true nature of my crime is proclaimed to the world. I feel it more than most: Jesus died for me.

For us, Barabbas... for us! You are indeed guilty of many terrible crimes against humanity. But were we not there shouting for you to be released?
You were more colourful, a better bargain, strong. He was weak, said nothing, a clown.
We were so anxious to have what we wanted that we didn't see that he was offering us everything.

Lord Jesus, our true selves are shown up in the light of your Passion.. We stand naked in the darkness of sin. Surround us with the garments of forgiveness and love that we may never fall from your sight; for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

11th station:   Jesus is nailed to the cross

I've never had to carry out such a miserable task before!
Oh, I crucified people in the past -- mainly murderers and zealots. They screamed for mercy; cursed me, and Rome, and God; offered me money; or kept going on about their cause.This one was different. He cried with pain all right - wouldn't anyone?
But there was no malice, no swearing. He just seemed to offer himself up to God. His only complaint was that he was thirsty and then he didn't drink the vinegar we offered him. It's a funny thing, since then I've been 'thirsty' too ---leastways, that's how I describe it. Almost a spiritual thirst. He made me realise how empty my life had been.

We cry out for the wrong things all of the time. We are never sensitive enough to see the man who can meet all our needs, but think that all can be put right through the use of money, influence, or povier. How blind we are not to notice that at the end of the day such causes are lost.

It was your love, Lord Jesus, that caused you to be nailed to the cross. It was your love that held you there
when you might have called for legions of angels. It was your love that pleaded for your murderers and prayed "Father, forgive them' .
Help us, most gracious Lord, to grasp something more of your love, to receive your forgiveness, and to learn to forgive others even as we have been forgiven, for your love's sake. Amen.

12th Station:   Jesus dies on the cross

And so, sweet friend, the agony is over.
Why did you die? What have you achieved? You could have fought back. Again and again you made the priests and scribes look foolish: why did you say nothing in defence at your trial?
Yet, watching beneath your cross, I felt some strange sensation that what you were doing involved some great battle cry, Come to me!' spoken to all in heaven and on earth.

John, with you and countless others, we shall hear that cry and follow the cross wherever it leads and whatever it demands.
For if the Son of God is willing to die for us: to demonstrate his love in this way, he has indeed won our service.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy Kingdom come,
They will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespases
As we forgive those that trespass against us.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.

13th Station:   Jesus is taken down from the cross

He was a Son of God. I don't know anything about the politics of his case:
I don't understand anything about your religion; but I tell you, he was special. His body is broken now, but there is a look of great achievement on his face. Believe me, this will not be the last you hear of him.

If only we had your faith, Centurion!
When the shadow of the cross falls on us we dare not look up. You stood by and saw it all: you recognized the truth. He was indeed `Son of God.'

Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesu, hear me. Within thy wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee. From the malicious enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me and bid me come to thee.
That with thy Saints I may praise thee, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Anima Christi)

14th Station:  Jesus is laid in the tomb

Joseph of Arimathea
`In Christ we share a mystic grave' - so runs the old hymn.
I freely give him my tomb to rest from his battle. I've been his disciple so why shouldn't I1 do this last thing?
The thing is, I should have done more when he was alive. Now my heart goes with him into the tomb.

Joseph, your heart will indeed go with him - yes, your very soul.
But this is his promise. We, who share his love, will die and be buried with him. May we also share his resurrection.

Lord God, in the waters of baptism we share in the death of your Son; the pure baptismal flood drowns our old nature and creates within us the resurrection life which was won for us on the cross.
May we who are cleansed by our Lord's passion and death, always be worthy to be called your children.
We ask this through the same, your Son, Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Click here to see pictures of the Stations of the Cross at Saint Faith's, and to read more about their history and meaning and to access another version of the service.

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