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Prayers on the Way to the Cross

Prayers on the Way of the Cross – Michel Quoist

(From Prayers of Life)


1. Jesus is condemned to death


Lord, it’s too late for you to be quiet, you have spoken too much;

you have fought too much;

You were not sensible, you know, you exaggerated, it was bound to happen.

You called the better people breed of vipers;

You told them that their hearts were black sepulchres with fine exteriors;

You kissed the decaying lepers;

You spoke fearlessly with unacceptable strangers;

You eat with notorious sinners, and you said that street walkers would be the first in Paradise; You got on well with the poor, the tramps, the crippled;

You belittled the religious regulations;

Your interpretation of the law reduced it to one little commandment: to love.

Now they are avenging themselves.

They have taken steps against you; they have approached the authorities and action will follow.


Lord, I know that if I try to live a little like you, I shall be condemned.

I am afraid.

They are already singling me out.

Some smile at me, others laugh, some more shocked, and several of my friends are about to drop me.

I am afraid to stop,

I am afraid to listen to men’s wisdom.

It whispers: you must go forward little by little, everything can’t be taken literally, it’s better to come to terms with the adversary…

And yet, Lord, I know that you are right.

Help me to fight,

Help me to speak,

Help me to live your Gospel,

To the end,

To the folly of the Cross.


2. Jesus bears his cross


Lord here is your Cross.


Your Cross! As if it were your cross!

You had no cross and you came to get ours, and all through your life and along the way to Calvary, you took upon you, one by one, the sins of the world.

You have to go forward,

And bend,

And suffer.

The cross must be carried.


Lord, you walk on silently; is it true then that there is a time for speaking and a time for silence?

Is it true that there is a time for struggling and another for the silent bearing of our sins and the sins of our world?


Lord, I would rather fight the Cross; to bear it is hard. The more I progress, and the more I see the evil in the world, the heavier is the Cross on my shoulders.

Lord, help me to understand that the most generous deed is nothing unless it is also silently redemptive.

And since you want this long way of the Cross for me,

At the dawning of each day, help me to set forth.



3.Jesus falls for the first time.


He fell.

For the moment he staggered then fell prostrate,

God in the dust.


And so, Lord, I followed you, setting out with confidence, and now I have fallen.

I thought I had given myself irrevocably to you, but I caught sight of a flower on the footpath.

I left you, I left the cumbersome Cross, and here I am off the road,

possessed of a few faded petals and my solitude.

And the others, Lord, pass along the road, broken, exhausted, and crosses are in the making and backs are bending.

I am no longer there to fight evil and to help men to drag their loads.

I am off the road.

Lord, help me not only to follow after you but to keep steadily on.

Keep me from sudden weaknesses that leave me stupefied and empty, far from the place where you are shaping the world.


4.Jesus meets his mother.


Lord, I pity your poor mother.

She follows,

She follows you,

She follows mankind on its Way to the Cross.


She walks in the crowd, unknown, but she doesn’t take her eyes from you.

Every suggestion of yours, every sigh, every blow, every wound, enters her heart.

She knows your sufferings,

She suffers your sufferings,

And without coming near you,

without touching you,

without speaking to you,

Lord with you she saves the world.


Often, mingle with the crowd, I accompany men on their Way of the Cross.

And I am crushed by evil.

I feel incapable of saving the world; it is too heavy and rotten,

and every day at the turn of the road I meet with new injustices and new impurities.


Lord, show me your Mother, Mary,

The useless one, the ineffectual one in the site of men,

but the co- Redemptrice in the sight of God.

Help me to walk among man, ego to know their miseries and their sins.

May I never avert my eyes.

May I never close my heart, that in welcoming the sufferings of the world, with Mary, your Mother, I may suffer and redeem.


5. Simon of Cyrene helps to carry Jesus’ cross.


He passed by on the road;

They pressed him into service, the first to come along, a stranger.


Lord, you accepted his help.

You did not want the help of a friend, the solace of a gesture of love, the generous impulse of one who cared.

You chose the enforced help of an indifferent and timid fellow.

Lord All- Powerful, you sought the help of a powerless man.

By your own choosing you are in need of us.

Lord, I need others.

The way of man is too hard to be trodden alone.

But I avoid the hands outstretched to help me,

I want to act alone,

I want to fight alone,

I want to succeed alone.

And yet beside me walks a friend, a spouse, a brother, a neighbour, a fellow -worker.

You have placed them near me Lord, and too often I ignore them.

And yet it is together that we shall save the world.

Lord even if they are requisitioned, grant that I may see, that I may accept, all the Simons on my road.



6. A woman wipes the face of Jesus


But a long time, bored, her eyes were on you, she suffered from your suffering. Unable to bear it any longer, she pushed

The soldiers aside and wipe your face with a cloth of 5 million. Where are you bleeding features imprinted on her cloth? Maybe. In her heart, surely.

Lord, I need to contemplate you at great length, this is interestedly, as a little brother admires and loves his big brother. But I want to resemble you, and for that I must first look at you. If you want I shall become a little like you, since friends love each other become one. But Lord, too often I pass in front of you carelessly, or I am bored when I stop and look at you. And to others I must be a sad ca caricature of yours. Forget my body con, ego for pleasures, it does not bring your presence to others. Forgive my clouded eyes, and then others cannot see your light. Forget forgive my encumbered heart, and that others do not see your love. For the less, Lord, come to me, my door is open.


Jesus falls for the second time. Lord you are spent. Again, you have fallen to the ground. This time, youthful not only from the weight of the cross but the flu exhaustion.


7. Jesus falls for the second time


Lord you are spent.

Again you have fallen to the ground. This time, you fall not only from the weight of the Cross, but from exhaustion.


Recurrent suffering dulls the will.

My sins, Lord, are dulling my conscience.

I get used to evil very quickly:

A little self-indulgence here,

A small unfaithfulness there,

An unwise action farther on,

And my vision becomes obscured; I no longer see stumbling blocks, I no longer see other people on my road,

My ears gradually close; I no longer hear the complaints of men.

I find myself on the ground, on the plain, far from the road you laid out for me.


Lord, I beseech you, keep me young in my efforts,

Spare me the bondage of habit, which involves the sleep and kills.


8. Jesus rebukes the daughters of Jerusalem.

They weep.

They sob.

It’s easy to understand if you see what men have done to him.

And they are powerless, they cannot interfere,

So they weep, they weep in pity.


Lord, you have seen them, you have heard them.

But you said; ‘Weep first for your sins.’


I imagine very well Lord, to pity your sufferings and the sufferings of the world.

But to weep for my own sins, that’s another matter.

I’d rather bemoan those of others,

It’s easier.

I’m well up on that; the whole world passes every day before my tribunal.

I’ve found plenty of guilt: in politics, economics, slums, alcohol, films, industry. I see it in many people;

in laissez-faire Christians, and priests who don’t understand a thing; and in many others, Lord, many others. All in all, in just about the whole world, except me.


Lord, teach me that I am a sinner.



9. Jesus falls for the third time.


Again.

You do not move, for all the soldiers’ beatings.

Lord, are you dead?

No, but totally spent.

A minute of terrible anxiety.

But you begin again, just as you are, Lord, and walk on. One step, then another…

Lord, you have fallen a third time, but this time close to Calvary.


Again.

I fall every time.

I’ll never get there.

But I’ve said that before, Lord, and please forgive me, for you were right with me, you were just testing my faith.

If I become discouraged, I am lost.

If I keep up the fight, I am saved.

For you fell a third time, but you have nearly reached Calvary.



10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.


You have nothing left but your own cloak;

You were fond of it; your mother had woven it for you.

But this, too, had to go.

One thing only is necessary, Lord, your Cross.


Nothing comes now between you and the Cross,

You are going to be united forever,

And together you will save the world.


And so, Lord, I must give up all these trappings which hinder me and hide me from your sight.

This ‘possessing’ which stifles the ‘being’ in me and separates me from others.

Thus, Lord, little by little everything in my life which is not an expression of your will must die.


I don’t like it, Lord. It’s always a question of dying!

How demanding you are!

I give, and you want more.

I’d like to keep a few trifles,

A few trifles I cling to, and can’t bring myself to offer you.


But if you want all, Lord, take all.

Strip me, yourself, of my last garment.

For I well know that we must die to deserve life,

As the seed must die to turn into the golden grain.


11. Jesus is nailed to the cross


Lord, you stretch at full length on the cross.

There.

Without a doubt, it is made for you.

You cover it entirely, and to adhere to it more surely,

you allow men to nail you carefully to it.

Lord, it was work well done, conscientiously done.

Now you fit your cross exactly, as the mechanic’s carefully filed parts fit the engineer’s blueprint.

There had to be this precision.


Thus, Lord, I must gather my body, my heart, my spirit,

And stretch myself at full length on the Cross of the present moment.

I haven’t the right to choose the wood of my passion.

The Cross is ready, to my measure.

You present it to me each day, each minute, and I must lie on it.

It isn’t easy. The present moment is so limited that there is no room to turn around.

And yet, Lord, I can meet you nowhere else.

It’s there that you await me.

It’s there that together we shall see brothers.



12. Jesus dies on the cross


A few hours more,

A few minutes more,

A few instants more.

For thirty-three years that has been going on.

For thirty-three years you have lived fully minute by minute after minute.

You can do longer escape, now; you are there, at the end of your life, at the end of your road.

You are at the last extremity, at the edge of a precipice.

You must take the last step,

The last step of love,

The last step of life that ends in death.


You hesitate.

Three hours are long, three hours of agony;

Longer than three years of life,

Longer than thirty years of life.


You must decide, Lord, all is ready around you.

You are there, motionless on your Cross.

You have renounced all activity other than embracing these crossed planks for which you were made. And yet, there is still life in your nailed body.

Let mortal flesh die, and make way for eternity.

Now, life slips from each limb, one by one, finding refuge in his still beating heart.

Immeasurable heart,

Overflowing heart,

Heart heavy as the world, the world of sins and miseries that it bears.


Lord, one more effort.

Mankind is there, waiting unknowingly for the cry of its Saviour.

Your brothers are there; they need you.

Your father bends over you, already holding out his arms.

Lord save us,

Save us.


See.

He has taken his heavy heart,

And,

Slowly,

Laboriously,

Alone between heaven and earth,

In the awesome night,

With passionate love,

He has gathered his life,

He has gathered the sin of the world,

And in a cry,

He has given all.

‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit’.


Christ has just died for us.


Lord, help me to die for you.

Help me to die for them.


13. Jesus is given to his mother


Your work is done,

You can leave your Cross,

You can come down to rest, you have surely earned it.


Slowly you slip down, like a man weary of labour and drowsy with sleep.

Your Mother takes you in her arms.

‘What a state you are in; you were not sensible, you died of exhaustion!

Perhaps the father not require so much,

But you rest in peace.

Over your face, calm and serene, there passes a ray of joy.

All is accomplished. You have made your Mother suffer but she is proud of you.

Sleep now, my little one, your Mother is watching you’.


Thus each night, my day ended, I fall sleep.

What a state I am in sometimes, Lord.

But, alas, it is not always in serving the Father that I have become soiled and tired.

Mary, will you be willing even so to watch over me every night?


My body is weighed down with its failures but my heart asks forgiveness.

Don’t forget you are the refuge of sinners.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me a poor sinner.

Grant that through the merits of your Son, I may never fall asleep without receiving the forgiveness of our Father.

That each night, resting in peace in your arms, I may learn how to die.


14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.


Let’s forget it now.

And all go home.

He is buried and the stone is in place.

His family is in tears, his friends are lost.

This time it is really over.


Lord, it is not over.

‘You are in agony till the end of time,’ I know.

Men tread the Way of the cross in relays.

The resurrection will only be completed when they have reached the end of the way.

I am on the road; I have a small share of your suffering and the others have theirs.

Together we help you to carry the burden that you have assumed and made divine.

There lies my hope, Lord, and my invincible trust.

There is not a fraction of my little suffering that you have not already lived and already transformed into infinite redemption.

When the road is hard and monotonous,

When it leads to the grave.

I know that beyond the grave you are waiting for me in your glory.

Lord, help me to travel along my road faithfully, at my proper place in the vast procession of humanity.

Help me above all to recognise you and to help you in all my pilgrim brothers.

For it would be a lie to weep before your lifeless image, if I did not follow you, living, on the road that men travel.










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