Retreat Sunday – 6th September – The Way of the Cross


Sunday 6th September – The Way of the Cross


The month of September is dominated by the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated on Monday 14th.  Today, for your retreat Sunday, we would like to offer a series of meditations on the Cross, specifically the devotion known as The Way of the Cross.  The Cross is a central fulcrum for Christians, around which our entire redemption and salvation turns, and all of salvation history with it, a history which includes my history.  So to accompany Jesus on this way which he makes for us, to death, and ultimately to resurrection, we trace the footsteps of our own faith journey.

Today we offer you meditations which were written for the celebration of the Way of the Cross which takes place every year on Good Friday at the Colosseum in Rome.  In 2004 the meditations were written  by Dom André Louf, the Cistercian abbot and writer.  We hope they give you pause for thought and meditation today, and allow you to look for the mysterious presence of Christ’s Cross in your own life.

You will notice that this Way of the Cross differs from the usual Stations of the Cross that you might make – they are based wholly in the witness of Sacred Scripture.  If you cannot complete all of the meditation today, why not take a few of the stations each day as a continuous preparation – a lectio of the Cross, as it were – for the feast day on the 14th?


FIRST STATION

Jesus on the Mount of Olives

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel According to Luke 22:39

[Jesus] came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives;
and the disciples followed him.
And when he came to the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw,
and knelt down and prayed,
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me;
nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.”
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven  strengthening him.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly;
and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.
And when he rose from prayer,
he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Meditation

Having arrived at the beginning of his Passover,
Jesus is in the presence of his Father.
How could it have been any different,
since his secret dialogue of love
with the Father had never ended?
“The hour has come” (Jn 16:32),
the hour foreseen from the beginning,
announced to the disciples,
which is unlike any other,
which contains all the others and is the sum of them
at the very moment that they are about to be fulfilled in the arms of the Father.
And suddenly that hour is the cause of fear.
Nothing is hidden from this fear.
But there, in the quiet of anguish,
Jesus takes refuge with his Father in prayer.
In Gethsemane that evening
the struggle becomes fierce hand-to-hand combat,
so bitter that on Jesus’ face sweat changes to blood.
And Jesus dares one last time, in the presence of his Father,
to give expression to the torment that seizes him:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me;
nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done” (Lk 22:42).
Two wills clash for a moment,
and then come together in the abandonment to love already announced by Jesus:
“I do as the Father has commanded me,
so that the world may know that I love the Father” (Jn 14:31).

Prayer

Jesus, our brother,
in order to open to all people the path of Passover
you chose to experience temptation and fear:
teach us to take refuge with you,
and to repeat your words of abandonment to and acceptance of the Father’s will,
which in Gethsemane obtained the salvation of the universe.
Grant that the world may know
through your disciples the power of your limitless love (Jn 13:1),
the love that consists in giving one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15:13).
Jesus,
on the Mount of Olives, alone, before the Father,
you renewed your acceptance of his will.


Click on the next page to continue the Way of the Cross…

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