This way of celebrating the Stations of the Cross gathers material from a variety of sources. The script draws from contemporary experiences of sadness and grief but also of victory and triumph. In addition, it uses traditional material and invites responses in word and music.

You can draw up your own script to suit your community by inviting a local creative writing group to become involved in the project. Young people might also welcome the opportunity to shape a liturgy that creatively reflects their faith and uses multi-media facilities, at which they are often very adept. An important element is the participation of the preparatory group, who will work together over a period of time to draw out the various shades of meaning of the celebration of Good Friday and the Lord’s Passion.

Setting the Scene
This liturgy can be celebrated at noon or in the evening if the Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion takes place in the afternoon. It is hoped that the texts will be accompanied by visual images of each Station, either on screen or by way of mime. The unadorned cross might be the central visual focus if no other imaging is possible. The use of music to help participation and to create the appropriate atmosphere should be restrained and sensitively chosen. Aromatherapy oils can be used to add to the atmosphere.

A short explanation might be offered to the assembly and an invitation to participate extended to them. They should also be encouraged to embrace the opportunities for silence and reflection after each Station.

Opening Song ,
The Clouds’ veil (Liam Lawton – In Caelo)
Even though the rain hides the stars,

Even though the mist swirls the hills,
Even when the dark clouds veil the sky,
God is by my side.
Even when the sun shall fall in sleep,
Even when the sky shall weep,
Even when the storms shall rise,
God is by my side, you are by my side.

First Station – Jesus is Condemned to Death
Narrator Throughout the world people are condemned to death every day for a range of offences from murder to robbery or for their political and religious affiliations. Human Rights organisations and various Church groups have worked to lobby for change. What can we do?

Voice 1 In Nigeria an Islamic court sentenced a pregnant woman to death by stoning for having premarital sex.

 Voice 2 In the United States of America there is one execution on average every three days. Very often these executions affect minorities from particular ethnic and social backgrounds.

Voice 1 Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2001, received 3.2 million signatures during the Jubilee Year campaign seeking an end to executions. In response he stated: ‘The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process’.

 Voice 2 Blessed John Paul II has often spoken out against capital punishment: ‘The new evangelisation calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will acclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform’.

 Narrator 4 The Sant’ Egidio Community conducted an international campaign against the death penalty and continues to offer support and encouragement to people condemned to death. You too can help their work.

 Prayer We condemn others to death by our silence and inaction or by our lust for revenge. Lord, help us with our human inclination to strike back and to look for violent retribution.
Where there is offence, let us offer mercy;
Where there is violence, let us show restraint;
Where there is injustice, let us act for right.

Second Station – Jesus is made to bear his Cross
Narrator Crosses are portrayed in different styles and designs. The Irish Church has contributed to this rich tradition. The penal crosses of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries offered courage to a persecuted people. They could look on the suffering of Christ and at the same time contemplate his glorious resurrection after such a death. Just as crosses come in various forms, they appear in our lives in a variety of ways and often ‘not in single spies but in battalions’.

 Litany of the Cross

For the cross of infertility                                  Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of stillbirth                                   Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of infant death                             Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of handicap                                  Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of neglect                                      Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of discrimination                        Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of violence                                    Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of war                                            Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of terrorism                                  Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of sickness                                    Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of old age                                      Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of terminal illness                       Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of injustice                                    Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of famine                                       Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of drought                                     Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of isolation                                    Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of alienation                                 Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of marginalisation                       Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of addiction                                   Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of mental illness                           Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of suicide                                        Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of death through sickness          Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of death by accident                    Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of death by violence                    Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of unemployment                        Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of homelessness                           Déan trócaire is trua
For the cross of poverty                                       Déan trócaire is trua

Third Station – Jesus Falls the First

Testimony  1

‘The AA programme was going so well for me. At last I had found people who understood me – people who had the same struggles with alcohol as I did. It’s amazing how so many people from different backgrounds and education could end up the same way – cursed with addiction to alcohol – not able to face life – even the simplest of tasks – without the crutch of alcohol. For years my wife, my family and my friends told me that I had a problem. It was only when I was near to losing my job that the penny dropped and I got help.

I was seven months dry when I went to a going-away party for one of the girls at work. I thought that I could just take one and that I could stop there. The addiction is like a silent enemy which is always lurking inside me. One glass of lager led to more, until I was legless again. I was so ashamed the next day – the disappointed faces of my kids, the hostility of my wife. I went to the lunchtime meeting and thankfully I was back on the dry again. The meeting gives me hope because I talk there to others in the same boat. I don’t have that feeling of being outside as I used to – this is a place where I fit in because I am a recovering alcoholic. It is a year since I began the programme and my first fall was six months ago – keep me in your prayers.’

Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

Song Be Not Afraid (Bob Dufford – Gather)
Be not afraid, I go before you always, Come follow me, arid I will give you rest.
You shall cross the barren desert but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid, I go before you always, Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

Fourth Station – Jesus meets Mary, his Mother
Narrator People who have been close to death or who have been deeply shocked by some happening often describe how the events of their lives flashed before them in an instant. When Mary met her Son on his painful journey and as she stood by the cross her mind must have been drawn to the events of his short life. The Seven Sorrows of Mary and the Seven Joys of Mary offer a contrasting account of the life of Jesus and present the two aspects of the story of our salvation. These are spoken alternately by two readers.

1 (a)  The Virgin’s first sorrow was when her Child was hunted down, black caps on the Jews and they beating him.
(R) Lord, have mercy or Kyrie eleison or A Thiarna, dean trocaire

1 (b) The first joy the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when she brought him into the world in a stable. (R)

2(a) The Virgin’s second sorrow was when her Child was hunted down, a rough hairy shirt on him and his skin torn asunder. (R)

2(b) The second joy the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when he walked with her upon the road. (R)

3 (a) The Virgin’s third sorrow was when her Child was hunted down, he on the cross of torment and the sharp nails tearing him. (R)

3(b) The third joy that the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when he went reading his book. (R)

4(a) The Virgin’s fourth sorrow was when her Child was hunted down, he on the tree of the cross winning graces for our souls. (R)

4(b) The fourth joy that the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when he turned the water into beer. (R)

5(a) The Virgin’s fifth sorrow was when her Child was hunted down, his head on the top of a spike spilling all his blood. (R)

5(b) The fifth joy that the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when he made the dead come to life. (R)

6(a) The Virgin’s sixth sorrow was when her Child was hunted down, he on her fair breast stretched out cold and dead. (R)

6(b) The sixth joy that the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when with his blood he saved the world. (R)

7(a) The Virgin’s seventh sorrow was when her Child was hunted down he stretched in the tomb and the flagstones across him. (R)

7(b) The seventh joy that the Blessed Virgin had, wasn’t it the great joy, was the joy she had from her One Son Jesus when he placed on her a crown. (R)

(Saltair, Des Forristal and Padraig Ó Fiannachta)

Fifth Station – Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his Cross
Narrator The members of the Simon Community undertake extraordinary work on behalf of the homeless. Through their mission and by their name they indicate how the story of Calvary can inspire people to action. We thank God for the many organisations and groups who help us to carry our cross in life.

Litany of Thanksgiving
For the Society of St Vincent de Paul         We praise you, O God
For the Samaritans                                         We praise you, O God
For the Simon Community                           We praise you, O God
For Focus Ireland                                           We praise you, O God
For Combat Poverty                                       We praise you, O God
For Aoibhneas                                                  We praise you, O God
For Alcoholics Anonymous                            We praise you, O God
For Gamblers Anonymous                             We praise you, O God
For Narcotics Anonymous                             We praise you, O God
For Childline                                                     We praise you, O God
For Faoiseamh                                                  We praise you, O God
For Amen                                                            We praise you, O God
For Cura                                                              We praise you, O God
For Victim Support                                           We praise you, O God
For the Rape Crisis Centre                              We praise you, O God
For the Society of Simon of Cyrene               We praise you, O God
For Bethany Bereavement Groups                We praise you, O God
For Beginning Experience                               We praise you, O God
For Trócaire                                                        We praise you, O God
For Concern                                                        We praise you, 0 God
For Goal                                                               We praise you, 0 God
For Aware                                                            We praise you, 0 God
For Recovery                                                       We praise you, 0 God
For Grow                                                              We praise you, 0 God
For the Irish Cancer Society                             We praise you, 0 God
For the Alzheimer’s Society                              We praise you, 0 God
For the Irish Kidney Association                     We praise you, 0 God

Sixth Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Narrator ~Artists have offered us their pictures of the face of Jesus over the past two thousand years. Early impressions give us the image of Christ as a sun-god, a shepherd and a law-giver. He is portrayed as a youthful man without a beard. In contrast, later representations of Christ gave him a certain gravitas and assigned to him the clothes of a secular ruler raised above and removed from his people.

Where is the face of Jesus to be seen today? The encounter with Veronica leaves us with the image of the suffering Jesus whose face is etched on those who are carrying their cross of pain and suffering today. The true icons of Jesus are presented to us on TV as we daily watch the torment of the victims of famine, war, pestilence and death.

Let us take some time to bring these uncomfortable images to mind now as we contemplate the face of Christ today.

 Song Servant Song (Richard Gillard – Gather)
Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you;

Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.
I will hold the Christ light for you in the night-time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow ’til we’ve seen this journey through.

Seventh Station – Jesus Falls the Second Time

Testimony 2

‘I was in jail for stealing and using a credit card. I went on the detox programme. I was clean for the first time in three years. Through a contact at the shelter I got a job – money in my pocket and feeling good about myself. I thought that I had everything under control. I went with a few mates to a Disco in town. It was Hallowe’en and everyone was going wild. We had dressed up as Westlife and were the centre of attention. I noticed that Jason, one of the lads, was chatting with a guy who deals in cocaine. They disappeared into the toilets, and even though I knew what they were at I had to go too. I just didn’t think. I was on a high with all the attention, the music, the buzz. So I snorted for the first time in a year. My girlfriend nearly freaked when she found out and saw the state of me. I was a sorry guy the next day.
I thought – that’s it now. I was marched back to my sponsor on the drug programme by she who must be obeyed. Half of me resented being bossed around. In the end I knew that if I slipped up on a regular basis I would find myself back where I was before.

The good resolution lasted about two months and then the next temptation came along. We were going to a gig in town. I was tired. I had been having a hard time from my boss. My mother was on my case about the state of my room and not giving her enough money. The girlfriend wanted to know where I was all the time. So I broke loose and went to the gig. They were passing Es around.

I said no to the first two approaches. Then I said – I’ve had enough. I took two and was flying. The music was the sweetest I had ever heard. The downer and the thirst were killing me later. I ran into my ‘ma’ when I got home. You see she had been through the programme and she knew all the signs to watch out for. There was hell to pay. Facing my sponsor the second time after all my promises was one of the lowest times in my life.

I’m clean again but I am wiser. I am not saying that it will never happen again but I am stronger because someone believes in me and is there when I fall. I am not on my own. I am not very religious but I light a candle every day on my way to work. I carry a small wooden disc in my pocket. I take it with me everywhere. I even take it with my football gear. When I am tempted I have only to touch it and it helps me and reminds me of what I should do. I like Good Friday – it is my day in the year. I watch the kids dressing up for the play in the church – the soldiers, the crowd and Jesus and the cross. I say to myself – he knows what it is like to suffer, he is the one who is there for me.’

 The Cross in my Pocket
I carry the cross in my pocket to remind me of who I can be, if I take up my cross and I follow wherever my Saviour leads me.

Be Not Afraid (Bob Dufford)
Be not afraid, I go before you always,

Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

Eighth Station – Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem
Narrator These women remind us of the common humanity in which we all share.

‘Weep not for me,’ Jesus said, ‘but for yourselves and for your children.’ weep for the sickness, for the falsehood, for the exploitation of yourselves by yourselves, weep for he injustice. Weep for the delaying of the reign of God, not on earth as it is in heaven. Weep for the failure of your own unbelief, for the weakness and shallowness that you find even in the Church. Jesus came that He might bring all of this to an end, yet our response is to make an end of Him, whether by compromise, by false kindness, or by rejection.

Dear Lord, we are your people and we know that You love us. We know the sadness of our own tears only too well. We are told that on one occasion You wept for the city of Jerusalem, and that You spoke of a mother-hen wanting to gather her chicks under her wings. Give us a sense of those wings, and let us know Your warmth as You gather us now into the reign of God upon earth.

(Maurice Reidy, Lourdes Pilgrim’s Handbook – Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage)

Ninth Station – Jesus Falls a Third Time
Testimony 3

‘This Station reminds me of a horse that I thought was a dead certainty. He was well backed for Cheltenham and fell at the last fence. He was in the last bunch at Aintree and a loose horse toppled him. The last straw was when he fell at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. I got great odds for him with his recent history – I was already spending the money – well, paying back would be more truthful.
Not for the first time did I go home with my tail between my legs wondering how I would explain to him where the housekeeping money had gone. I have been in Gamblers Anonymous for years. After a few shaky starts I never miss a meeting and thank God my family life is fairly normal again.

You probably think that women are only addicted to one-arm bandits. I would bet literally on two flies going up the wall. In the process I have put my family through hell. You see they didn’t realise for ages that I could not be trusted with money. I had excuses for everything and I could juggle my debts like the Minister for Finance balances the budget.

I had promised all and sundry that I would not gamble again. People don’t know the pressure that Christmas puts on a family with a small income or the expectations of kids today for the best in Communion and Confirmation clothes. It was the Scratch Cards that did it. I am like your woman on the radio advertisement who had to retire from wrist strain. One more and I would get the jackpot. Instead of the big scoop, like the horse I fell again. But this time I had the experience of the meetings and the ready support of a great group of people. It wasn’t easy facing the shame of falling again. I didn’t stay down though and now I am taking each day as it comes. I’m thankful for what I have and that in wasting so much money I didn’t lose the family that mean so much to me.’

 Song (Be Not Afraid (Bob Dufford)
Be not afraid, I go before you always,

Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the power of hell and death is at your side, Know that I am with you through it all.

Be not afraid, I go before you always,
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

Tenth Station – Jesus is Stripped of his Garments
Narrator Sickness is the great leveller. Standing before the doctor or lying in a hospital bed there may be some cosmetic differences between people but essentially we are stripped of all that gives us status and position in the world. We are vulnerable, sensitive and fragile. This is especially true for those who are dying. They try to read the expressions of family, friends and doctors, looking for confirmation of their worst fears. This experience puts us in touch with the isolation and humiliation of Jesus at this point in his suffering journey. Let us be sensitive then to those who are ill and give them the reassurance they need by our visits, our honesty and our embrace. Let us remember the sick and dying today and cover their fragility with the cloak of our prayers.

For those who are sick at home or in hospital, that the healing hand of the Lord may ease their pain, calm their fears and give them hope.
We ask you, O God.

For those who care for the sick, that they may show them the dignity and respect they deserve in their time of trial.
We ask you, O God.

For those close to death, that Christ may hold their hands and lead them to the joy of his kingdom.
We ask you, O God.

Eleventh Station – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Narrator Jesus was nailed to the cross as a final act of torture. Torture is prevalent today. Amnesty, International reports that torture is inflicted on men, women and children in more than half the countries of the world.

They report further

Torture is still used to extract confessions, to interrogate, to punish or to intimidate.
Torture even damages and distorts the hopes of future generations.
Torture is neither inevitable nor natural.

Groups such as Amnesty International lobby political leaders and work to draw the attention of the people to such human rights violations. Powered with this information on the cruel oppression of people throughout the world today, we are called to respond with energy and conviction. Because this may not be happening in our country, we cannot pass by and ignore the pain of so many. We are their voice in the world today. What would Christ do in the circumstances?

Song  Jesus Remember Me (Taize)
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Twelfth Station – Jesus Dies on the Cross
Narrator The death of Jesus on the cross of love was the supreme sacrifice. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we participate in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross of love. From the history of the early Church we learn that the martyrs always found a way to celebrate the Eucharist.

‘Every place we suffered became for us a place to celebrate… whether it was a field, a desert, a ship, an inn, a prison…’ (Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia Ecclesiastica VIL 22, 4: 687-688)

Our ancestors in Ireland risked their lives in Penal Days to be present at the Eucharist. The Mass Rocks around this country tell a tale of faithfulness and love.

Cardinal Francis Xavier Van Thuan, who was made President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 1998, was imprisoned in 1975 by the communist authorities in South Vietnam. He spent thirteen years in prison, nine of them in solitary confinement. The Eucharist was central to his life and he managed to celebrate Mass each day with small drops of wine given to him as medicine and some hosts that were smuggled into his cell. This is his story:

‘Each time I celebrated Mass, I had the opportunity to extend my hands and nail myself to the cross with Jesus, to drink with him the bitter chalice. Each day in reciting the words of consecration, I confirmed with all my heart and soul a new pact, an eternal pact between Jesus and me through his blood mixed with mine. Those were the most beautiful Masses of my life.’ (Testimony of Hope, Francis X. Van Thuan, Pauline Books and Media)

Jesus, Bread of Life, give me a hunger for justice and peace.

Jesus, Bread of Life, nourish me that I may nourish others.
Jesus, Bread of Life, may I become more like you.
Jesus, Cup of Hope, give me a thirst for truth and honesty.
Jesus, Cup of Hope, fill me with your life-giving energy.
Jesus, Cup of Hope, pour your love into my heart.

Thirteenth Station – The Body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross
Narrator Artists have attempted to capture the moment of sadness as the body of Jesus rests in the arms of his Mother. That expression of poignant love is a sign of the bond between our Saviour and the one whose ‘yes’ made possible our salvation. As Mary stood by the cross she also stood by the disciples of her Son and was with the Twelve when the Church was born on Pentecost.

We join in her song of praise – the Magnificat.

(Howard Hughes, Seinn Alleluia 2000; Dominican – In Caelo)

Fourteenth Station – The Body of Jesus is laid in the Tomb
Narrator The entry of the body of Jesus into the tomb of sadness that first Good Friday became the place from which the glory of the Resurrection was proclaimed after three days. This is the hope that sustains us on our Christian journey and is the reason for our belief that those who have died in Christ will rise with him also in glory. We now remember those who have died at the Cross of Salvation and pray that they will be rewarded with the joyful vision of Christ for all time.

Together we pray the words of the Preface of Christian Death I:

In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned, that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come.

Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended,

and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.

 All come forward to venerate the cross while gentle music is played or sung.

Song Behold The Wood (Dan Schutte – Gather)
Behold, behold the wood of the cross, On which is sung our salvation.

a come, let us adore.

This Way of the Cross may be broken up into sections and used during Lent to prepare a group for the liturgy of Good Friday. It might also be used in the same way on the Fridays of Lent for those who want to follow a cross-centred journey during the season. It is envisaged that dramatised Stations may form the visual element of this celebration, or other media such as slides, video or pictures might be used. Local communities might adapt the texts to their situations and available music resources will determine what is sung or played.