The Stations of the Cross have always been my favorite devotion. Today I had the great joy of attending a Living Stations of the Cross that was held at the school where my two youngest children attend. It was so beautiful that I was actually moved to tears at the fourth station and thirteenth station by how tenderly the girl who portrayed the Blessed Mother treated Jesus. It was the first time that they have held a Living Stations at the school and I do hope it will become an annual tradition!
I have always been particularly fond of the Stations of the Cross version that was written by St. Alphonsus Liguori. His words of prayer- "I love you, Jesus my love, with all my heart; I am sorry for ever having offended You. Never permit me to offend You again. Grant that I may love You always and then do with me as You will"- are deeply moving. But last year I came across The Holy Face in the Way of the Cross written by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, sP, the founder of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood and it has become my new favorite form of the stations.
Fr. Fitzgerald's version was written as a reflection on the artwork of Hippolyte Lazerges and he wrote under the pseudonym of Fr. Page, C.S.C. The prayer book was published by the St. Columban's Foreign Mission Society in 1940. I believe that I had the good fortune to purchase one of the last available original books which is now out of print, but facsimile copies are available here.
My friend Patricia, who writes at I Want to See God, has recently written a blog post about the Stations of the Cross and after reading her words, I was inspired to share Fr. Fitzgerald's version here in a 14 part series, sharing one station to meditate upon each day for the next two weeks. Won't you pray along with me? I was happy to stumble across the Columban Father's webpage where all of the images for the Holy Face can be found. They also have a revised version of the Holy Face in the Way of the Cross available with meditations by Columban Father Patrick Sayles which can be found here.
Fr. Fitzgerald's Forword:
Hippolyte Lazerges' magnificent studies of the Holy Face in the Way of the Cross appeared first in this country in 1939 in The Far East, the missionary magazine of the St. Columban Fathers. These little known etchings speak with an eloquence beyond the reach of words. Yet they move one to words, to a grateful and humble attempt to express the meaning of their beauty, to interpret them in the light of that mystical extension of the Passion of Christ in which each true Christian shares.
The Stations of the Cross, richly endowed with spiritual favors by Mother Church and promoting as they do, so readily, interior recollection and the remembrance of Christ's Passion, are admirably suited for private devotion. In these trying times what will prove of greater profit to souls than that they learn to follow daily in the footsteps of the Master, and seeking, Veronica-like, to make reparation to Christ, receive like her consolation from His Holy Face?
Finally, I desire to dedicate this task of love to one who has followed the Master quietly and bravely these many years-my mother. ~Father Page, C.S.C.
The Face of Jesus as He stands before Pilate is the Face of the Lamb, of the Lamb of God who takes upon Himself the sins of all mankind. Gentleness and forbearance, thoughtful acceptance of a sentence unjust....and yet not unjust if we remember, as Jesus did, His loving Will of vicarious suffering. His Will to take upon Himself the weight of our sins; the penalty of our guilt.
O Gentle Saviour, impress upon my soul the image of Your Sacred Countenance and teach me to deepen that likeness by the quiet acceptance of the daily injustices with which men afflict men. Let me strive to be very just to others even in my interior judgments; give me courage not to compromise my convictions and to accept, in union with Your silence before Pilate, all injustices that fall to my lot today.
Sorrowful Mother, commend my prayer to Your Son.
(From The Holy Face in the Way of the Cross with etchings by Hippolyte Lazerges and reflections by Father Page, C.S.C. aka Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, sP, the founder of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood, published by the St. Columban's Fathers Foreign Mission Society)