Way of the Cross

A Franciscan Way of the Cross

Preparatory Prayer

Most Holy Trinity,
receive my humble prayers
in union with the suffering of the Poor Christ,
the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints,
in gratitude for your grace,
in satisfaction for my sins,
in remembrance of my redemption;
and to obtain rest for the dead,
grace for the living, and everlasting life for all.
All praise, glory, and honor are yours,
Most Blessed Trinity, forever and ever. Amen.

O God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

I. First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Jesus is innocent. He did not and could not sin, but he is sentenced to death. Indeed, he is condemned to the most humiliating death on the Cross. Pilate deliveres Jesus into the hands of his enemies, so that he might remain a friend of the powerful. Pilate does not fear to punish the innocent and offend the Almighty God, so that he might please the world.

Prayer
My Jesus, you are innocent. But I am not. I have sinned and I am consigned to eternal death. So that I might live, you gladly accepted a death sentence. How then can I live unless it is for you alone? If I desire to please others, how can I please you? Help me to displease others so that the world will know that I serve you alone. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me, a sinner. Our Father…

II. Second Station: Jesus Receives the Cross

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

Meditation
Jesus Christ beholds the Cross. He eagerly extends his arms, already soaked in blood, and gently embraces the Cross. He kisses it, places it upon his shoulders, and although already weary, he rejoices as he begins the way of pain and suffering.

Prayer
I cannot be a friend of Christ if I become an enemy of the Cross. Sweet Cross, Good Cross, Holy Cross, I embrace you. I kiss you. I joyfully accept the hand of God. May God forbid me from boasting about anything except the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. May the world be crucified to me. May I be crucified to the world so that I may belong only to you, O Lord. Help to share in your passion! Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

III. Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Feverish and oppressed by the weight of the Cross, Jesus falls to the ground. Certainly, my sins are the weight that causes this unbearable burden. And yet, because of his love for me, Jesus carries the Cross as if it is both sweet and light.

Prayer
My Jesus, you carry the heavy burden of my sins. How then can I refuse to carry the yoke of your holy commandments? How can I help bear the burdens of my neighbor? Your yoke is sweet. Your burden is light. Therefore, I gladly and willingly accept it. I will strive to carry it for the rest of my life. My Jesus, by your grace, console me while I carry my cross; prevent me from falling again into sin. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

IV. Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Most Sorrowful Mother

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Mary sees her beloved son carrying the heavy burden of his Cross. Her glance is afflicted and sorrowful. After being beaten by his tormenters, his entire body bleeds. His mother’s most tender heart shares his unspeakable pain and anguish. She loves her son. She longs to suffer and die with him.

Prayer
My Jesus, I am the cause of your pain and suffering. I pray that my heart may share in your suffering. Mother Mary, pray for me. Mother Mary, source of love, help me to feel the force of this pain so that I may weep with you. Help me to burn with love for your son. Help me to remember always your son’s bitter passion; that he suffered because of me and for me. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

V. Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Simon of Cyrene is ordered to help Jesus carry the Cross. Although reluctant to share the burden, Jesus accepts Simon’s help. How pleasing a companion Simon might have been if he had embraced the Cross by choice rather than by coercion. Jesus invites me to embrace my Cross and follow him. But I shamefully resist. How pleasing a companion I might make if I embrace the Cross by choice rather than by coercion.

Prayer
My Jesus, you say: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” I pray to be worthy of you, O Lord. I pray for the courage to join you as a companion on the way of the Cross. I pray for the courage to gladly carry my own Cross. If not so heavy like yours, place another upon my shoulders. I shall endeavor to carry my Cross and suffer like you for the rest of my life. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

VI. Sixth Station: Veronica Presents the Veil to Christ

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
By compassion and devotion, Veronica offers her veil so that Jesus may wipe his face which is stained by blood and spit. Jesus returns the veil with the image of his holy face imprinted upon it. Such a small thing offered in exchange for the heavenly gift of seeing the face of the Poor Christ.

Prayer
My Jesus, given what you have suffer for me, what can I possibly give to you? My life. I consecrate myself to your service. I offer you my heart and my soul. May I be always mindful of you, so that you may always be mindful of me. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

VII. Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Jesus falls again under the burden of his suffering, under the weight of the Cross. He strikes the ground with his sacred face. His executioners offer no comfort or rest. Jesus is forced to stand and continue his walk, carrying the Cross. My sins have caused this second fall. Why do I sin again and again?

Prayer
My Jesus, have mercy on me. Extend your hand to me. Support me before I fall again into my old ways of sin. Knowing my faults and failures, will I repeat them? No, I shall begin again. For this moment, help me to deny myself and serve only you. My Jesus, you are my God and my all. Console me with your grace. Without it, I cannot continue on this way! Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me. Our Father…

VIII. Eighth Station: Jesus Addresses the Daughters of Jerusalem

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
The devoted daughters grieve and weep for their savior. He turns to them and says: “Do not weep for the innocent. Weep for yourselves and for your children.” I weep for my sins because they cause so much suffering. Nothing is more pleasing to the Poor Christ or more useful to the cause of my soul than tears shed with sorrow for my sins.

Prayer
My Jesus, grant me the gift of tears. Crush my heart so that bountiful tears may flow. Break my heart so that bountiful tears may be shed in sorrow for my sins! May an abundance of tears douse my sins with true contrition. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

IX. Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Jesus is despised. He is a man of sorrows. He knows weakness. He embraces and carries this Cross for our sake. Reaching now the foot of Calvary, he falls for the third time. How savage and sorrowful is the weight of my sin. As the Cross has forces Jesus to the ground, it would thrust me into hell, except that Jesus saves me through his most holy passion.

Prayer
My Jesus, thank you for the times that you saved me from myself. Thank you for the times that you saved me from death even when I deserve to fall into the abyss of hell. My God and my all, enkindle in me a new fervor. Preserve me through your grace. Keep me from sin. Carry me into the perfect freedom of the true children of God. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me! Our Father…

X. Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
My Jesus, your garments are rudely stripped from your body. Because these garments clung to your open wounds with blood and sweat, the pain is excruciating. You will die naked and humiliated. Like you, I shall die naked and humiliated – ashamed of my faults, failures, and sins.

Prayer
My Jesus, strip away my old sinful self. By your grace, create in me a new heart and a new spirit. Although it may be bitter to my passions and selfishness, do not spare me. I long to die to the world so that I may live with you for all eternity. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me. Our Father…

XI. Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Crucified

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
So much pain. So much suffering. Jesus is stretched upon the Cross. His hands and feet are pierced with nails. But Jesus remains silent because he willingly endures this torture for me, for love of me. My soul, how can you stand your sinfulness? How impatiently do you suffer the smallest insult or inconvenience?

Prayer
My Jesus, you are the most gentle lamb! Crucify me with my desire and selfishness. Burn here, cut here, so that you might save me for eternity. I give myself into your merciful embrace. Let your holy will be done in all things. Let your grace alone be enough for me. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me. Our Father…

XII: Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies Upon the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Jesus hangs upon the cross. He is naked, bloody, and mortally wounded. He embraces this horrific suffering for me, for love of me. His crucified body is a symbol of love. His head is lowered to kiss me. His arms are outstretched to embrace me. His love for me is boundless. Every one of his wounds can be counted as a pledge of love. Jesus dies so that a sinner may live, liberated from eternal death. Although his love is limitless, it is so poorly repaid!

Prayer
My Jesus, help me to die completely to the temptations and vanities of this world out of love for you. As I look at you hanging upon the Cross, the world becomes vile to me. My Lord, receive me! I belong to you. I wish to live and die for you alone. Jesus Christ crucified, have mercy on me. Our Father…

XIII: Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Jesus refuses to come down from the Cross in life. Even in death, he clings to it. When Jesus is taken down from the Cross, he rests in the virginal embrace of his Blessed Mother. Like Jesus, I must be steadfast in faith by clinging to the Cross. If I persevere, I will be saved. With purity of heart, I may humbly receive my Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Prayer
My Jesus, help me to live and die on the Cross of salvation. Create in me a clean heart. Make me worthy to receive you in Holy Communion today, remain in you tomorrow, and abide with you always. Jesus Christ crucified, have mercy on me. Our Father…

XIV. Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Buried

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

Meditation
Jesus is buried in someone else’s tomb. On the Cross, he had no place to rest his head. In death, Jesus has no tomb in which to rest because he is not of this world. I may live now in this world, but I seek not to depend on it. By God’s grace, I renounce the world and its vice, so that I may not die with it.

Prayer
My Jesus, you call me from this world! You create me not for this world, but for heaven. What could I truly want in a world such as this? So, I leave the world and its vanities. I begin my journey on the way of the Cross: a way marked with my savior’s sacred footprints. I begin the way to my heavenly home where I will live and rest with my Lord forever and ever. Amen. Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on me. Our Father…

Closing Prayers

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell;
on the third day, he rose again from the dead,
and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the Communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and live everlasting. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Before a Crucifix

Most High and Glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity.
O Lord, give me insight and wisdom,
so that I might always discern
your holy and truly will. Amen.

Saint Francis, pray for us!
Saint Clare, pray for us!
Saint Michael the Archangel, protect us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!

Source: Various versions of the Franciscan Way of the Cross are available online and in printed formats. This version was adapted from an English translation of a medieval Latin text.

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Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable  organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or smile.amazon.comor by sending a donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage, please contact Cliff Garvey at cgarvey@assisiproject.com. May the Lord give you peace!

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