Here is a text for a way of the Cross to enter into the inner world of the Martyrs on the journey with Christ crucified.
AT THAT TIME JESUS WAS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and having scourged Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified (Mk 15:15)
In our own time, Jesus is still being condemned.
We have been in jail since July 20th. The whole Community, all 60 of us, are here. Eight days ago they shot Fr. Superior and other Fathers. Happy they, and happy we who will follow them. I would not exchanged my prison for the gift of miracles, or martyrdom for the apostolate, which was the great dream of my life (Ramon Illa).
Jesus had said too much for all of those who sought his death, which was but the logical outcome of all that he had said and done in his life. Jesus’ whole life was one of service to everyone, especially to those whom society had cast aside.
Just so, the young Claretians of Barbastro died for defending their identity, for being religious, for standing alongside Jesus and those who were suffering in the war because of their faith. Today, too, many men and women are dying as victims of the truth, of the truth lived and witnessed to in their own lives. The Passion of Jesus is still going on in the passion of the men and women of our own world.
* Lord, help us to make your Kingdom a reality, and help us remain faithful to you.
AT THAT TIME JESUS TOOK UP HIS CROSS
. Jesus was led away, and carrying the cross by himself, went out to what is called the Place of the Skull (Jn 19:17)
In our own time, Jesus is still carrying the cross.
They left the community three by three, under the watchful eyes of the militiamen, who hurried them along with their weapons. As in a pious procession, they walked down Conde Street toward the Town Square.
The cross was the most cruel and shameful form of punishment that could be meted out to a man in Jesus’ time. It stripped him of all that made him a man, leaving him naked to the gaze of others and subjecting him to the last degree of humiliation.
Jesus bore the cross, taking upon himself our sins, feeling rejected by his own and abandoned by all.
Today, many men and women are bearing the cross of suffering persecuted for the sake of justice, and for their religious and political ideas.
In our day to day life, we all find our personal cross in our work and in our duties.
* Lord, help us to bear our everyday cross.
AT THAT TIME JESUS FELL THE FIRST TIME
(Photos of the Martyrs)
O God, plead my cause, deliver me from the deceiful and the unjust (Psalm 43)
In our own time, Jesus still falls from time to time.
We bade each other farewell, and just then he burst into tears… But reacting promptly, with a little effort, he said: I musn’t cry (Pablo Hall’s account of his last conversation wilh the Martyr Esteban Casadevall)
Jesus was a man, and as such he shared our human weakness.As a man, he had to feel hunger, thirst, weariness, sadness and fear.
But Jesus was a man who knew how to rise from his own falls and from those provoked by others.
Jesus again picked up his cross from the ground, and from that time on, no fall is definitive. In our passion for a violent, selfish, consumerist, racist world that is lacking in solidarity… there is always a glimmer of hope.
We must learn to look for the power to rise from our falls in others in our neighbors.
* Lord, strengthen our hope.
AT THAT TIME JESUS MET HIS MOTHER
The women who had accompanied him from Galilee were standing at a distance watching everything… Near the cross of Jesus stood his Mother (Lk 23:49; Jn 19:25)
In our own time, Mary still keeps meeting the suffering Jesus.
Mama don’t cry. Jesus is asking me for my blood; I’ll shed it out of love for Him. I’ll be a martyr. I’m going to heaven. I’ll wait for you there (Salvador Pigem).
Jesus struggles on toward Calvary, surrounded by shouts of mockery and laughter. Mary is there, too, accompanying her Son. His presence is her strength, and His sorrow is her anguish.
Mary is the woman who knows how to wait, who knows how to be silent, who knows how to give sorrow a new meaning, who knows how to walk in the midst of a crowd, even with tears in her eyes, until the end.
Today, Mary is the mother who bears our sorrows and sufferings with us, who knows how to give new new meaning in the light of the mystery of her Son’s suffering on the cross.
Today, Mary is a mother who accompanies the journey of all those men and women who are struggling and suffering to make God’s Reign present in our world.
* Mary, help us to keep on watching.
AT THAT TIME SIMON HELPED JESUS
As they led him away, they seized on Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus (Lk 23:26)
In our own time, Simon of Cyrene still keeps helping.
Moved to pity. Fr. Cunill asked the revolutionaries to have the five elderly Brothers moved to the Little Sisters of the Poor of Barbastro. His wish was granted. They survived the tragedy. Fr. Masferrer was able to save the Eucharist from the house and from the church. All hastily received Communion. The forms that remained were hidden in a little valise. As long as it lasted, the Eucharist constituted the center of their life. The Committee seemed to sense the mysterious power of that “communion” and therefore they rigorously forbade them to celebrate Mass.
Simon of Cyrene was Jesus’ Good Samaritan. He gave no discourse on the Man whose knees buckled before him. Rather, he entered into soldarity with Him and helped Him with His burden. Evil, suffering and death would be combated with the solidarity that is born of the commandment of love. We should remember Jesus’ words: “As often as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.” For Jesus is still stumbling and falling under his cross in our world. The Martyrs of Barbastro also found strength in the Eucharist and in their fellow Cyreneans in their last hours. All of them helped one another and strove to make the fellings of the least of them their own.
* Encourage us, Lord, in our struggles, so that with the support we receive from you, we may be able to encourage others in their struggles.
AT THAT TIME VERONICA WIPED THE FACE OF JESUS
(The Piano Stool)
In our own time, Veronica still wipes the face of Jesus
Agustin Viela went near the window of the auditorium‑jail and called out to a woman who seemed trustworthy. He gave her his home address. “l am a Navarrese. Write to my family that I will very likely die tomorrow. But tell them that I die happy, because I die for God.” One of the guards violently upbraided the woman, who answered: “These poor little ones also have a mother.” A blow to the head silenced her. She fell in a faint.
A handkerchief, a small gesture, is enough to disclose the true face of Jesus, the face of those who suffer under the unbearable weight of loneliness, misunderstanding and powerlessness in the face of circumstances.It is not easy to discover a man’s true face; it is not easy to recognize the true face of God. To discover God’s face, we have to become one with the poor and the ill‑favored, we have to seek it in those who bear the sorrows of sickness, war, death…A kind gesture, a tender glance, can make a person open up totally and discover all it means to be and feel and live.
* Veronica, help us to find the true face of God.
AT THAT TIME JESUS FELL A SECOND TIME
Why, Lord? Why this secoud time?
We can grasp the reality of Jesus’ temptations:
We people kept asking him to work spectacular signs
Leaders kept asking him questions in order to trap him.
His disciples kept asking for an easier way to reach Kingdom
But Jesus lifts himself up again to say: ” Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Mk 2:17). Hence Jesus devoted himself “to search out all save what was lost” (Lk 19:10).
Jesus knew that he could fall. But he also hnew that evil can only be overcome by good.
In our own time, Jesus still keeps falling
“One of the students, Atanasio Vidauretta, a Navarrese, had a fainting spell and fell to the ground. Someone shouted: ‘Kill him here and now!’ His companions took him up to his room”
Lord, why is life sometimes so heavy for us?
Why, when we want to do good, do we do evil?
Why is peace in our world still only a dream?
Why do we sometimes find it so hard to live together in peace?
“The message of the cross is complete absurdity to many,” Saint Paul told the Christians of Corinth, “but to us it is the power of God.”
* We thank you, Lord, for if we fall again, our experience will help us to lift others up.
AT THAT TIME JESUS CONSOLED THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM
“A group of women followed him weeping and lamenting over him.” (Lk 23:27)
‑A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.
Among those who suffer, bonds are formed that are stronger
than friendship itself.
This is why Jesus felt comforted by the compassion of those good women.
In our oun time, women still keep weeping for Jesus
“That was a very sad night, indeed. ” Lucia Martin recalls. “We watched in horror as they went about destroying and burning churches.From our house we could see the red glow of flames in the square of the Cathedral. “
– Compassion is an emotional way of sharing suffering.
Thanks to compassion, despair and loneliness cease to be a hell.
The day when nobody has compassion for anybody, hope will disappear from the earth.
* You women who weep, give us hope!
AT THAT TIME JESUS FELL A THIRD TIME
“Though he was in the form of God, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, and it was thus that he humbled himself obediently accepting even death, death on a cross”
‑As he fell again, Jesus probed the depths of his defeat.
Throughout his life he had done good for everyone: He had called people of good will to enter the Kingdom of God: a Kingdom of peace, of pardon, of solidarity, of dialogue…
Jesus waited for a welcoming response, but he was rebuffed by minds that could not accept the fact that God preferred the poor, the sick, the persecuted, the outcast…
But even as he lay there on the ground, Jesus firmly and surely held to all that he had taught and practiced.His death would be the result of his fidelity.
In our own time, Jesus falls and will fall again.
“Through a window of the auditorium-jail, I watched as they loaded them onto the van. At twenty to one in the wee hours of the morning, a strong volley of rifle fire rang out followed by a few separate shots. My 20 dearly beloved companions were entering heaven to receive the undying crown of martyrdom” (Student Parussini).
‑ Why, Lord, do we fall again and again? Why do we prefer our plans to yours?
We fall and often feel powerless to stand up, but we never lose hope.
As he falls a third tirne, Jesus takes our weakness upon himself and we are able to resume our way.
* Lord, help us to rise again.
AT THAT TIME JESUS WAS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS
“They divided my garments among them,for my clothing they cast lots.”(Jn19:24;cf.Ps 22:18)
‑Finally, the moment has come: Jesus is stripped naked before all. Clothing does not just cover our bodily nakedness: it also hides the mystery of our person.
‑Jesus is stripped naked: he has to sacrifice everything, even what is closest to his flesh. He who throughout his life had been a man for others, now keeps nothing at all for himself. ‑ He gave up all things in order to win all of us for God.
In our own time, Jesus is still being stripped naked
“Jesus, you know that I your soldier will abide, fighting ever at your side.
One banner, one ideal held high, marching on, until I die!
And what ideal hold I so high? For you, my King, my Pride, to shed my blood and die!
(First verse of a hymn the Martyrs sang)
‑ Lord, why are you so demanding with me? Why are you so demanding with us? Why won’t you let us hold on to anything?
‑ But you went all the way, giving up everything. And you tell us to be good, as the Father is good.
* Lord, make us generous, strip us of all excess.
AT THAT TIME JESUS WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS
“The soldiers nailed him to the cross… It was about nine in the morning.”(Mk 15:24-25)
‑Everything is ready: God’s plan is about to be fulfilled.
The cross is the outcome of Jesus’ total fidelity to the Father.
And, most surely, Jesus never let Him down.
He bore crises, conflicts, persecutions, misunderstandings…
And when the time came, he accepted the Cross freely and in solidarity.
In our own time, Jesus is still being nailed to the cross
“This is where we shot the missionaries.
They knelt down, with their arms stretched out in the form of a cross, and shouted. Long live Christ the King! And doing so they took our fire.”(Testimony of one of the militianmen)
‑ Jesus is risen, but the Passion goes on even today.
The total resurrection of all will not be reached until the last day.
Meanwhile, Jesus is still nailed to the cross with thousands of children dying of hunger; with the wounded of countless wars; with the nightly victims of torture; with the incurably ill; with the many families separated from one another; with the many dialogues broken off in mid course.
* Lord, help us!
AT THAT TIME JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS
“My God, my God,why have you forsaken me? And uttering a loud cry, he breathed his last. “(Mk 15:34,37)
‑The hour has come. Jesus finds himself abandoned, in utter loneliness He finds no sure holding place. Humanly, his life has been an utter failure. Now he finds himself stripped naked on the cross rejected by society, defenseless, alone in the face of death. Will his Father hear him? Jesus takes heart and repeats the only Word that gives him trust. FATHER, FATHER….
In our own time, Jesus is still suffering on the cross
“Farewell, Beloved Congregation! Your sons, martyrs of Barbastro, greet you from prison and offer you their sorrows and anguish as a holocaust of reparation for our failings and as a witness of our faithful, generous and undying love”(From the Last Will and Testament)
‑ We Christians, who have opted to follow Christ, have made a commitment to remain by his side in life and in death.TO LIVE, for Jesus, meant offering his life to the Father for the sake of human beings; TO LIVE, for me, means offering my life to the Father for the sake of my brothers and sisters.
* Lord, if I die with you, I shall also live with you. Thanks for this faith.
AT THAT TlME JESUS WAS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS
“Near the cross of Jesus, there stood Mary his Mother, and his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene”. (Jn 19:25)
– Lord, what have they done to you?
You preached freedom to them and they have treated you with violence,
You lived among them doing good and this is how they repaid you.
What more ccoculd you have done for them than you did?
You want the Father to accept the sacrifice of your life for the salvation of all.
In our own time, some still keep standing by the croos of Christ
“Many of the people of Barbastro, concerned for those “oor creatures”,
spent whole nights hidden in strategic spots in the cemetery to witness
the heart-rending scene, in order to make sure of the exact place where the different groups of persons were being buried, so that they coculd later serve
as witnesse, and identify the bodies”.
– All deaths pose a challenge to our hope. Death does not have the last word.
There will always be those who refuse to worship the gods of power, of honor, of comfort and of security. There will always be those who believe in the Beatitudes of Christ,
in unconditional forgiveness, in deep respect for others.
There will always be those who are seeking, like Jesus, for the
happiness of the Kingdom of God.
* Lord, teach us how to live… and also how to die.
AT THAT TIME JESUS WAS BURIED
“Joseph of Arimathea laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock.”(Mk 15:46)
‑We are afraid of death, because we shudder at the void of it all.
‑With his death, Jesus descended into the depths of loneliness. Now, where only absence existed, He is. Where only death reigned, Life reigns.
‑Thanks to his solidarity with us, we do not die alone: We all die with Christ.
In our own time, Jesus is still being buried
“The corpses were brought to the cemetery of Barbastro and were thrown into a common trench that they had forced the Gypsies to dig.”
‑ Death makes life’s total meaning possible. All those who, like Jesus, have died out of love for life and its dignity will have a share in the fullness of life. They will be like the grain of wheat which, if it dies, will be multiplied. It is human beings like these who make it possible to hope in the Kingdom.
* Lord, help us to be wholly yours.