Which Station of the Cross Is Meant Just For You?

A priest once told me that praying the Way of the Cross should be a pillar of my spiritual life, but that in various times and seasons, I might want to go an extra step: Find the one Station of the Cross that speaks powerfully to my needs, and focus on just that one, thanking Jesus for suffering it just for me.

I know which station I need to focus on. I hope this helps you find yours.

Opening Prayer

“Lord Jesus, I know what your cross did for humanity. Our decision to crucify you was humanity’s darkest moment, and you turned it into our salvation and redemption — humanity’s greatest light.

“Your grace has the power to turn each of my sufferings, pains, and humiliations into my own greatest source of healing, strength, and renewal. Help me see where I most need your grace in my own life’s circumstances. I thank you, Jesus, because you loved me so much that you took my greatest weakness onto yourself.”

First Station: Pilate Condemns Jesus 

Remember this station when you feel misjudged. 

It happens so often in life — a family member, friend, or coworker defines you by who you were at your worst, not who you are, at your best.

Jesus knows how misunderstanding feels, more than anyone who ever lived. With him, you can stand tall in the Father’s love, knowing that when you are unfairly judged, you are in good company.

Second Station: Jesus Accepts His Cross

Remember this station when you feel mistreated.

You know you are supposed to be like Lazarus’ sister Mary, finding peace in Christ’s love, no matter the circumstance. But you can’t help noticing, like Martha, that everyone else has no qualms sticking you with all the hard work.

But remember Jesus. He had already done a lot of hard work, alone: the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorn. Then he got the cross. He accepted it gladly, to show you how to accept yours.

Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

Remember this station when you fail right away at each attempt to improve.

Well that resolution didn’t last long. You stumbled at the first hurdle. It seems like you couldn’t carry your cross for even a few yards.

Neither could Jesus. But he got up to try again. Will you?

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

Remember this temptation if you must struggle alone.

It can seem that you are all alone in life, with no one watching except in indifference or scorn.

But you have one admirer, and always will: your mother. She meets all her children on the Way of the Cross with her prayers, then sends help.

Fifth Station: Simon Helps Carry the Cross

Remember this station when you choose to struggle alone.

So often you have decided you can do it all, on your own: Work is tough, home is harder, and personal issues make it worse, but you are strong, so you say, “Bring it on!”

This is pride, not virtue, and it hurts instead of helping. Jesus is so much greater than you, yet he was humble enough to share his load while on the biggest stage of history. Can you?

Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Remember this when you serve the ungrateful.

Jesus was certainly grateful for Veronica’s gesture of love, but she didn’t receive much in return: She got scorn from the soldiers, jeering from the crowd, and no healing words from Jesus.

What she did receive was something incomparably greater: His very image. So does everyone who serves.

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time

Remember this when your spiritual efforts seem fruitless.

Enough is enough. You prayed and fasted. You gave your time, talent, and treasure. You spent real time forming yourself. But that same sinful tendency won’t go away. You fall again and again. What is the point?

Jesus shows us that “flawless performance” is not the goal. Getting back up and putting one foot in front of the other for love of the Father — that’s the goal.

Eighth Station: Jesus meets the Women of Jerusalem

Remember this if you care too much about what people think.

Vanity is when you are too concerned about what others think of you. Here are the weeping women of Jerusalem, publicly showing their concern for Jesus.

Jesus asks them something difficult: He asks them to show their concern privately. To weep for their own sins, alone. He asks us to do the same thing: Meet him on our personal Way of the Cross when no one’s watching.

Ninth Station: Jesus falls a third time

Remember this when you live a life of feelings.

Are you living your life vicariously through social media, entertainment, and religious media? Your heart longs for sacrifice, hard work, and love. Do you fill that longing with fantasies and daydreams?

Take heart. Jesus stumbled and fell through the way of the cross to show you that you don’t need to be a hero to lead a meaningful life. You just need effort and fidelity.

Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped

Remember this when you take too much pride in yourself.

It is easy to believe that the image of yourself that you carefully cultivate is true — that you really are the good Christian who has it all together that you pretend to be.

But God knows, and one day everyone else will see, that you are human like the rest of us. Stand before him stripped of your pretenses now, and he will show you where your true greatness lies.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

Remember this when you are too addicted to sensual pleasures.

You pamper and coddle your body, listening carefully to what it wants and finding ways to get it just what it desires — staying carefully on one side of the “sin” line, and, well, maybe fudging the line a little.

Watch how Jesus treats his body. He knows how important his body is, so he uses it to do what he wants, not the other way around. And what he wants is to suffer for all humanity. For you.

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross

Remember this when you lose the sense of sin.

The loss of the sense of sin is the definitive sin of our time. We don’t just sin, we have lost the sense that sin is even wrong. Sometimes we have even used “mercy” as an excuse, as if the fact that God will forgive us means he doesn’t care what we do.

Jesus on the cross shows us that he, indeed, forgives all. But he also shows the pain our sin causes him as we “crucify the Son of God anew” by choosing the devil’s vision of our lives over his. Look to the crucifix as an icon of sin and mercy — both.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross

Remember this when you feel used and violated.

The dark truth is that the sins we perpetrate often mirror sins that were perpetrated against us. You are no exception. Your innocence was violated, in small ways and large, in childhood and beyond.

The shame still burns. Bring it to Jesus Christ. He too was a violated, stripped naked, killed, then manhandled down from the cross. There he was laid in the lap of his mother and our mother, the all-powerful Queen of Heaven, to show where we, too, can find rest.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb

Remember this when you are tempted to despair.

It’s just too much sometimes. Too many things don’t work right. Too many people have failed you. Worse, you have failed too many people. You cried out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?” but that didn’t help. The darkness got worse.

As they rolled the stone over the tomb, the dark around Jesus’ cold, lifeless body was even darker. But we know what happened next for him: He rose to glory. This is what he plans for you after your darkness, too.

Closing Prayer

“Lord Jesus, thank you for suffering my personal Station of the Cross for me. By taking my humiliation and shame onto yourself, you turned my sin into my entryway to glory. Help me accept the cross you planned for me, take it up each day and follow you, confident that your love reveals my true worth.”

This appeared at Aleteia.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.