Meditations on the Stations of the Cross

Scheveningen, 1942

Manuscript

 


Meditations on the Stations of the Cross

Translation of the meditations on the stations of the cross.[1]Titus Brandsma wrote these meditations in Scheveningen prison, 1942, on behalf of the pilgrims park of St. Boniface’s Chapel, Dokkum. For the original text see: titusbrandsmateksten.nl.


1st Station. Jesus is condemned to death on the Cross

O Jesus, what ingratitude and misjudgement, that the people, among whom you generously journeyed, reward your love with the demand: “To the Cross with Him”. But you must have felt even more oppressed that Pilate, under the pretence of administering the law as if without guilt and impotent to this demand, despite the statement of finding no guilt in You, condemns You to the most barbaric and scandalous Crucifixion. But You endure it and keep silent.

O Mary, how that savage cry of the people and that unjust judgment of Pilate, like a sword of affliction, must have pierced the heart. But You also endure it and remain silent like Jesus, Your Son.

Holy Boniface, how the savage cries of the Frisians raging towards You and Your companions, whose happiness You desired, must have reminded You of the demand made against Your Divine Example and therein You must have found the courage and the power to unite Yourself with Jesus, in tolerating the ingratitude and unjust treatment by Your fellow human beings.

How difficult it is for us to tolerate an unjust verdict.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart the same as Your heart.


2nd Station. Jesus takes the Cross on his shoulders

O Jesus, what courageous suffering is found in your embrace of the cross that is cruelly being laid on Your shoulder, for You soon to be nailed firmly to it, to cause you to die. You take it on Yourself out of love for me, to atone for my sins, to relieve my suffering.

O Mary, how your heart must have writhed, when You […] that heavy ominous Cross was laid on the shoulder of Your Son.

O Holy Boniface, how must the embrace of the Cross by Your Divine Example have strengthened You to bravely and proudly face the Frisians attacking You with axes and spears, prepared to die for the sake of their happiness.

How cowardly we are, to suffer something for an other and to share in the sacrifice that God and his Saints made for their fellow human beings.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart the same as Your heart.


3rd Station. Jesus falls under the Cross

O Jesus, who desired to be an example to us to encourage us when we feel ourselves collapsing under the calamities which strike us, what a humiliation it must have been for You, God of heaven and earth, not to be able to bear our cross proudly and powerfully, but to fall down because of it.

O Mary, how painful it must have been for You to see Your Son so humiliated that He collapsed under his Cross,[and] how much You must have suffered that people did not help Him; on the contrary, they hounded him again with violence to once more take up his Cross.

O Holy Boniface, how Jesus’ fall under the Cross must have helped you to inwardly conquer the fear and trembling that rose up in You when you saw the Frisians rampaging towards You, and the natural desire to preserve your life caused You to tremble in fear of death, how the example of Jesus would have infused You with courage and power over that feeble nature.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our heart conform to Your Heart.


4th Station. Jesus encounters his Holy Mother

O Jesus, what a new and appalling suffering it must have been for You, to be forced to cause your beloved Mother to share in the suffering that You had taken on Yourself for our sake; how much You would have wanted to preserve her from this suffering, but it must extend to her sanctification and glorification, it must have led John and us back to their Divine Example.

O Mary, [despite] how heavy it was for You, your love compelled You towards the way along which Your Son faced his Crucifixion, and your love took on John and us. By means of your hand, after our flight from the suffering, we make our way back to Jesus.

O Holy Boniface, the example of your Holy Mother Mary drove You with courage along the Via Dolorosa to encounter Jesus there and to keep company [with Him]. Your love and passion carried along your Companions and also, once again, give us the courage and strength to follow Jesus.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our heart conform to Your Heart.


5th Station. Simon van Cyrene helps Jesus to bear his Cross

O Jesus, what affliction and humiliation that a stranger has to be forced to help You, whilst those who loved You like John, who surely would have wanted to carry Your Cross, are thrust back. Who do I resemble, Simon or John?

O Mary, what pain it must have caused You that the soldiers, in order to see Your Son alive on the cross, wanted no help from his disciple, [but] had to force a stranger to help Him.

O H. Boniface, what a joy for You to be chosen to take the Cross on Yourself with Jesus and to die for and with Him. You did not need to be forced. May I follow your example and if God sends suffering over me, accept it with as much love as when You faced the most barbaric death without anyone coming to help You.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart conform to Your Heart.


6th Station. Veronica wipes dry the face of Jesus

O Jesus, what benevolence on your Via Dolorosa that you imprint as a keepsake of your suffering, your divine Countenance in the cloth with which a devout woman cleansed Your Holy Face. May that image remain deeply imprinted in my memory so that I always see your suffering as an example for me.

O Mary, what a treasure that holy cloth must have been for You, with how much compassion You would have contemplated this and what courage and strength this glorious memory of the suffering of Your Son must have infused in You.

O Holy Boniface, from where else but out of the suffering Countenance of the Lord would You have drawn the courage to accept the barbaric death from the fiercely advancing Frisians. That divine example was your power. You carried on high the Holy Gospels as a sign in which You hoped to triumph.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart conform to Your Heart.


7th Station. Jesus falls for the second time under his Cross

O Jesus, it was not enough for You to collapse once under your Cross for your enemies to exult in your impotence. Once again, whilst people help You to carry your Cross, we still now see you collapse to show us that even that help left you with such a heavy burden that you were willing to collapse under it.

O Mary, what sorrow over the inadequacy of the help given to your beloved Son; how You must have looked around to see if people were not taking the heavy burden fully from his shoulders and beseeched Simon to fully take over the Cross.

O Holy Boniface how must that example of Jesus, who fell under his cross for the second time, must have strengthened you once more in moments of fear and trembling in the for the suffering to which You and Your companions were subjected. May that example, over and again, also encourage us in moments of weakness and flight from the suffering.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart conform to Your Heart.


8th Station. Jesus comforts the weeping women

O Jesus, You not only spoke to the women who showed sympathy along your way to the cross, but through them have also spoken to me: “Do not weep over me, but over Yourselves and over your children, because when this happens when the wood is green, what then will happen when it is barren?” I remember your other words: “Not those who call out ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who do the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.” It is not sufficient that I show compassion to your Holy Suffering but conform my will to that of Yours, and with a sacrificial heart accept the suffering and the testing which You send over me out of your hand, and bear it in union with You. You are the vine, we are the tendrils which, when they do not stay connected to You, whither and are thrown away.

O Mary, You have not only shown compassion, but walked the Via Dolorosa with Your Son, take me along with You.

Holy Boniface, You do not stay standing along the via Dolorosa, but united with Your Saviour and Example, have accepted suffering and death out of his hand. Make me strong through your example.


9th Station. Jesus falls for the third time under the Cross

O Jesus, by falling under the cross three times You desired to make recompense for the threefold denial of your Apostle who saw himself as strong and [for] our repeated falling into sin, and wanted to show us that to reach the top of the hill of suffering You strenuously drew on Your remaining powers. You teach us the cross and suffering, which You send to us, to make every effort to draw on our powers in order to stand firm in fulfilling the task laid on our shoulders through Your Providence and, in despondency and weakness, to look up to your falling under the Cross and to draw the necessary strength from this.

O Mary, who contemplated with reverence and motherly compassion the exertion of the final powers of Your Son, help us to look up to that with You, when the fulfilment of my life’s task becomes too heavy for me.

O Holy Boniface, the threefold falling of Your Divine Example, was your strength to remain steadfast to the end, to conquer all fear and doubt for death and to face your attackers. May Your example cause us, just as steadfastly, to take on and fulfil our life’s task.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart conform to Your Heart.


10th Station. Jesus is stripped of his clothing and offered gall and vinegar

[2]

O Jesus, how You were willing to continue to drink the cup of suffering to the very bottom, naked and unprotected, with your pierced limbs nailed to the hard wooden cross and refusing the intoxicating drink that they offered You to relieve your pain.

O Mary, how your heart must have been filled with new powers of compassion when You saw Your Son stripped of everything which protected him, refuse the drink by which they wanted to reduce his sensitivity to the pains, and how his example must have strengthened You to be strong with Him in your tribulation.

O Holy Boniface, how the example of Jesus, stripped and refusing all relief, must have strengthened You to allow them to deprive you of everything and firmly and undauntingly to encounter your enemies with no other protection than the Holy Gospels which cut through their sword. Teach me to be courageous in the acceptance of suffering which God sends to me.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart conform to Your Heart.


11th Station. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

O, Jesus, how terrible it will have been for You to be nailed down on both cross beams with coarse nails, to die slowly, hanging in that woundedness, from pain and exhaustion.

O Mary, the sword of affliction prophesied by Simeon must have especially bored through your heart when You heard the barbaric hammer blows, by which the executioners bored through the hands and feet of Your Divine Son, nailing [him] fast to the cross.

O Holy Boniface, out of the memory of the crucifixion of Your Divine Image, You must have drawn the power to endure with courage and willing sacrifice that the heathen Frisians’ pierced Your Companions with swords and lances, and finally even drove their weapons into Your body and wounded You mortally. Acquire for me the same courage and willing sacrifice so that I may receive and bear the beatings with which God strikes me.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart conform to Your Heart.


12th Station. Jesus dies on the Cross

O Jesus, it is for us an unfathomable mystery, how You finally wanted to die for us, wanted to enter the realm of death, as if all your mission had failed, as if all your life had been useless, so that your enemies seemed to have triumphed.

O Mary, what it must have been for You, to see the ending of the mission of Your Divine Son, before your eyes to see Him die the most barbaric and most scandalous death, although your faith told You that he so wished to give life back to us.

O Holy Boniface, your death was so much like the death of Your Divine Example, how your third and final attempt to convert the Frisians and bring them to God seemed to have failed when they made You and Your Companions endure the most barbaric death and destroyed all your work. Teach us, with You, to mirror ourselves in Your divine example, mindful that only suffering leads to triumph.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our heart conform to Your Heart.


13th Station. The body of Jesus is laid in the lap of Mary

O Jesus, what a privilege You have gifted to Your Holy Mother after your death, for your dead body to be laid in her lap. It increased her sorrows and caused her to have even deeper compassion for Your suffering and pains, but at the same time You must have filled her with your strength for her thus to be crowned the Queen of Martyrs.

O Mary, Mother of Sorrows, who the Church, as it contemplates You with the body of Jesus in her lap, causes me to speak the words: ‘O You who pass by here, see if there is any sorrow that compares to mine’, teach me, to contemplate with You, the body of Your Divine Son and in this way to endure with You all suffering.

O Holy Boniface, how often with Mary You must have contemplated the wounds of your deceased Saviour, have revived in Holy Mass the memory of Jesus’ Crucifixion, so to enter death with your deceased Saviour before your eyes, and strengthened by the Queen of Martyrs. Teach me, to contemplate with You, Jesus’ suffering, to be strong with You in suffering and in death.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart conform to Your Heart.


14th Station: Jesus is laid down in a new grave

...[3]



  1. Written on 15 pages (every station on one page, only the 10th station has two pages; on the first page a starting line, on the second page a new and complete version). The first five papers are double-sided written on, starting with this sixth paper (which shows the second version of the 10th station) a different kind of paper is used. The manuscript shows corrections; some corrections are made immediately while writing the text, others seem to be made in proofreading the text; we present the translation of the final text.
  2. First attempt to start this meditation, under the same heading: “O Jesus, You, being stripped of everything, would have been willing to die naked on the cross, in order to teach us that in fulfilling our life’s task we must live only for You, and must detach ourselves from everything that is dear to us, relinquishing everything.”
  3. The manuscript only shows the title of this 14th meditation.


Translated by Susan Verkerk-Wheatley and Anne-Marie Bos, May 2019

© Titus Brandsma Instituut 2019