Mar 31 to Apr 6: Jesus . . . IX. Falls Third Time; X. Stripped; XI. Nailed to Cross

 Reading: Walk With Jesus, Chapter IX, X, XI (pages 55-72)

It has been another week of deep and meaningful sharing with rich and supportive comments being exchanged among the members of our Lenten community. It’s a blessing for all of us–those actively posting and those present in silence–to walk with Jesus among the vulnerable this Lent.

This week we are brought closer and closer to the suffering Jesus. First we see him from a distance as he falls. Then our focus narrows and we observe him being stripped and personally exposed.  Finally, we zoom in on his hands and feet and can almost feel the pain and anguish as he is nailed to the cross.  All this really happened in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago and it is right that we recall it today. As Henri and Sr. Helen David continue to make clear,  Jesus’ suffering has not ended and it continues in the lives of God’s people in our world.

In the ninth station we come upon a man who has stumbled and fallen in the city, and it could be your city. He has extended his hand in loneliness seeking assistance. It is a most human gesture; it can be life-giving if  met by an outstretched hand in response or it can lead to despair if people ignore the plea for help. In the background, a man walks by. Will he help?  Next we meet a woman who, although covered by a blanket, suffers the true nakedness of having lost her dignity. Jesus willingly accepted the loss of his dignity on Calvary to show us the immense compassion of God’s love. Where can we bring compassion to others? Finally, we encounter a suffering man dying alone, his difficult and painful life coming to an end. Yet, this man is at peace. He has given everything and has done the best that he could in his trying circumstances. Jesus gave everything on the cross so that this man, and all of us, can have hope in living and in dying. How can we live our lives so that our dying brings hope to others?

We have three beautiful paintings and meditations to ponder. Perhaps the comments and questions above may get you started.  Or you might want to refer to the reflection guide below.  And, as always, it is most important that you follow the prompting of the Spirit, wherever it may lead.  Please share with the group whatever is on your heart to the extent you are comfortable.  We look forward to hearing from many of you as we continue our Lenten journey this week.

Here in Maryland the daffodils and forsythia are in full bloom; in Washington the cherry blossoms are reaching their peak. Although it is still Lent, the changes in nature remind us we are we are heading toward Easter, a time of resurrection and joy.  May you be blessed this week.

Peace and all good.
Ray

Reflection Guide:
Henri follows a threefold approach at each Station. First, he places us in Sister Helen David’s picture. He then transports us to Jerusalem to join Jesus on his way to Calvary. Finally, Henri challenges us walk with Jesus and to build God’s Kingdom here and now.

At each Station (or in each chapter) you might:

  1. Ponder on Sister Helen David’s drawing.  Take note of your observations, impressions, reactions, and any questions that my arise.
  2. Read Henri’s reflection.  How does Henri’s reaction to the drawing compare to yours?  Does Henri’s description of Jesus’ suffering at this Station give you new insight into your life and faith journey? How do you respond to Henri’s challenge to walk with Jesus? What concrete steps will you take and when?
  3. How you will respond? Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights to strengthen your spiritual life
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38 Responses to Mar 31 to Apr 6: Jesus . . . IX. Falls Third Time; X. Stripped; XI. Nailed to Cross

  1. Patrice Donnelly says:

    The last of these three stations calls to mind a family member who is elderly and is thinking about her life and about dying. She loves life! But it is partly because she is happy that she feels at peace when considering her death. Her life had sorrow in it and pain, but it is the happy moments as well as the moments when she met various milestones that help her see that she has led a life well-lived, even if she did not meet all of her personal goals, even if she suffered, even if her life now has pain in it due to physical ailments. It is love that provides us with courage throughout life and at our time of dying. Henri points out that dying is our greatest moment because we must give everything. The way in which we die sends a message to others we love or who know us. It is a powerful message. It is a summation. I can think back to others who have died and how their death presented a spiritual gift of some kind. For us to receive that gift, however, requires us to appreciate it and recognize it. Money and things might be a part of it only if they convey a soulful message. Jesus’ gift was denied by some but not all. In our own lives, fear, misunderstandings, selfishness, greed, many vices can interfere with our receipt of a spiritual gift from a dying loved one. Expecting a gift isn’t helpful either. It either is there or it is not. We have to accept it either way. With Jesus, we know we have a gift that is for all of humanity for all time. One of Jesus’ gifts is love.

  2. Pat Martin says:

    I am both challenged and comforted by Henri Nouwen’s words on page 65: “I should not be afraid to lose, nor afraid for those who have lost much.” The woman at Station X who is covered only by a blanket is all those whom we have met so far. They are people who have lost homes, land and property, loved ones, dreams for the future or even their lives. I on the other hand am rich, having a husband of 50 years, children and grandchildren living nearby, financial security, and too much else to list. I feel embarrassed that I have accumulated so much while too many people to count have lost everything during my own lifetime. I cling to what I possess but doing so prevents me from experiencing a new communion with Jesus (p. 41) and I am thereby impoverished.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Impoverished? Maybe we are blessed so that we cry out more loudly in gratitude for the goodness of our lives. That gratitude flows over into generosity. Henri promises “His suffering face does not allow me to despair. I will always keep searching, waiting, hoping.” P.41

    • Chris Hoffman says:

      Pat, God blesses us in ways which defies our imaginations. The word “favor” is defined as an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual. We read in Psalms 65:4 the following:

      “Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts.”

      God’s favor resting on us is not conditional upon our actions. We cannot earn his kind benevolence. In his mercy he showers us with his love. The flowing of grace in us accepts it without question.

      If the embrace of God in our lives come with financial resources not shared with others it is a provision not to be confused about but in all humility we are to allow God’s kindness and generosity permeate our hearts in order that this same kindness and generosity flows out of us to the world around us. And this generosity is so much more than just monetary sharing. It includes even more so a generosity of spirit which alters our lives in ways where people are able to see the face of God when they see us. The Apostle Paul points us in this direction with these words:

      “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

  3. Chris Hoffman says:

    As we contemplate Jesus’ nailing to the cross we can appropriate his anguish and turn it into a joy through the understanding of the generosity of his gift given to us. Accepting this gift allows us to see that the story does not stop with the onset of suffering. Instead it begins a new life providing us a new heart, a new set of eyes and ears. A life not based on reaction to unrealized expectations but on anticipatory faith yielding to joy.

    Henri Nouwen tells us on page 70 that Jesus’ suffering is not rejection or an end but a “gateway to life and the source of a new communion”. This new communion is the result of a death in us. Henri says on page 71:

    “Dying is the greatest of all human moments because it is the moment in which we are asked to give everything.”

    Henri goes on to say on the very same page 71:

    “As he (Jesus) hangs stretched out between heaven and earth, he asks us to look our mortality straight in the face and trust that death does not have the last word”.

    Whether it is actually our physical death, or the death in a life experience to channel us through the challenges and pressures of a birthing passage from old experiences to new experiences we encounter an exodus from old tried and true cherished experiences to the thrill of new encounters resulting from a resurrection life.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12,24
      Jesus is the paradox of death bearing life!

  4. Chris Hoffman says:

    It is an amazing thing that when we do not experience continuously a life of productivity and accomplishment that we are not found outside of God’s love and abundant provision. When life turns in directions that we do not cherish God has not abandoned us. Maybe in times such as these our awareness of God’s embrace wanes or seems afar but in loss God is present. Think about the three men in Daniel that were thrown into a furnace as a death penalty. With natural eyes we would see their rejection and separation. However, with new fresh eyes from above we see Jesus in the crucible of destruction and find life.

    On page 64 Henri Nouwen tells us:

    “God chose to reveal the divine glory to us in humiliation. Where all beauty is gone, all eloquence silenced, all splendor taken away, and all admiration withdrawn, there it is that God has chosen to manifest unconditional love to us.”

    In Isaiah 63:3, we read how God gives us a crown of beauty instead of ashes. In the crucibles of life that God uses to mold us he uses life experiences to break us down in order to instill resurrection life in us. So, our challenges as hard as they may be are not meant for our destruction but for a new found life to encourage us.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Our challenges are not meant for destruction but for new life. Your words, Chris, remind me of Joseph of Old Testament who was illtreated by his own brothers; suffered hardships, out of which came a new life with the ability to feed grain to many. saving lives. He comforted his brothers when they came begging: “As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people. Therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones.” So Joseph reassured his brothers and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50,20,21

  5. Patricia (Pat) Martin says:

    Sr. Helen David’s painting for the ninth station, which captures the brokenness and weakness of Jesus, enabled me to see something I had missed before: walking with Jesus involves falling: a progression of falling to rising to falling again. After Jesus’ first fall, his struggle with the cross, and the second fall, Jesus rose again and met/was met by Mary, Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem. Now Jesus hasn’t just fallen to his knees or onto all fours, but has completely collapsed. He is on his back unable to rise without help from someone. At this station Jesus reaches out for help but he meets no one. No one is seeing him or even looking.
    ¬¬¬¬¬¬My own life, with its failings, losses and literal falls, seems like a metaphor now. When I had my first Medicare exam nine years ago I could answer “no” when my doctor asked for the first time if I had fallen in the last year. The answer has been “yes” for the last few years, however. Fortunately the falls have been minor with no injuries, but at the time when I fell completely forward onto the ground I was close to tears because I was alone. I have experienced other kinds of falls and been close to tears: times of being rejected or ignored, of being belittled, of causing pain to others. All things that seem too trivial to mention when compared to the trials or “falls” of members of this Nouwen group or compared to the scenes presented in the book that we are discussing. Jesus falls with me always and I rise feeling comforted and hopeful

    • Liz Forest says:

      Sadly there is no one meeting Jesus at his third fall. Pat, you mentioned the “falls” of life which got me thinking how physical falls might not be as painful as emotional or spiritual falls. When I fell several times on the slopes in my skiing years, usually the stumble was due to icy or little snow cover showing rocks. Never broke any bones, just sore strained muscles I could have had better balance in these falls to make my landing softer. Best advice was to fall into a sitting position and slide.
      Now I’ve left the mountains and on “level ground”? Not so dangerous? With aging bones, my steps are measured and my expensive shoes supportive. Will I have falls? Hope that I am able to fall lightly and that someone will be near to assist me.
      A friend had a bad fall on the concrete sidewalk, in front of the grocery store. She was given help by a stranger who walked her back to her building. Follow-up with doctor showed no bone breaks but she broke her dentures. Thence follows the ordeal of dental work to fit and order new ones.
      A friend is going through another rough patch with her adult son. His behavior so bizarre at times; she cannot even talk about him. Yet she has not lost faith: hope springs eternal. She sends me prayer requests often, with varying degrees of urgency. Her love for her son ever strong, she wishes he’d be able to love himself enough to get up from the deep ditches where he has fallen frequently. It’s one thing for a mother to have a broken heart but worse when her heart falls to pieces. May the loving heart of God be with each one who falls, needing love to rise up amidst human suffering.

  6. Liz Forest says:

    The other day I heard loud noises coming from a workman, using a nail gun on the back of a house half-way down the next block. The nail gun makes the job quick and easy. When Christ was nailed to the cross, the soldier used a hammer, banging multiple times until the nail pierced Christ’s hand and was driven into the cross. Long and painful! Loud bangs continuous. Just to step on a tack would pain so that I’d probably see stars. How much more pain did the nail into Christ’s feet cause?

    On a recent doctor visit the lab technician drew my blood. From her extensive experience she knew just how to put the needle in, without causing more than a prick. No such care or concern did the soldiers show when Christ was secured to the cross. Theirs was a job to get done as quickly as possible.

    I wonder about crosses. We each have our own. Yet we are not physically nailed to them. The cares we carry can change; be lifted by prayer and care of others.
    I read this story of St. Peter who was letting a person into heaven temporarily.
    The person constantly complained about his cross in life. He begged God to remove it. St. Peter had him in the “Cross Room” and said he could exchange his cross for another one. Then he described each cross, the pain of it, the duration, etc. After hearing what other crosses persons now in heaven had to bear, the person decided to keep his own cross. May I accept my cross and carry it with love, knowing it was designed just for me.

    • Marge says:

      Thanks, Liz….your sharing will “carry” me into this day…reminded of Luke 9:23…deny self, pick up your cross, follow Jesus…we may not be able to choose our “cross” or the crosses others carry….but we can choose how we will respond….suffering should not surprise us, but to be surprised by joy….p. 65, “In looking at our impoverished selves and the poverty of our fellow human beings, we come to discover the immense compassion that God shows to us….we will know how to give and forgive, how to care and to heal, how to offer help and create a community of love.” May we carry on in Jesus’ Name…..p. 70…Jesus…”hung dying in complete powerlessness, nailed against the wood of a tree, there was no bitterness, no desire for revenge, no resentment. Nothing to cling to.” Wow, is it possible…with God all things are possible, yes? Mind-boggling for me!

  7. Elaine M says:

    I must admit that Pat Martin’s questions are my own: “Am I really aware of all the good I experience or do I prefer to focus on mere inconveniences and my own minor discomfort? Do I prefer to pour balm upon my own feet?”
    =
    In Sister Helen David’s depiction of Station X, the women are coming nearer and nearer to the window. Some of us might view them primarily through the supposed safety of a car window at an intersection or on a television screen. Some might close a metaphorical curtain on people in great need with the NIMBY response (not in my backyard) or assuage their consciences with a check to a nonprofit shelter or food bank. Would we be willing to literally wash their feet as Jesus would? Would we be willing to sit down to eat with them at a soup kitchen or our own tables? Would we be willing to take them into our neighborhoods, into our homes? Would we venture into theirs? While I have eaten with the poor, spent nights keeping watch in an overflow shelter, and worked to move families from homelessness to permanent housing, I am still in a sense closing that curtain when I return to my own cozy home with a well-stocked pantry. How do the Mother Teresas or Dorothy Days of the world minister to people in the deepest degradation day after day, year after year? How to tap that wellspring of faith and courage to take compassion to the next level?

  8. Marge says:

    “Did you reach out to one of the open hands around you and bring a little bit of peace, hope, courage, and confidence.”

    In the congregation that I choose to be part of, we have a young mother and her 10 year old daughter from Honduras seeking asylum in U.S. She is in the States legally, has been a part of our lives here for a couple of months…..this is all to say, that all “the little bits” offered, adds up……sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the massive needs of the world, and rather than being paralyzed by the enormity of it all, it helps me to remember, that together, we offer far more in the Name of Jesus, and sometimes one person at a time is enabled to live with hope, thus we all are enabled to live with a deepening hope and deepening faith that Jesus did not walk the way of the cross in vain.

  9. Christine says:

    I was touched by the painting depicting the old woman stripped of all but a blanket to cover her “naked existence.” Her face is full of despair and her eyes seem to stare without seeing, perhaps looking inward for the memories of happier times that now live only in her heart. I thought of the verse in Matthew, “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
    The blanket that envelops this woman represents for me the compassion of Jesus, similarly stripped.
    Henri wrote, “God chose to reveal the divine glory to us in humiliation. Where all beauty is gone, all eloquence silenced, all splendor taken away, and all admiration withdrawn, there it is that God has chosen to manifest unconditional love to us.” I believe that Jesus sees us and waits with us in our hours of greatest need and vulnerability. I can almost see Jesus enfolding this woman in love and compassion, reminding me that compassion toward those most vulnerable among us is exactly what is expected of me.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Your post has me thinking of “the hour of our greatest need” which makes me think of the “end of life” time. Here Jesus’ end of life on earth has come. His hour is filled with ridicule, condemnation, splendor, even human dignity. This scenario is so counter-cultural. We eulogize, laud and celebrate a person’s life at the hour of death and in funeral liturgy. Why does Christ appear so passive, letting these awful things be done to him? Why be stripped of all?
      John’s Gospel reading for today speaks of this: “”I do not accept human praise;
      moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
      I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me;
      yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.
      How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
      and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?”
      Jesus knows his identity rests in relationship with the Father. He was confident that the Father was working in his life even now.
      May I keep before me always the love of God for me.

      • Christine says:

        Why be stripped of all? The time in my life when I felt stripped of all was when my adult son died unexpectedly. It has been 10 years ago now, but I still recall those feelings of naked vulnerability, of being stripped of all. It was in that state that all walls were down and I was open to the silent comfort and compassion of our God who intimately undestands human suffering.
        I like your conclusion, “He was confident that the Father was working in his life even now.” From the the stripped Jesus, we learn that none of us is immune to our need of God working in our lives.

        • Liz Forest says:

          Human suffering is a great teacher. When a loved one suffers and dies. feelings of naked vulnerability surface strongly. I can only imagine your suffering at such a loss, Christine. My mother endured that when my older brother died unexpectedly. In my mother’s last year of life, she took several trips by Ambulance to the hospital. One time I had just driven her home after a “routine” exam at cardiologist office. While I was preparing supper, she slumped to the side in her recliner and muttered my name.
          She was having a stroke. Another ambulance ride later, her cardio doctor relieved my fears by saying she had a TIA and would recover by tomorrow. He seemed to make light of the event. I asked him with hurt in my voice why this could have happened just after he had examined her in his office. He replied, “I am not God. I cannot predict that this would happen.” Yikes! How vulnerable I was; feeling helpless and reminded that the Divine Physician was tending to my mother.
          When my mother-in-law was at end of life here, she was given the Anointing of the Sick. We knew her condition critical but wondered how long she had left . As the priest was leaving, his words were assuring me, “God is working here and now.”

        • Patricia Hesse says:

          Feeling vulnerable shouts we are, indeed, vulnerable. Our culture values independence, strength, power. Children are told to bury their hurt, learning there is shame in weakness. I read where Pope Francis warned that, “Our unwillingness to acknowledge our limitations prevents grace from working effectively within us.” They are a reminder that we were never meant to be self sufficient.

  10. Patricia Hesse says:

    The painting for “Jesus Falls for the Third Time,” shows an extended hand, reaching out and a passerby, who appears oblivious to the plea expressed in the hand. Many artists say that drawing the human hand is extremely challenging. Hands are perhaps more expressive than even the face; hands speak without words, revealing feelings and desires the face is skilled at hiding.

    The first thing I thought of when I looked at Sr. Helen’s image was Michelangelo’s, “The Creation of Adam.” In that beautiful fresco, Adam’s hand is relaxed –almost passive. Yet, the hand of the Father is deliberately reaching out with fingers extended. God Almighty initiates the touch. In Michelangelo’s painting, it is not God’s breath, but God’s touch that gives life to Adam.

    Too often, I confess that my hand is passive like Adam’s –passive like the apathetic man’s hand, walking away in Sr. Helen’s painting. I am reminded that the hand deliberately reaching out with fingers extended in her painting is that of the Father, desiring to fill me with life –just as he did for Adam.

    • William Finlay says:

      Patricia, what a gorgeous analogy. Thank you.

      I have a friend who is a very accomplished artist who paints wonderfully profound and insightful faces in his liturgical art pieces… yet he admitted to me that hands are always his greatest challenge. He wrestles with getting them right, getting them to be honestly expressive and meaningful.

      I suspect your comment will be exceedingly helpful to him.

    • Liz says:

      Very thoughtful words about how hands are positioned. I see that thaman passing by has his hand on his briefcase
      Maybe his winning proposal inside or his latest manuscript for a best seller book or his resume bc he is job hunting
      Then I ask myself what have I held today in my hands. Was it goodness? Was it a reaching gesture in prayer? I reached out to my phone to call three friends who live alone and often need to talk. I struggled with two hand opening a can of tuna fish with manual opener. I touched these let’s to post this comment. What blessings hands can bring!

    • Pat Martin says:

      I read your post several days ago, Patricia, without commenting and saw Jesus reaching out for help. Today I read your post again twice and see the painting differently. The business man walks facing forward but with his head down. The body doesn’t look right to me as his left and right legs are at different angles and don’t seem to match, which makes his body seem askew to me. He is focused on himself and the world he lives in that is focused on success. The left shoulder is slumped with briefcase almost drooping as he is in the process of falling himself. He represents our world that has fallen from grace.

      Jesus’ hand reaches out in vain for attention and help, but at the same time his hand is one of strength. His hand is as the hand of the Father in Michelangelo’s painting who is creating something new. It is through Jesus’ cross, which is soon to reached, that a broken and suffering world is to be healed and recreated.

  11. Sharon K. Hall says:

    Read the three chapters and found the first one IX Jesus Falls for the Third Time a place where Henri Nouwen’s writing tugged at my heart in a way that I was not thinking so much about before. Page 58 “Instead, his open hands were struck with a lash, and cruel hands pulled him back to a standing position.” At the end, “Jesus falling and seeking help to get up again to fulfill his mission, opens up for us the possibility of touching God and all of humanity in every human hand and experiencing there the true grace of God’s saving presence in our midst.” How tragic to understand that someone’s hands were helping Jesus to stand up and continue walking, carrying his cross, so that he would be nailed on it and die. It is the ultimate in cruelty. In my own much less violent experiences of living, have wrestled mostly all the time about how best to help others, how best to accept help from others for myself, what is true help, what is enabling help, acknowledging mainly constantly my pathetic ignorance and inabilities to be able to see “the whole picture” and yet Jesus gave/gives/and promises always to give us communion/Eucharist/sharing/faith/hope/belief/meaning/purpose/joy/peace/intimacy/love/family/teaching/values/morals/relationship with all of creation/understanding–I could go on and on and on and that grim act of cruelty over 2,000 years ago to keep him standing up and walking forward always will remain part of the whole story of God’s Gift to us. Being horrified and thankful at the same time is always a challenge for me and I find myself being horrified and thankful for my own place in the scheme of things too except that Jesus’ tips me over into the place of being thankful for both the joys and the sorrows. Because He did His Father’s Will and forgives everyone of us.

    • Liz Forest says:

      There is a Rembrandt painting of the Prodigal Son which Henri meditated on in one of his other books. The hands of forgiveness from the father are placed on the son’s shoulders. One hand is strikingly masculine: larger than the other which resembles a female hand. God’s love is as tender as a woman’s touch and as strong as a man’s grip.
      More at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/02/06/99503/
      http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt's_prodigal_son.html

      • Patricia Hesse says:

        I love Henri’s, “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” I have read it many times and often given it as a gift.

      • Sharon K. Hall says:

        I also enjoyed Henri Nouwen’s book about the Prodigal Son and Rembrandt’s painting. The masculine looking hand and the feminine looking hand meshes with my feelings of the I Am of God the Father, too and His relationship to us, His children. Another blog I follow is Fr. Richard Rohr and at one time he wrote about Jesus as having a masculine body with a feminine soul. On my own, never would have been able to even be able to dare to conceive of this but Fr. Rohr just by writing this gave me courage to open my mind and my spirituality up to even more and more transformation–it seems to be constantly ongoing and I find I appreciate being somehow more able to transcend the dualism of rigid polarization of masculine and feminine identities and thinking. Appreciated your comment, Liz and reading the links. Rembrandt really did paint an incredible perspective, one that almost seems endless in its ability to make us think and reflect spiritually on our lives as people. No wonder Henri Nouwen was so intense about this work of art.

  12. Pat Martin says:

    I’ve been “walking in silence” so far. Unsuccessful in attempts to type a response on my iPad, I have recorded reflections on paper. When I recorded thoughts on my now repairable computer I could corral and focus them more easily, so I am glad to have access to someone else’s.

    For some time prior to Lent I had been feeling a sense of something that I could not put into words. A sense of something “not right:” not right in the world around me, not right with me, s sense of shame. Natural disasters and disasters caused by human neglect, poverty, oppression and persecution, killings throughout the world, and the culture of death itself. How could people go on in the midst of such suffering?

    Readings at Mass began to contribute to even more uneasiness: The Sermon on the Plain in the 6th chapter of Luke (and the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew.) Paul’s words to the Philippians (chapter 3) about those who “conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame.’ Their minds are occupied with earthly things.” I usually listen to and read news about distressing situations, briefly feel some shame that my own life is one of ease, and then return my attention to myself and my own doings.

    I experienced surprise when I began reading this Lenten Nouwen selection. I should have expected something more insightful than a simple run through the events pictured on the plaques on the wall in my church. Some questions I have been asking myself as I have walked along this path: Am I really aware of all the good I experience or do I prefer to focus on mere inconveniences and my own minor discomfort? Do I prefer to pour balm upon my own feet?

    Am I willing to carry my own pain? Do I really see others, recognize their need? Do I accept my own weakness? Do I shut my ears to the resounding screams from around the world and not truly feel sorrow because I “feed my stomach” rather than experience hunger.

    Years ago I saw a video recorded by Food for the Poor at the settlement called Riverton built on the city garbage dump at Kingston, Jamaica. A woman walked toward the camera with a great smile on her face and exclaiming, “Giving glory and praise to God!” I wondered then and continued to wonder how she could remain so joyful living in such deprivation. I found an answer a few days ago when I listened to a Lenten YouTube reflection by Fr. Jacques Philippe. I had been asking myself if I was willing to carry my own pain. He explained that the torment and lack of peace that we feel as we agonize over Lenten deprivations is self-inflicted. Only when we accept suffering can we be at peace.

  13. Chris Hoffman says:

    On page 57-58 we read:

    “The hand of the poor world reaches out to be touched by the hand of the rich world, but the preoccupations of the rich prevent them from seeing the poor, and humanity remains broken and fragmented.”

    For me these words do not merely speak of monetary wealth with the use of the word rich. Mary sang to us these words in Luke 1:53:

    “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

    I look at being rich as being full with no need to continue to search for more of God than what we already have. When we become static we don’t want to be like the wind which constantly blows where it desires and when it desires. Hunger denotes a searching heart which cries out to God that I want to see you. It is from this point of hunger which in all reality is great wealth that we see our world with new eyes as God sees it. And from this hunger generosity wells up in us and pours out beyond our lives as the Apostle Paul tells us in II Corinthians 9:11 as follows:

    “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

    • Liz Forest says:

      As Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Lord.”
      Every breath I take is a gift from God. My thanksgiving is not as generous as could be; rather stingy in the light of the gifts I have been given in life. Henri reminds me that in communion at Eucharist is the God-gift and my response in receiving is deep thanksgiving. Eucharist = thanksgiving. When I open my hands to receive Communion, I receive the grace to be open to others.

    • Patricia (Pat) Martin says:

      I thank you, Chris, for your reflections on the ninth and seventh stations. Your words above and Sr. Helen David’s image of Jesus’ hand reaching for help then led me to reread the posts on the seventh station. Yours included these words of Henri Nouwen: “Maybe all that we can do when we fall is to remember that Jesus fell and is falling now with us,” and I reread Henri Nouwen’s reflection. I had overlook the quoted phrase before; but now I am comforted by this new image I have of Jesus falling with me, for by his fall I am sheltered and protected. He is there with me, with a hand ready for me to grasp.

  14. Ray Glennon says:

    From Patrice Donnelly
    Station II: Jesus Carries His Cross.
    The man carrying the burden (wood for coffins) is doubly burdened. He knows he is carrying a heavy load, but he knows that the purpose he is carrying this load is to bury those who have died unjustly at the hands of murderers. We know this from the text. In the drawing we can see a deep determination and also pain. He is determined to carry the load because it is needed for coffins. He is in pain, we know from the picture because of the heavy load, but also because of the unjust deaths. Many of us here in this discussion have never seen such horror, although maybe some have. Living in this kind of fear of persecution and death at the hands of murderers every day, simply because one is poor, is a kind of cruelty that all of humanity stands against in asylum. God offers immediate love and mercy, which we can understand despite our differences, because of our own crosses and our own need for the very same love and mercy.

    I generally don’t jump to conclusions about other people’s burdens in life, but we all, no matter how tolerant or compassionate we already are, can continue to reflect on the need for compassion.

  15. Ray Glennon says:

    From Patrice Donnelly
    Station I: Jesus is Condemned: I saw in the drawing the face of a man behind bars in darkness, who is fearful but at the same time has a window open and can glance at something outside that gives him hope. As the viewer looking in, we can walk with him as a person alone, in darkness, who will always have access to a loving God.
    Nouwen states that the hunger for truth cannot be satisfied without being given a cross to bear, “but also not without the immense joy of being already now part of the divine life that reaches beyond any barred fence or gallows”

  16. Ray Glennon says:

    Welcome back, Patrice. Thanks for joining us. I moved the comments you posted today in earlier weeks to here so everyone will see them. . . Ray

    From Patrice Donnelly
    Introduction: In other things, I have been checking off to-do items with care and consistency this Lent! I am a little behind in my posting here, but overall I have found a powerful repentance in simply moving forward with many different tasks performed efficiently and with a purpose. Our entire household is on the same page, too, engaged in the same process, which helps. Now it is time to stop doing, read, reflect, and pray.

    I downloaded the e-book today, the same day that my RE class prayed the stations of the cross. After reading the Preface, walking with one another on the path with Jesus, the points that I have reflected on are (1) slowing down to walk, (2) feeling nature/God’s creation as I walk, and (3) walking with others.

    • Patrice Donnelly says:

      Thank you. I would have liked to have kept up, but it just wasn’t in the cards! Still, I am finding benefit in completing the lenten series. This book is wonderful! I have sent it as a gift to two other friends. It has really opened my eyes to the stations of the cross and to many of the principles underlying Christianity.

  17. Liz Forest says:

    Station 9 Jesus Falls the Third time: One is the loneliest number were the lyrics of a popular song some time ago. The image of an outstretched hand in need but people pass by reveals the loneliness of individuals and the loneliness of divided humanity.
    Was there no helping hand to assist Jesus in getting up? More like a rough grabbing by soldiers along with shouts from the crowd. On P. 58 Henri suggests an Examen of my hands at the close of day. Have I reached out to someone in need today? A lonely person, a fearful one, a weak one? Have my hands performed routine tasks with love?

    Having full use of my hand was restored to me last year when the numbness and pain of my right(dominant) hand responded well to carpal tunnel release surgery. Though the first week of recovery required that I keep my hand above my heart to insure healing, it was worth the effort. I had two allowable positions: 1)I pledge allegiance to the flag pose with hand over heart and 2)arm bent at elbow, waving hello or goodbye. How much for granted did I take my hand’s ability to do so much. “When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.” A cup of kindness given in love!

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