The Stations of the Cross with Titus Brandsma
Before an Image of Jesus Crucified
Dear Lord, when looking up at Thee, I see Thy loving eyes on me; Love overflows my humble heart, Knowing what a faithful friend Thou are.
A cup of sorrow I foresee, Which I accept for love of Thee, Thy painful way I wish to go;The only way to God I know.
My soul is full of peace and light;Although in pain, this light shines bright. For here Thou keepest to Thy breast.
My longing heart to find there rest. Leave me here freely all alone, In cell where never sunlight shone. Should no one ever speak to me,
This golden silence makes me free! For though alone, I have no fear; Never wert Thou, O Lord, so near. Sweet Jesus, please, abide with me!
My deepest peace I find in Thee
The Stations of the Cross
First Station: Jesus is condemned and taken away
O God, it is thus that I must contemplate You. What has happened during this night; what have You done to Your people that they mistreat You in this way? Not only mistreated, but betrayed to be crucified. Certainly, You did foretell that during the night the shepherd would be struck and the sheep would be scattered. can still hear Your warning: “Watch and pray that you not fall into temptation.”
But I’ve already fallen asleep. At that moment You became unrecognizable for me. I feel icy cold as I ask myself whether, for You, O Christ, this Passion was a duty or a free choice. Besides, You pronounced the words: “During this night all of you will be scandalized in me.” Unfortunately it’s true, all of us are scandalized in You; we don’t even have the courage to contemplate the Passion. And we caused it! While You cry out: “Look and see if there is a sorrow equal to mine,” we think we are not capable of looking at it. Our soul rebels when it sees You unclothed, beaten and bruised, broken into bits to the extent that there is nothing in Your body that might be called “healthy.”
As on a threshing-floor the flail of sin winnowed out the Sacred Wheat, and broke the straw. Your Blood flowed in torrents and is still issuing from Your wounds. We’ve not yet reached the last drop. Your body already reveals the pallor of death, but in Your eyes I still note the ardor of the flame of love, which burns like a fever and which consumes You until all is fulfilled. On this night, that gaze led Peter to repentance. I read there is a silent reproof, insofar as I do not wish to recognize You. …Your powerlessness irritates me; I am ashamed of Your humiliation. You willed that they treat You like the worst of criminals, while I would like to see You like a king, who triumphantly places the cross on Calvary.
O God, free me from my scandal. I know. Your answer is, “Watch and pray.” While the two executioners drag You away in a rough, unfeeling way, in order to crucify You, I again hear: “Watch and pray that you not fall into temptation.” God, I will pray. I wish to see Your Passion, I wish to study the depths of Your love, as I gaze at the depths of Your humiliation.
Second Station: Jesus takes up His cross
My God, that heavy cross, to which they wish to nail You, You have to carry it? My God, You cannot. You’ve already suffered too much. The terrible loss of blood has already drained You of Your remaining strength. Still, Your executioners believe that You will succeed and will reach the top still alive. Still, it will be terrifying. That cross which You embrace will later bear Your tormented body, pinned there by nails. Just the thought of it should make You tremble before that cross, and even if Your strength allowed You to do so, that thought would prevent You from carrying it to Calvary. Couldn’t they grant You a moment of rest before they started on a new series of tortures? Wouldn’t they spare You at least the cruel torture of carrying it alone to the spot of execution? You, who already are drained of strength to make Your way even without the cross! Sin knows no rest. Desire of sin is never satisfied. Without pause the force of the executioner pushes the victim on. Like a lamb You let Yourself be led to slaughter. No complaint is heard on Your lips.
No, while Your body gives in and is not equal to the heavy load of the cross, Your eyes shine with a holy flame, as they gaze on the throne of the King, which is not of this world and from which they wish to remove You with four clumsy nails. For an instant it seems that You regain Your strength, as You embrace the tree of the cross. They thought they would have to force You, yet You carry the weight until the bitter end, even though it becomes even heavier because of our sins, which we do not wish to bear. There is no one to help You. Your eyes look for someone disposed to carry the cross, but there is no one. The winepress which squeezes out the last drop of blood from Your body, You must leave it to do its job. O cross, O sacred wood, in the hands of my God; certainly it is heavy, but carried by Him with His last remaining strength, I would like to take it on myself now that I see that my Jesus goes before me and thus makes it easy on my shoulders. O God, I will not only follow the Way of the Cross. I take up the cross with You, my cross which You pass on to me. Bearing my cross I shall accompany You to the holy mount.
Third Station: Jesus falls for the first time
The Omnipotent in a state of powerlessness. Our strong God is not up to what is asked of Him, He is not up to His confrontation with His executioners. He has run out of strength. My Savior continues, wavering, and suddenly He stumbles and falls. Look at You, O God. Couldn’t they crucify You here? Their aim is Your death. They don’t see that You cannot continue. You must continue, this is the will of Your executioners, for whom Your powerlessness represents a new irritation. For them Your strength has not run out. They leave You alone for an instant, then they have You lifted up and prod You on to continue. They think they can stimulate Your remaining strength by kicking and beating You. They do not realize that You wish to carry the cross with a ready heart and that You wish to show us that this demanded Your remaining strength. O holy Exemplar, I now see that when we sink beneath the cross and can go no further, our powerlessness finds comfort in Your fall. Our cross, when compared to Yours, is light, so long as we are not threatened with sinking beneath it. Knowing, O my God, that my sins made Your Cross so heavy that You had to sink beneath it, this makes me even more convinced that I must carry my cross together with You and that I should not shy away from it, even if I should sink beneath its weight. In Your weakness You overcame the world. Let me be weak with You and be bent low beneath the weight of life. Let me appear insignificant and trifling in the eyes of the world, as I get up with You, ready to take on new sufferings, until death represents the crown of my sacrifice.
Allow me to fix my gaze on You, as You fall under the cross like a worm on which one tramples, while You accept kicks and blows from those to whom You wish to give a blessing. Don’t let me always think of You as strong and mighty, carrying the trunk of the cross with pride, head held high. Christ who was bent over, who had to fall, who had to sink beneath the cross, thus entering His glory. His sacred humanity had to be destroyed. So cruelly was He mistreated that no human form would be left. Here already we see that His strength has abandoned Him. My God, let me often reflect on Your humiliation at the hands of Your heartless executioners, and through that let me learn to suffer, so that people don’t think me capable of doing what I wish to do.
Please note: Fourth -Sixth Stations were not finished by Fr. Titus.
Seventh Station: Jesus falls under His cross the second time (composed in the prison of Scheveningen)
O Jesus, You did not think it enough to succumb under Your cross just once, so that Your enemies could gloat over Your powerlessness. Once again, while You are being helped to carry the cross, we see You collapse to show us that, notwithstanding the assistance, the burden on Your shoulders was still so heavy, that You allowed it to overcome You.
O Mary, what grief about the insufficient help given to Your dear Son; you must have looked around if someone would not completely take the heavy load off His shoulders, and you must have begged Simon to take over the full load of the cross.
O St. Boniface, the example of Jesus who fell under His cross for the second time must have strengthened you anew in moments when you shrank away from the suffering inflicted upon you. May that example constantly encourage us also in moments of weakness and flight from suffering.
O Jesus, gentle,
Eighth Station: Jesus consoles the weeping women
O Jesus, You spoke to the women who sympathized with You along Your way of the cross and through them You told me too: “Do not weep for Me; but for your selves and your children, for if the green wood is treated thus, what then is to happen to the dead wood?” I remember Your other words: “Not they who cry Lord, Lord, will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does the will of My Father, who is in heaven.” It is not enough, that I show pity with Your holy suffering, but I must shape my will along Yours and with a generous heart accept out of Your hand the grief and trials You send me and bear them united with You. You are the vine, we are the branches which, if they don’t remain joined to You, wither and are thrown away.
O Mary, you did not only show compassion but you went the way of the cross with your Son; take me along with you.
St. Boniface, you stopped along the way of the cross, but united with your Savior and Model, you accepted from His hand suffering and death. Make me strong by your example.
O Jesus, gentle, etc.
Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time under the cross
O Jesus, You wanted to expiate the threefold denial of Your apostle who considered himself so strong and our repeated falling into sin by Your threefold fall under the cross, and You wished to show us that You expended Your last energies in order to reach the top of the hill of suffering. You teach us in the cross and suffering which You send us, to use all our strength in order to carry out the task laid upon our shoulders by Your Providence and to look to Your falls under the cross, when we lose heart and feel weak, for the strength that we need.
O Mary, you witnessed your Son’s final exertion of His energy with admiration and motherly compassion; help me to remember this with you when the carrying out of my task becomes too heavy for me.
O St. Boniface, in the threefold fall of your divine Model lay for you the strength to remain steadfast until the end, to overcome all fear and hesitation before death and to meet your attackers. May your example help us to accept and carry out our task in life steadfastly.
O Jesus, gentle, etc.
Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments and given gall and vinegar to drink
O Jesus, You wanted to drink the cup of suffering to the bottom by allowing Yourself to be nailed to the hard wood of the cross naked and unshielded and by refusing the narcotic drink they tried to give You to ease Your pains.
O Mary, your heart must have been filled with new power of compassion when you saw your Son, stripped of all that covered Him, refuse to drink which was meant to ease His sensitivity to the pain and His example fortified you to be strong with Him in His trials.
O St. Boniface, the example of your Jesus, stripped and refusing any alleviation, must have strengthened you to willingly have everything taken away from you and, proudly and without fear to meet your enemies with no other cover than the Holy Bible, which even at that was pieced by their swords. Teach me to be courageous in accepting suffering sent to me by God.
O Jesus, gentle, etc.
Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
O Jesus, how terrible it must have been for You to be nailed to the two cross bars by coarse nails and hanging from those wounds, to die slowly from pain and exhaustion.
O Mary, the sword of sorrows foretold by Simeon must have pierced your heart especially when you heard the cruel hammer blows with which the executioners pierced the hands and feet of your divine Son and nailed Him to the cross.
O St. Boniface, you must, from the memory of the crucifixion of your divine Example, have drawn the strength to persevere, with courage and readiness for sacrifice, when the Frisian pagans pierced your companions with swords and spears and finally drove their weapons also into your body, mortally wounding you. Obtain for me that I receive and bear the trials God sends me with equal courage and readiness for sacrifice.
O Jesus, gentle, etc.
Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross
O Jesus, it is for us an incomprehensible mystery how You finally did want to die for us, did wish to enter the realm of death as if Your whole mission had failed, as if all Your life had been useless: an apparent victory for Your enemies.
O Mary, it must have been terrible for you to see this end to your divine Son’s mission, to see Him die before your eyes the most cruel and shameful death, even though your faith told you that precisely thus, He wanted to return life to us.
O St. Boniface, your death resembled that of your divine Model; your third and last effort to convert Frisia and bring her to God seemed to have failed when they made you and your companions undergo the cruelest death and destroyed all your work. Teach us to mirror ourselves with you in our divine Model, mindful how only suffering leads to victory.
O Jesus, gentle, etc.
Thirteenth Station: The Body of Jesus is laid in the lap of His mother
O Jesus, what an example You gave Your holy mother after Your death by allowing Your dead body to be laid in her lap. It did increase her sorrows and caused her even more intensely to identify with Your pains and sufferings but at the same time You must have filled her with Your strength in order, in this way, to crown her as Queen of Martyrs.
O Mary, Mother of Sorrows, the Church, when contemplating you with Jesus’ Body in your lap, puts these words in your mouth: “O you, who pass by here, see if there is any sorrow like unto mine?’” Teach me to contemplate with you the Body of your divine Son in order to bear all suffering with you.
O St. Boniface, how often you must have contemplated with Mary the wounds of your dead Savior and during the sacrifice of the Mass have pondered the memory of Jesus’ death on the cross, in order to be strong in suffering and in death.
O Jesus, gentle, etc.
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in a new sepulchre
(Left unfinished; he was writing in prison, and he was taken to be executed before finishing)