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ESM Reenact Way of the Cross on St Peter’s Square

© Sabrina Fusco / ALETEIA

Carly Andrews - published on 04/19/14

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

The Emmanuel School of Mission youth reenact the Via Crucis – The Way of the Cross – on St Peter’s Square this Holy Friday. 

The sky is a spectacular blue over the cobbled stones of the great old piazza, but a solemn and reverent tone sweeps the place.

Today Our Lord has been Crucified. The crowd has spoken, pilate dismissed, guards scourged, onlookers mocked.

Our Christ has been crucified. Beaten, stripped, scorned and nailed to a cross. The earth has trembled. The temple has cracked.

The ESM youth live these very last steps – of the passion of Jesus – in a piercingly real way. They take up the characters of the Via themselves, bearing witness of the Ultimate Sacrifice to all passers by.

Jesus is condemned to death by Pilate.
Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting: “Crucify him, crucify him!” ….So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted.” (Lk 23:21-25).

People passing pause in horror to see the violence of these young guards whipping the humiliated Christ on his knees.

He is scourged and beaten and a crown of thorns is thrust upon His head. 

The feet that accuse: they keep their distance from their Christ, denying Him into their lives; they mock and scorn and do not believe, remaining in emptyness and fear.

Jesus takes up his cross

The wood of the cross is heavy, for on it Jesus bears the sins of us all. He staggers under that burden, too great for one man alone (Jn 19:17).

On His whipped and flesh-torn back, Christ hoists the heavy wooden cross, laden with our sins, in a love that neaver ceases.

Christ falls for the first time

He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole. (Is 53:4-5)

Jesus meets His mother
Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary: “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul also” (Lk 2:34-35)

She tenderly kisses the hand of her beloved child, this purest and most humble of servants, of women, of mothers; this Queen in heaven. She willingly gave up her Son, even though the cost was the piercing of her own heart. 

Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mk 15:21).

The feet that willingly help Christ bear the cross: so starkly contrasted from the feet that condemned and scorned him. They embrace the Lord in His suffering and join Him in it. 

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
“Come”, my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face; Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help (Ps 27:8-9).

Jesus falls for the second time
They surrounded me … They surrounded me like bees, they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death (Ps 118:11,12-13,18).

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children” (Lk23:28).

Suffering silently with their Christ, the women accompanied Jesus all the way to the Cross, and stayed at his feet, never abandoning Him, never looking away; their faith and love uniting them in His Sacred Heart. 

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