The 2014 Good Friday Saskatoon Way of the Cross Prayer Walk has been prepared by an ecumenical committee representing churches across Saskatoon. The project is coordinated by the Office for Justice and Peace, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. For additional details, contact 306-242-1500.

Between each station, as we follow the cross we sing and pray. Please give prayerful thought to the reflections offered by each group, and offer your own prayers for the needs of the world, that God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.

Station 1: Jesus on the Mount of Olives

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ (Luke 22:39-46)

Reflection by Prairie Centre for Ecumenism

As we set out on this Way of the Cross Walk, we follow our Lord and participate in the drama of his passion. To recognize this is to recognize that this walk and, indeed, this story is not, first of all, about us. It is about Jesus. There will be time to think about our own temptations. At the beginning, however, we are presented with the temptation of our Lord. We are presented with his perfect humanity. To walk the Way of the Cross is to take up the path of suffering embraced by Jesus himself.

In the sweat of great anguish, pouring from him like drops of blood, our Lord lived his humanity perfectly and, therefore, witnessed our own true humanity. Jesus himself participated in the greatest of our temptations. We seek to avoid all suffering. We seek the easy way. We seek perfectly disguised happiness by constantly reinventing ourselves in each pristinely packaged object that we consume. The temptation of such life-denying avoidance and deflection is powerful and real. It draws us away from God’s call—which is always a call into the thick of things, a call to get our hands dirty—and it isolates us from each other. Jesus knew this temptation in the garden. He lived it.

And now we note the crucial thing: Jesus lived his humanity perfectly by taking it up in prayer. It is absolutely essential to this text that Jesus encounters temptation in the submission of prayer. To pray is to suffer: it is to undergo, to release ourselves and our ‘will’ into the power and purpose of someone else. In prayer we let go. As we do so, we find ourselves being reconnected to life—in all its creased and crinkled, day-to-day reality. In prayer we are reconnected to life because we are connected to the source of our life: the One who embraced our lives that we might have the joy of His. In prayer we find the courage to live again; to wake up from the seductive dreams of what might have been. In prayer we find a freedom for genuine suffering, our own and that of our neighbours and loved ones. In prayer we are surrounded by the angels of heaven and, by them, we are led into a fully human life; a life opened to us by our suffering Lord.

Station 2: Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ (Luke 22:47-48)

Reflection by Micah Mission

A kiss. A kiss is a sign of love. A kiss is a sign of respect. A kiss is gesture of friendship, fidelity and intimacy. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. How fitting. A betrayer’s kiss opens the way of grace and makes known God’s merciful justice.

We stand before the statue of Gabriel Dumont. We stand in the shadow of kisses and handshakes and agreements that have been betrayed. Betrayals that have led to prisons filled with people who would not be there were it not for the poverty and indifference of our community. We stand in the shadow of God’s merciful justice which calls us to a new fidelity and hope. A community with a justice system that heals and restores; a community where trust replaces the wounds of betrayal and we become a people who honour our promises.

God of merciful justice, your blood is mingled with the blood of so much betrayal, so much heartache, so much loss.Infuse us with the strength and courage that transforms death, reconciles enemies and inaugurates the great peace of your kingdom.

Station 3: Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’ (Luke 22:66-71)

Reflection on awareness of missing women

Jesus is rejected by his own people and by Jewish authorities. They did not accept that he was the true Messiah who they had patiently waited for. Blinded by their own arrogance, they were not able to see who he truly was. Those who were supposed to protect him instead feared and rejected him and sent him to a violent death.

But Jesus accepts us all as we are, broken though we may be. He sought out the poor, the sick and those marginalized by society.

Sadly today we too have authorities who are refusing to acknowledge the truth. Out government is refusing to launch an inquiry for murdered and missing Aboriginal women. They are rejecting a call for action on this very serious issue. Like the Sanhedrin, they are blind. Let us pray that their eyes be opened. That they realize that indigenous women are valued by all, for they are our sisters and are deserving of living lives without violence.

Station 4: Peter denies Jesus

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)

Reflection by U of S Chaplains

I refuse to make eye contact with a panhandler:  “Woman, I do not know him.”

I hear a story of student who can’t make ends meet: “Do I know her? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m sure glad I’ve got a job.”

I don’t want to be a part of a church that is a place of refuge for all – for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, straight and unsure – and I say, “I’m not part of that crowd.”

It’s the simple and profound injustice of turning away from the poor, turning our backs on the prisoner, distancing ourselves from “those people” – whoever those people might be.

It’s the deep injustice of denying a friend, it’s the easy sin of just wanting to be left alone, of just wanting to warm up here by the fire rather than to get caught up in the messy lives that so many others – and even we ourselves – live.

It’s the fear we have of being identified with the wrong crowd, of losing our good reputation, of being seen in the company of – or of being seen as – unclean or sinners or troublemakers.

Yet as our denial unfolds, as this injustice takes shape, the one we deny still lives among us, the one we most fear gives all for us, the one we so often refuse to know speaks clearly to us, speaks even from this cross, and says,

“I know you.”

“I am one of you.”

“You – all of you – do belong to me.”

Station 5: Jesus is judged by Pilate

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’ Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. (Luke 23:13-25)

Reflection by Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (D&P)

The scripture passage reminds us that the world’s political and justice systems sometimes fail to protect the innocent. Pilate, despite having the ability and authority to do so, did not stand up against the mob. To this day, millions of innocent people are not protected from unjust policies, corrupt practices, and unkept promises.

We can change this.  We can muster the will and the resources to help the most vulnerable in our global human family. Indeed some of you have made it your life’s work to do so but it is not an easy task. Just as Pilate was cowed by the crowd, I too am frightened to speak out against elements of our culture, our economy, and our political system that put profit ahead of people. I am afraid of losing comfort and convenience, of alienating friends, of being branded a radical, of being outcast. The example Christ gives us in the Gospels, however, is quite clear. Whatsoever you do … let the little children come … blessed are the poor….

God, our source of love, mercy, and hope, inspire in us the courage to speak out and act for your children living in poverty, violence, and oppression. Help us unite as Christians for common causes of justice and charity so that we may honour your sacrifice by living out love, mercy, and hope.

Station 6: Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him. (Luke 22:63-65)

And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. (John 19:2-3)

Reflection by Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

Lord Jesus, you experienced violence and mockery during your Passion. You know, as do we, that harassment and abuse continue to cause great suffering in our world. So much healing needs to take place, and we can’t do it without you, Lord. Bless those of us, as well as all our sisters and brothers in the world, who have been victimized by any form of abuse. You know our suffering and you call us to be one with each other. Give us the grace we need to work with and through you to heal the suffering of abuse caused by the sins of secrecy, deceit, violence and the misuse of power.

We remember, Lord Jesus, the words you said on the cross to those who were executing you, “Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they are doing.” And so, we pray as well for the healing of those who abuse. Without their healing, the cycle of abuse will go on. Touch their hearts, minds and spirits so that they may be open to the profound dignity that all people have as your beloved daughters and sons made in your image and likeness. May this realization bring about true repentance so that their lives may be characterized by a deep desire for forgiveness and right relationship with their fellow human beings.

Lord Jesus, in your name we pray for the wisdom and courage to help our children understand the scourge of bullying, harassment and abuse. May your Holy Spirit guide parents and teachers as they strive to make their homes and schools places of safety, mutual respect and compassion. In a special way, may our Catholic schools be a true reflection of the power of self-sacrifice and love revealed through your passion, death and resurrection.

Station 7: Jesus takes up the cross

After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:20)

Reflection on religious liberty & persecution by Rev. Colin Clay (Multifaith Saskatoon)

In so many countries around the world, women, men and children are mocked, despised and persecuted because of their religious faith. There are places where it is illegal for Christians to gather for worship, and families live in fear of the authorities who may visit their homes, drag them before the courts, accuse them of blasphemy and throw them into jail.

The God who loves all humankind, and understands the many spiritual paths open to each one of us, sees the violence perpetrated  by those who represent so many faiths. God yearns for a world where there is justice, love and compassion for all. Nevertheless, there are those who continue to hurt, maim and kill in the name of the God they claim to serve. Those who do these things are to be found in so many of the religious communities in our world today.

On this day when God’s love is so clearly revealed to us, we pray for understanding in the hearts of every woman, man and child; and may all humankind learn to respect every person with whom we are privileged to share the earth entrusted to us by our Creator God.

Station 8: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross

As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

Reflection by Saskatoon Friendship Inn

It was the week of the Passover in Jerusalem. Thousands of people came from all over to celebrate the Jewish holiday and take part in the religious events. Simon of Cyrene was just such a traveller. He had arrived from Cyrene which is in the north of Africa (now known as Libya) just under 1,000 miles which would have taken him around a month to get to Jerusalem. Simon sees the crowds of people and hears the voices and laments as he walked closer and closer. Finally making it to the front of the crowd he would have been shocked to see the event that was taking place. There he saw a man who had been beaten and scarred.

It isn’t hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to witness the cruel punishment that was being administered to the man that lay under the weight of this rough and splintered cross.

Like Simon, we often find ourselves in situations that we don’t understand at the time, but, can have huge repercussions later. Every day here at the Saskatoon Friendship Inn we encounter lives that are stumbling under the weight of the crosses they bear. Here we take care of the hurting and the broken, the isolated and the homeless. On any given day, we have no idea how simple acts of kindness can affect the person we are caring for. Many people have spent a lifetime in poverty and addictions and have never known unconditional love, so when someone cares for them asking nothing in return, it can change the heart of an individual. It can open a door that leads to hope of a future filled with freedom. Simon was forced to take the cross from the stumbling Saviour.

Never underestimate the power of reaching out to those that are stumbling under the weight of the crosses they bear.

Station 9: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ (Luke 23:27-31)

Reflection by Centre for Rural Community Leadership & Ministry (CiRCLe M)

Jesus asks those women who followed to take their eyes off of him for a moment, and to look around. The powers that ruled Rome and Israel weren’t just hurting Jesus. They were extorting ruinous taxes from the people, forcing large numbers into slavery or debtors prison, and building a society that pushed to the side women, foreigners, and anyone called “unclean.”

Jesus was on his way to be crucified, in large part because he had dared to question this despoiling of God’s people. The ruling powers charged him with treason, blasphemy and uttering threats against the temple. Yet Jesus says to the women who follow him, “Don’t weep for me; weep for yourselves and your children. If they have done this to me, they will do worse to you and your children and grandchildren.”
Perhaps Jesus’ words are for us too. Our “cross-walk” this morning winds through streets of our city that has its own dark share of poverty and homelessness and crime. Outside of our city there are farms fading away, and rural communities struggling to stay afloat. Will this place we call home be a place of hope and love?

Our God is an artist and provider, crafting a world where all creatures will have vibrant and healthy spaces to live in. We ponder…will the great diversity of life that once inhabited these great plains be restored? Will ‘loving our neighbour’ and ‘loving our God’ include loving the whole of creation? Or will our narrow self-interest leave generations to come with a land barren and blighted, drained of its resources… a drying husk instead of a healthy home?

We marvel and give thanks for the beauty of this home-place that we are to take care of … and we pause to consider its future.

In silence we pray for this city, its surrounding landscapes, and the generations to come that will call it ‘home.’

Station 10: Jesus is crucified

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. … When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ (Luke 23:33,47)

Reflection by Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish

This is a sad moment in the history of humankind that the people had such little faith, love and trust to choose to crucify the Son of God rather than change their sinful ways. Jesus was treated like a criminal when He was hung on the cross with a criminal on His right and another on His left.

An army officer having witnessed a miraculous event; the death of Jesus, praising God, he realized that Jesus was indeed a good man.

How many times do we in our present, daily lives crucify someone or others?

How can we call ourselves Christians and followers of Jesus when we witness poverty, war, injustice, the incarceration of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, high unemployment rates among our people and the on-going disappearance of our Aboriginal women? How many times do we have to resort to war to bring peace in the world?

How many times do we gossip about others? How many times do we blame and punish others instead of forgiving, loving, trusting and helping others?

Are we any different from those who crucified Jesus?

Let us pray that we will change our sinful ways that we will be more charitable and Christian with our fellow brothers and sisters so that we can work and pray to change our surroundings to make a better world so that Christ’s death was not in vain.

Station 11: Jesus promises his Kingdom to the good thief

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. …

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:33-34,39-43)

Reflection by Office of Migration, RC Diocese of Saskatoon

Jesus never strayed from His objective which was to teach us unconditional love and acceptance towards each other. In the midst of his agony on the cross, he still expressed the divine nature of His love for people. He had the compassion to listen to the pleas of one who had great need. He made the effort to repress his own pain and answer to the needs of his neighbours on either side.

The God of the Bible, from the beginning and especially in the vivid stories and merciful actions of Jesus, is One who delights in giving human beings a second or third chance, a fresh start. For everyone’s sake. Perhaps these days, when we are inclined to be nervous about each other  and see migrants and refugee claimants as potential security risks or a drain on our social resources, we should consider the blessing promised to every place that would welcome the wandering and gentle Abraham. Abraham became a life-long stranger – a travelling alien: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” God’s judgement on other human beings would be in terms of their willingness to welcome and respect this stranger. “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.”

Station 12: Jesus on the cross, his mother and his disciple

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:25b-27)

Reflection by L’Arche Saskatoon

Jesus talks to us from the cross. He is suffering and he is dying. But even in this suffering he speaks truth and love. He communicates. Jesus creates something new and life-giving.

To his mom, Jesus says, “woman, here is your son.” And to his friend, he says, “Here is your mother.” Neither statement was, strictly speaking, true. Mary was not his mother. He was not her son. But in the new kingdom reality, brought about in Jesus, things that are not become things that are, things that are separate are brought together, dead things take root and live. When Jesus came to live with us, to die for us on Good Friday, and to rise again for us, he brought heaven and earth together in his person, uniting God and humanity in an eternal embrace, like that of a mother and a son. Or that of a not-mother and a not-son.

In L’Arche communities all over the world, human relationships are nurtured and celebrated. Jesus draws us into community with others, those who are not related to us, those who have no biological claim on our affection, those with differing abilities and disabilities, but those whom God has given to us as friends and even family. In L’Arche, people with and without disabilities share life together in relationships, some of them living together and creating home together, others finding belonging and friendships that meet our deepest needs as people.

As members of L’Arche in Saskatoon, we walk the way of the cross today, listening to Jesus as he names us members of one family: Here is your son! Here is your mother–support each other, love each other, live together! Even in his suffering, Jesus draws us together to live out a new Kingdom reality built on relationships.

Station 13: Jesus dies on the cross

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

Please observe a time of silent reflection.

Station 14: Jesus is placed in the tomb

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. (Luke 23:50-54)

Reflection by the Church Leaders of Saskatoon

Not bowing to peer pressure and the demands of the world, Joseph of Arimathea sought first the Kingdom of God. Indeed, like many other holy people, his example for us today is a gift from God. May our hearts not be wooed by the easy roads in life. May we seek first the kingdom of God in all we do. We should not be surprised if it is misunderstood by some. For Joseph, it meant approaching the authorities for the Body of Christ. Today,  how can we approach those we are called to approach to respect the Body of Christ for the sake of the Body of Christ?

Joseph’s actions were on the day of Preparation. When we take a stand for the Body of Christ, we are playing a role in preparation for more to come. When we stand for human dignity in all its forms, we dignify the Body of Christ and prepare ourselves and others for the Sabbath.

We must accept the challenge to discern God’s will in our personal lives, as members of our religious communities and certainly as citizens of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. We must discern the will of God together which can be painful and difficult but absolutely rewarding. It calls us to risk a comfortable place in society so that the truth can be heard and acted upon.

Concluding Prayer

Loving and gracious Creator, whose Son Jesus Christ, for the redemption of human kind, freely allowed himself to be betrayed, denied and abandoned; to be accused, tried and tortured; to have a crown of thorns placed on his head and nailed to a cross; to freely take the world’s sin unto himself, to die and be buried in a tomb: give us the grace to remember that it was for us and for our salvation that he suffered these things, we ask this through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us now join in saying, in our own language, the prayer our Lord taught us. Our Father …