This post is part of our Lenten series, journeying the Stations of the Cross. In this meditation on the Second Station of the Cross, Jesus Accepts the Cross, Contributor Alyssa reflects on how sometimes we try to take on crosses that aren’t ours to carry, and how we can surrender those crosses to Jesus.
Honestly, I’ve only ever prayed the Stations of the Cross while in school, but I remember how I felt each time I prayed them. At my elementary and middle catholic school in south Florida, Nativity Catholic School, our teachers would take the classes to our church’s shrine to pray the stations during Lent. They had set up statues of the stations around in a U shape, that we walked and prayed from one end to the other.
I can never forget each class’s collection of little blue books with the text of the station for the “leader” to read and parts for “all” to say together. The text was large and easy to read, the content simple for us grade school kids to understand, and each was paired with a painted photo. I honestly loved when my teachers pulled out these books because I knew we would be getting out of class for good while to read all fourteen stations together.
We would all stand together in front of each statue in the shrine, and for each station, the teacher would appoint a different student to read the part of the leader. I would always wait with anticipation to hear if my name would be called. I would glance at the parts ahead of time to scan through and make sure I knew how to pronounce all the words before potentially being called upon. When I was called to read, I would muster up my loudest voice and read the story of Jesus’ Passion.
I am grateful that my religion teachers had us do these stations during Lent, as you can see I remember them 12 years later. I know the story of Jesus’s Passion by doing this, have reflected on how He must have felt by doing this, and started on my relationship with Jesus by doing this.
In high school, I was a part of the campus ministry team. During Lent, the team would perform a Passion Pantomime for the whole school. I remember watching the powerful performance for the first time, and I was excited to be a part of it when I joined the team. You can watch a performance of it from 2015 here, where you can see a 17-year-old Alyssa as a disciple on the right side. After learning and performing this in high school, I took the idea to college, where we performed this for our young adult group and on Palm Sunday at Mass.
Since then, I have not prayed the stations, and I have not formally prayed them since middle school. I formed my own thoughts and reflections on each station, and have stuck with them all this time. I have yet to reflect on the stations in my “adult” life and can see how I’ve been missing out on an opportunity to understand Jesus in a different way at this different point in my life.
Why Reflect on the Stations
As a Little With Great Love team, we felt called to reflect on the Stations of the Cross not because it’s our favorite Lent activity, but because it is something we have all been missing out on. Just like some of my sisters, I haven’t been praying the stations as often as I should be, especially during Lent.
The first thought that comes to mind when I think of the stations is “long.” I have the memory that the stations took a long time to get through, reading each passage, reflecting, saying the prayers. In my head, it takes a long time, therefore I don’t think I have the time to do it. In actuality, the stations take as long as you want them to. We can choose whichever book or prayers online we want to follow and spend as much or as little time reflecting.
The second thought that comes to mind is “I already know the story.” Why should I bother reading through the stations when I know Jesus’s passion by heart? Well, I’m really missing the point if I keep thinking like this. We’re supposed to reflect on the station in relation to ourselves, our situation in life, thinking about Jesus’s feelings in those moments, and how we can relate to them now.
I’m choosing to reflect on the stations this year because I want to form a deeper connection with Christ and His story, by relating it to my story and how Christ works throughout my life right now. I suggest we all go into this “Journey with the Stations of the Cross” with a purpose, what is yours?
Reflecting on the Second Station of the Cross, Jesus Carries the Cross
Most station booklets and online sources label the second station as “Jesus Carries the Cross” but others (like our own Lent ebook) label it “Jesus Accepts the Cross.” I feel as if the meaning changes by interchanging the word “carries” with “accepts.” By reading that Jesus carries the cross I see Him simply performing the act of carrying it, but accepts the cross gives this station a much deeper meaning to reflect on.
Caitlyn’s poem in our Journey the Stations ebook for the second station starts by saying “This burden for me is a joy for You. To take up the wood of a tree, To carry the burden that I bring to You While You also carry me.” This sets the tone for the second station, the cross Jesus bears is more than a heavy beam of wood. The cross embodies all of the sins of the world that Christ happily takes upon His shoulders.
The Lord wants to carry our crosses, He wants us to experience the peace and love only He can provide… so why is it difficult for us to let go of some of our crosses?
Letting Jesus Carry Our Crosses
For me, I don’t realize I’m carrying crosses all on my own until it becomes overwhelming. I hold on to worry, anxieties, stress, guilt, fears, and I let them all build and grow, dwelling on these negative thoughts. My crosses turn into walls that block out hope, peace, and love. Sometimes we find that dwelling in the familiar feels safer than letting go, so we stay behind our walls. We don’t know what will happen if we open up. Why change when this is what we’re used to? I know that when I’ve kept my crosses to myself, they’ve only ever grown, and I’ve found myself feeling worse. The longer I hold on, the more I feel worse about opening up.
In college, I had a group of friends that I had fun with. We had parties together and were going out to clubs. It’s not a bad thing to go out and have fun, and I never thought anything bad of it. The first few parties and outings felt harmless, but eventually I found myself going out to clubs and bars every weekend. In the moment, I didn’t realize I was miserable. I was lying to loved ones. I was drinking too much. I was surrounded by toxic people. I convinced myself that I was having fun, that this is what college students do, and I kept my crosses to myself. Later, I met good and gracious people who resonated with who I truly was, and it helped me to realize how terrible I felt in my current situation, and urged me to change. The walls came crashing down. I cut off toxic people and adopted healthier habits. In the moment it hurt, but overall, it was freeing.
By letting go of my crosses, calling on others and the Lord for help, I was able to experience such immense peace and feel true love. Jesus hates seeing us hurt. He’s always reaching out to us. We just have to let Him carry our cross.
He Is Our Strength
“Not every burden I see should I bear, For the strength is not my own,” writes Caitlyn in the second station poem. I forget too often that the Lord gives us strength to deal with the anxieties and stress our lives throw at us.
But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength”2 Timothy 4:17
He’s always standing with us, walking with us, ready to carry us when we fall. During Lent, I want to challenge myself to be mindful that the Lord is walking with me. At work, when I’m driving, when I’m eating out, He is there to give me strength.
I hope to pray the stations more intentionally this Lent as well, if you want to pray along with our ebook or on your own, try and put more reflection towards each station. This is a goal for me, so we can do this together with His strength!