A stained glass window depicting Jesus on the cross

An important practice on Fridays in Lent, the Stations of the Cross are a fixture in many Catholic parishes around the world. The devotion offers a unique and vivid opportunity to reflect on all that Jesus Christ has sacrificed for us.

What are the Stations of the Cross and how can you make the most of this powerful devotion this Lent?

What are the Stations of the Cross?

The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that honor Jesus’ sacrifices for us, beginning with His condemnation and ending with His burial. 

14 Stations of the Cross

Each of the 14 stations focuses on a specific event from Jesus’ last day on Earth as a human, offering the opportunity for prayer and reflection on each event. 

  1. Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death.
  2. Jesus takes up His cross.
  3. Jesus falls beneath His cross for the first time.
  4. Jesus meets His mother, Mary, who is filled with grief for her son.
  5. Soldiers force Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry the cross.
  6. Veronica emerges from the crowd to wipe the blood and sweat from Jesus’ face.
  7. Jesus falls beneath the weight of the cross for the second time.
  8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem and tells them not to weep for Him, but for themselves and for their children.
  9. Jesus falls a third time under the weight of the cross.
  10. The soldiers take away Jesus’ clothes to further humiliate Him.
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross by His hands and feet.
  12. Jesus dies on the cross.
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of His grieving mother, Mary.
  14. Jesus’ disciples place His body in the tomb.

Often visually represented in Catholic churches and churchyards, the Stations of the Cross may appear as a series of small statues, icons, or images that detail Jesus’ death and burial in 14 “stations.”

“No matter where you are, if you go to a Catholic church, there will be a representation of the 14 stations in there. It connects us to all the churches throughout the world and to Christ’s suffering.”

Fr. Peter Grover, OMV

Moving through all 14 Stations of the Cross represents a pilgrimage of sorts and allows you the space to reflect on each sacrifice. The stations are most commonly prayed on Fridays during Lent, especially on Good Friday when the 14 events originally took place.

Watch the Service

Watch the Stations of the Cross service from Good Friday in 2023 at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine.

YouTube video

Lenten Services

Each Friday during Lent, join our livestream or visit St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in person for the Stations of the Cross at 7:20pm ET.

Good Friday Service

Join us virtually or in person at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine as we walk through Jesus’ last day on Earth as a man with Fr. Peter Grover, OMV, this Good Friday, March 29th, at 12 p.m. ET.

Using the Service to Reflect on Your Faith

Fr. Peter Grover has been offering reflections of the Stations of the Cross since his first Lent at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine.

“Jesus told his disciples to pick up your cross and follow me. The stations of the cross represent the path of every Christian. During the Stations, we connect deeply with Jesus’ suffering and are reminded of our call to suffer with Him.”

Fr. Peter Grover, OMV

Stations of the Cross Reflections from Fr. Peter

Click each station to see the related reflection.

1. Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus is condemned to death

Morning by morning he wakens— 
wakens my ear 
to listen as those who are taught.
5 The Lord God has opened my ear, 

Fr. Greg Stabb had a very rare terminal illness. At one stage of his illness his body was so weak that it was hard for him to do the work he was doing: Mass, confessions, holy hours, etc. So I brought him to the doctor. We were hoping for stronger medicine or maybe to learn of a vitamin supplement. Perhaps a kale diet. Anything that would give his body a bit more strength to do his work. The doctor told him that his body was now beyond the help of medication and vitamin supplements. We needed to focus on a new goal. We needed to look for ways to keep him comfortable. We needed to be connected to hospice, hospital bed, professional services, and care needs. 

And that is what we did. When you went to visit him in the room, the first thing you had to do was genuflect because he had a tabernacle, a monstrance, a chalice. He turned his room into a chapel. He prayed all the time. 

During his decline he was no longer able to hold his divine office or see the pages. The only way he could pray was if one of us said the prayers out loud and he could hear. This is the highest form of prayer. 

Let me explain. I was having a difficult day. A publisher rejected my book offer; a man was giving me problems in the church; I was working hard and getting nothing done. It was time for midday prayer in the office. And the psalm I was reading said to rejoice in the Lord. I didn’t say the words. I heard the words. I heard God telling me, “Peter, rejoice.” I said, I can do that. I did. 

Let me tell you how I did it. I left my troubled bubble world, and I looked out the window and saw a bird fly by. That does not seem to be a big deal. But think about it. The smartest scientist could not take a heart, put some veins together, attach feathers and a pair of wings, and have it fly like this bird. No one can do what God can do. God makes you rejoice. When you notice God, you rejoice. 

Once a man born without arms said, I see miracles everyday. Whenever someone puts their arms around a person, that is a miracle to me. The suffering servant prays deeply because he has an open ear. Listen when you pray. Hear the words, do not just say them. That is what the suffering servant does.

2. Jesus takes up his Cross

Jesus takes up his Cross

May your love be fervent.  

Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” He asked the question three times. Peter was hurt that He asked him three times. Later in his letter he tells why. It reads, “May your love be fervent.” The word “fervent” happens to be a technical term among athletes to help them win the race. It means to “strain forward,” that is, “to lean into the tape” at the end of a race. 

In other words, it is not what you do at the beginning of the race; it is about what you do at the end of the race when you are most fatigued. Everyone is excited at the beginning, everyone wants to win, everyone has lots of energy at the start. Yet what do you do at the end of the race when you are tired and have nothing left in the tank…are you leaning into the tape? Is your love fervent? 

Take a look at what happens to the seed that falls to rocky ground. It sprouted up strong, but then the sun scorched it and it withered. I believe that the parable is a warning to all of us disciples. Yes, disciples are always enthusiastic at the beginning. They gave up their boats, their businesses, they went out in two’s and cured sick people, expelled demons, passed out bread to five thousand people. They were part of a team that brought the dead back to life. They accomplished much with the Lord. 

But what do we do when we encounter hardships, storms at sea, resistance, opponents, crosses, and certain death. We get discouraged, down, depressed. We essentially forget that God loves victories from behind. Remember, it is what we do when we are most exhausted, depleted, and worn. That is what happens at the end of the race. So stretch into the tape, and make your love fervent.

3. Jesus falls the first time

My doctor told me to get a colonoscopy. So I am in the prep room, and a nurse comes in to take my vitals. She asks me, “Do you run?” I said, “No.” A few minutes later another nurse walks in and checks out my vitals on the computer screen and asks me, “Do you run?” I said, “No.” Not long after, a third nurse came in and asked me, “Do you run?” I said, “Why is everyone asking me if I run?”  She said, “Because your heart rate is so slow for an older guy.” 

No one ever comes to me and asks if I work out. No one. The reason is because I have lanky, skinny arms and sticks for a pair of legs. They have to look into my heart to gather information about me. It is the same with God. We need to look into the heart to understand God. We look into God’s heart and see that God will do anything to win us back, pay the ultimate price to have us.

4. Jesus meets his Mother

Jesus meets his Mother.

Mary and Jesus

I had just come in from fishing, and Dad looked across the room that was filled with other fishermen. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell that he wanted to ask me two questions. The unspoken look was obvious. He asked: “Did you catch any fish, and if you did, how did you get them”? I said to him: “Black Tail, 6X.” Naturally, no one in the room knew what I was talking about. 

Shortly after that, Dad walked outside to the pond. He put on a fourteen foot tapered leader down to 6X and tied on a Danny Rickard’s Black Tail Seal Bugger and proceeded to catch and gently release twelve very nice rainbow trout. How did he get so much information out of my short address? It is easy. We have been fishing for many years together, so multiple words are not necessary between us. 

I tell you this because, at the beginning of John’s Gospel, Jesus meets His mother and there is a very short and bizarre conversation between them. Naturally nobody is really able to understand what is going on. The mother of Jesus says, “They have no wine.” And Jesus says, “It’s not my hour.” Yet we are here today to crack the code. If we read the gospel very carefully, we will be able to understand this dialogue. 

The mother says, “We have no wine.” Why would she go to Jesus for wine? (We don’t find this out until chapter 7 when Jesus announces that he is the light of the world and the living water.) She then turns to the servants and says, “You may not understand anything, but no matter how confused or bewildered you feel, just do what he tells you.” 

And they do exactly what they are told to do. They fill six-stone jars full of water and deliver it to the head waiter. The head waiter has no clue where it came from and neither does the groom. The reason they both do not have a clue is because they are not doing their jobs. Someone else has taken their roles. The Mother of Jesus has taken over the role of the head waiter, because she wants to make sure the guests are served, and Jesus takes over the role of the groom who makes sure the guests have wine. 

Now let’s return to the carrying of the cross. The head waiter and the groom meet. They do not exchange words, but there is a conversation. We can listen in on the conversation because we know them, like I know my father. We know Jesus, we know Him at the Eucharist and the word and adoration. We know Mary, we say the rosary and celebrate her feasts. We can listen in on the wordless conversation between the head servant and the groom, and this is what we hear. No matter how hard it gets, just do what He says. 

It is the mother of Jesus that says do whatever He says, because the world creates. If you believe, you will obey, and if you obey, you will have eternal life, which is what a kid inherits. 

One last thing. What is the last thing Jesus says on the cross: “It is finished.” What does that mean? He finished what He came to do. He came to create Children of God, inheritance and eternal life. Just before He announces the mission accomplished, He turns to his mother, the one who told us how to be children and said, only now after He can leave a family, because that is what happens when you have kids. Only now can He say it is finished. I finished what I came to do.

5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross.

Strong arm
The Lord has bared his holy arm 
before the eyes of all the nations; 
and all the ends of the earth shall see 
the salvation of our God. 
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

How do you get strength? There is only one way. Struggle. I work out every day. My favorite workout equipment is the pull up bar. The reason is simple. You do not have to plug it in. No need for the internet. You don’t have to figure out all the buttons to push to program it. No oil and lube change needed. And best of all there is no screen. 

I could not do a single pull up. Now I can. What got me from no pull ups to doing pull ups? Struggle. Lots of struggle. I had to put up with thousands of failed attempts, discouragement, disappointment, and frustration. Good old fashioned struggling got me to success. Struggle by nature is not easy, it is not pretty. It is messy. 

Why does God make things so hard? Why is patience so hard, why is purity so hard, why is forgiveness and even carrying the cross so hard? God makes it hard so we will struggle. Why would God want us to struggle? So we can be strong. God needs us strong. 

Carrying the cross takes strength. Someone is in a dark hole of depression or drowning in the sea of hurt. We need strength to face the storms of life. The suffering servant is strong. Lord, I know it is hard, and I appreciate the opportunity to struggle. I am a work in progress. Stay with me. I want to be strong to do whatever you need me to do to help lift the burden of others or to carry the church.

Simon, Model of Discipleship

The parishioners at my first assignment insisted that the church offer the kids a group where they can go to get off the inner city streets. I said, “fine,” so we had a high school level youth group with lots of kids involved. 

Every year I had a “mystery bus adventure.”  The parents knew, of course but we always managed to keep the destination of the trip a secret from the kids. Usually, we went to Six-Flags because that was always a sure bet. One year, I had the brilliant idea: to charter a boat and take the kids ocean fishing. I figured one day away from video games, TV and computers to get them out into nature would do them some good. 

After we got on the boat and the captain gave some instructions to our group, we took off. Three of the kids got sick, and we hadn’t even left the harbor.  I take these same kids to Six-Flags where they ride roller-coasters that go up and down, high speed rides that twist your body upside down, and elevator shaft rides with a free fall and the kids say, “that was cool, let’s do it again.” They never get sick. But you put them on a boat with flat water at a speed of five miles an hour in the harbor, and they get sick. How is that possible? 

So I asked the captain to turn the boat around and go back to the dock. One of the chaperones said she would take them off the boat. So she made an announcement. “A few of the boys got sick, so I am taking them to the beach. I grew up in this area so there is a lot to do. There is a boardwalk with ice cream shops, pizza parlors, video games, and rides. So, whoever wants to come, follow me.” 

I thought to myself, don’t give that speech or they will all leave the boat. Sure enough everyone walked off the boat except two kids. I said to the captain, “Let’s go fishing.”

It was a perfect day. The captain put us into fish, and the kids had a ball. They caught a lot of big fish, held them up for pictures, and the first mate fileted them, so they could take their fish home ready for the grill. As we were coming into the dock, the kids thanked me. They said, “This was the best day in their lives.” I said, “Haven’t you fished before?” They said that their parents were divorced and mom is always too busy working. 

When we got on the bus at the end of the day, none of the other kids who got off the boat came over to me and said, “This was the best day of my life.” I didn’t expect them to say that. They got pizza, ice cream, and a beach, but they didn’t do something they had never done before. 

Why? Because they can have the beach anytime they want. It is only ten minutes away from where they live. There are hundreds of pizza parlors and places to go shopping and joints to buy ice cream. They can play video games at home. This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go out on a boat and catch some fish in the ocean, and they squandered the opportunity to do something that is available to them all the time. 

Jesus said in the Gospel that His sheep listen to His voice. That doesn’t mean there are no other voices out there, and there can be some pretty compelling voices. There is nothing wrong with going to a baseball game, but does Fenway Park offer eternal life?

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Many of us who have prayed the Stations of the Cross in the church (especially during Lent) know that the sixth station is Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. A woman in the crowd comes forth and wipes the blood off Jesus’ face, then she mysteriously disappears in the crowd again. 

Who is this woman? I think I know; I have a theory. 

We have to ask ourselves: is there a time in the New Testament when a cloth removes the flow of blood? There is—with the woman who was bleeding for twelve years. “If I can only touch the hem of his garment, I will be cured.” 

There are, of course, two problems. First, she is unclean, according to Jewish law. She is not supposed to be in a crowd of people, because she is rubbing up against others and making a number of people ritually unclean. Let’s suppose that I am a priest (I am in real life a priest), and I am standing there listening to Jesus and curious if there is going to be a sign. Then, this bleeding woman bumps into me, and now I am ritually unclean. That means I can’t work in the temple, so now I am unemployed for a few weeks without pay. I have to do penance, and then I have to sacrifice a red heifer which costs me a lot of money. She can’t just walk into a large crowd. 

The second problem is this: Jesus happens to be in a hurry. Jarisu’s daughter is at the brink of death and the clock is ticking. He has to get there in time. I would even say that this is one of the most significant of Jesus’ miracles. We all enjoy the story of Jesus walking on the water and when He turned the water into wine, but this miracle has more intensity and meaning than all the others. 

The woman also knows that this is her last resort, her only hope. She will not jeopardize the life of a little girl, so she chooses to quietly reach down to touch the hem of his garment. That means she has to literally get on her hands and knees below the crowd and swipe her hand at the passing Jesus to make contact with His clothing. 

It worked. She is immediately cured. As soon as she finds out she is cured, Jesus stops His emergency run to the little girl. Don’t stop, don’t You remember You have an emergency. Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” The disciples are in a state of incredulity. “What are You talking about? Look at the crowd that presses in on You; everyone is bumping into You. We have an emergency to attend to; there is a girl that is dying; keep focused, You are distracted. 

Jesus doesn’t move, and He won’t until someone comes forward. The woman is busted. She knows she will be humiliated, her illness exposed, and she will probably get blamed for the child’s death. Jesus wants to hear her story. So the woman tells Him about the twelve years of suffering, the doctors’ inabilities, the money thrown out the window. 

My father is eighty years old, and every time I ask one of his friends how they are doing, I am going to get the latest colonoscopy report. Jesus gets the whole story. And then Jesus tells her “Go, your faith has saved you.” She is no longer a social outcast, no longer in debt, no longer in pain, she gets her life back. 

Now, let’s go to the way of the cross. Now, the roles have shifted. Now, Jesus is the one who is bleeding, and the woman is the one who has the cloth that will remove the blood, the shame, and the stigma. The woman now reciprocates. That is what the station is about. If Jesus forgives your sins, reciprocate. If Jesus gave you gifts, health, joy…reciprocate. If Jesus gives you healing, reciprocate. 

You may say, “when did I see Jesus in need of forgiveness or bleeding or hurt?” And Jesus will say to you: “Whatever you did to the least one, you did for Me.”

7. Jesus falls for the second time

When God appeared to Moses, Moses wanted to know God’s name. He said, “I am.” The name is fascinating because it is a verb. No one has a verb for a name. 

If my name were a verb, I would like it to be “eat pizza.” Of course, that is not very original because everyone eats pizza. I should pick a verb that makes me different from others. So my name could be “reads ancient dead languages.” That is something that makes me different, as well as a bit strange. 

Let’s go back to God. You would think that God would pick a verb that made Him different from everyone else but He didn’t. He picked a verb that anyone could have. Anyone can say “I am.” And that is the point. God wants us to know that He is like us. That is the Stations of the Cross. Here God can say, I am like you. I fall, I bleed, I am sometimes hated. 

I work out with the seminarians. The reason I do this is because they are young and they push me. The reason the seminarians like to work out with me is because I push them. If a 61-year-old grandpa can do it, then they can do it. 

That is the message of the cross, God wants us to know that He is like us, precisely so that we will want to be like God. We want to forgive like God. We want to be patient like God. That is how the stations tell us about God.

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem and 9. Jesus falls for the third time

Suffering servant: 
Well trained tongue. 
The Lord God has given me 
A well-trained tongue,
that I may know how to sustain 
the weary with a word.

The tongue is very small. Small things can have big effects. X Rutter, match, metal crate with rocks, a lie that destroys a marriage or a career. 

What happens to your body when someone insults you, embarrasses you in front of your friends, or takes the credit for your good work? The first bodily reaction is the tongue. It is very quick. Correct me if I am wrong, but typically trash talk is followed by regret. “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that.” 

This is called an untrained tongue. Untrained tongues hurt people, they put down, discourage, tap energy, depress. Note, a well-trained tongue. They lift people up, encourage, inspire.

So the question is how do you get a well-trained tongue. You have to put the other person before yourself. 

I was driving yesterday and the road went from two lanes to one lane. The way the cars funnel into one lane is called a zipper. You allow the car just ahead of you to go in front, and then it is your turn. So I gave space for the car in front of me, and it was my turn. But the lady behind me pulled up beside me and inched a bit ahead of me. 

The first reaction I had was the tongue. Then I thought, “well maybe she is a nurse caring for patients during this very difficult pandemic. Maybe she was the nice lady that helped me with my credit card problem, maybe she is bringing groceries to her mother and then she has to go back and cook for her family. That’s OK, go ahead of me.”

Christ did all of this because He was able to put all of us before Himself. That is why He has a well-trained tongue.

You have to know the damage an untrained tongue can cause in order to imagine the good that comes from a well-trained tongue.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments (sometimes called the “Division of Robes”)

When I was growing up, my mother and I would go to First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart. Every First Friday, we would find a church with a Mass, say the rosary, and meet other people who wore scapulars and had rosary beads in their pockets and religious pictures all over their rooms. 

When my mother died during the night, my father asked the nurse for the exact time she passed. She said a minute or so after midnight. That new day was First Friday. 

Maybe it was a coincidence. But my father and I took it as a sign. It was really reassuring to both of us because we knew that Mom was with God. Jesus once said that the evil generation seeks a sign. I do not seek signs, but that does not mean that God cannot give us signs to reassure us. 

Jesus carrying the cross is a sign from God to reassure us. God wanted me to know that He was watching over my Mother.

11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

There is a rock in front of St. John Seminary where I teach. I am assuming it has been there since the last ice age, and it will probably be there at the start of the next ice age. If we took a line and drew it from one ice age to the other, we would have a time-line. I would like to see where I am on the timeline, where I appear and then disappear on the line. I am just a dot. 

Dad likes to hunt up in Maine. So one year, he asked me to go with him. I do not hunt. I fish, so we called it the blast and cast getaway. Dad always gets up at three in the morning so he can be in the woods at first light. After he put his gear in the truck, he came back to the camp and woke me up.

Peter, get out there and see the stars.  I just wanted to sleep, but he insisted. I’d never seen so many stars in my life. I came back to the house, and I asked where they all came from. He responded, “Never mind where they came from, who put them there?” 

I am just a speck in the universe. Now you can think, I am only a dot on a timeline and a speck in the universe, but a dot and a speck can have value. How? Value and worth are always connected to demand. Demand determines the value of something. 

I need a set of casters for the scaffolding because we are changing the lights. Casters are expensive, and I would have to wait weeks for delivery. So I called Dad. He had a set in the basement of his barn. They have been sitting there for years rusting. I went to retrieve them, and there they were in a pile, buried in cobwebs. 

Here is my point: We may think we are just a dot or a speck or not important, like a discarded set of wheels. And it is true. The only way a speck and dot can have any value is that God loves us. The only way we have value in the world is because God loves us. Demand determines value.

12. Jesus dies on the Cross

Christ suffered so that He might lead you to God.

One day, Jesus told the disciples to cross the lake to the other side. While they crossed, a storm erupted. During the fourth watch of the night, which would have been four or five in the morning, Jesus came to them. When they saw Jesus walking on the water they cried in a panic because they thought they were seeing a ghost. So Jesus told them. “Do not fear; it is I.” Peter said to the Lord, “If it is really you, tell me join you on the water.” Jesus told him to come.

Have you ever seen a lake on a calm day? The surface of the water looks like a sheet of glass, a dance floor—you could just run right across it. A stormy day is different. The heavy rain and wind create waves. Waves are like moving bowling balls coming at you one after the other. How do you walk on water with waves? Do you step over the wave? Do you jump up and let the wave pass under your feet? Do you walk parallel to the wave?  I have no idea; I have never walked on water, and neither had Peter. 

While Peter tried to figure out what to do, a wave crashed into him. Before he could regain his balance, another wave knocked him down. Peter cried out, “Save me!” It is the greatest line that came from Peter’s mouth. Of all the prayers, it is the greatest. And here is why. 

Do you remember when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples answered with varied opinions. Then he asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” You would think that all the disciples would have instantly raised their hands in unison with the answer. “Well, of course, we know who You are. We know what You did when You cured the paralyzed man who was lowered from a hole in the roof and walked out the door carrying his cot. We know what You did when You fed 5,000 with a few loaves of bread. We saw how You gave sight to the blind man.” All of them should have said, “You are the Son of God.” 

They didn’t. It was only Peter.

What made Peter different from the others? Why did Peter know more about Jesus than the others? Peter was saved by Jesus. The others only saw Jesus save other people. Peter was saved, and he had information. In his letter Peter says, through Him you have confidence in God that your faith and hope are in God.

13. Jesus is taken down from the Cross

Jesus is taken down from the Cross

The spirit of the Lord is upon him.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you know you are going to suffer? Fear, anxiety, dread, hopelessness, discouragement, disappointment. Punishment. 

The first thing that comes to mind for the suffering servant is opportunity. When we go to work there are typically three types of people there. The first group is bosses. They know everything, micromanage, and like to take all of the credit. 

Then you have the whiners who complain and have a reason not to like the other co-workers. 

Finally, you have happy people. They are happy because they love their job and the people who work with them. They are slow to anger, patient, kind, generous, and appreciate you. So here is my question. Which of the three do you prefer at the job?

Christ offers the world happy people. That is us. We are patient, kind, slow to anger, rich in kindness. The reason why we are happy is because we have been given God’s spirit. 

Here is my question. How do people know that we are happy? How will they know that we are merciful, slow to anger, generous, and kind? Suffering. Suffering gives us the opportunity to show the world God’s spirit. Suffering gives us a reason to be patient, a reason to be slow in anger, a reason to be generous. A reason to be kind. Suffering can transform the world because the world can see God’s spirit in us. 

so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, 
and his form beyond that of mortals— 
15 so he shall startlec many nations; 
kings shall shut their mouths because of him; 
for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. 

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Jesus is laid in the tomb

We do not see the risen Jesus yet; we see burial wrappings. So let’s take a good look at the burial wrappings inside the tomb. The headpiece is rolled up and put to the side. 

Why are the other wrappings not rolled up and put to the side? That does not make any sense. Who wakes up in the morning to puff the pillow nicely and leave the rest of the bed unmade? Who would do that? 

The reason the burial wrappings around the body are not rolled up is because you can’t roll them up. Remember, Nicodemus brings one hundred pounds of aloe and myrrh to bury Jesus. The reason why is because this is a royal burial. 

Remember during Jesus’ trial before Pilate, Jesus told Pilate that He was a king. Pilate believed Him and announced Him as a king to the Israelites. Not only that, but he also went on to write the inscription that Jesus is king in all the languages of the world and placed the placard over His head. 

So Nicodemus gave Jesus a royal burial. Myrrh is a great product. Not only do aloe and myrrh make the tomb smell nice, it also preserves the body. Myrrh is a hardener; it is a resin. So the wrappings turn into a hardened shell, like a cocoon or a mummy. So you cannot fold or roll up clothing that has been soaked in a hardener. 

Here is the question. Why didn’t Nicodemus put aloe and myrrh on the headpiece? Why didn’t he finish the job? Was he in a hurry? How long does it take to dip the headpiece in a hundred pounds of resin? No. Nicodemus gave Jesus a royal burial because He was a king. But he left the lid off the shell, he left an opening because he believed that He would rise. How did he know?

The last time Nicodemus was with Jesus, they had a conversation. In that conversation, Jesus told a confused Nicodemus: “When I am lifted up, He will draw all people to myself.”  Nicodemus had no clue what He was talking about. Then Jesus told him, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” There was no way for Nicodemus to understand what Jesus meant by that statement. It made no sense at all to him. 

Then Jesus begins to needle him. “What? You are a Pharisee; you are a teacher of the Law? How is it that you do not understand divine truths?” I can imagine Nicodemus running home and pulling out all of his scrolls in search of answers. Then that night laying his head on the pillow and trying to figure out what Jesus meant “What was He trying to say?” 

But finally on that day, as Nicodemus was standing under the cross preparing to take Him down for His burial, the words that Jesus spoke finally made sense to him. “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself. God so loved the world that He gave His only son.” 

There before him is Jesus, lifted on the cross with a placard translated in every language so anyone in the world could read it. At that moment, everything Jesus said made sense. He got it. God so loved the world that He gave His only son. He understood what that meant. “Whoever believes in me will never die.” At that moment, he got it. He gave Jesus a royal burial because he believed that Jesus was a king. He left an opening because he believed that Jesus would rise. 

Now, it is the third day, Easter morning, and there is lots of energy. The beloved disciple and Peter race to the tomb. The beloved disciple gets there first. He does not go into the tomb, but he looks in. The Greek word that is used is “glanced.” He glanced into a dark cave and probably saw dark shapes, the hardened mummified wrappings that could not be folded or rolled up. 

Next, Peter goes into the tomb, and he looks. But there is a different Greek word. He “theorizes.” It is not until he gets inside that he sees the mummified wrappings with an opening. It is hollow, nothing inside. He is trying to figure out what happened. He is theorizing. He does not understand. 

The beloved disciple goes inside and looks. But there is again a different word. He goes in and he “gets it.” He understands. It is the moment that deep and profound knowledge enters his body. He got it. 

It is Einstein just after he figured out relativity. The Wright Brothers at the moment they figured out how to fly a plane. It is the football receiver who finally figures out how to catch a football on the winning drive of the Super Bowl that beat the undefeated Patriots. It is the blind man, who for the first time in his life, has color, depth, height, and light fill his body. 

“And the other disciple went in, saw and believed.” We are the beloved disciple. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? On this day, I get it. It is the greatest feeling, and I am never going to let it go away. Ever.

Happy Easter.


Why is this last station so important? Because if we are going to have an empty tomb, then we have to fill the tomb. This most important job is given to, of all people, a Pharisee. Before he was given the task, Jesus had to prepare him with some knowledge so that he could do the task. 

Jesus had a conversation with Nicodemous at night. Jesus said, when I am lifted up I will… God so loved the world…. Nic did not have a clue. Then Jesus needled him. You’re a Pharisee, you should know these things. So every night before Nic went to bed he asked himself. What did Jesus mean? 

Then the day arrived. He came to the cross to take down the body of Jesus. He took one hundred pounds of myrrh off his shoulder, looked up at Jesus on the cross, and it was at that moment that he understood the meaning of Jesus’ words. 

It was not until he stood under the cross that he knew what Jesus meant, I will draw all to myself, God so loved the world that He gave His only son. 

Sometimes we do not understand why God allows us to suffer. We don’t understand what He wants of us. We only can understand if we stand under the cross. Like Nic, we are not always going to understand. 

Standing under the cross, we understand that the most important thing that can ever happen to us is to be a child of God. And Jesus did that on the cross.

Lenten Resources

The goal of Lent is to arrive at Easter, and there are 40 days to prepare for the most significant feast day of the calendar.

“I want to offer you a daily planner for your arrival at Easter. I hope you get the most out of your 40 days.”

Fr. Peter Grover, OMV

Lent is a time of reflection, and this booklet of daily Lenten reflections will help you make the most of each day.

Download Lenten Reflections

Heal Your Broken Heart This Lent

As you are reflecting during Lent, it may also be a good time to reflect on past wounds and how they have impacted your faith and relationship with the Lord. 

Join Fr. Shawn Monahan, OMV, on a healing journey this Lent. In his free virtual workshop, he shares a message of hope and healing, helping you to recognize and overcome heart-breaking events in your life and accept God’s love.

Start Your Healing Journey

2 comments on “Stations of the Cross: Reflecting on Jesus’ Sacrifices During Lent”

  1. 1
    Katherine Novak on March 8, 2024

    What a beautiful, interesting,sad, and profound reading. Thank you so much for sharing,Fr. Grover.
    Have a blessed Easter!

  2. 2
    Deborah Dyer on March 8, 2024

    I’m wondering if Oblates ever sleep! You seem to be as indefatigable as you are creative in ministering to us all.
    The online Masses, the Stations with the rich reflections, Workshops, daily reflection booklets, thoughtful, well prepared homilies and more, so much more.
    Do I notice? Yes! Am I impressed? Yes! Am I grateful? Yes!
    May your ministries flourish and may you attract many good vocation to carry on your mission. That’s my prayer.
    May your Lent bring you many graces.

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