We invite you to quiet yourself and enter into peaceful, prayerful state. Read Blessed Titus Brandsma’s reflection on Albert Servaes’ Fifth Station of the Cross. Brandsma’s sincere sorrow and love shine through these meditations, the portent of his own Christ-like passion and death at Dachau. Using the question(s) at the end of each reflection, Allow Titus’ words to inspire your own authentic prayer and meditation.
Helpless you stand there, my God. You have gotten up from your fall but your feet refused to serve you, now that your shoulders again have that heavy weight to carry. Quivering and shaking you stand on your feet, the cross acts as a support to keep you from falling, but when you have to lift it from the ground to carry it farther, you waver and then threaten to collapse again. Yet you must get up the hill, such is the will of your executioners, and you will carry your cross also. If you cannot do it alone, you will be given help, just so that you do not succumb before the end of the journey. You must be alive when you reach the top of the hill. To this pass, O God, you have finally come; more dead than alive, exhausted by torture, drained, in no state even by force of kicks and blows to drag your cross to the top of the hill. Helpless you stand there. Your enemies want very much to have you reach the place of execution alive. With frightful kindness they allow you to be helped, only in order to be able to torture you. But no matter how much they want this, they do not deign to lift a finger themselves. Help you? It would be tantamount to exposing themselves to shame. Help you? Only a few steps up the hill; it was an indignity which one did not dare urge even on the executioners. They would rather have beat you to death on the spot; in that way their work was done. Not so your enemies who had to see you on the cross, humiliated to the very end, as much as it was possible for a human being to be. Who will help you, Jesus?
In vain did your eye look around, to see if there was anyone willing to help; but there was no one. Infinite loneliness. There is no one, no one will give you that slight consolation. No one who stirs on your behalf. They all look on indifferently and let you stand there helpless, terribly helpless. Finally, they force the task on a foreigner who, because he is in no condition to resist and because he cannot do otherwise, will help you, not only boldly and indifferently, but perforce. Perhaps cursing you and your cross and without pity on your weakness, he seizes the cross and drives you forward with it.
My God, I sometimes think that I would’ve acted better and would have lovingly relieved you of the cross, to lessen the weight of that terrible last journey. But no, Simon is also the image of me. I say I want to follow you on your way of the cross, but I want to cast off every little cross, even the lightest I have no more desire than he, in the face of the mockery of those who do not love you, to show that I want to serve you. My God, I will no longer be idle. This very day I take up your cross and will try to carry it after you.
When have you felt a deep sense of helplessness in your life?
How have you coped with that? How would you go about relieving Jesus’ cross?