Friday, 9 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 24:
Millstreet 7: Jesus
falls the second time

Station 7 at Saint John’s Well, Millstreet, Co Cork … Jesus falls the second time (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We have come to the half-way mark in our Lenten journey. As part of my meditations and reflections in Lent this year, I am being guided by the Stations of the Cross from three locations.

The idea for this series of morning Lenten meditations came from reading about Peter Walker’s new exhibition, ‘Imagining the Crucifixion,’ inspired by the Stations of the Cross, which opened in Lichfield Cathedral last month and continues throughout Lent.

Throughout Lent, my meditations each morning are inspired by three sets of Stations of the Cross that I have found either inspiring or unusual. They are the stations in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, at Saint John’s Well on a mountainside near Millstreet, Co Cork, and in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield.

In my meditations, I am drawing on portions of the Stabat Mater, the 12th century hymn of the Crucifixion (‘At the cross her station keeping’) attributed to the Franciscan poet Jacopone da Todi. Some prayers are traditional, some are from the Book of Common Prayer, and other meditations and prayers are by Canon Frank Logue and the Revd Victoria Logue of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

For these two weeks, I am looking at the 14 Stations of the Cross at Saint John’s Well in a forested area on the slopes of Mushera, outside Millstreet in north Co Cork.

Saint John’s Well is 8 or 9 km south-east of Millstreet, on the slopes of Mushera, on the Aubane side of the mountain, opposite the entrance to Millstreet Country Park and a short distance from the Cork/Kerry border. The Stations date from 1984 and were designed by Liam Cosgrave and Sons, Sculptors, of Blackpool, Cork.

Millstreet 7: Jesus falls the second time

Station 7 also illustrates a story that is not told any of the four Gospel accounts of Christ’s journey to Calvary, although the popular numbering of three falls may have a Trinitarian intention.

In the seventh station by Liam Cosgrave in Millstreet, Christ stumbles and falls to his knees, despite the best efforts of Simon of Cyrene to help him bear this burden. We are half-way through the Stations of the Cross, but there is no light touch or easy way out.

The Greek writer, historian and theologian Dimitrios Vernardakis (1833-1907), who was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, once wrote that his father’s name was the profitless burden which he was condemned by irrevocable ill-fortune to bear on his shoulders throughout his life. What are the burdens you are forced to bear on your shoulders throughout life, perhaps even since childhood, that you feel are a burden you cannot shake off? Who can you share this with in life?

This writer's father, Nikolaos Vernardakis, was a poet from Crete. Another writer from Crete, Nikos Kazantzakis, prefaces his autobiographical novel Report to Greco with a prayer:

Three kinds of souls, three kinds of prayers: 1, I am a bow in your hands, Lord, draw me lest I rot. 2, Do not overdraw me, Lord, I shall break. 3, Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break!’

His tomb in Iraklion is marked only by a simple wooden cross framed by a flowering hedge and an undecorated gravestone with the pithy epitaph:

Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα.
Δε φοβούμαι τίποτα.
Είμαι λέφτερος
.

– Νίκος Καζαντζάκης

I fear nothing,
I hope for nothing,
I am free
.
.
– Nikos Kazantzakis

The grave of Nikos Kazantzakis on the walls of Iraklion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

Meditation:

Oppressed. Afflicted. Silently suffering.
Simon carries the cross, yet Jesus cannot continue.
He bears our infirmities and carries our sorrows.
Crushed under their weight, Jesus falls once more.

Prayers:

Compassionate Christ, all we like sheep have gone astray, turning each of us to our own way. Grant that when we fall into sin, we may return from going our own way to following in yours. This we pray in the name of Jesus, our crucified Lord, the King of Glory, the King of Peace. Amen.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

This is the second time you have fallen on the road. As the cross grows heavier and heavier, it becomes more difficult to get up. But you continue to struggle and try until you are up and walking again. You do not give up.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

Holy God,
Holy and mighty Holy immortal one,
Have mercy on us.

Tomorrow: Station 8: Jesus meets the Holy Women.

Yesterday’s reflection

Tubrid Well in Millstreet, Co Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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