Sunday, 11 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 26:
Millstreet 9: Jesus
falls the third time

Station 9 at Saint John’s Well, Millstreet, Co Cork … Jesus falls the third time (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Fourth Sunday in Lent (11 March 2018), and Mothering Sunday. Later this morning, I am presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2) in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick (9.30 a.m.), and leading and preaching at Morning Prayer in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale (11.30 a.m.).

In 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 and close to the Cork/Kerry border.

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. The Stations date from 1984 and were designed by Liam Cosgrave and Sons, Sculptors, of Blackpool, Cork.

Millstreet 9: Jesus falls the third time

In the ninth station by Liam Cosgrave in Millstreet, Christ holds the cross with one hand, but tries to support himself and stop his fall with the other hand.

The third fall, like the other two falls, is not mentioned in the Gospel accounts of the Passion, but the incident is part of traditional Christian piety and Station IX in the Stations of the Cross.

In the early 16th century, the third fall was located at the entrance courtyard to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Today, the ninth station is not actually located on the Via Dolorosa. Instead, it is at the entrance to the Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery and the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Anthony. Together they form the roof structure of the underground Chapel of Saint Helena in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox churches split in 1959. Before that, these monastic buildings were considered a single monastery.

This morning, the image of the Third Fall is a reminder to me of the divisions of the Church and our failures in ecumenism and efforts to bring about Church unity.

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
O thou Mother! Fount of love,
Touch my spirit from above.
Make my heart with thine accord.


Brutalised. Dazed. Beyond strength.
Now nearly on Calvary’s broad summit, Jesus collapses.
Poles long set into the ground are silhouetted against grey clouds.
Impatiently, Jesus is pulled up and shoved angrily toward his death.


Loving Lord, you fell that we might rise and taught us that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Help us to die to ourselves so that we might live to you and bear much fruit for your Kingdom. 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.

Jesus, your journey has been long. You fall again, beneath your cross. You know your journey is coming to an end. You struggle and struggle. You get up and keep going.

The Collect of the Day (Lent 3):

Lord God
whose blessed Son our Saviour
gave his back to the smiters
and did not hide his face from shame:
Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Collect (Mothering Sunday):

God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
Strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

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

Penitents carry their crosses through the streets of Barcelona on Good Friday (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Tomorrow: Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Yesterday’s reflection

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