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Way of the Cross held on Good Friday through the streets of Saskatoon: scripture, reflections & prayer at 14 stations

First station photoSome 200 people braved rainy weather on Good Friday, April 14, 2017 to follow the cross through the streets of Saskatoon, singing, praying, and refleting on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ -- and connecting Our Lord's passion to suffering in our world today.

The Good Friday Saskatoon Way of the Cross Prayer Walk is coordinated by the Office for Justice and Peace, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, and involves people of many Christian denominations. At each station a faith or community group led prayers and provided reflections.

Transcript of the scriptures, reflections and prayers at each of the 14 stations, based on the 1991 Way of the Cross introduced by Saint Pope John Paul II:

Station 1: Jesus on the Mount of Olives

(Way of the Cross begins in front of Federal Courthouse on Spadina Crescent)

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ station 1Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ (Luke 22:39-46)

Reflection by the Roman Catholic Office of Migration:

Jesus withdrew to a secluded place to pray as was his custom. He knew a time of great testing was ahead of him. He seeks strength for what is to come. Imagine the thousands of refugees who are at the moment of being displaced, that moment when they realize that fleeing means leaving behind everything they know, everything they have and love. They know they are facing a time of great testing and trial as they run to seek freedom, security and peace. It must be a very bitter moment, that moment of no return. It’s a Garden of Gethsemane moment for all who know the fear of setting out into the unknown, carrying few or no possessions, depending totally on the kindness of strangers. They know what it is to pray for some other option, to have that cup removed; yet, no matter how difficult, these courageous people arise. They stand up, and like Jesus, face what lies ahead with steadfast courage and initiative, taking steps towards the new life that is sure to follow the agony of that moment.

Today let us pray for all those who see “home” and all it means disappear behind them; For all those who cannot see a home in the days ahead of them; For all those who dwell in daily insecurity; For all those who are weary and without a safe place to rest their heads; For all families in migration we pray… We are blessed with returning to a home each day. May we also be blessed with compassion for those who long to remain in their homes, but due to war and oppression, cannot. They are still weary, still seeking, still with so far to go. Blessed are You, Lord God of Mercy. Help us always to recognize our blessings all come from You, and remind us to share them with others, especially those who come to us today from other lands. Help us to be generous, just, and welcoming, as You are generous, and just, and loving to us., Amen.

station 2

Station 2: Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested 

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ (Luke 22:47-48)

Reflection by NASHI

How often do we, like Judas, commodify human beings? Human trafficking is modern day slavery. There are 27 million men, women & children held as slaves throughout the world. Forms of human trafficking exist both locally and globally and include the sex trade and production of goods. In the sex trade the majority of the people are forced into prostitution, pornography and strip clubs. There is also a wide use of slave labour used for producing many of the goods we use. What can you do? We can all affect human trafficking through our personal choices. Be aware of trafficked victims in the sex trade industry and choose not to participate in this to stop the demand. Buy only fair trade products for everyday items such as coffee, tea, chocolate, wine and gifts. These products are available to us. Fair trade products ensure that slaves are not used in making of the item.

Let us pray that we end our betrayal of the millions of people sold in the world every day for selfish desires. We pray that with God’s assistance we might come to know these people who have been objectified and take action to secure their dignity. We pray for a day when dignity ceases to focus on a person’s financial worth, and that we might acknowledge instead the intrinsic worth of each person without condition, Amen.

Station 3: Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’ (Luke 22:66-71)

Reflection by St. Anne’s Parish victims of crime support group

classic way of crossJesus is brought into court. Yet, has he harmed anyone? No. Victims of crime are often brought into court to act as witnesses for the crown. Have they committed a crime? No. Are they questioned about the crime? Yes. Is their integrity questioned by police? Sometimes. Are they sometimes looked upon as instigators of the crime? Yes. Are they believed? Not always. Are they allowed to question in court? Never. Are they offered understanding for what they’ve suffered? A victim of crime is made frightened, hurt and vulnerable by the crime. To have to attend court, and go through the legal process, can be very difficult. To be not listened to, and not understood, and not believed, to maybe even hear the accused lie – can victimize and traumatize them all over again. Jesus understands this all too well. He experienced the judgements of the court. And He calls us to something else. He calls us to see the suffering of that victim, support him or her, not use nor accuse. He calls us to understand, to listen, to hear and support for as long as the need is there. He calls us to love them through our actions (bring them to church, take them out for coffee, invite them to our homes). He invites us to believe them, to help heal the trauma and open doors to what they may need. Our Lord understands better than our courts what is needed for both the offender and the harmed. At Triumph, our support group for victims, once a month, we open the door to mutual sharing of experience, understanding, and hope for people harmed by crime and their families. It is here, that the victim can find understanding and begin to heal. We pray: Lord help us all to understand and support those harmed by crime. To understand and walk with them as long as there is need. Let us be there for them, let us support programs that also help those who commit crime in order to reduce the insidious harms done to all. Open our hearts to support the Micah Mission which endeavours to bring healing to all those involved in crime, the offender, the harmed and their families.

Let us pray for many who are hurt that they would reach out to Triumph, a place of healing. Amen

Station 4: Peter denies Jesus

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)station 4

Reflection by Hospital Chaplaincy, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

Poor Peter, he momentarily lacked the courage to be recognized as one who walked with Jesus. But, Peter’s pain and suffering, from his denial, grew to become the solid foundation upon which he stood with boldness to serve courageously and evangelize those in need; those who are oppressed, marginalized, elderly, sick, and dying. He felt compassion for them, and loved them. We remember those who are sick in the hospitals and in their homes, and the elderly in care facilities, who are lonely and feel forgotten. “Does anyone care about me?” “Will someone visit me?” “If I died, would I be missed?” “If I was gone, I wouldn’t be a burden anymore.” If I was gone, I wouldn’t be taking up a hospital bed.” Their hearts cry out, “take my hand, come be with me, I need your support, your comfort, will you pray with me?” Like Peter, we are called to serve with courage, compassion and love those who are sick and elderly. We are called to open our eyes to see the face of Christ, in those who are in need.

Let us pray for our Hospital Chaplains whose service has been denied in some hospitals and long term care facilities, and for our ordained Ministers and volunteers who need strength to bear the weight of the increased burdens placed upon them. We pray for the hearts of many to be inflamed with the desire to answer the call as Peter did, to love and serve those in need for the glory of God and others. We pray for those who are sick and elderly, that they will be comforted, Amen.

Station 5: Jesus is judged by Pilate

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’ Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. (Luke 23:13-25)

station 5Reflection by Classic law group

In this passage Christ is persecuted without cause. We see Christ among the oppressed and those who are suffering. Saint Thomas More writes in his book Utopia that, “you first make thieves and then punish them.” This is the reality today for people living in poverty and especially Indigenous peoples. Systemic factors (i.e. colonial legacy) lead directly to conflict with the law. Iris, a community member reflects a truth in her story by articulating that, “people need to understand we didn’t choose our lives.” Societal factors are preventable, changeable, and yet consciously allowed to persist. In this passage we also see the powers-that-be responding to the will of the people, so too is our reality today. The hearts and minds of people lead to political will. Through unchanged hearts and minds, we allow societal inequities, systemic racism, and other injustices to exist and to the persecution of their victims. We are all complicit, all members of the crowd yelling “crucify him”. (Words about Classic's objectives, history and work to accompany people in their walk for justice.)

Let us pray, that we step back from our comfortable complicity in the safety of the crowd. We pray for the courage to become advocates against systems of oppression. As we cling to Christ in the vulnerable give us a voice to end the senseless crucifixion of those whom are society ignores.  Amen

Station 6: Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him. (Luke 22:63-65) And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. (John 19:2-3)

Reflection by L’Arche Saskatoon

Jesus endured this suffering out of love for each human being. When he was made bare and vulnerable Jesus showed us the way to perfect love, a sacrificial love. Just as Jesus’ head was station 6entangled in the crown of thorns, there are those in our communities who are entangled in other ways: in pain, sorrow, loneliness, anxiety, and fear. Through Jesus’ example of selfless suffering we too can find the strength to accompany the weary and broken-hearted in our communities. In L’Arche communities around the world, people with and without intellectual disabilities live together, walking with each other, striving to create an open, inclusive, and compassionate society. We are created for community, to enter into relationship with our neighbour, to alleviate the thorns we all endure. Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche says: “To love God and to love my neighbour is somewhere at heart of everything, but I think its the heart of every person and every person with faith. It is that fundamental belief that we are brothers and sisters together. A country can only be a country of peace as we see in other people not a potential enemy, not just a citizen, but as I say as a brother or sister in the same huge, mysterious human family.”

Together, we pray that you will give us eyes that notice the needs of our brothers and sisters and a heart that reaches out in love. Show us how to treat each other with the utmost dignity, love and respect, Amen.station 6-7

Station 7: Jesus takes up the cross

After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.(Mark 15:20)

Reflection for the Meewasin Valley Authority by Brendan Bitz

When we fail to consider our essential and life-giving need for clean water for every member of our community, it suggests that we mock and strip so many of this precious gift we gave been given. Water refreshes us. Water keeps us clean. Water provides us with a component essential for the production of an abundance of healthy food. Water offers us beauty and recreation. Water is life. Without water, we die. Caring for water with reverence and respect calls us individually and collectively to be good stewards of this fundamental and increasingly fragile resource. Practicing good stewardship and responsible water use requires that we understand the implications of our actions and that we adjust our lives accordingly. This action can be especially beneficial to those around us who are vulnerable because of a lack of clean water and often because of the misuse of water that leads to its pollution. Thirst is an awful thing and not having a universal and secure source of clean, fresh water is a shared challenge.

station 7Together, let us pray that we always maintain a high regard for the precious gift of water. We pray that we carry our responsibility to care for this gift in all of its forms – our lakes, our rivers, our ground and surface water, our sloughs, our oceans and our icecaps. Amen.

Station 8: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross

As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

Reflection by Development and Peace (Caritas Canada)

When I received the call to participate in this station of support for South Sudan, I asked my friend and South Sudanese refugee, Atem, who now lives in Regina, if he would have a message for us today. Here are his words: Thank you to the people of Saskatchewan for the support that you have given and continue to give to me, my family and all South Sudanese who make Saskatchewan their home. Most importantly, thank you for your support for our people back home through Development and Peace Projects and other Canadian Non-Governmental Organizations. South Sudan became an independent nation in 2011 after two long bloody civil wars, totalling thirty years. My father was killed during the first war. More than two million lives were lost and four million people displaced during the second. I was among them. I became a refugee in Kenya for three years. Fortunately I received a scholarship from the World University Services of Canada and came to study at the University of Regina.

station 8I ask you to pray with me for our people in South Sudan as we become like Simon of Cyrene in carrying their cross with them: Let us Pray, Almighty God, may the South Sudanese who are facing hunger and famine find hope, comfort and consolation in Jesus Christ! May the South Sudanese leaders put the interests of their country and the people before own their interests. May these leaders bring peace and stability to the country and to the people! May the international donors provide support to South Sudanese people at this critical time! We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Station 9: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ (Luke 23:27-31)

Reflection by Hands at Work

Foster care begins with a mother in pain. She carries a wound that, with no one to tend it with her, can grow and spread, wounding her own child and causing pain until mother and child can no longer be together and are separated. And the wound grows more. Another mother comes to help to tend and foster the wounds–those of the child but also the first mother too. It is a glorious role, like wiping the wounded face of Jesus. But because this wound is deep and inside, it can be very hard to reach. And when she is not supported, this mother too can be hurt, eventually wounded. Jesus, from within the midst of the pain of His cross, foresaw the pain of the mothers to come. He knew that in a world that had crucified even the Son of God many more would be wounded after him. Every day in our city, province and country birth parents are separated from their children. The number is growing. But conversely the number of foster parents among us with hearts ready to receive those children is shrinking. 1/3 of Saskatchewan foster families have stopped. Vulnerable children all around our city have no home willing to take them, and new wounds grow. But another way is possible.Station 9

So let’s pray. Father, today we acknowledge the wounds of separated mothers and children and pray for their healing and restoration. For those foster families making space in their homes for our children with nowhere to go, we give You thanks. And we pray Your blessing of encouragement and hope over them, especially those who struggle and feel unsupported today. And for us, the Church, we pray: may You soften our hearts to share the compassion of our Lord who saw all the weeping mothers and gave of His own life, becoming the hope of the world, Amen.

Station 10: Jesus is crucified

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. … When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ (Luke 23:33,47)

Reflection by Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon Office of Justice and Peace

As the centurion pronounced the innocence of Christ, today thousands of Christians around the world have been found guilty and persecuted for no other charge then that of being in solidarity with God the Father through His Son. Today we enter into solidarity with the many innocent victims who have embraced the cost of clinging to the cross while paying the ultimate price. Will we follow Christ from his welcomed entrance into Jerusalem to his neglected death on the cross? Will we recognize our brothers and sisters who are being led to the cross, or will we remain indifferent? Who are we in the crowd? Are we watching idly? Are we weeping? Are we responding actively? Do we notice? Do we care?

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Let us pray for Christians in fragile areas of the world for whom this sacred week has become a very dangerous time. We pray that we awaken to their plight by advocating with those in power for protection of all people in their right to worship and gather peacefully in the name of God. May the hidden light of the crucified Christ channel our efforts accelerated by the hope of the resurrection towards actively building a culture of peace and true freedom, Amen.

Station 11: Jesus promises his Kingdom to the good thief

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. … One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’(Luke 23:33-34,39-43)

stn 11Reflection by Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish

Jesus, two others are nailed on either side of you. One challenges you to release him now; the other asks to be freed with you in your kingdom. You know neither of these people and yet you offer them, and us, your life. In the midst of your suffering your concern is for others. Teach us to reach out to our neighbour. When we think there is nothing more we can do; when we are afraid of the ridicule we might face; give us the courage to reach out and forget about our own needs. Give us the courage to reach out to our Indigenous brothers and sisters and understand the generations of suffering they have endured. Help us to learn from them the sacredness of the land and what sharing your great bounty is about.



Most of all, we pray that you give us the courage to bring about change so that all of us will be strangers no more, but sister and brothers living together as family in your kingdom here on earth, and with you in Paradise. Amen.

Station 12: Jesus on the cross, his mother and his disciple

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.(John 19:25b-27)

Reflection by the Pregnancy Options Centre

A conception that began in miraculous wonder; as all conceptions do; even if the circumstances are less than ideal. A pregnancy wrapped in scandal, greeted with scorn and condemnation; threatened with danger; rejection, abandonment, or worse. A mother, who carried, bore, nurtured, admonished, taught, worried over, sought, loved. and bore witness. “Do whatever He tells you.” A guardian, who protected and provided. She didn’t have to do it alone. No one should have to. A prophecy; “And a sword shall pierce your own soul.” Is there any pain greater than that of a mother having to watch her child suffer? Oh Sacred Head surrounded by crown of piercing thorn. Oh bleeding head so wounded; reviled and put to scorn. A mother’s impulse is to rage and shout, fight, tear, attack, defend. Instead Mary beheld his suffering body, cradled his bloodied head, grieved and pondered all things in her soul. Mary suffered and she trusted as one held by many as mother of all. It has been said that to have a child is to decide for ever to have your heart go walking outside of your body. It is a sacrificial love, a vulnerable love, a “laying down of one’s life” love. It is a “love of humanity “ love. I love humanity so much I am willing to bring another human into this world. Is there any more God- like act than to participate in the creation of a human being? And yet society sees motherhood as a curse, a burden, an infringement. Women are told; you can be a mother or you can be educated. You can be a mom, but you will live in poverty. Is that the best we can do? Society offers women choice, as if that was the greatest value, and then leaves them to suffer the effects of their choice alone. The choice made for life can become an arduous struggle accompanied by poverty and loneliness. The alternate choice becomes a sword that pierces in two directions. If we do not value the individual human life, we will not value pregnancy, we will not value motherhood and we will not support mothers.

Let us pray, that we would act as guardians towards all mothers; those parenting, struggling and grieving. That the hearts of fathers, and of all of us, would be turned towards the children; and towards the mothers who bear them. That we would value all individual human life at all stages of development. May we be grateful everyday for the gift of life and not deny anyone else that gift. Amen.stn 13

Station 13: Jesus dies on the cross

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

Silent reflection.

Station 14: Jesus is placed in the tomb

(Final station on the steps of St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral)

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. (Luke 23:50-54)

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Reflection by the Church Leaders of Saskatoon

Jesus is laid in the tomb, and with him all hope that the Messiah might vanquish the Romans, restore Israel, and rule in earthly splendour. For that is not what Jesus came to do, that is not who Jesus claimed to be. Jesus dies as so many before and since, at the hand of others who oppress, exploit, and consume. His suffering is our suffering, for he takes upon himself the suffering of all, and he shares the fate of all humanity, to die and be placed in a cold dark tomb. Christian tradition holds that Jesus’ death was a true death, and that he descends into hell with all the souls of the dead. But in fulfillment of the prophets, he is raised again from the dead, and he breaks the chains of bondage, releasing those enslaved by sin, rescuing those who suffer injustice, restoring all creation, and reconciling all people. So Jesus’ story does not end here, in the tomb of Good Friday. Our story does not end in tragedy and despair. We need not flee like the disciples in fear for the future, because we know as people of faith that Jesus will rise from this tomb, and so we live in faith and hope that we too will rise with Christ on the last day.

Let us pray for all who suffer: for the hungry and the homeless, the deprived and the oppressed, for the sick, the wounded, and the handicapped, for those in loneliness and in fear, for those in confusion, doubt, and despair, for the sorrowful and bereaved, for prisoners, and all at the point of death, that God’s love will comfort and sustain them, and that we may be stirred up to minister to them. Faithful and compassionate God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer, hear the cry of all who call on you in any trouble, grant them the joy of receiving your help in their need, and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen. Sisters and brothers, let us end our way of the cross by joining together to pray, each in our own language, with the words that Jesus gave us: Our Father …

Benediction The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace. Amen. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen. 

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