Friday, April 28, 2006

Proverbs to Ponder

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Solomon left behind a legacy of wisdom, imparted to us through the grace of God. In going with the general 'theme' of the past few devotional posts, I thought I'd add some of my favorite verses (often mumbled under my breath when I'm tempted to 'throw down' with the whole lot.)

Proverbs 1:10-16 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, "Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood, let's waylay some harmless soul; let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse"- my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. - This harkens back to what I've said before... that Jesus told us not to repay an eye for an eye, that David spoke of in psalm when someone we think is wicked does a misdeed to us. Often, it is so easy to go along with our friends, to stoop to a pack mentality, in order to avenge ourselves. What purpose would this serve? What do we have to gain by it except being labeled as one of the wicked?

Proverbs 15:1-4 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. - we must always remember that we are to reflect Christ. It is gentler to say 'You have sinned, but God's love and mercy are obtainable' than it is to poison another's desire to know God by saying 'you have sinned, and all you deserve is hell.' God does keep an eye on us. Sure, the wicked are expected to act like wicked people; but the Righteous in the Lord should remember that God watches their actions as well. A wicked man kills the sheep that wanders in the fields, but it is more horrible when a self-proclaimed righteousness and wise man kills a fellow sheep within the fold for having a spot on its fleece, or kills a sheep who has just began to turn his nose towards the gate, seeking shelter in God for the first time. Harsh words serve no purpose, and mocking tears down all the gifts of the Lord that you have been given.

Proverbs 3:1-12 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. - appearing wise is a foolish thing to do. True wisdom comes from the Lord, and that wisdom is given to us by the Holy Spirit (it's the discernment thing, remember?) We can judge others based on our opinion, but until we turn over our desire to judge, and allow God to work through us, we appear as being self-absorbed. We fall into the trap the Pharisees did long ago. We are no more beneficial to others. Instead, we forget God's commands, trading them in for a selfish desire to serve our own egos. If we concentrate on our own walk, we can help others by example. We can share the wisdom God grants us because we live in that wisdom each day.




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Thursday, April 27, 2006

IRAQ: FOR OUR TROOPS & THEIR FAMILIES

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Many wonder why I get so annoyed in chats and on message boards when I see others attacking our nation's leaders and soldiers. This piece sums it all up, folks. You have no idea how difficult it is to understand the events of war, unless you actually have a someone you love serving in our military, or unless you have served. God bless our troops and vets!!!! - Thane


(The following story was written by Lori Kimble, a 31 year old teacher and a proud military wife. Mrs. Kimble, a California native, currently lives in Alabama. via email from NC)

I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you
find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on every
table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids
racing around with longneck beers and sizzling platters.

Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to
identify their branch of service, but they were definitely "military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look that comes with pride.

Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my Husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East. That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home.


I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him? As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.

"I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq. You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes. Good lord. What an idiot! I can't believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the election."

I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.

Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts. "It is all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Humm! I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought? It's pure greed, you know."

My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his "mess dress" the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.


"You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are Hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the Presidents popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We're just asking for another 9-ll. I can't say when it happens again that we didn't deserve it."
Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what "freedom" is?

I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking. "Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby-killers we call a military."

Professional baby-killers? I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.

That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.

Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with them,
smilingly said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you Know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him.

"Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain. Freedom is an expensive
commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it."

I must have been louder that I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right. "Yes, thank you," I replied. Then, turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."

As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up their check and scurried away.

After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. "Compliments of those soldiers," he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it. When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of our boys."

With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth. "We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."

As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day.

Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military who protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country, would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain it's freedom.

As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference. Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, "Thank You!"

To those who fought for our Nation: Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Please pray for God's protection of our troops and HIS wisdom for their commanders. Pass this on to as many as you think will respond. "Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior."

When you see this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our
ground, air and navy personnel in every area of the middle east. There is nothing attached.... This can be very powerful....


Do not stop this prayer chain, please.... Of all the gifts you could give to anyone in the US Military, be it Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines or National Guard, Prayer is the very best one.....Amen!

DON'T FORGET-FREEDOM ISN'T FREE... Just ask a Soldier, a Seaman, a Marine,

or a Pilot...And when you ask them simply say Thank You!




Today's troop is tomorrow's vet.

War is not hell. There are no innocent people in hell. War is hard. Period.




Monday, April 24, 2006

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

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For my Friends, who feel the Enemy at the gates and seek to gather strength. For my Friends, the Saints of Heaven and the Followers of the Lamb, whose prayers the angels rely upon for strength to do battle with the Legion. And, for my Friends, who feel displaced, unsure of where to gather strength because they feel the battle itself has come to their own sanctuary:


It seems that, at the moment, there are many who feel down right now. Of course, there are many of David's psalms we can turn to, but today Psalm 42 spoke to my heart and soul. This Psalm stands alone, and doesn't need much explanation. Trust in the Lord... be not afraid! Place your hopes in the Lord, and allow Him to minister to your soul! Amen.


As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.


My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?


My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"


These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.


Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon - from Mount Mizar.


Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.


By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me;
a prayer to the God of my life.


I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"


My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"


Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.




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Sunday, April 23, 2006

SOME WORDS TO PONDER

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Some Words To Ponder...

From a sign in Mother Teresa's Children's Home of Shishu Bhavan, Calcutta, India:



People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered,
LOVE THEM ANYWAY.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
DO GOOD ANYWAY.

If you are successful, you win false and true enemies,
SUCCEED ANYWAY.

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.

What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
BUILD ANYWAY.

People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth,
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU'VE GOT ANYWAY!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Sacrifice

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The Sacrifice

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson a studious man who taught at a small college in the Western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this
particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many push-ups can you do?"

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night." "200 that's pretty good Steve"

Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"

Steve replied, "I don't know... I've never done 300 at a time."

"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.

Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind."


Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?" Cynthia said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?" Joe said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve did ten push-ups and Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut. And down the second aisle, till Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?" Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own pushups?" Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them." Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then." Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?" With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups. Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!" Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "No." Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more Push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve did ten. Jenny got a donut.

By now a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on
the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved. Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten pushups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely. Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.


During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw thatnow there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it. Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set. Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?" Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!" Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come." Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him?" Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut". Dr.Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"
Jason, new to the room hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut." "Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.


Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was profusely dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was no sound except his heavy breathing, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?" Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you." Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?" Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?" Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve, here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes. Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?" As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten." Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile. "Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding "Not all sermons are preached in words." Turning to his class the professor said, "My wish is that you might
understand & fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all for the whole Church, now and forever.

"Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid. Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it laying on the desk?"

Share this with someone. It's bound to touch their heart and demonstrate Salvation in a very special way.


(Via email from NC - Cindy)

Friday, April 14, 2006

An Eye for an Eye... or Love Your Enemies

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Today is Good Friday, a day when we remember that Christ was taken into custody, beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross.


A side trip in history... it was not Rome who sought his death, nor was it the Jewish people. It was Caiaphas and Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of the Chief Priest Caiaphas, and he was once also once the chief priest himself. Annas, a banker who had no less than eight family members filling the seats of the high counsel, and while chief priest himself, was responsible for bringing the money changers into the temple. You couldn't bring Roman money into the temple, previously, and Annas made sure the exchange of money from Roman to Jewish was at a high rate to benefit his pockets; Pharisees with a lot to lose if Jesus convinced the people that they were wrongly leading the Jews in their faith plotted to bring Jesus down. Remember the scene at the Temple, where Jesus got angry at the money changers? The kiosks padded the pockets of these two men, and it was there that the strife started. Remember, Jesus was even brought to Annas's house (a midnight meeting, where only Anna's supporters were present!) before being sent to Caiaphas to for trial. The Sanhedrin could have had Jesus arrested at any time, but it was God's plan that he should die during the Passover.


But, this isn't all about free will vs. predestination, Judas, the Sanhedrin clique or about politics. It was about something Jesus taught, and the fact that he followed his own teaching (do as I say and as I do) when the time came for him to suffer at the hands of the Roman soldiers.



Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus speaks on the 'An Eye for an Eye'... "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."


Jesus is telling us that revenge is pointless. There is nothing to be gained, but we only have our own sanity to lose. If our brother strikes us, and we strike him back, we only end up beating the crap out of each other. If we are sued because we have something another wants, it is better to just give it to them... it is just stuff, and if they want it badly enough to usurp it from us, there is no sense in fighting over it. Give them the tunic plus the cloak, and they can't turn around and say 'You cheated me!'. When pushed to go the distance in a way you don't like, surpass it, put on a patient smile, and walk with them for double the distance. Don't allow the world to cloud your good natured outlook.



Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus speaks on 'Love for Enemies'... "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."


This section points out that we can't hate our enemies, but it goes beyond that. It tells us that we should strive for perfection... just as our heavenly Father is perfect. God does not hate those who hate him. He does not exclude them from the world. He allows the sun to rise for them, and give rain to them. If we just hug only our friends, and just offer ourselves to only our friends, we don't exactly embrace God.


I tend to think of these verses when I hear the word 'clique'. The Sanhedrin crowd all stayed close to each other, the elite of the people. The tax collectors all hung out together because no one else wanted them around. The pagans did the same. No one ever reached out to those who were not considered 'of my clique'. We have to remember, tho, that the Good News spread because people followed Christ's words... they reached out to those who were not 'of their clique'.

Extending a hand of friendship to someone you hate, or to someone who has hurt you, is probably the hardest thing to do. We sometimes fear we will have that hand bitten and mauled. When that fear hits us, go back to the 'eye for an eye' thing. We should never be 'people pleasers', but we can strive towards pleasing God by trying to be a bit more Christ-like. When Christ died, he did not come back full of wrath. He did not wave his hand and destroy all those who hurt him. He did not smite Annas or Caiaphas. He did not pluck the souls of the Soldiers (who physically crucified him!) from this earth and burn them before all the world as an example of his might. Neither did he tell the apostles to write horrible things about them in blogs (hint hint. LOL) If our friendship is rejected and we are slapped, then we can turn the other cheek (forgive) pray for them (uplift their needs before God.)

"Forgive them, Father, for what they are doing"... the true expression of Love.



(Picture sent via email. Artist Spencer Williams)




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Happy Passover!!!

One of the most important Jewish holidays, Passover celebration during eight days of Pesach commemorates their liberation from slavery. This festival is also known as 'Chag he-Aviv', 'Chag ha-Matzoth' and 'Z'man Cherutenu'... to learn more, please visit
Passover 2006 - Happy Jewish Passover 2006 - Happy Pesach Holidays 2006 - Jewish Holiday Passover - Chag Ha Matzoth


The story of Passover, per the NIV bible online:

Exodus 12

The Passover
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover.

"On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

"This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do.

"Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread."

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

"Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.' " Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.

At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me."

The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. "For otherwise," they said, "we will all die!" So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. t the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD's divisions left Egypt. Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
"These are the regulations for the Passover: "No foreigner is to eat of it. Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.

"It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

"An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD's Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it. The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you."

All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

(sorry this is published late!)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beautiful Life of the Easter Lily

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Beautiful Life of the Easter Lily



Linda H. Yates*


Today millions of churches and homes across the United States and the world are graced with regal white Easter Lilies to symbolize the Resurrection. Often called the white-robed apostles of hope, the lovely trumpet-shaped flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life--the spiritual essence of Easter.

Lilium longiflorian, Latin name for Easter Lily, is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. Their journey to the altars and homes of Christian people, exactly on schedule for varying dates of Easter observances, is a long one.

Japan was the source for most of the bulbs coming to the U.S. before 1941. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japan lost the American market.

Growers along the California-Oregon border began production and now harvest 95% of all bulbs for the potted Easter Lily trade, shipping more than 12 million each year to the U.S. and Canada. The bulbs are harvested in the fall and sent to commercial greenhouses where they are potted and forced to bloom in time for the Easter holiday. Since Easter falls on a different day each year, the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox, conditions are carefully controlled in commercial greenhouses to force blooms with no margin for error.

From bulblet to mature blooming flower, Easter Lilies require from two to three years to grow and are handled as many as 40 times. It was so convenient and inexpensive to place one or two or dozens in homes and churches today that the hard and skilled labor of growing them may be overlooked. Tomorrow, they may be abandoned on doorsteps or in trash bins.

Their beauty of form and symbolism deserves better. Your Easter Lily symbolizes life so let it continue to live. To keep them in your home, as the flower bulbs mature, remove the yellow anthers before the pollen drops on the white petals or on the furniture. As a flower withers, cut it off so you can better enjoy the fresher, newly-opened blooms. Remove any plastic wrapping around the pot that will hold water and cause the bulb to rot.

Easter Lilies are perennials and will grow in your garden as do other lilies. When all the flowers are spent, remove the plant from the pot and place it in a sunny spot outside. Plant the Easter Lily bulb three inches below ground level in rich organic matter, a mixture of soil, peat moss and compost. Water in well, leaving no air pockets. Slow release fertilizer may be added. Mulch well.

Easter Lilies naturally bloom in summer, probably June or July in Tallahassee. (In PA, they do very well planted in the garden after Easter is over... Thane) They emerge from winter dormancy in January or February. Given adequate water, sunshine and nourishment, they will add beauty, grace and tranquility to your garden next year and for years to come.

*Linda H. Yates is a Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Leon County and a member of its Horticultural Advisory Committee.




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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

SPRING REFLECTIONS

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A bridge in Allegheny County, PA.




There is something wonderful about waking up to a spring day... warm sunshine, a soft breeze, and the wonderful site of the first buds on the trees! Robins, finches, cardinals, doves and many other birds break the silence of the early morning, and rabbits and dear regain enough confidence to sneak back into my yard to steal mouthfuls of tender first shoots poking up in my garden.

Living in a rural setting has it's advantages, especially if you have the delight of living back east. Yes, you can sense spring in the city, but I never really had the feeling of being able to embrace it before I moved back here. I can recall a bland sense of seasonal changes in California, and regret how quickly spring passes into summer in Colorado. But, back east, spring takes its time. It doesn't rush. It creeps, allowing each new treasure to reveal itself a little at a time every morning.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

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THE CATHOLIC LIFE

Click here: A Catholic Life

I discovered this blog while poking around the eBlogger site. I highly recommend it to all those who want a further glimpse into Catholic life. The author has done a fantastic job with this site, and I confess my self more than impressed with their efforts!

Monday, April 03, 2006

MY PET COLD

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My Pet Cold... isn't he cute??
I picked him up yesterday, and so far, my pet cold has made himself right at home. He doesn't do much, but I've got wet tissues, cough drop wrappers and digital thermometer disposable covers all over the place. He's got me running pretty ragged, too. Seems I can't pay attention to anything else, with him in the house, and I find my concentration lacking. Of course, you feed a cold... so I've got a huge vat of chicken broth simmering on the stove.

If anyone would like to adopt my pet cold, and take him off my hands, just let me know.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Stations of the Cross... a variation

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Stations of the Cross

The following stations of the cross are based on those celebrated by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991. They are presented here as an alternative to the traditional stations and as a way of reflecting more deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Christ's passion.

The presiding minister may be a priest, deacon, or layperson. This minister prays the opening and closing prayers, leads the acclamation, announces the stations, and says the prayer that concludes each station. One or more readers may read the Scriptural reflections. A period of silence should be observed between the Scripture reading and the prayer. A crossbearer accompanied by two candlebearers may stand in front of each station as it is announced. As the cross- and candlebearers move between the stations, all may sing a verse of the Stabat Mater (At the Cross Her Station Keeping - traditional) or an appropriate antiphon, such as Parce Domine (traditional, various settings) or Crucem Tuam (Berthier, GIA),

Before each station:

Minister:
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

All:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

After each station:

All:
Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.


Opening Prayer:

Minister:
God of power and mercy,
in love your sent your Son
that we might be cleansed of sin
and live with you forever.
Bless us as we gather to reflect
on his suffering and death
that we may learn from his example
the way we should go.

We ask this through that same Christ, our Lord.

All:
Amen.

First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Reader:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 25:36-41

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your strength and wisdom,
that we may seek to follow your will in all things

Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested

Reader: Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
Mark 14: 43-46

Minister:
Lord,
grant us the courage of our convictions
that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring.

Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Reader: When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth."
Luke 22: 66-71

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your sense of righteousness
that we may never cease to work
to bring about the justice of the kingdom that you promised.

Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter

Reader: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.
Matthew 26: 69-75

Minister:
Lord,
grant us the gift of honesty
that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult.

Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate

Reader: The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.... Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.
Mark 15: 1-5, 15

Minister:
Lord,
grant us discernment
that we may see as you see, not as the world sees.

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

Reader:
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.
John 19: 1-3

Minister:
Lord,
grant us patience in times of suffering
that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise.

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross

Reader: When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
John 19: 6, 15-17

Minister:
Lord,
grant us strength of purpose
that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day.

Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross

Reader: They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Mark 15: 21

Minister:
Lord,
grant us willing spirits
that we may be your instruments on earth.

Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Reader: A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, �Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, �Fall upon us!' and to the hills, �Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"
Luke 23: 27-31

Minister:
Lord,
grant us gentle spirits
that we may comfort those who mourn.

Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified

Reader: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."]
Luke 23: 33-34

Minister:
Lord,
grant us merciful hearts
that we may bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all.

Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

Reader: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Luke 23: 39-43

Minister:
Lord,
grant us perseverance
that we may never stop seeking you.

Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

Reader: Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
John 19: 25-27

Minister:
Lord,
grant us constancy
that we may be willing to stand by those in need.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Reader: It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Luke 23: 44-46

Minister:
Lord,
grant us trust in you
that when our time on earth in ended
our spirits may come to you without delay.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

Reader:
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.
Matthew 27: 57-60

Minister:
Lord,
grant us your compassion
that we may always provide for those in need.

Closing Prayer:

Minister:
Lord Jesus Christ,
your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven
and reconciles all people to you.
May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries
follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven
where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

All:
Amen.

Scripture excerpts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament Copyright 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce these excerpts in free distribution of these stations.





A wonderful link:
Knights of Columbus, Council No 6153 - Station of the Cross

THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS... what and why?

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What are The Stations of the Cross?

The Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion used by individuals or groups who wish through prayer and reflection to follow Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary. Many Christians practice the devotion, but the Stations holds a special significance among Roman Catholics. It is one of the most important devotions honoring the passion of Jesus.

What matters most in the Stations of the Cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him. To face life's dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope, and Jesus offers images of hope in his passion. By accompanying him on the Way of the Cross, we gain his courageous patience and learn to trust in God who delivers us from evil.

Origins of the Stations: 4th Century Jerusalem

The devotion originated in the late 4th century when pilgrims flocked to the Holy Land from all parts of the world to visit the land of Jesus. Heading the list of places they visited was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which had been built by the Emperor Constantine in 335 AD atop Calvary and the tomb of Jesus.

Processions of pilgrims to this church were common. Egeria, a woman from Gaul who traveled to the Holy Land in the 4th century, recalls in her diary how she joined Christians from all parts of the Roman world walking westward on Holy Thursday from the garden of Gethsemane to the church of the Holy Sepulcher, where they celebrated Jesus' death and resurrection.

Over the years, the route of pilgrim processions -- beginning at the ruins of the Fortress Antonia and ending at the church of the Holy Sepulcher -- was accepted as the way that Jesus went to his death. It was known as the "Via Dolorosa," the "Sorrowful Way;" Today, it winds through the crowded areas of Jerusalem's Old City, and pilgrims still travel it in prayer.

"Stations" developed on this venerable route as early pilgrims honored places where specific incidents took place as Jesus went Calvary. However, the search for them was complicated because the Jerusalem of Jesus' day had been almost completely destroyed by Roman armies in 70 AD. In many cases, therefore, pilgrims could only guess where some incidents described in the gospel took place.
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Jesus Meets His Mother, Jesus' Three Falls,
the Story of Veronica

The gospel accounts of Jesus' passion --above all, St. Luke's account-- provide the background for most of the 14 traditional Stations of the Cross. Scenes of Jesus before Pilate, Jesus carrying his cross, Simon of Cyrene taking up the cross, the women lamenting as he passed, Jesus nailed to the Cross, and his death, deposition and burial are mentioned in them

But what about incidents not mentioned in the gospels? Such as his meeting with Mary, his mother; Veronica wiping his face with a cloth; his three falls? Where did these scenes come from? Most likely they came from early pilgrims to Jerusalem and are a tradition.

According to the gospel of John, Mary stood by his Cross (John 19,25-27). Would she not be part of the crowd accompanying him to Calvary, and would they not have met on the way? Pilgrims who walked along the Via Dolorosa surely believed they did.

Jesus must have been extremely weak during his passion. Why else was Simon of Cyrene pressed into service to carry his cross? Was his scourging by Pilate's soldiers exceptionally severe? Pilgrims on the Via Dolorosa surely concluded that Jesus fell from weakness more than once. As they themselves walked the rough, winding Jerusalem street, they came to believe that he fell many times.



The Story of Veronica

The story of Veronica is not told in the gospels, but in early apocryphal writings. An early 2nd century version of The Acts of Pilate reports that a woman named Veronica (Bernice, in the Greek version) was the same woman Jesus cured of a blood disorder (Matthew 9,20-22), and that she came to his trial before Pilate to claim his innocence.



Veronica and the Other Women
Who Ministered to Jesus

Women play an important role in the Stations of the Cross. In fact, the gospels portray them favorably throughout the passion story. Two passion accounts begin with the story of an unknown woman who anoints Jesus' head with precious ointment in the house of Simon the leper, at the same time that Judas and the leaders of the people plot his death (Matthew 26, 6-13; Mark 14, 3-9).

On his way to Calvary, "A great number of people followed him and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing over him" (Luke23, 27). On Calvary itself, "Many women were also there, looking on from a distance" (Matthew 27, 55). Women attended his burial: they "followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments" (Luke 23, 55-56). On Easter morning, they came to finish anointing his body, but found an empty tomb (Matthew 28, 1-10; John 20, 1-10).

Women customarily comforted the dying and buried the dead in Jesus' time and the gospel accounts of the passion recognize them fulfilling these roles. Indeed, Veronica admirably fulfills the gospel portrait-- a woman who reaches out to someone who is suffering and finds God's face behind the disguise.


Variations on the stations

In recent years some variations have been introduced into the traditional devotion. One of these is the addition of a 15th station - the Resurrection of Jesus. Another is a series of scriptural stations, which begin with the Agony of Jesus in Gethsemane and omit some of the traditional non-scriptural stations in favor of incidents mentioned in the gospels.

Pope John Paul II celebrated a series of scriptural stations on Good Friday in 1991, and again in 1994, in the Coliseum at Rome:

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
  2. Jesus betrayed by Judas
  3. Jesus condemned by the Sanhedrin
  4. Jesus denied by Peter
  5. Jesus condemned by the people
  6. Jesus crowned with thorns and clothed in purple.
  7. Jesus carries the cross.
  8. Jesus assisted by Simon of Cyrene
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  10. Jesus is crucified.
  11. Jesus speaks to the thief
  12. Jesus speaks to his mother
  13. Jesus dies on the cross
  14. Jesus is buried.

What Prayers do You Say?

There are no official prayers to say with the Stations of the Cross. For many centuries, pilgrims in Jerusalem were prevented from praying the devotion publicly along the Moslem-controlled Via Dolorosa, and so groups and individuals passed silently and quickly along the holy way. Without words, the devotion depended on the sentiments it raised in the human heart -- which may be a reason for its continuing popularity. Above, right: The Man of Sorrows. Medieval Christians identified with this image because it portrayed the fatigue and discouragement that was so much part of their lives.

Though there are no official prayers, saints and spiritual writers over the centuries have provided a wealth of prayers and aids for the devotion, and each year new aids appear.


What do you do?

Christians fortunate enough can still visit Jerusalem, the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. But it is not necessary to go to Jerusalem to find Christ-- or to make the Stations of the Cross. We can follow the stations in our own churches, homes, or places of prayer-- alone or with others. Nor is it necessary to walk from one image to another, if it cannot be done. We can make the Stations within our own hearts and minds-- as a "spiritual pilgrimage"

Following Jesus Christ

What matters most in the Stations of the Cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him. Whether we know it or not, we bear the imprint of his cross. We are judged unjustly, we fall, we find life's journey hard, we know the mystery of death, and we recoil from it. To face life's dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope, and Jesus offers images of hope in his passion.

"Human kind cannot bear very much reality." (T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton) Through his passion and resurrection, Jesus transforms the reality of evil we find hard to bear. By accompanying him on the Way of the Cross, we gain his courageous patience and learn to trust in God who delivers us from evil.