Each Friday throughout Lent we shall be offering a meditation on the Way of the Cross taken from The Way of the Cross with the Curé of Ars, written by Mgr Keith Barltrop.
At the end of a long and fruitful ministry as a parish priest, St John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, has left us no extended writings, all we have are short extracts memorised by witnesses. Mgr Barltrop uses some of these extracts to help us meditate on the Way of the Cross and, in doing so, enables us to rediscover the great gift God has given us in this marvellous saint.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Then Pilate said to Jesus, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?" But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly. Matthew 27:13-14
Like Pilate, we may well "wonder greatly" at the silence of Jesus, humble and majestic at the same time, as he is unjustly condemned. The Son of God, who at the last day will judge all heaven and earth, makes no attempt to defend himself before his human judge. It is as if he has already begun to take on himself all the accusations that will be made against sinners at the end of time, and so he agrees with the charges.
A petition began to circulate in Ars, requesting the bishop to rid them of this troublesome priest and listing his faults. By chance a copy fell into the Curé’s own hands. His response? To add his own signature and send it on to the bishop.
Beginning the way of the cross can be a symbol of beginning the Christian life over again, seeking out its deepest foundations. The Curé told of a certain saint who was asked what was the first of the virtues: "It’s humility," he replied. "And what is the second?" "Humility." "And the third?" "Humility."
For us, as for Jesus, the secret of humility is to stand always in the light of God our Father.
"We should pay no attention to the praises people heap on us, or to the wounds they deal out. In the eyes of God, we are what we are, no more, no less. The only thing that should concern us is to give him pleasure." The Curé.
Lord Jesus, your humble silence speaks more powerfully
than words. Teach us the secret of your childlike trust, so
that as we begin this way of the cross we may begin again
in our Christian life on the sure foundation of humility, in
communion with you who live and reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping
Close to Jesus to the last.
Stabat Mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa,
Dum pendebat Filius.
Picture © John Salmon, Stations of the Cross in the parish church St Silas, Kentish Town, London
Text © St Pauls Publishing