by Gwen Costello

Before You Begin...
"If anyone wants to come with me, he or
she must put aside self-interest, and then
pick up the cross and follow me. Pursuing
self-interest leads to nothing in the end,
but putting aside self-interest for my sake
leads to everything".
                Matthew 16:24 (adapted)

Jesus spoke these words to his first followers. And
now he is speaking them to you. Yes, you. Though
"only a teenager," you are a person of great worth
in Jesus' eyes, so great that he is inviting you to follow him.
And how might you follow Jesus? First of by put-
ting aside your own selfish interests. This requires
looking around you at other people whose wants
and needs are more important than your own. By
caring for others and taking responsibility for them
you are picking up the cross to follow Jesus.
In the following pages, walk the Stations of the
Cross with Jesus. Open your mind and heart and al-
low him to speak to you, to teach you. In doing so
you will lose nothing. Indeed, you will gain every-
First Station

Jesus Is Condemned
Every day in our world people are condemned. We
hear about it on the evening news. Every time
someone is rejected for being black or Asian,
Hispanic or Jewish, every time an old person has to
huddle on a street corner to keep warm or search in a
garbage can for food, every time a handicapped person
is made to feel unwelcome, someone is being
condemned. You see it at school too. There are kids
who are constantly the butt of jokes. They look funny
or talk funny, and they don't know how to dress. They
just don't fit in. Jesus was one of those who didn't fit in.
He did and said things that upset the people with the
power. The religious leaders wanted him out of the
way and Pilate the judge went along with them.
Jesus was condemned to die on a cross.
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have
condemned you in others through our silence and
indifference. Help us to love and welcome all
others as you did. Teach us how to follow you.
Second Station

Jesus Carries the Cross
All around us people are carrying heavy burdens.
Some of these burdens we know about, like the ones
our parents carry. But we ignore them. Some
burdens we don't know about/ like the ones carried
by teachers or other kids in our classes. But we don't
really care. Others we hear about on the news, like
war, hunger, poverty, and injustice. But we can't be
bothered with what goes on elsewhere in the world.
We allow ourselves to be deaf and blind to the pain
of others. It's easier that way. We have enough to do
just taking care of ourselves. Jesus was forced to
carry the burden of the cross. Surely there were
those in the crowd who knew him. They saw the
soldiers drop the cross on his shoulders, but they
were worried about themselves. They didn't protest
the rough treatment he received; they didn't come
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have walked
away from the burdens of others. Help us not to be
deaf and blind to their pain. Teach us how to follow
Third Station

Jesus Falls the First Time
The worst thing that can happen to us is to fall flat on
our faces in front of others: when we do or say
something stupid, when we're not accepted for who we
are, when we're laughed at for not looking right or
dressing right. To be shut out is the worst way to fall
flat. At school games or dances, we know there are kids
who are on the outside looking in. But we don't invite
them in. What would our friends think?
Jesus fell flat in front of the soldiers, in front of
people who had believed in him, in front of his
own mother. He was in this situation because he
had spoken out and taken risks for others. Look
where it got him. What must he have been
thinking as he lost control and fell under the cross?
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have shut
others out and refused to help. Help us to be aware
of their needs. Teach us how to follow you.
Fourth Station

Jesus Meets His Mother
Parents expect so much of us. They want us to
succeed. They want to believe that we can get good
grades, that everyone will like us, that we will
never cheat or lie or steal, that we will always
choose what is right. And we want our parents to
think the best of us; we don't want them to know
about some of the things we do. Mary wanted Jesus to
succeed. She wanted people to accept him, to believe
him, to love him. But here she meets him and he is
carrying a criminal's cross.
Did she think that he was guilty, that he was a
failure? Or did she love and support him?
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have resented
our parents. Help us to be grateful for their love
and support. Teach us how to follow you.
Fifth Station

Simon Helps Jesus
Sometimes a teacher makes us sit next to an
"outsider," or makes us help someone we wouldn't be
caught dead with. We don't stop to think about that
other person's feelings. We only care about how we
feel. How does this look to our friends? What if they
think we chose this situation? Poor Simon. Why was
he, a foreigner, chosen to help this "criminal" carry his
cross? Would people
think he was a criminal too? He was probably
embarrassed and humiliated to be forced into this
situation. Was there even a moment when he forgot his
own discomfort and looked with compassion at Jesus?
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have hurt
others by not caring how they feel. Show us how to act
with love and compassion. Teach us how to follow you.
Sixth Station

Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face
There are people who sometimes actually buck the
crowd. When everyone else is drinking/ or doing
drugs, or telling crude jokes, or tearing someone
down, this person speaks up. "Hey, this isn't right;
this isn't good. I refuse to go along." And everyone
Veronica bucked the crowd. Her sympathy
overcame her fear, and she came forward to wipe the
blood and sweat from Jesus' face. She didn't stop to
think about the consequences or to measure her own
needs. At that moment she thought only about the
needs of Jesus.
(Pause for silent reflection.)  ;
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have laughed at
people who bucked the crowd. Help us lean", to
accept the truth about ourselves and the things we do.
Teach us how to follow you.
Seventh Station

Jesus Falls Again
Failure is a terrible thing. None of us wants to be a
failure, especially in the eyes of our friends. Parents
and teachers might think of us as failures, but when
friends do, it's too much. All day we are concerned
about what our friends will think, and we work hard to
look good in their eyes. But sometimes they fail us.
They don't stand by us when we need them, in spite
of all our efforts to please them. When Jesus fell
again, what were his concerns? Was he worried
about how his friends were taking this? And where
were his friends? Why didn't even one of them step
forward on his behalf? Was
he angry or hurt? What was he thinking as he
plunged to the ground for the second time?
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have failed to
"be there" for our friends when they needed us.
Help us to be as caring as you always are for us.
Teach us how to follow you.
Eighth Station

The Women Weep for Jesus
Sometimes a crowd mentality takes over at school,
on the bus, or at dances or parties. Things we would
never do on our own seem okay when everyone
else is doing them. We tend to cheer louder and
crazier, dance harder and wilder, and even gang up
more on "losers" when we're in a crowd.
The women in the crowd who wept for Jesus
were crying because the situation called for tears.
The crowd was stirred up and noisy. Frightening
things were going on. The women were too curious
to leave, but too afraid to keep quiet, and so they
cried. As Jesus passed by he heard them. He told
them to stop the phony crying, and to weep instead
for the evil being done. He was asking them to
follow their own hearts—not the crowd.
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have gone
along with the crowd without accepting
responsibility for what we do. Help us to get in
touch with what we really think and feel. Teach us
how to follow you.
Ninth Station

Jesus Falls the Third Time
To be made fun of once is bad enough. To have it
happen again and again is agony. Yet, there are
people in our school, on our bus, in our
neighborhood who are made fun of all the time.
And we do it to them too. They don't fit in, they don't
belong, so it's okay. Everyone does it, everyone
knows how different they are. They "fall down" in
front of us over and over, and we just knock them
down again. Jesus fell three times with the cross on
his shoulders. All those people watching, what were
they thinking? He had helped so many of them, but
now not one of them had the courage to come
forward. Were they frightened of the soldiers and
the angry crowd? Or was it simply that Jesus was no
longer one of them? And so they let him fall.
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we make fun of
others. Give us the courage to lift them up when
they fall, even if they don't "fit in." Teach us how to
follow you
Tenth Station

Jesus Is Stripped
Clothes are a big part of our lives. The right clothes
cost a lot, sometimes more than we or our parents
can afford/ but we insist on having them. We want
to look right; we have to be dressed like everyone
else. There are people we know who don't dress
right and we know what happens to them. Without
the right clothes, they're nothing. Jesus was
stripped of his clothing in front of a whole crowd of
people. He stood there without the comfort and
security of his clothes. He was stripped of his
dignity like a criminal. Without his clothes, how
must he have felt?
{Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have cared
more for good clothes than for good people. Help us
never to value "designer labels" more than the
needs of others. Teach us how to follow you.
Eleventh Station

Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
At times we do things that are ugly and wrong. We
say hateful things about others: black people, white
people, poor people, Hispanic people, Asian people.
We call them names because they're different, and
because we've decided that we're ""better." We join
others who laugh at them. Deep in our hearts we
know this is wrong, but we go along with it anyway.
Jesus was the victim of anger and jealousy. He
had stirred up the people. He had said and done
"different" things. He had accepted all people
equally—as they were. Now he was paying the
price. There must have been those in the crowd
who knew he was innocent, but they went along
with the way things were. They stood by and let
Jesus be nailed to the cross.
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have nailed
others to the cross because they were different.
Show us how to love and value people as you did.
Teach us how to follow you.
Twelfth Station

Jesus Dies on the Cross
We all think about dying from time to time. It's a
thought that comes to us when things go wrong:
when a boyfriend or girlfriend rejects us, or when
our grades are slipping, or when we're drinking or
smoking too much and can't seem to stop, or when
parents are disappointed in everything we do. We
are tempted to believe that death is easier than
facing our problems.
Is this what Jesus was feeling as he died? Was he
hoping to get it over with, or was he worried about
his friends, his mother, his followers? Was he
angry at Cod and at life? What did he mean when
he said: "Forgive them; they don't know what
they're doing"? Was he really so unselfish that he
could pray for those who hurt him?
{Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we quit too easily
because we're only thinking of ourselves. Share
with us the kind of unselfish courage you had.
Teach us how to follow you.
Thirteenth Station

Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross
Sometimes we clearly recognize a lost cause: a
school team that never wins, a band that can't make
good music, a friendship completely broken. We don't
want to be part of a lost cause. But often we are.
We're on that losing team, or in that band, or part of
that broken relationship. What then?
Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Jesus who
was afraid of the leaders, finally came forward after
Jesus had died. He claimed the body of this "criminal."
What made him do it? Wasn't he still afraid of being
identified with a lost cause? No doubt he was
ashamed for waiting so long, but at least he did
something good and courageous in the end.
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we walk away from
painful situations and from the people in them. Give
us the courage to act on our beliefs, no matter how
afraid we feel. Teach us how to follow you.
Fourteenth Station

Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb
When we have worked hard at something, we expect
to be rewarded: a good grade, praise from our
parents/ cheers from the fans. We certainly don't
want to be blamed or punished for doing our best. It
happens sometimes though to people we know,
and we walk away from them. We don't want to hang
out with losers.
Jesus spent his public life preaching, healing, and
helping others. He promised good things to those
who followed him. But here he was, dead from
crucifixion, and apparently good things had not
happened to him or to those who believed in him.
At this moment of sorrow and failure, his followers
had abandoned him, and he was buried in another
man's grave.
(Pause for silent reflection.)
Jesus, forgive us for the times we have measured
our success by the applause and praise of others.
Help us learn to look beneath the surface of things
with the eyes of faith. Teach us how to follow you.