Tag Archives: Passion

The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

August 28, 2020


Beheading of Saint John the Baptist depicted in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension, the Chapel of the Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel.

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist depicted in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension, the Chapel of the Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel.

August 29 is the memorial of The Passion of Saint John the Baptist.  It was known formerly as The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

Annual Memorial.  This memorial in honor of the Baptist began in the Fourth Century AD at the dedication of the Church of St. John at Sebaste in Samaria, Israel, where, according to tradition, John’s skull had been buried by his disciples.  This commemoration gradually spread to the universal church, first to the East in the Fifth Century and to Rome by the Seventh Century.

The Historical Event.  The account of the Baptist’s passion is given in two of the four gospels, the original version in Mk 6:17-29, and an edited and shortened account in Mt 14:3-12.  Biblical historians believe that the beheading of John took place at Machaerus, a fort in the desert on the east side of the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan.  It had been built by King Herod the Great as a desert hideaway, and his son, King Herod Antipas, went there occasionally.

Foreshadowing.  John the Baptist is the forerunner or precursor.  John went ahead of Jesus with his miraculous birth and his unique role as prophet, preacher, and baptizer.  These set the stage for Jesus’ own miraculous birth, as well as his baptism and his ministry as prophet and teacher.  John the Baptist’s suffering and death prefigures Jesus’ suffering and death, and the details in the account of the passion of John anticipate the Passion of Jesus.  Specific similarities include:  John spoke the truth, Jesus is truth; it was the festive occasion of a birthday, it was the festive occasion of Passover; Herodias bitterly opposed John, the religious leaders bitterly opposed Jesus; John was arrested and bound, Jesus was arrested and bound; Herod declared John innocent, Pilate declared Jesus innocent; John was held in a prison cell in Machaerus, Jesus was held in a prison cell below Caiaphas’ palace; Herod tried to please his wife, Pilate attempted to please the crowds; Herod condemned John, Pilate condemned Jesus; Roman soldiers put John to death by beheading, Roman soldiers put Jesus to death by crucifixion; John’s disciples took his body and laid it in a tomb, and Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and laid it in a tomb.

Larger Gospel Context.  Mark carefully placed the account of the Baptist’s death between two sections on the missionary work of the first apostles.  In Mark 6:7-13 Jesus sends the Twelve out two by two, and in Mark 6:30-33 the apostles return to Jesus to report what they have done.  Mark wants to show that it requires tremendous courage to speak the truth and proclaim the gospel, and that it will lead to bitter suffering.

Gospel Preview.  The Cross is not mentioned explicitly in the Baptist’s passion account, but it is Mark’s underlying mindset.  The death of John is a preview of the death of Jesus, and for John his beheading was his cross.  Everyone who is a disciple must carry their cross.

Spiritual Applications.  The Baptist had a number of outstanding spiritual qualities.   He was a fierce advocate for truth and justice, fought hard for what is right, demonstrated his faith in a very public manner, walked in straight paths and urged others to do likewise, directed attention away from himself to Jesus, had a humble estimation of himself, and endured the suffering that came his way.  These admirable traits serve as inspiration and guidance for our spiritual lives.


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The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Stations

March 30, 2018


At the last stations of the cross, we pray in sorrow but also in hope through the thirteenth and fourteenth stations.

The Thirteenth Station

When the soldiers came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead so that they did not break His legs, but one of them opened His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and Water. The body of Jesus was then taken down from the Cross and laid in the arms of His sorrowful mother.

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls,

and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.

O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy,

envelop the whole world and empty yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Hearth of Jesus

as a fount of mercy for us,

I trust in you.

~Three O’Clock Prayer of Divine Mercy, Diary of St. Faustina; 1319, St. Faustina Kowalska, 1905-1938


The Fourteenth Station

Taking the body of Jesus, Joseph wrapped it in fresh linen and laid it in his own new tomb that had been hewn from a formation of rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Although it is not easy to live in constant agony,

to be nailed to the cross of various pains,

still, I am inflamed with love by loving,

And like a Seraph I love God, though I am but weakness.

Oh, great is the soul that, midst suffering,

stands faithfully by God and does His will

and remains uncomforted midst great rainbows and storms,

For God’s pure love sweetens her fate.

It is no great thing to love God in prosperity

and thank Him when all goes well,

but rather to adore Him midst great adversities

And love Him for His own sake and place one’s hope in Him.

When the soul is in the shadows of Gethsemane,

All alone in the bitterness of pain,

It ascends toward the heights of Jesus,

and though ever drinking bitterness – it is not sad.

~Diary of St. Faustina: 995, St. Faustina Kowalska, 1905-1938


If you have enjoyed these stations, consider purchasing the devotional book with beautiful illustrations and a forward by Bishop Andrew Cozzens and an introduction by Fr. Kevin Finnegan. Find it here: A Walk of Mercy

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Garden of Mercy at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault.

Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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The Eleventh and Twelfth Stations of the Cross

March 29, 2018


Christ on the Cross.  Where are we when Christ is at the eleventh and twelfth stations?

The Eleventh Station

When they came to Golgotha, they crucified Jesus and the two criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Soul of Christ, make me holy.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, fill me with love.

Water from Christ’s side, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

Good Jesus, hear me.

Within your wounds, hide me.

Never let me be parted from you.

From the evil enemy, protect me.

At the hour of my death, call me,

and tell me to come to you that with your saints

I may praise you through all eternity. Amen.

~Anima Christi, Blessed Bernardino of Feltre, 1439-1494


The Twelfth Station

It was now about twelve o’clock noon, and there was darkness over the whole land until three o’clock in the afternoon. And Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”, that is, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” … Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit!” and He yielded up His spirit.

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord,

and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands,

without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

~Blessed Charles de Foucauld, 1858-1916

Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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The Ninth and Tenth Stations of the Cross

March 28, 2018


As we journey to the Passion, walk with Jesus through the ninth and tenth stations.

The Ninth Station

Jesus falls the third time. Exhausted by carrying his cross – carrying our sins and failures – Jesus experiences the burden of the heavy cross.

Lord, teach me to be generous,

teach me to serve you as I should,

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and ask not for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your most holy will.

~St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491 – 1556

The Tenth Station

When they reached the place called Golgotha which means skull, they offered Him wine mixed with gall. Jesus tasted it but would not take it. His blood dripped as His sticking wounds opened when they tore off His clothes.

In the terrible desert of life,

O my sweetest Jesus,

Protect souls from disaster,

For You are the Fountain of Mercy.

Let the resplendence of your rays,

O sweet Commander of our souls,

Let mercy change the world.

And you who have received this grace, serve Jesus.

Steep is the great highway I must travel,

But I fear nothing,

For the pure fount of mercy is flowing for my sake,

And, with it, strength for the humble soul.

I am exhausted and worn out,

But my conscience bears me witness

That I do all for the greater glory of the Lord,

The Lord who is my repose and my heritage.

~Diary of Saint Faustina; 1000, St. Faustina Kowalska, 1905-1938

Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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The Seventh and Eighth Stations of the Cross

March 27, 2018


Meditate slowly on the stations seven and eight.

The Seventh Station

Again, under the weight of the cross Jesus falls to the pavement. His pain and suffering we cannot fathom.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that

I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

~Thomas Merton, 1915 – 1968, Thoughts in Solitude

The Eighth Station

A great crowd of people followed Him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over Him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children.”          

Lord, human love helps me to understand divine love.

Human love at its best, unselfish, glowing, illuminating our days,

gives us a glimpse of the love of God for man.

Love is the best thing we can know in this life,

but it must be sustained by an effort of the will.

It must lie still and quiet, dull and smoldering, for periods.

It grows through suffering and patience and compassion.

We must suffer for those we love,

we must endure their traits and their suffering,

we must even take upon ourselves the penalties due their sins.

Thus we learn to understand the love of God for His creatures.

Thus we understand the crucifixion.

~Dorothy Day, 1897 – 1980, From Union Square to Rome, Published by the Preservation of the Faith Press, 1938


Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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The Fifth and Sixth Stations of the Cross

March 26, 2018


Walk with Jesus and meditate on the fifth and sixth stations today as we journey toward the Passion.

The Fifth Station

On their way out they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry the cross.

God has created me to do him some definite service;

He has committed some work to me,

which he has not committed to another.

I have my mission;

I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.

I have a part in a great work;

I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught.

I shall do good, I shall do His work;

I shall be an angel of peace,

a preacher of truth in my own place,

while not intending it,

if I do but keep His commandments

and serve Him in my calling.

~I Have a Mission, Blessed John Henry Newman, 18011890


The Sixth Station

Veronica hastily went near Jesus and wiped His face with a piece of cloth. The face of Jesus was imprinted in the cloth.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

~Attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181 – 1226


Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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The Third and Fourth Stations of the Cross

March 25, 2018


Continue your journey to the passion and slowly meditate on the Third and Fourth Stations of the Cross.

The Third Station

Weakened, prodded, cursed, and fallen, His whole Body bruised and swollen, Jesus tripped and lay in pain because of our sins. Dust and blood were seen in His Holy Face when He looked up to heaven asking God the Father to let Him redeem us sinners.

Behold me, my beloved Jesus,

weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings,

I cast myself at your feet, that you may renew my strength and my courage, while I rest here in your Presence.
Permit me to lay down my cross in your Sacred Heart,

for only your infinite goodness can sustain me;

only your love can help me bear my cross;

only your powerful hand can lighten its weight.
O Divine King, Jesus, whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted,

I wish to live in you; suffer and die in you.

During my life be to me my model and my support;

at the hour of my death, be my hope and my refuge. Amen.



The Fourth Station

There on the road to Calvary, Jesus met His afflicted Mother. They         looked at each other’s teary eyes. Oh, what sadness our loving Virgin Mother felt in meeting her suffering Son; truly, a sword pierced her heart.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, preserve in me the heart of a child,

pure and transparent as a spring.

Obtain for me a simple heart that does not brood over sorrows;

A heart generous in giving itself,

Quick to feel compassion;

A faithful, generous heart that forgets no favor and holds no grudge.

Give me a humble, gentle heart.

Loving without asking any return;
A great indomitable heart, that no ingratitude can close,

No indifference can weary;

A heart tortured by its desire for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Pierced by His love –

With a wound that will heal only in heaven.  Amen.  

 ~Prayer for the Heart of a Child, Léonce de Grandmaison, 1868-1927


Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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The First and Second Stations of the Cross

March 24, 2018


A few years ago I had the privilege of helping Fr. Kevin Finnegan put together the book “A Walk of Mercy ~ The Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross” ( the book can be found on Amazon) I wrote about my journey with the stations of the cross a few years ago.

I have started the practice of reading these stations slowly. I read and meditate on one or two stations a day.

For this next week I will post 2 stations with the illustrations and meditations so you can follow along with me on the journey through the Passion.

The First Station

Pontius Pilate connived with the will of the religious leaders. He sentenced Jesus Christ to death though He was innocent.

In every need let me come to you with humble trust, saying:  Jesus, help me!

In all my doubts, perplexities and temptations:  Jesus, help me!

In hours of loneliness, weariness and trials: Jesus, help me!

In the failure of my plans and hopes, in disappointments,

troubles and sorrows: Jesus, help me!

When others fail me, and your grace alone can assist me: Jesus, help me! When I throw myself on your tender love as a Father and Savior:

Jesus, help me!

When my heart is cast down by failure

at seeing no good come from my efforts: Jesus, help me!

When I feel impatient, and my cross irritates me: Jesus, help me!

When I am ill, and my head and hands cannot work and I am lonely:

Jesus, help me!

Always, always, in spite of weakness, falls and shortcomings of every kind:  Jesus, help me and never forsake me. Amen.

~Jesus, Help Me Prayer – Anonymous


The Second Station

Jesus accepted His Cross which was too heavy for His frail body.

Christ suffered carrying the heavy Cross to redeem us.

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,

my memory, my understanding and my whole will.

All that I am and all that I possess you have given me:

I surrender it all to you

to be disposed of according to your will.

Give me only your love and your grace;

with these I will be rich enough,

and will desire nothing more.

~St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491 – 1556


Copyright A Walk of Mercy 2016

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