Meditations on the Carrying of the Cross

Richard Salbato

Before Each Hail Mary

1.  Jesus stood before Pilate and the crowds looking like a skinned animal.  “Don’t you know I have the power to crucify you or to release you?” said Pilate.  Jesus turned to him: “You would have no power over me unless it was given to you from above; therefore, those who delivered Me to you, have the greater sin.” 

Pilot turned to the crowd: “Behold your king!” They answered back: “Crucify him.  Who ever makes himself a king is the enemy of Caesar.”  It was the sixth hour of the day, and Pilot turned Him over to be crucified.

2.  The Roman soldiers put an iron belt over Jesus’ robe.  It had four metal rings on it. In these rings they hooked four ten-foot long leather straps.  At the end of each strap was one soldier.  They then tied two squared beams to a large 12 inch diameter log with the bark still on it. Two soldiers picked up the three tied peaces and placed them on Christ’s right shoulder.

They then started pulling him with the leather straps.  Crowds packed the way, making it hard to find a path up the road to Golgotha.  He started his march to His death at the same time that the lambs were being driven towards the Temple for the sacrifice of the Paschal Lambs.

3.  Two thieves came behind Jesus carrying their own crosses.  Some Roman soldiers  walked in front and the executioners behind them.  Then followed Jesus; the thieves behind him.  After came 300 Roman soldiers and then the Pharisees on horseback.  As they went up the narrow street, they came to a sudden rise with a rain ditch across the street.  The soldiers tried to pull Jesus over the ditch but he fall on His face and the beams crushed into His crown of thorns.

4. With the help of John, Mary made her way through the crowd ahead of Jesus and found a side street where She could see Her Son pass by. Jesus had to hold his head down on his left shoulder so that the crown of thorns missed the large barked beam.  When He came to the side street, He felt the presence of His Mother, and turned His bloody eyes towards Her.  In doing so, He fell to His knees.  Mary broke though the crown and fell to Her knees with Her arms around Him. “My Son!”  Although blurred by blood, Jesus looked at Her with sympathy.  He could see Her suffering Heart. “My Mother!”

5. Then the soldiers yanked Him back to His feet and started up the hill. Looking at the suffering Jesus, they realized that He would not make it to the top of the mountain.  Seeing an African Man, named Simon of Cyrene, with his three sons, they seized him to help Jesus carry the cross. Simon was filled with disgust and repugnance at the task, because he was a well respected man in his country.  But Christ looked at him with piercing eyes, and Simon grabbed the cross with strength and determination. God strengthened him in the legs to make it easier on Simon. 

6. As they trudged up the slopes of the hill, a tall, well-dressed, elegant-looking woman came forward.  She was holding a little girl by the hand.  Her name was Seraphia, and she was a cousin of John, the Baptist, and the wife of a Council Member.  She fell to her knees and offered to wipe the face of Our Lord.  Christ took the long wool cloth and pressed in on His face.  As He handed it back to her. The little girl offered him a mug of wine, but the soldiers would not let him have it. Seraphia and the little girl went back home crying.  In her house she saw that Christ had made a perfect image of his face in the cloth.  From that time on, Seraphia has been known as Veronica, meaning “true image.”   

7.  Again they went forward up the side of the mountain on the north side of the Temple. Simon still helped Jesus, and even threatened the soldiers when they hit or whipped Jesus. Without stopping, Jesus shouted out in a garbled voice:

“Woe! Woe! Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered together your children, like a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you cast Me so cruelly out of your gate.”

8.  Coming closer to the top of the mountain, Jesus came across a group of Jewish women crying at the sight of His suffering.  In tears, they offered him kerchief to wipe His face.

“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days will come when you will say: ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not born, and the paps that have not given suck.’  Then shall they say to the mountains: ‘Fall upon us and cover us.’ For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?”

This was another of Christ’s predictions of the total destruction of Jerusalem 37 years later.   

9. The road up the side of Golgotha became steeper and  more difficult for Christ to lift His feet and pull the large log.  He started to fall again, but Simon held hard to the barked log and held Him up. During the climb up the mountain, God rewarded Simon with great strength.  Simon stood in our place, accepting the crosses that God sends us, with joy and thankfulness.

10.  At the top of the mountain Jesus fell to the ground.  Simon pulled the cross off of Him, and the soldiers chased him off down the mountain.  Simon and his sons became the first disciples of Christ and helped bring the word to Africa.