Friday 6 May 2022

The Way of the Cross - Father Mark Toups - Praying the Psalms with Jesus

The Way of the Cross: 
Praying the Psalms with Jesus
ISBN 9781950784233

I actually picked this book up a year ago, but never got around to including it in my Lenten devotional readings. And during the rest of the year I stuck with a few specific favourite ways of the cross. I have watched a few videos of Father Mark and this year I have been working my way through all the versions of ‘Stations of the Cross’ I have as physical booklets or electronically. I was very surprised when I discovered that this one was unread. I do have an audio version of this I have used a few times. The description of this volume is:

“Experience the way of the cross as you never have before. Rather than meditating about Christ’s journey to the cross, pray with him.

Jesus, as an observant Jewish man, would have prayed the Psalms throughout the day, and drawn strength and peace from them.

In The Way of the Cross: Praying the Psalms with Jesus, Fr. Toups invites us to step closer to Christ and pray beside him, drawing strength from Scripture during his last moments before the crucifixion.”

The chapters in this book are:

Opening Prayer
First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Seventh Station
Eighth Station
Ninth Station
Tenth Station
Eleventh Station
Twelfth Station
Thirteenth Station
Fourteenth Station
Concluding Prayer
The Stabat Mater

Each station contains:

     A short reading from Scripture
     A brief meditation
     A Psalm to pray with Christ

I highlighted almost all of the introduction the first time I read this book it states:

“Like many of you, I grew up with the Stations of the Cross as a regular Lenten practice. The Stations of the Cross serve as a pilgrimage of sorts: we accompany Jesus on his journey so that we are more able to experience him during the crowning moment of his life and mission.

In his discourse with the Pharisees, Jesus says: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18, emphasis added). Jesus, then, freely chose to give his life to save us from our sins. No one forced him; he freely chose to do so for love of us.

In Matthew 26:30 we read: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” What was the hymn they sang? If Jesus was praying a hymn at this moment of his life, we would do well to pray it with him. The Passover script of antiquity reveals that the Last Supper would have ended with Jesus praying the “Hallel Psalms,” specifically Psalms 115 through 118. 

Every faithful Jewish person of his time would have prayed all 150 Psalms at least once a month, so we know Jesus prayed the Psalms throughout his life—and can safely infer that he would have prayed them during his Passion. So it is especially appropriate for us to pray and meditate on the Psalms as we celebrate the Stations of the Cross. 

Using the Psalms as words into his own heart, let us accompany Jesus on his way to the Cross.”

This version of the stations is designed for corporate use. But can easily be adapted for personal, family, or small group use. Ascension also sells it in 10 and 50 packs the 50 is at a significant discount. It is roughly a 75% discount. So you could pick up a set for use at your parish for a great price. The eBook edition is also very reasonably priced for personal or family use. A sample station from the eBook is:

Seventh Station
Jesus Falls the Second Time

LEADER: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you …
ALL: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

LEADER: Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. 
 —Psalm 31:9-10

Let us contemplate Jesus as he lies face down on the ground under the weight of the Cross and silently recites the following words of Psalm 56. (Pause)
Have mercy on me, O God, for men trample upon me; all day long foes oppress me; my enemies trample upon me all day long; for many fight against me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

ALL: In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before Godin the light of life.  —Psalm 56:1-3, 10-11, 13”

This is a wonderful station to pray. I have one criticism, I wish that The Stabat Mater, was included at each station rather than at the end of the book. The full page photos of the sculptures of the stations are wonderful and help with our time of reflection.   

Overall this is another good version of the way of the cross. It is one I can easily recommend. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

For all other reviews of Stations of the Cross click here.

Books by Father Mark Toups:
Oremus: A Guide to Catholic Prayer
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with the Holy Family
Rejoice! Advent meditations with Joseph
Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
Rejoice! Finding Your Place in the Advent Story, Journal
The Ascension Lenten Companion: Year C
The Journey to Jerusalem, A Lenten Retreat
Theotokos: Preparing for Christmas with the Mother of God

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