Stations of the Cross

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Stations of the Cross

STATIONS OF THE CROSS
The Stations of the Cross of a Person With AIDS, written and illustrated by William Hart
McNichols. This piece was composed in 1989 when there was little in the way of treatment for those
with AIDS. Although treatment has become wonderfully more effective AIDS continues to be a life
threatening disease of even greater global consequence than it was when these prayers were written.

Dedication
These Stations are dedicated to three women
who walk courageously, faithfully, and lovingly,
beside those living and dying with AIDS...
Cissy Therese Grace
Louise Hay
Sister Patrice Murphy
Copyright © 1989 by William Hart McNichols
All Rights Reserved
Electronically Republished with the Permission of the Author


Foreword
Father McNichols has accompanied many an AIDS sufferer on the journey towards death. He has
participated as a friend in that journey and has been powerfully transformed by it.
In this short work he conveys to us, in the imagery and symbol of the stations of the Cross, the insight his
experiences have given him into the way persons with AIDS share in the sufferings of Christ. He enables his
readers to stand, as it were, at the foot of the bed just as the loyal disciples once stood at the foot of the cross
on Calvary.
I am happy to commend this work. May it be fruitful in stirring up understanding and compassion for those
affected by AIDS. May it spur us all to be with these suffering brothers and sisters as they journey toward
the Lord.
Raymond C Hunthausen
Archbishop of Seattle

Introduction
A few years ago I was asked to speak to a religious community of men about the work I had been doing with
people with AIDS.
We talked casually, back and forth, for a long time. Then one of the men decided to zero in. He asked me if I
ever saw Christ on the Cross in any of the people suffering. The question startled me because I had brought
with me a graphic depiction of an AIDS Crucifixion I had drawn during the previous Lent, and I had already
shown it to the group. Then the man began to get to his real question. What he wanted to know was how the
work had affected me personally. I answered quickly that I did not envision myself on the Cross because of
the ministry, but that I was more in the position of Mary or the beloved John standing near the one on the
Cross. He was not satisfied and persisted with, “But have you ever wondered what you are doing there? Why
has God brought you so close to the Cross?” I mumbled something coherent, as I remember now, but felt
more like a whole well of past sorrow was about to erupt. I saw vision after vision of people I had gotten to
know and lovespent so much time with. I saw again their suffering for innumerable reasons. I saw their
abandonment at times, and I left that evening with the question reverberating inside of me.
I, like many Christians of all persuasions, have been taught by the mystics and the saints that to know Jesus
one must ask to be near him in his suffering. When Julian of Norwich actually begged for this experience,
she was given a most extraordinary spiritual revelation from a vision of Christ Crucified which has fed
people for centuries. And of course there is Francis of Assisi who all but became Christ Crucified near the
end of his life when he was wounded with the stigmata.
Meditations on The Way of the Cross were originally made popular by the Franciscan mysticism which
spread like a brush fire after Francis’ death. I draw from this ancient prayer to try to uncover a part of the
spirituality of persons with AIDS. I seek to look deeper into what already can be seen, to answer why God
has called us to this profound gift of ministry to people with AIDS.
William Hart McNichols

Acknowledgements
The Stations of the Cross of a Person with AIDS is produced
with special thanks to:
Ms. Judy Vitzhum
Father Ward Oakshott
Father Thomas Allsopp
Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen

FIRST STATION
Jesus is condemned to death
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
The sky falls.
Robert goes to his doctor with some frightening symptoms. He has a persistent chest cough that will not go
away, and he has swollen glands all over his body. He has never taken the HIV antibody test to determine
whether he might be positive for the AIDS virus, but now, with all the rumors he has heard, and these
symptoms, he decides to have the test done.
In a few weeks the results are back, and his suspicions are confirmed; he has the virus inside of him. Robert
leaves the doctor’s office in a daze. He is in a kind of shock, and sees no one in the crowds of people on the
streets. By the time he finds his way to the subway, all the color has drained out of his face. His thoughts are
penetrating into the impossible; he is speechless.
Prayer
Jesus,
I am condemned to sickness.
I am condemned by my lack of love,
by my insatiable desires, by the
drugs I use to numb the emptiness and
pain, and I am condemned at times by
my own self-righteousness. Help me
Lord, to follow this way of the cross.
Amen.

SECOND STATION
Jesus is made to carry his cross
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Robert’s mind races on. Things are not that bad, he cautions himself... didn’t he just hear somewhere that only
30 percent of the people who are HIV positive actually come down with full blown AIDS?
He will conquer this thing! He will get the best doctors and all the best help available. And there will be new
drugs! The scientists will come up with a cure soon... they have to. His attitude is the key. He must keep his
attitude positive. The subway door slides open and he leaps to his feet. His energy floods back and he is
almost running now, to his apartment. His color is flushed, and he feels a flicker of joy beginning to bum again
inside. He buys a. newspaper at the comer food market and decides, inside himself, that he can and will deal
with this alone.
Prayer
Jesus,
I see now
the actual shape and
weight of my cross. Lord,
send me your strength to
bear it.
Amen.

THIRD STATION
Jesus falls the first time
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Robert walks into his apartment alone. At one time he lived there with another young man around his same
age, named Mark. Mark left two years ago for Europe, and now Robert is alone. He opens the newspaper.
There is a brief article on AIDS at the bottom of the third page. It states bluntly that medical professionals
used to think that only 30 to 40 percent of those infected by the AIDS virus ever come down with the actual
disease. Then they began to say 50 percent. Now they fear it is higher... much higher. Robert thinks his heart
will stop. Fear begins once more to seep into his whole being. He feels cold and dark. For awhile he cannot
move. He cannot call his family. Though they live not far away, they do not really know him. He cannot go
to church; he knows they have negative feelings toward Persons with AIDS. And he absolutely cannot tell
anyone at work; it could mean the loss of his job. He is afraid to tell his friends; there would be too much
unwanted attention, and he couldn’t bear being smothered right now. He must come to grips with this alone.
The icy fear covers him again, and he thinks he may vomit. He lies down on the floor to try to relax. His
heart is pounding so loud he thinks he can hear it. Robert calls in sick the next day, and in fact stays home
from work the next three days and drinks himself into a stupor.
Prayer
Jesus,
I am falling, falling, falling.
Help me now in this up-hill climb.
Send me living angels to help me
find my way and lift this cross.
Amen.

FOURTH STATION
Jesus meets his mother
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Robert remains isolated for three days. Finally, his mother gets through, calling from the family home. She
is frantic. Robert has not been answering his phone in the apartment. He has not been at work. No one has
heard from him. Is he all right? Is something wrong? Robert mutters something, but it is too hard to speak.
He’s beginning to choke up at the sound of his mother’s voice and he feels like a lonely little child again. She
begs him to come home - just for supper. He reluctantly agrees to a weekend night.
Saturday comes, and in the late afternoon Robert is on the subway- again in an enclosed world. He sees the
people now but they seem so distant and unreal. They are the nonchalant, they are the carefree... the living.
They cannot know what he feels... what he carries. He feels poisoned, unclean, leprous, untouchable. His
eyes burn from trying to hold back the rage and the tears.
Robert winces as his parents embrace him. The evening seems endless, until at last he decides he must say
something. He slowly unravels the story of his visits to the doctor. The fact that he has the HIV virus means
he could develop AIDS-related infections. His parents gape in disbelief. They pour out their doubt. He must
be wrong. He must get another doctor; the city doctors are too busy; they’re unreliable; they have him mixed
up with someone else. How could he have gotten it anyway? Is he taking drugs? The other alternative is
impossible. Religions are clear about “those people” - and no one in their family could be one of “them”...
could he?
Robert manages to calm them down. He doesn’t want to try to explain too much at once. He’s tired and just
wants to leave, but he thinks his heart will break as his mother dissolves into tears and hugs him good-bye.
Prayer
Mary,
my mother, our mother, your son
is still walking, staggering,
exhausted and bleeding. Meet him
with your love along the way.
Amen.

FIFTH STATION
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Another nearly sleepless night, until around 4 a.m. Robert falls asleep and into a dream. In the dream he sees a
little Boy standing near a large barren cross planted in a pool of water encircled by green stones which seem to
have lights inside them. The Boy motions to Robert to come and help him transplant the cross. As Robert draws
near and tries to lift the cross, it turns to solid metal. It is unbearably heavy, and too cold and sharp-edged to
touch. Robert looks dismayed and searchingly at the little Boy. The Boy takes Robert’s left hand and places it at
the center of the cross, and places his own little palm onto the side of Robert’s face. Robert feels weak and
warm. He closes his eyes and feels that he is falling through the sky, but without fear. When he opens his eyes
again the Boy is gone and the cross is small and weightless and filled with light, and Robert is holding it in his
hands.
He comes out of the dream startled, looking for the light, and for the world of the dream. Suddenly he
realizes he has overslept! He dresses fast, but there is a strange peace, a lingering of the feeling of the
dream. He is rushing, but cannot seem to make himself worry. At this thought he laughs out loud.
Outside he grabs a coffee and the newspaper and descends into the subway. Before his stop he reads a
section on health and a feature article on GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis), which has been established to
help persons with AIDS, ARC and the “worried well.” Robert calls the number listed, secretly from work,
and asks to speak to a counselor. A man named Diego answers, and offers to see Robert that day after work.
Diego is a radiantly confident man. He seems indomitable, and yet his warmth opens up something in
Robert. They sit down, and Diego lets Robert speak. Somehow, just being able to tell the story to someone
who can receive it is a great relief, and Robert feels light and hopeful. He leaves with a wealth of
information. He has the names of doctors, nutritionists, social workers, a list of support groups for men and
women, and healers of all denominations. He is given the names of books on holistic health, creative
visualization, and the name of a woman who writes books and makes tapes especially for people with
AIDS. Robert hugs Diego good-bye. He finds himself crying quietly as he leaves with a new sense of joy.
Prayer
Jesus,
Thank you for the men who help me
to bear my cross. Thank you for those
with the courage to step out of the
crowd.
Amen.

SIXTH STATION
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Robert rushes out to find the books. He can’t believe there are so many books on healing and health! Why
didn’t he know all this before? He finds the tape that he was told about, produced by a woman named Louise
Hay, and a book by another woman on creative visualization. When he gets home, Diego calls. Knowing
Robert is Catholic, he has made contact with a Sister Patrice, who works in the Supportive Care Program of
a Catholic hospital. He asks if Robert would like a volunteer from the program, someone to talk with. Robert
hesitates. What kind of volunteer... what will they do to him? Diego assures him of his trust in Sister Patrice.
He gives Robert the number of a woman named Cissy and leaves it up to him to call. Robert calls. She
seems nice on the phone. They set up a time to meet in a week.
That night, and for the rest of the week, Robert listens to the tape. As he listens, he begins to feel he has
never heard so much love and compassion from one person. The tape speaks of love, of God, of forgiveness
of self and others, and healing... healing... healing. She helps him think deeply about the negativity in his
life, the prejudice he has experienced... the tremendous anger and holding of frustration as a result. His spirit
is quiet as he listens. There are also moments of great humor, poignant sorrow, and even times he finds he
cannot connect with her message at all. But over all he is grateful. He falls asleep thanking God for Louise
Hay and her words of healing love.
At the end of the week Cissy comes. She listens, and they talk for hours. She is small and simple. She is a
recovering alcoholic who has struggled herself, and knows the cross and suffering intimately. Her mere
presence pours out love to Robert, and he feels, somehow, the presence of God. She asks hesitantly if she
might pray with him. He agrees instantly and relaxes back in a big armchair. Cissy holds his hand, and
places her other hand on his head. She crosses his palms and forehead with simple blessed oil, and prays
spontaneously for his healing of body, spirit, and emotions. Robert falls into a deep sleep and doesn’t hear
her leave. He dreams that a woman has just washed his face, and instead of the dirt and the shame he feels
on the outside, on the towel is a picture of his inside... and it looks very much like Christ.
Prayer
Jesus,
Thank you for the women who
show me your face. Thank you
for all those women who gave us
birth, who taught us, disciplined us,
loved us-- washed us inside and out...
Send them your comfort.
Amen.

SEVENTH STATION
Jesus falls the second time
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Listening to the Louise Hay tape, Robert begins to see what it must be like to have some respect for himself.
Growing inside are the beginnings of self love, and a sense of the spiritual he has always heard about, but
never dreamed was available to him. He also meets with a support group once a week, and by listening and
speaking, he feels a sense of community for the first time. Here is a place he can speak the truth without fear.
The thought crosses his mind that this is what it must be like for some Christians who speak about
community. Cissy comes regularly to visit, prays with him, brings him spiritual books, gifts, and a beautiful
turquoise blanket to wrap around himself when he prays. The blanket vaguely calls up an image of the
Blessed Mother he has seen as a child, and he feels a kind of presence of Mother Mary surrounding him when
he prays. He thinks now that he has not felt so much love since Mark left for Europe.
Without warning, there are new symptoms-diarrhea and continual night sweats. Three or four times a night he
must get out of bed and change all the sheets and his night clothes. Everything is soaked all the way through.
He is badly shaken now by fear, and sits up one night trying to face the fact that the HIV infection is leading
to serious, maybe life-threatening illness. Then one evening, going up the stairs to his apartment, Robert is
gripped - jolted by a pain in his chest. He can hardly make it into his apartment. He is gasping for breath as he
calls Diego, who immediately calls an ambulance.
Prayer
Jesus,
I am face down again. I fear
the agony ahead - death terrifies me.
I am now the laughing-stock of everyone...
People run from me. Hurry to help me
Lord, hurry.
Amen.

EIGHTH STATION
The women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Robert is rushed to a hospital. Hour after hour he writhes in pain in a corner of the emergency room. After
what seems an eternity, he is taken to a room. A day later he is given the diagnosis of PCP, pneumocystis
carinii pneumonia. He knows this means that he now has AIDS. His mind goes blank - partly in horror, partly
in relief. He is given much medication for the pneumonia, to clear the infection in his lungs, and he is given
something to help him sleep. He overhears that if the infection becomes worse and the struggle to breathe
becomes critical, he will have to go on a respirator. He falls asleep, but this time there are no dreams - only
darkness.
The medication seems to work, but the days of pain and fear drag on. Robert begs, in prayer, for some sign of
God’s love.
One afternoon a man stands in the doorway wearing plastic gloves, a hospital gown and mask. He tells Robert
he is a minister, and gives his name.
His voice is so muffled by the mask that Robert cannot understand him, so he asks him to please speak up.
The man declares that Robert is a homosexual, and that the Bible condemns such people. He quotes passages
about dogs, perverts, and sodomites. He promises Robert will not enter the Kingdom of God. He demands that
Robert repent, yet he will not come past the doorway. Robert declines the offer, and the man storms out.
Robert hears him shouting down the hall about lust and fornication. For the next four days, the man returns
and continues the assault, hurling passages on sexuality and condemnation. At the end, he calls out in a loud
voice about demonic possession, waving his arms toward Robert’s bed. Robert feels he has fallen into a
nightmare which might possibly be worse than all the physical pain he has already endured. He forbids the
man to come again, and regains some sense of peace.
When he is strong enough, he is moved to the downtown hospital. Soon there is a knock on his door. A woman
steps inside and announces herself as Sister Patrice of the Supportive Care (hospice) Program. She speaks of a
care that is physical, spiritual, emotional and financial. She is so warm and loving, Robert thinks this must be
the angel he prayed for. She talks about the love of God, and he can’t quite contain it all, but she touches his
hand upon leaving and he knows.
Prayer
Jesus,
I see all those weeping around me--
They wish to help me, but also
to keep me here. Yet, it seems you have called
me Home. Help us all to see we belong
only to you, and to be unafraid when
the time comes for each one to return
to you. Amen.

NINTH STATION
Jesus falls the third time
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
A shower of love... the hospice group seems to heal all that went before of the nightmare brush with the man
at the other hospital. The nurses are incredible; not only are they caring in a professional sense, but they also
befriend Robert. He develops a friendship with a young nurse named Daisy, of the night staff. She pushes
him to keep eating, she watches his moods and urges life when he loses hope. Sister Patrice is there often,
and makes her staff of nurses and social workers and volunteers available. He asks her one day if there is a
priest he could talk with. She laughs heartily and says “yes!” That afternoon Father Daniel comes by. He is a
poet, writer and a man who has poured out his life in the cause of world peace. He is somewhere in his
sixties, Robert guesses. Robert thinks he has never seen such wisdom and lines of suffering in one face
before. They talk for some time. Robert pours out his life - the troubles, confusion... the blessings of family
and friends. At the end of the story, he confesses and asks forgiveness for those who have hurt him and those
he has hurt.
Father Daniel gives him absolution and the sacrament of the sick. That night a eucharistic minister brings
him communion.
The next day he is filled again with hope. The doctor notices Robert’s uplifted spirits and cannot help but feel
it himself. He does a routine examination and suddenly stops. The look on his face falls, and his mouth
closes. He notices a small purple spot on the back of Robert’s leg and one on the side of his right arm.
Prayer
Jesus,
I cannot move. The sickness, the fear,
have paralyzed me. Hope is now but a
memory... “By day I cry out and at night
I clamor in your presence.” Amen.

TENTH STATION
Jesus is stripped of his garments
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
The doctor explains that Robert has a form of cancer, KS, Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Throughout the next few weeks
there are other complications. He is given drugs which do not agree with him, and one which causes terrible
hallucinations. The room seems to spin round about and he sees specters and ghastly images darting in and out
of the room. He screams aloud, but no one is able to calm him, no one is able to convince him that there’s
nothing there.
Months later as the KS progresses, Robert begins chemotherapy. He becomes nauseous at times, and loses his
hair. He can hardly eat and has to be fed intravenously. The staff becomes more attentive. His friends are there
too. Flowers fill the room. But there is no comfort. He tries to pray but cannot find the peace and the hope
anymore. He feels stripped of everything.
Prayer
Jesus,
The stripping has begun... my body,
my pride, my family, my friends,
this earth, these skies, the trees,
the seasons and holidays -I will
never see any of this again.
Amen.

ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus is nailed to the cross
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
One day Robert wakes to find a blank spot in one eye. He panics and calls for the doctor. More blood is taken,
examination after examination ensues, and he is diagnosed further with CMV, cytomegalovirus. The
chemotherapy is working on the lesions on the exterior of his body, but the doctor has discovered there are
lesions now internally, and Robert knows inside himself that he is dying.
A week later he calls for Father Daniel again and asks him to help him plan his funeral. He wants that reading he
once heard about the boy who died and was healed by the elderly prophet who reclined atop the boy and
breathed divine life back into him. And he asks to have the beatitudes for the Gospel reading. He and Father
Daniel read together...
Blessed are the poor in spirit...
Blessed are the sorrowful...
Blessed are the gentle...
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness...
Blessed are the merciful...
Blessed are the pure in heart...
Blessed are the peacemakers...
Blessed are they who are persecuted for justice...
And Blessed are you when they revile you, and speak every evil against you, lying because of me...
Prayer
Jesus,
The ring of the hammer is terrifying,
my head and heart are pounding--
I see nothing but red. All my bones
are numbered, and for my possessions
they have cast lots. Amen.

TWELFTH STATION
Jesus is raised upon the cross and dies
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have redeemed the world.
One month later Robert undergoes another severe attack of pneumonia. This time he must be put on a
respirator. For three days he struggles to breathe, and finally he is given a paralyzing drug to help him stop
fighting the machine. He can hear everything and everyone around him, but he cannot move. Nurses and
friends mop the sweat off his body and forehead. His mouth is cracked and bleeding. On the seventh day he
dies. But something strange happens. Two people, a man and a woman, appear at the foot of the bed. The
woman disconnects all the tubes and apparatus binding him and the man lifts him from the bed and carries him
out the door of the room, through a dark passage and into a glowing white light. The light gradually turns a
radiant gold. Robert realizes he is no longer in his body, and that he is approaching the throne of God and a
multitude of spiritual beings. God speaks to the man who carried Robert and asks him to lay “the child” down
at His feet. God summons the heavenly beings to rise and extend their hands over Robert and to send their
healing love to him. Then God asks the man to place Robert in the arms of Mary. She is wrapped in the
familiar turquoise blanket and holds him most tenderly. She passes him gently to the Archangel Michael,
Michael hands him to the Archangel Gabriel, Gabriel gives him to the Archangel Raphael, Raphael gives him
to Aloysius Gonzaga, Aloysius gives him to the little Therese, Therese gives him to Catherine of Siena,
Catherine gives him to Francis of Assisi. Robert cannot “see” all these spirits distinctly; he rather feels who
they are, and marvels at how each one had been a guide at one time or other, when he was on earth. Then
something happens with Francis. Robert feels he is grieved and frowning. Robert asks him what is the matter,
and Francis laments that there is someone Robert has yet to forgive. “Who?” Robert begs. And Francis says,
“Yourself.”
God calls the carrier who brought Robert and has been silent at the throne, to again lift Robert into his arms.
“He has been healed,” God says, “Take him back.” The man hesitates and then says to God, “But there are
many more.” “Then bring them, too,” God answers.
Prayer
God my Father,
Where are you now?
You who formed me, you who
promised me the kingdom?
I see nothing now but a
dark wall rising to the stars.
“Eli, Eli, Eli lama sabacthani!” Amen.

THIRTEENTH STATION
Jesus is taken down from the cross
and placed in the arms of his mother
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
Robert is back in the intensive care unit. He is still attached to the respirator. He panics. He is healed, but no
one knows! Why don’t they see? Why don’t they unhook him? The next day the doctor notices an incredible
improvement in his breathing; such a marked change that Robert is taken off the respirator. Robert believes
he has been completely physically cured. Three days later he is sitting up in a chair in a regular hospital
room. The staff is awed. Robert tells a friend the story of his having died and come back. Breathlessly he
gasps out the entire story of God and the heavenly kingdom of spiritual beings. He is terribly excited and
promises to write the whole story down for everyone who is suffering. He is joyful and peaceful and is
making plans to go back to work, and to work in a healing capacity. One month later, Robert has another
attack of pneumonia, and calmly refuses to go on the respirator... that night he dies in his mother’s arms.
Prayer
God our Mother,
My mother was bleeding and in agony
when I came into the world. May she
hold me now, as 1 pass into the womb of
the dark tunnel - to pass into the
Light of your presence.
Amen.

FOURTEENTH STATION
Jesus is laid in the sepulcher
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy cross,
you have
redeemed the world.
There are true stories of families, friends and lovers carrying the bodies of their loved ones in the trunks of
their cars in plastic garbage bags, trying to find a funeral home to take the dead. It will probably be a while
before the full truth of these stories becomes public. Imagine the grief and frustration of not being able to bury
someone you love. Most relatives and friends of people who have died of AIDS cannot even, or dare not even,
speak of the circumstances surrounding the sickness and death. These people grieve in solitude and are often
plagued by a sense of fear and shame. The isolation of their suffering is also part of the disease.
But there are funeral homes which have been gracious and comforting. One in particular that has taken people
who have died of AIDS - even from the beginning is Reddens Funeral on West 14th Street in Manhattan... they
are the Josephs of Arimathea in our Way of the Cross.
Robert is taken to Reddens, and from there, to the Capuchin church of St. John the Baptist for the funeral. As
Father Daniel is away, another friend of Robert’s celebrates the mass and gives the eulogy. He is a Capuchin
friar, Father Sigmund, and he speaks with great respect for Robert and his life. Robert had made many visits to
this church during the time of his spiritual reawakening, and found much comfort from the friar. Father
Sigmund speaks of the profound effect Robert has had on his own life. He speaks of Robert’s youth and of his
extraordinary hospital experience of the unconditional love of God. Robert’s friends and family weep with a
sense of deep loss, and yet feel a sense of wonder at all that has happened. The mass ends with the singing of
“May the Angels Take You into Paradise.” The priest and family and friends process out with the casket
covered in white, and the choir sings the final hymn, Bach’s devotional classic...
“Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring.”
Prayer
Jesus,
There is a curious lifting of my
spirit. l see now all my family
and friends mourning over my body,
yet I am not there. l am flying --
no, travelling -- through some darkness,
yet there is no fear along the way.
Amen.

FIFTEENTH STATION
Jesus rises from the dead
V. Exult all creation around God’s throne!
Rejoice O earth in shining splendor, radiant
is the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered death! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!
R. Jesus Christ is risen!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Robert is one of thousands of men, women, and children who have died of AIDS in the United States and
Europe. In Africa, where there is a twenty-five year history of AIDS, whole villages have been decimated.
Millions will die ...millions.
Robert’s is but one story. There are similar stories, and there are stories which are very different in the
specifics and details. But they all share the suffering from the disease and the suffering from their own
cultures and religions. Yet there are many signs of hope. Christ promised his disciples we would meet him
in the simple, the poor and the outcast. The miracle of healing for those called to this work, is that they
actually meet Christ and are converted themselves to a greater love and life in solidarity with the blessed
poor.
When Francis of Assisi was twenty five, and on his passionate journey towards light and conversion, he
was inspired one day to leap off his horse and to embrace and kiss a leper passing by on the road. Francis
was desperate for conversion and was coaxed by the Spirit into touching the leper, who healed Francis in
was desperate for conversion and was coaxed by the Spirit into touching the leper, who healed Francis in
return.
And so let us end with words of hope - words of promise for all who are searching for the royal house of
the Son of David, for all those hungering for God, for conversion, for new life... for vocation:
“Fear not little flock;
for it has pleased your Father
to give you
the kingdom.”
Prayer
My Lord and my God,
Words cannot express what
awaits us. l have seen my life
in succession, in a vast array
of images. St. John of the Cross’
prophecy is true:
“In the evening of life
you will be judged
by love.”
Amen.