Jesus, why the three falls? I have always had problems with the three falls of the Stations. Physiologically, I can understand them, the loss of blood, weakness from dehydration, incredible agony, semi-blindness from pain and blood, pushing, shoving, crowding, whipping, prodding. But, wouldn’t one or at most two made the point? Why three?
To remind us of the Trinity, to emulate their perfect relationship, their perfect love? I don’t know the answer. We certainly have enough related threes to keep us pondering these in our hearts for years.
|1st Fall||2nd Fall||3rd Fall|
Then, the first fall. When stated that way, it, of course, reminds me immediately of the Original Sin, the great-grand-daddy of them all, the template for all future falls and failings. Is there more than a linguistic relationship between tradition’s first fall on Your way to Calvary and the fall that began it all? While some may find the analogy strained, I do not. While it is impractical to attempt to distinguish the motivation of our first parents: greed, pride, power,…it was all of them and more, we/I am always falling into the same trap. When we fall, we may skin our knee, break an arm, paralyze our torso, or even kill ourselves. Parallel severity of injury occurs to my soul when I sin. Here, unfortunately, I am much less aware of the extent of the injury in God’s eyes than I should be; I am much less sensitive to the pain and suffering I caused Jesus to undergo because of even one sin than I have any right to be. Callousness from familiarity, repetition, constant exposure, addiction, desensitivity, is not even an excuse, it itself is culpability personified. Forgive me, Jesus, for my lack of contrition, of sorrow, of understanding, of appreciation for what You have done for me.
How about the first of the threes: Greed, Poverty, the Way, Faith and the Father. Why Greed first…it was the first temptation of Christ, a clinging to things, non-active indifference to material goods…it is also the first tendency we exhibit as children. I am reminded of a snippet of a poem which describes the pre-nursery school stage of a child: What is mine is mine; what is yours is mine; everything I see is mine; everything I touch is mine. The Father, through the Son, created all for our use, not abuse. All is mine to use, to share, to give, to be actively indifferent toward, depending on its value in serving God. This is the Way, it is the Way of Faith:
Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. [Lk 6:26-7, 31-33] Jesus, I am not so naive as to think I will not fall from greed…if I were, you would have cocks crowing continuously. I humbly ask your forgiveness each of the 77×7 times I will do it and Your grace, without which I can neither seek forgiveness nor rise again to trudge on behind You.
 Excursus on my hubris and the Stations
Till now, I was playing with hubris, thinking myself smarter, better, more informed because I realized that a number of the Stations were not specifically in Scripture. Ligouri cites Hebrew Scripture texts to underpin those not described in the Gospels, but the Evangelists did not cite them in their Passion Narratives. I even looked down upon these specific Stations as being second class, a pietistic imposition on “the real story.”
Well, I don’t really know whether they actually occurred or not. We probably won’t know until we die and all is revealed. However, for the time being, our faith is built on Scripture and Tradition, not just Scripture. It seems to me that Tradition evolves in history, it is started here and continues on over time. The sensus fidei of the Church added these particular Stations to the Via Dolorosa over the course of time and it was incorporated into the piety and prayers of the faithful. Who am I to demean the faith of the Church as expressed in Tradition as well as in Scripture? Catholics do not believe in sola scriptura, but, that while the deposit of faith was complete with the death of the last Apostle, the understanding and the economy of that faith in the lives of the faithful is continually emerging in new and different forms which are tested and judged by the Spirit through the Magisterium. Thank You, God, for keeping us on track through Your continual vigilance and direction of the Church.
 Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.