"Lent invites us to reflect in a special way on a person's love that was so total and unconditional it led to his death. Lent is also a time when we need to examine our commitment to the Holy One's invitation to follow Jesus. How sincere are we in accepting this invitation? Do we pick what is pleasant and easy and ignore what demands sacrifice of us and even crucifixion? Are we as earnest about observing the Beatitudes as we are the Ten Commandments?
At some time or other, all of us experience doubt, insecurity, alienation, struggle, loneliness, and failure. We wonder if our lives have meaning. Have our efforts touched and influenced the lives of others? We wrestle with the responses to our dilemmas. We sense that wholeness eludes us when life becomes more fragmented than complete.
Because he was human, Jesus had experiences similar to ours. He suffered internal violence during his moments of crisis and uncertainty; he suffered external violence inflicted by those who could not control their fear and hate. When he stood upon his scaffold pinioned by iron pegs, he offered his pain to Abba, the Source of all being, who had sent him to a people lost in the mire of despair and indifference. His wrenching cries revealed the anguish he felt, and only Abba understood the depth of pain and submission voiced in his heart-rending prayers.
Yet his thoughts embraced those around him, even though his bolted arms could not. His final words became a permanent summons to compassion as well as an exclamation of the triumph of good.
We two authors share our reflections on the seven last statements of Jesus on the cross as recorded in the gospels.
Each chapter maintains a pattern. There are three segments in each chapter, in addition to the biblical selection introducing it. The first is Jesus' expression of his wringing struggles to come to grips with the will of God. The next is a reflective essay focusing on possible contemporary implications of Jesus' expressive yearnings. Finally, a prayerful response to Jesus' anguish completes the chapter.
The reflections were written by Loretta Girzaitis and the essays by Richard L. Wood.
We focus primarily on Jesus' agony on the cross, but we also include reflections on Jesus' birth, which brings him into history, and on his baptism and proclamation at Nazareth, which plummet Jesus into his ministry. We end our reflections with the resurrection and ascension since these events close the chapter on Jesus' earthly life and challenge each Christian to complete the work Jesus has left undone.
We invite you to read each chapter slowly and prayerfully. Open yourself to whatever feelings surface. Feel free, in your imagination, to become Jesus and to feel as he felt. Let your insights guide you to a prayerful response.
But it is not enough simply to feel along with this loving friend. The power of Jesus' love was such that he spent his life seeking and carrying out God's will regardless of personal effort, uncertainty, and suffering. He boldly bids us to follow his example.
Can you accept his challenge to love as he has loved, to be one with him in bringing about the reign of the Holy One? This Lent, will you consciously determine the way you will live so that God's kingdom might be present in our midst?
Jesus' stance in the face of opposition models for us the difference between smallness and greatness. We make the decision either to seek God's will as we immerse ourselves into life, or to sink into the webs of our egos to be trapped there.
Lent is the time when we deliberately examine our lives to see how closely they are aligned to Christ's. Jesus has gone before us as the way; he claims we can walk the same road. It is up to us, as individuals and in community, to continue on the way he has journeyed. May the images this book triggers become personal possibilities for you. Feel free to keep a journal as you respond to your loving Redeemer. If you are moved to share your reflections or prayers with either of the authors, you are invited to write to either or both of them via the publisher." - from the Introduction
"In Still on the Cross, Loretta Girzaitis and Richard L. Wood challenge themselves and all of us. But they do it in such a kind and encouraging way--with prose and verse that the reader will not feel that it is the usual 'guilt trip.' At least this reader felt that the book was rather the beginning of a new awareness. In so many of the sick, oppressed, and suffering, Jesus is still on his cross." - John Powell, S.J.
"These meditations urge the reader to contemplate prayerfully the humanity of Jesus, his life and example. They call all to acknowledge and respond to the authentic cry of suffering in their immediate environment and to take up the cross daily to embrace God's will in the struggle for justice. They challenge everyone 'to be in the world' and to complete the task that Jesus has begun." - Sr. Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A.
"These poignant and faith-filled meditations invite us into the desperate passion of Jesus. Through the similar experiences of more recent followers, the poor and those trying to be poor, Loretta and Richard offer us rich spiritual companionship. Come along - not for the ride - but for the passion." - Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
"It will be difficult not to pray as you read these beautifully written reflections for Lent. They embody the best of contemporary theology and spirituality. The call to conversion is urgent and the love of justice is deep. 'Tolle et lege!'" - T. Howland Sanks, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
"Don't read--unless you can handle the challenge! In a time when the Gospel is too often equated with prosperity, success and beautiful people, it is good to read something which calls us back to essentials. I have never read anything more on target about what it means to be a Christian in our contemporary world." - Rev. Paul Lowder, United Methodist Minister, Greensboro, North Carolina
"...the authors craft, from their own faith and experience, a bridge that will take you from head to heart and from Jesus to your sisters and brothers." - Clarence Thomson, NCR Cassettes, Kansas City, Missouri
"These poems and reflections carve a path into the wilderness of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection. We know the stories, the names of all the key players, the inexorable trajectory of events, but this book is an invitation to make the pilgrimage ourselves. The effect is neither to preach nor to explain, but to engage, as we try to discern where the path of our discipleship will lead us. The book deeply moved me." - Dr. Martha Stortz, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary