As the school day closed Wednesday, the Xavier students walked the road to Calvary with Jesus, opening their minds to the sacrifice the Lord made for us through his death.
"As we experience the Stations of the Cross, help us place ourselves in the story, to become a part of the event, to make the journey with you," a portion of the opening prayer said.
The Peer Ministers put on the Lenten Service in the gym. It set the stage for Holy Week and all that is to come, from Holy Thursday to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the glory of the resurrection.
During the Xavier service, with its range of emotions, came so much to think about. Jesus is sentenced to death and Pontius Pilate does nothing to prevent it.
"Pilate was interested in giving the crowd what they wanted, rather than doing the right thing. If we were in Pilates's shows, we hope that we would have made a better choice, but that is easier said than done. ... We can learn from Pilates's error, though. When we see others being treated unfairly, we can step in and be a friend." That is a message often sent to Xavier students.
When Jesus falls under the weight of the cross, a reflection comes with another message, "We should never resign ourselves to staying on the ground after we fall. Like Jesus, we should get up again, pick up our crosses and continue our journey toward God's Kingdom.
"Dear Jesus, you know how it feels to fall under the weight of the world's problems. This Lent, please pick us up when we fall and give us strength to continue."
The final scene, of course, is Jesus dying on the cross with the strength of his message of forgiveness, not condemnation or self-pity in the midst of pain and suffering: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
To conclude each scene, senior Wylie Malcom's booming voice sang out, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" Then, after the final scene, "Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?"
Headmaster Dave Eustis closed with remarks, urging all to "reflect on the love and mercy of God and how we show that love and mercy to one another."
Xavier is a private, Catholic all-boys high school in Middletown, CT.