The following meditations are inspired by the traditions of the Way of the Cross in the parish of Brzezinka. Their aim is to commemorate those who were murdered here. When we follow the Stations of the Cross in Auschwitz-Birkenau, spiritually we follow two paths: we walk the path of the people who suffered and died here. And we walk the path of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, believing that Christ accompanied the people here on their journey.
UNUM Publishing House, Centre for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim, Kraków-Oświęcim 2012
Biblioteka Centrum Dialogu i Modlitwy 13
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In Auschwitz, believing is always a struggle for faith. Here our faith in God becomes a search for God which incessantly leads to the question, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34). In Auschwitz it is not possible to pray in any other way. We thus want to understand these Meditations of the Stations of the Cross as our struggle for God – and for Humankind. In doing so we also encounter great testimonies of faith. Empty phrases here would be an insult to the victims.
When we follow the Stations of the Cross in Auschwitz-Birkenau, spiritually we follow two paths: we walk the path of the people who suffered and died here and who on the way often lost their faith. And we walk the path of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, believing that Christ accompanied the people here on their journey. He leads us along the path to the victims, in solidarity with them, since on our own we would probably turn away from them.
Each of the Stations of the Cross is organised in the following way: a quotation from the Bible, followed by recollections of the reality of the concentration camp, some thoughts and a prayer.
Jesus is condemned to death
“When they came together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life’. And the disciples were filled with grief” (Matthew 17:22-23).
Recollections of the concentration camp:
Auschwitz concentration camp was founded in June 1940, initially for Polish and then also for Soviet prisoners of war. From 1942 the camp became the place for the industrialized mass killing of people, especially the Jews. About one million Jews, 75,000 Poles, 21,000 Sinti and Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and others were murdered here. Those who came to Auschwitz did not as a rule know what awaited them. Many have testified to the words of greeting by the camp Deputy Commander Fritsch: “You have not come to a sanatorium here but to a German concentration camp and the only way out is through the chimney of the crematorium.”
Let us pray for all who have been sentenced to death, who have been expelled from society, whom no-one needs anymore, who should simply “disappear”. Let us pray for all who have to live with the knowledge that all their dreams have been destroyed, because the political situation or the conditions of society deprive them of opportunities in their lives, as for example in current war zones, as well as in famine areas of the world.
Lord Jesus Christ, You said, “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:45). Help us to grasp the meaning of these words more and more deeply.