These verses were written in the hope that they will be another help for the reader to contemplate the Way of the Cross as if a direct witness of, perhaps even a participant in, the terrible but wonderful events of Good Friday.
With Jesus to Calvary is only a short publication, but it carries more than its weight of prayerful thoughtfulness. Written in simple language, illustrated beautifully and conjuring up the scenes of each Station, it is equally useful for both private and public following of the Way of The Cross. This little booklet will appeal to a wide range of people as, indeed, is its intention. In fact, my own plan is to place my copy prominently in the convent chapel throughout Lent so that it is available to everyone in my community, including the novices who, I think, will particularly appreciate the uncomplicated and deeply personal presentation of the familiar Stations.
Professor Raymund Donnelly MBE FRCS is a retired thoracic surgeon and the founder and President of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. In the course of his work and involvement with the Foundation, he has seen for himself a daily Way of the Cross. He has treated and supported people affected by lung cancer – patients, family members, friends and colleagues. As such, Professor Donnelly has gained a sensitive insight into suffering, an insight which has clearly given him a unique perspective from which to write With Jesus to Calvary: he can empathise with Jesus and Mary, the women of Jerusalem and Simon of Cyrene. Thus With Jesus to Calvary is an invitation both to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus and to accompany others in pain in the consciousness that, far from it being pointless, there is hope in the promise of new life.
In his concern for those who are affected by cancer, in 1998, Professor Donnelly initiated an annual ecumenical prayer service entitled ‘Pause for Hope’. This takes place in one of Liverpool’s two cathedrals and brings together Merseyside cancer charities. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Foreword to this book is written by the Archbishop of Liverpool, Patrick Kelly.
There is nothing mawkish about With Jesus to Calvary. Professor Donnelly knows from his own experience that an overly sentimental approach to suffering helps nobody, even in prayer. Good Friday made way for Easter Sunday, for Jesus and Mary and also for so many others for whom Professor Donnelly has given his time and his love. The author is encouraging his readers to be witnesses and participants in the spiritual journey made possible by treading the Via Crucis through Calvary to the Resurrection and the joy of Easter Sunday. This prayerful booklet is both hopeful and beautiful in its treatment of the Paschal Mystery which is fundamental to our faith.
The reviewer, Sr Janet Fearns FMDM, is Communications Coordinator for Missio.