March 21, 2008

Easter Supplement

Meet Jesus Christ in the Stations of the Cross

The Allstott brothers stand in front of the crucifix at Our Lady of the Springs Church in French Lick, the parish where they grew up. Pictured in this 2003 photo are, from left, front row, Michael and Jacob, and, back row, Ezekiel and Luke. (Submitted photo)

The Allstott brothers stand in front of the crucifix at Our Lady of the Springs Church in French Lick, the parish where they grew up. Pictured in this 2003 photo are, from left, front row, Michael and Jacob, and, back row, Ezekiel and Luke. (Submitted photo)

By Jacob Allstott (Special to The Criterion)

Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus died on the cross.

As followers of Christ, we pray through the Stations of the Cross in an attempt to remember what Christ endured for our salvation, but it can be rather hard to meet Christ in his sufferings.

Over the last 2,000 years, our society and lifestyles have changed dramatically so we forget what happened during the Passion of our Lord and the Crucifixion takes on more mythical proportions.

As a young man, this is how I viewed the Stations of the Cross and the Passion of Christ. I could not relate to biblical times or the spiritual significance, but on Dec. 26, 2004, all that changed.

That is the day when I took on my own cross, and it was JESUS CHRIST who came and met me in my sufferings, giving me a different perspective on what Christ did for me during the Passion.

It was a normal winter day. My three brothers, Michael, Luke and Ezekiel, and I decided to go snow sledding on an inner tube. We were having a great time.

There had been 30 inches of snowfall that Christmas week, and we were making full use of it. Then it happened.

I was sledding down the hillside face-first and the inner tube got kicked out of the chute and into the side of a tree. (Station I—Jesus is Condemned to Die)

In a split second, everything in my life changed. My thoughts went from what movie should I watch that afternoon to am I going to die today?

Time seemed to stand still as I wrapped around the tree with my right side. I just waited to hear the pop of breaking bones, while thinking that this is going to hurt.

To my surprise, I bounced back off the tree and was back on my feet trying to walk up the hill. (Station II—Jesus Carries His Cross)

I realized that all the air was trapped in my lungs. I forced it out with an excruciating cry of pain then I sunk to my knees and passed out face-first in the snow. (Station III—Jesus Falls the First Time)

My brothers must have thought that I had just died. Michael, quick to action, had Luke and Zeke go back to the house to get the car ready and call our Mom and Dad.

Michael then went down the hill on the four-wheeler to try to revive me. (Station V—Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross)

He nudged me a few times and called my name, but I did not respond. I was too heavy for him to pick me up and pack on the four-wheeler.

He was just about to ride up the hill for help when he heard me stir and say, “I’m OK, I’m OK!”

We rode up the hill and drove to the hospital. We walked straight into the emergency room, and I was so exhausted that I collapsed into a wheelchair. (Station VII—Jesus Falls the Second Time)

Michael and I were praying the whole time, but hope seemed to have left us. What we did not know was that I had ruptured my kidney on impact and pulled it away from the aorta and vena cava. (I should have bled to death in six minutes.)

I laid back on the gurney while all the doctors and nurses ran circles around me, and I prayed for God’s will to be done in my life. I knew that I could die, but I put my life in God’s hands. (Station IX—Jesus Falls the Third Time)

Then a sense of peace came over me that I had never known before. Jesus took over. It was as if I was a guest in my own body, just watching what was going on around me.

It was very sad to think about the family and loved ones I would leave behind.

I had just met the girl I had waited my whole life for, but I was OK to go meet Jesus. I just laid there and rested in the peace of Christ. I even had a nurse ask me twice why I wasn’t scared to die. I could not answer her. I simply looked back at her and said, “I don’t know.” (Station VI—Veronica Wipes Jesus’ Face)

Then I realized that my Mom had made it to the hospital. I looked up at her and saw tears in her eyes, and it broke my heart because she knew. I could tell that she knew, but there was nothing that I could do to console her. (Station IV—Jesus Meets His Mother)

They soon flew me to the University of Louisville Hospital’s Trauma Center, where I was prepared for surgery. They had to run a CAT scan to see what they were dealing with before they opened me up. The pain was unbearable as they stretched my arms over my head to send me through the machine. (Station XI—Jesus is Nailed to the Cross)

Then they were ready to operate. I remember being so exposed as I got on the operating table. I was completely naked, but did not care. (Station X—Jesus is Stripped)

I went through two life-or-death surgeries while my family and loved ones sat out in the waiting room, crying and praying. (Station VIII—Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem)

I nearly died several times that night as many doctors and nurses fought to save my life. (Station XII—Jesus Dies on the Cross)

After 10 hours of surgery, I was taken to the intensive care unit. (Station VIII—Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross)

After spending the last 15 hours in torturous conversations with doctors and the agony of not knowing if they would ever see me again, my family was finally able to come in my room. It was not pretty, though.

They had given me 18 pints of blood, 20 units of platelets and 20 units of plasma to keep me alive, but it caused my entire body to swell up like a balloon.

I hardly even looked like the son that they once knew. The doctors put me under sedation, and I spent the next few days in darkness. (Station XIV—Jesus is Laid in the Tomb)

I have few memories of meeting my family and loved ones as they poured into the hospital.

I died many spiritual deaths during my recovery and the Lenten season that followed.

Every time I prayed the Stations of the Cross, I could see that Christ really took on all of our sins and sufferings, and he carried them with the cross to the top of Calvary.

It is a truth that has redefined my relationship with Jesus. It is the defining moment of my life and my miracle.

Every doctor I have spoken to about my accident has said that there is no medical explanation for why I am alive. The human body is not supposed to endure that kind of extreme stress, but I know that “Our sorrows He [Christ] carried … And by His scourging we are healed” (Is 53:4-5).

Therefore, during this Good Friday and Holy Week, I invite you to let Christ meet you in your own sufferings of loneliness, humiliation, illness and death.

Think about what pain and sufferings you have known in this life then remember the Good News of the Gospel and that JESUS CHRIST has already carried that to the cross.

So give it to Jesus: cry for those sufferings, cry for what he endured for us, pray to be healed, and may God bless you in your journey as he has blessed me and my family!

(Jacob Allstott is a teacher at St. Jude School in Indianapolis. He is a member of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, and grew up in Our Lady of the Springs Parish in French Lick.) †

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