AIDS Way of the Cross (Kitovu Hospital, Masaka, Uganda)
Opening Prayer: “We adore you, o Christ, as you carry your cross along the dusty roads of Masaka, Uganda. We make the way of the cross in the homes and at the bedsides of those with AIDS. We bless you because through this suffering you have redeemed the world.
1st Station: “Jesus is Condemned to Death.” He sits shocked, unable to speak. His hands tremble. Marko has just been told he has AIDS. ‘I’m going to die,’ he says.
2nd Station: “Jesus Takes Up His Cross.” He is weighed down with the knowledge that he has AIDS. How will he tell his family? What will happen to his children? He tells his brother, sells some land, arranges for his children. It’s hard. It’s a heavy cross Vincent carries.
3rd Station: “Jesus Fall For the First Time.” He cannot stand alone. The abscesses are too painful. Peter is too weak. With help he makes it home and to bed where he begins the difficult task of regaining strength, so he can pick up the cross of living with AIDS and continue his journey.
4th Station: “Jesus Meets His Mother.” She lies there waiting for her mother to return. Regina has just learned that she has AIDS and is dying. She wants to tell her mother. As they meet, a look of pain and love passes between them. ‘I have slim.’ Her mother takes her in her arms and they weep.
5th Station: “Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross.” Richard has so many decisions to make. How can he go on? When his brothers come, he tells them he is too scared to go on. They comfort him, arrange to take him home, plan transport so he can return for treatment.
6th Station: “Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus.” She lies there, too weak to clean herself. Her clothes dirty and soiled because the diarrhea is almost constant now. She’s alone. Pushed into a corridor so the smell won’t disturb others. A young nurse comes, washes her and changes her clothes. Rose smiles.
7th Station: “Jesus Falls the Second Time.” He has begun to have diarrhea and no longer wants to eat. Sleep doesn’t come and he’s afraid. The illness is getting worse. Peter has to stop work. It’s hard to keep living with AIDS.
8th Station: “Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem.” Jane has no land. Mary has no milk for her baby. Scovia’s husband sent her away when he learned she has AIDS. Juliet was put out of her rented room. Betty works in a bar to support her children, providing favors for men to get food for them. The plight of poor women and AIDS. Jesus weeps.
9th Station: “Jesus Falls the Third Time.” His head feels as if it’s bursting. Nothing brings relief. Peter lies in bed unable even to open his eyes. As the end nears, relatives arrive to move him from his rented room where he suffered alone for many months. One more step along the way.
10th Station: “Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments.” They put her out of the house and kept her clothes saying they wouldn’t fit her wasted body. They told her to go to her grandmother’s to die. Once there, she was again rejected — stripped of all, even her right to belong. Juliet was returned to the hospital like an unwanted commodity.
11th Station: “Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross.” He cannot move. Finds it hard to breathe. Must wait for someone to care for him totally. An AIDS-related brain tumor has nailed James to his bed. His mother keeps watch.
12th Station: “Jesus Dies on the Cross.” Rose, Peter, John, Alecha, Kakande, Joseph, William, George, Grace, Paulo, Goretti…Jesus’ body dying of AIDS.
13th Station: “Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross.” The wailing begins. The car reaches the homestead. As men rush forward to carry Paulo’s shrouded body, a woman comes from the house. She reaches out to touch the body of her son.
14th Station: “Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb.” A grave is dug on hospital land — only staff for mourners. Her nine-month-old child cries not understanding. The grave is filled. All go away. Rose is dead.
15th Station: “The Resurrection.” We wait!