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3 O’Clock Prayer
with the Stations of the Cross


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Introduction | The 3 O’clock Hour | The Stations of the Cross | Introductory Prayer | Preliminary Prayers | The Circlet of Beads | Concluding Prayer | PDF Pamphlet

THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS, also called The Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) began with Christ Himself as He carried His cross along the Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem to His crucifixion on Mount Calvary. From the earliest years of the Church, pious pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem to walk that same route and to revisit for themselves the scenes of Christ’s sorrowful Passion.

In the early years of the Church, indulgences were given for making the long and dangerous journey to Jerusalem and devoutly visiting the actual scenes of Christ’s Passion. Today, most every church has its own Stations of the Cross for the benefit of everyone who cannot visit Jerusalem itself.

The Church still gives indulgences for making the Stations of the Cross according to prescribed procedures: the stations must have been legitimately erected; fourteen crosses of real wood are required (pictures are optional); and movement must be made from one station to the next. But we can just as well make the stations into a personal devotion, regardless of whether we can get to a church.


The 3 O’clock Hour

Jesus told Saint Faustina, “I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. . . . try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour” (Diary, 1572).

Why three o’clock?

Well, remember that Scripture tells us that at three o’clock in the afternoon, on the Friday He was crucified, Jesus “gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50; see Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46), the “veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51; see Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45), and that shortly thereafter a soldier thrust his lance into Jesus’ side and “immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:34).

Theologically, this tells us that access to the “Holy of Holies” of the Temple, once limited only to the High Priest behind the veil, was given to every soul when Jesus’ heart was torn at the three o’clock hour. With His Sacred Heart opened wide, Blood and Water—love and purification, the red and white rays of The Divine Mercy—poured forth into a world darkened by sin.

What an awesome gift!

And so, because Christ died for us on a Friday, we should make every Friday into a day of penance and thanksgiving. Spiritual exercises (such as the Stations of the Cross), fasting (this is the origin of the tradition of meatless Fridays), and other practices (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1438, below) join us spiritually with Christ in His unfathomable love for us.

And, whenever possible, we should take the time out of our work, every day at three o’clock, to join with that infinite love and mercy without which we would have no work—and no life.

Download this prayer in the form of
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The Stations of the Cross


Jesus is Condemned to Death


Jesus Carries His Cross


Jesus Falls the First Time


Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother


Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross


Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus


Jesus Falls the Second Time


Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem


Jesus Falls a Third Time


Jesus is Stripped of His Clothes


Jesus is Nailed to the Cross


Jesus Dies on the Cross


The Body of Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross


Jesus is Laid in the Tomb


Introductory Prayer

The Sign of the Cross. The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy is prayed on traditional Rosary beads. But a Rosary has five decades of beads, and there are 14 Stations of the Cross. So you can make three circuits through the Rosary beads, using the 15th decade to contemplate the redemptive mercy of the Crucifixion itself, or to contemplate The Divine Mercy. Or, instead of Rosary beads, you might want to use one circuit of a Rosary ring for each station.

In any event, to begin, hold the crucifix of the Rosary in your right hand and make the Sign of the Cross, touching the crucifix to your forehead, chest, and left and right shoulders. Make the sign deliberately, and with reverence, for, when you do make the Sign of the Cross, you are mystically accepting the crucifixion of your own identity. That thought should give you pause.



IN the Name of the Father


and of the Son

(Left Shoulder)

and of the Holy

(Right Shoulder)




Preliminary Prayers

The Our Father.

By the way, be careful not to slur together the seven petitions of the Our Father (Matthew 6:9–13) like the “elemeno Ps” of the grammar school alphabet. Say this prayer slowly, carefully, and distinctly.

OUR Father, Who art in Heaven,


hallowed be Thy Name,


Thy Kingdom come,


Thy will be done,


on Earth as it is in Heaven.


Give us this day our daily bread;


and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;


And lead us not into temptation,


but deliver us from evil.


The Hail Mary.

HAIL, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed.  While still holding the crucifix, pray the Apostles’ Creed.

the Father Almighty
creator of Heaven and Earth;
and in Jesus Christ,
His only son,
our Lord,
who was conceived
by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died,
and was buried.
He descended to the dead;
on the third day
He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into Heaven,
and is seated at the right hand
of God, the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.


The Circlet of Beads

Begin each Station of the Cross (on a large, or single, bead):

ETERNAL Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

Said as a decade (on each one of the ten small beads following the large bead) for each Station:

FOR the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.


Concluding Prayer

HOLY God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (Three times)

What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).


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