Persons, places and things: My name is Simon


By Barb Arland-Fye


Each Friday during Lent as I pray the Stations of the Cross with other people in my parish, the prayers from a different station speak to my heart. The 5th station, “Simon helps Jesus,” is on my mind this week. “My strength is gone. I can no longer bear the cross alone,” the prayer begins. “And so the legionnaires make Simon give me aid. This Simon is like you, my other self. Give me your strength …” (“Everyone’s Way of the Cross” by Clarence Enzler).

In this antiphonal form of prayer, Jesus speaks to us as participants, describing his way of the cross and asking us to respond as his other self.  “Lord, make me realize that every time I wipe a dish, pick up an object off the floor, assist a child in some small task, or give another preference in traffic or the store … My name is Simon.”

The prayer echoes in my mind driving home from the office. Two sets of traffic signals trip me up. Drivers jockey for position to beat the red lights and make the coveted left turn light onto a major thoroughfare. More than once, I have given in to temptation by not granting another driver the opportunity to pass me. Then the prayer comes to mind and I will myself to “give another preference in traffic …”


I am not the only person working on traffic mercy this Lenten season. The March 8 St. Anthony Newsletter of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport included a column by its pastor, Father Rudy Juarez, who has been participating in a book discussion of Matthew Kelly’s “Holy Moments.”

Among other things, Father Rudy has decided, “1) I don’t have to drive aggressively. 2) It doesn’t really matter if I let someone in ahead of me. 3) Instead of passing judgment, maybe I should be generous and charitable and offer a prayer for them.”

God provides plenty of opportunities (nudges, maybe?) to take up Jesus’ cross as Simon did, but perhaps in smaller ways. Washing the pile of dishes after both sons have been home to have a meal with mom and dad. Sitting in a frigid ice rink for my son Colin’s sled hockey games because it’s important to him to have the four Fyes together on Sundays. Listening without interrupting when one of my family members wants to talk about an issue that frustrates him. Smiling and saying hello to someone on the riverfront. Reaching out in conversation to someone whose viewpoints differ from mine.

Taking up the cross as Simon was compelled to do requires me to leave the sometimes comfortable or safe position of bystander to serve guests in a soup kitchen with a warm welcome and conversation. I am Simon when I set aside my work to have a conversation with the 9-year-old sister of a sled hockey participant who wants to share with me everything she knows about Australia! I am Simon when I advocate on behalf of the vulnerable people in our midst, including mothers-to-be with unplanned or crisis pregnancies or immigrants who have fled their homelands because of violence, corruption or poverty.

Praying “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” during Lent is as much an exercise in compassion as in prayer. Accepting the role of Simon may begin with Lent, but it becomes the journey of a lifetime.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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