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"Jesus Filled Death With Love!"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2006 (Zenit) - The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today released a translation of the text of the Way of the Cross that Benedict XVI will lead at the Colosseum this Good Friday.

* * *

Way of the Cross at the Colosseum

Led by Benedict XVI
Good Friday 2006

Meditations and Prayers Composed by Archbishop Angelo Comastri,
Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City,
President of the Fabric of St. Peter's


A Few Words Along the Way

In making the "Way of the Cross," we are struck by the certainty of two things: the destructive power of sin and the healing power of God's Love.

The destructive power of sin: The Bible never tires of repeating that evil is evil because it hurts us: Sin is self-punishment; it carries its own retribution. A few texts of Jeremiah clearly make this point: "They went after worthlessness, and became worthless themselves" (2:5); "your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you; know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you" (2:19); "your crimes have made all this go wrong, your sins have deprived you of all these favors" (5:25).

Isaiah is equally insistent: "Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: because you reject this word, and trust in oppression and deceit, and rely on them; therefore this iniquity shall become for you like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse; its crash comes suddenly, in an instant; its breaking is like that of a potter's vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found for taking fire from the hearth, or dipping up water out of the cistern" (30:12-14). And, voicing the deepest convictions of God's People, the Prophet cries out: "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away" (64:6).

The Prophets likewise denounce the hardness of heart that leads to appalling blindness and prevents us from perceiving the gravity of sin. Let us listen again to Jeremiah: "For from the least to the greatest of them, every one is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, every one deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace. They acted shamelessly, they committed abomination, yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush" (6:13-15).

Jesus entered into this history ravaged by sin, and took upon himself the burden and brutality of our sins. When we look upon Jesus, we see clearly the destructive power of sin and the sickness of our human family. Our own sickness! Yours and mine!

Yet -- and this is the second certainty -- Jesus countered our pride with humility; he countered our violence with gentleness; he countered our hatred with the Love that forgives. The Cross is the event which enables God's Love to enter into our history, to draw close to each of us, to become a source of healing and salvation.

Let us never forget: from the beginning of his ministry Jesus had spoken of "his hour" (John 2:4), of the hour "for which he had come" (John 12:27). It was an hour which he joyfully welcomed, when, at the beginning of his Passion, he cried out: "The hour has come!" (John 17:1).

The Church treasures this memory, and in the Creed, after professing that the Son of God "became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man," she goes on to say: "For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried."

For our sake he was crucified! Jesus, at his death, embraced the tragic experience of death as it had been fashioned by our sins; yet, in his death, Jesus filled death itself with Love, he filled it with the presence of God. By Christ's death, death itself was vanquished, for he filled death with the one power capable of canceling the sin that had spawned it: Jesus filled death with Love!

Through faith and baptism, we have access to the death of Christ, to the mystery of the Love by which Christ himself tasted and conquered death ... and this in turn becomes the first step of our journey back to God, a journey which will end at the moment of our own death, a death experienced in Christ and with Christ: in Love!

As you begin this "Way of the Cross," let Mary take you by the hand. Ask her for just a bit of her humility and docility, so that the Love of Christ Crucified will be able to enter your heart and re-create it after God's own Heart.

God bless you on your way!

+ Angelo Comastri

--- --- ---

Opening Prayer

The Holy Father:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

Lord Jesus,
your Passion
is the whole of human history:
a history where the good are humiliated,
the meek ... assaulted,
the honest ... crushed,
and the pure of heart roundly mocked.

Who will be the winner?
Who will have the last word?

Lord Jesus,
we believe that you are the last word:
in you the good have already won,
in you the meek have already triumphed,
in you the honest have received their crown,
and the pure of heart shine like stars in the night.

Lord Jesus,
tonight we walk once more the way of your cross,
knowing that it is also our way.
One certainty lights up our path:
the way does not end at the cross
but continues beyond,
to the Kingdom of Life,
to a torrent of joy,
the joy which no one can ever take from us![1]


O Jesus, I stand in sorrow
at the foot of your cross:
I myself have helped erect it by my sins!
Your goodness which offers no resistance,
and allows itself to be crucified,
is a mystery beyond my grasp;
it leaves me profoundly troubled.

Lord, you came into the world for my sake,
to seek me out and to lead me
the Father's loving embrace:[2]
the embrace for which I long!

You are the very Face
of beauty and of mercy:
that is why you want to save me!

Within me is so much selfishness:
come to me with your boundless love!

Within me is pride and malice:
come to me with your meekness and humility!

Lord, I am the sinner needing to be saved:
I am the prodigal son needing to return!
Lord, grant me the gift of tears,
that I may discover anew freedom and life,
peace with you, and in you, joy.

--- --- ---

Jesus is condemned to death

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:22-23,26)

Pilate said to them: "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?"
All of them said: "Let him be crucified!"
Then he asked: "What evil has he done?"
But they shouted all the more: "Let him be crucified!"
So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus,
he handed him over to be crucified.


We know this scene of condemnation all too well:
we see it played out daily!
But one question troubles our hearts:
why does God allow himself to be condemned?
Why does God, the Almighty,
show himself clothed with weakness?
Why does God let himself be attacked by pride, insolence
and human arrogance?

Why does God remain silent?

God's silence pains us,
it is our testing and trial!
But it is also what purifies
our hasty judgments,
and heals our thirst for revenge.

God's silence
is the soil in which our pride dies
and true faith springs up,
a humble faith,
a faith which does not challenge God,
but surrenders to him with childlike trust.


how easy it is to condemn!
How easy to throw stones:
the stones of judgment and slander,
the stones of indifference and neglect!

Lord, you chose to stand
on the losing side,
on the side of the ignominious and the condemned![3]

Help us never to cause pain
to our vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Help us to take a courageous stand
in defense of the weak.
Help us to reject the water of Pilate,
which does not cleanse our hands
but sullies them with innocent blood.

+ All:

Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Stabat Mater dolorosa,
iuxta crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

--- --- ---

Jesus takes up his Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:27-31)

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying:
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.


In Christ's passion, hatred was unleashed:
our own hatred, and the hatred of all humanity.[4]
In Christ's passion,
our evil recoiled before goodness,
our pride exploded with resentment
in the face of humility,
our depravity was outraged
by God's radiant clarity.

And thus we became ... God's cross!

We, in our silly rebellion,
we, with our foolish sins,
have made a cross of our own anxiety
and our own unhappiness: we devised our own punishment.

But God takes the cross upon his shoulders,
our cross,
and he confronts us with the power of his love.

God takes the cross!
Unfathomable mystery of goodness!
Mystery of humility, which shames us
at our unbending pride!


Lord Jesus,
you entered human history
and found it hostile to you,[5] defiant toward God,
maddened by the pride
which leads us to think
that we stand as tall
... as our shadow!

Lord Jesus,
you did not attack us,
but let yourself be attacked by us,
by me, by everyone!

Heal me, Jesus, by your patience,
cure me by your humility,
cut me down to my rightful size,
that of a creature, a tiny creature
... yet the object of your infinite love!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

--- --- ---

Jesus falls for the first time

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:4-6)

Surely he has born our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and by his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned everyone to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


In our human way of thinking, God is incapable of falling,
... and yet he falls. Why?
It cannot be a sign of weakness,
but only a sign of love:
a message of love for us.

Falling beneath the weight of the cross,
Jesus reminds us that sin is a heavy burden,
sin lowers us and destroys us,
sin punishes us and brings us evil:
in a word, sin is evil![6]

Yet God still loves us and desires what is good for us;
his love drives him to cry out to the deaf,
to us, who are unwilling to hear:
"Abandon sin, because it hurts you.
It takes away your peace, your joy;
it cuts you off from life, and dries up within you
the very source of your freedom and dignity."

Abandon it! Abandon it!


we have lost our sense of sin!
Today a slick campaign of propaganda
is spreading an inane apologia of evil,
a senseless cult of Satan,
a mindless desire for transgression,
a dishonest and frivolous freedom,
exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness
as if they were new heights of sophistication.

Lord Jesus,
open our eyes:
let us see the filth around us
and recognize it for what it is,
so that a single tear of sorrow
can restore us to purity of heart
and the breadth of true freedom.
Open our eyes,
Lord, Jesus!

+ All: Pater noster ...

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
mater Unigeniti!

--- --- ---

Jesus meets his Mother

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Luke (2:34-35, 51)

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother:
"Behold, this child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed -- and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.
Then he came down with them and went to Nazareth. And his mother kept all these things in her heart.


Every mother is love made visible,
an abode of tender affection
and undying fidelity.
Because a true mother loves,
even when she is not loved in return.

Mary is the Mother!
In her, womanhood is unalloyed,
and love is not poisoned by the waves of selfishness
that constrict and smother human hearts.

Mary is the Mother!

Her heart faithfully accompanies
the heart of her Son,
shares in his sufferings, carries his cross,
and itself feels the pain
of every wound inflicted on the body of her Son.

Mary is the Mother!
She continues to be a Mother,
for us, for ever!


Lord Jesus,
we all need a Mother!
We need a love
that is faithful and true.
We need a love
that never wavers,
a love that is a sure refuge
at times of fear,
at times of pain and trial.

Lord Jesus,
we need women:
wives and mothers
who can restore to our world
the fair face of humanity.

Lord Jesus,
we need Mary:
the woman, the wife and the mother,
who never cheapens or refuses love!

Lord Jesus, we pray to you
for all the women of the world!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Quae maerebat et dolebat
pia mater, cum videbat
Nati poenas incliti.

--- --- ---

Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene to carry his Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:32; 16:24)

As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.

Jesus told his disciples:
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.


Simon of Cyrene,
you are one of the little ones, the poor,
a nameless man from the countryside,
someone overlooked by the history books.

And yet you made history!

You wrote one of the most beautiful chapters
in the history of mankind:
you carried the cross of Another,
you lifted the cross,
and prevented it from crushing its victim.

You restored dignity to us all,
by reminding us that we become truly ourselves
only when we stop thinking only about ourselves.[7]

You remind us that Christ is waiting for us
in the street, on the landing,
in hospital, in prison,
in the outskirts of our cities.
Christ waits for us![8]

Will we recognize him?
Will we help him?
Or will we die in our selfishness?


Lord Jesus,
love is fading away,
and our world is becoming cold,
inhospitable, intolerable.
Shatter the chains that hold us back
from reaching out to others.
Help us, through love, to find ourselves.

Lord Jesus,
our affluence is making us less human,
our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation,
and our society's incessant, tedious message
is an invitation to die of selfishness.

Lord Jesus,
rekindle within us the spark of humanity
that God placed in our hearts at the dawn of creation.
Free us from our decadent narcissism,
and we will find new joy in life
and burst into joyful song.

+ All: Pater noster ...

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

--- --- ---

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:2-3)

He had no form or comeliness
that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces.

From the Book of Psalms (42:2-3)

As the deer longs for flowing streams
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirst for God,
for the living God.


The face of Jesus is bathed with sweat,
streaming with blood,
covered with abusive spittle.
Who would dare draw near him?

A woman!
A woman steps out of the crowd,
keeping alight the lamp of our humanity,
... and wipes his Face
and finds his Face!

How many people today have no face!
How many people are relegated
to the margins of life,
exiled, forsaken,
by an apathy that kills the apathetic.

Only those afire with love are truly alive,
those who bend low before Christ who suffers
and awaits us in those who are suffering: today!

Today! For tomorrow will be too late![9]


Lord Jesus,
a single step
and the world could change!

A single step,
and peace could return to families,
a single step,
and the needy would no longer be alone;
a single step,
and the suffering could feel a hand
reaching out to take their hand
... and bring healing to both.

A single step,
and the poor could find a place at table,
lifting the sadness haunting the tables of the selfish,
who find no joy in feasting alone.

Lord Jesus,
a single step is all it would take!

Help us to take that step,
for our world is slowly depleting
all its store of joy.
Help us, Lord!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Quis non posset contristari
piam matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

--- --- ---

Jesus falls for the second time

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (12:1)

You are righteous, O Lord,
when I complain to you.
Yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

From the Book of Psalms (37:1-2,10-11)

Fret not because of the wicked,
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more,
though you look well at his place, he will not be there,
but the meek shall possess the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.


Our arrogance, our violence, our injustices
all press down upon the body of Christ.

They weigh upon him ... and he falls a second time,
to show us the unbearable burden
of our sins.
But what is it that today, in particular,
strikes at Christ's holy body?

Surely God is deeply pained
by the attack on the family.
Today we seem to be witnessing
a kind of anti-Genesis,
a counter-plan, a diabolical pride
aimed at eliminating the family.

There is a move to reinvent mankind,
to modify the very grammar of life
as planned and willed by God.[10]

But, to take God's place, without being God,
is insane arrogance,
a risky and dangerous venture.

May Christ's fall open our eyes
to see once more the beautiful face,
the true face, the holy face of the family.
The face of the family
which all of us need.


Lord Jesus,
the family is one of God's dreams
entrusted to humanity;
the family is a spark from Heaven
shared with all mankind:
the family is the cradle where we were born
and are constantly reborn in love.

Lord Jesus, enter our homes
and lead us in the song of life.
Rekindle the lamp of love
and make us feel the beauty
of being bound to one another
in an embrace of life:
a life warmed by God's own breath,
the breath of the God who is Love.

Lord Jesus,
save the family,
and save life itself!

Lord Jesus,
save my own family,
save our families!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis
et flagellis subditum.

--- --- ---

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Luke (23:27-29,31)

A great number of people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed!'
For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"


The tears of the mothers of Jerusalem
flood with pity the path trod by the Convict,
soften the ferocity of an execution
and remind us that we are all children:
children come forth from a mother's embrace.

But the tears of the mothers of Jerusalem
are but a small drop
in the river of tears shed by mothers:
mothers of the crucified, mothers of murderers,
mothers of drug addicts, mothers of terrorists,
mothers of rapists, mothers of psychopaths:
but mothers all the same!

Yet tears are not enough.
Tears must overflow into love that nurtures,
strength that gives direction, firmness that corrects,
dialogue that builds, a presence that speaks!

Tears must prevent other tears!


Lord Jesus,
you know well the tears of every mother,
you see in every home the corner of pain,
you hear the silent cry
of the many mothers hurt by their children:
bearing deadly wounds ... yet still alive!

Lord Jesus,
dissolve the clots of callousness
that prevent love from circulating
in the arteries of our families.
Make us, once again, conscious of being children,
so that we can give our mothers
-- on earth and in heaven --
pride in having borne us,
and joy in blessing
the day of our birth.

Lord Jesus,
wipe away the tears of all mothers,
so that a smile may return to their children's faces,
to the faces of all.

+ All: Pater noster ...

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati
poenas mecum divide.

--- --- ---

Jesus falls for the third time

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk (1:12-13; 2:2-3)

Are you not from of old, O Lord,
my God, my Holy One?
Your eyes are too pure to behold evil.
and you cannot look on wrongdoing;
why do you look on the treacherous,
and are silent when the wicked swallow
those more righteous than they?

Write the vision,
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.


As Pascal insightfully observed:
"Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world;
and we cannot sleep during this time."[11]

Where is Jesus in agony in our own time?
In the division of our world into belts of prosperity
and belts of poverty ... this is Christ's agony today.
Our world is made of two rooms:
in one room, things go to waste,
in the other, people are wasting away;
in one room, people die from surfeit,
in the other, they die from indigence;
in one room, they are concerned about obesity,
in the other, they are begging for charity.

Why don't we open a door?
Who don't we sit at one table?
Why don't we realize that the poor
can help the rich?
Why? Why? Why are we so blind?


Lord Jesus,
those who live to hoard riches
are the very ones you have called fools![12]

Yes, those who think they own anything
are really fools,
since there is but one Owner
of the world.

Lord Jesus,
the world is yours and yours alone.
Yet you have given it to everyone
so that the earth can become a home
where all find nourishment and shelter.

So hoarding riches is robbery,
if their useless accumulation
prevents others from living.

Lord Jesus,
put an end to the scandal
that divides the world
into castles and slums.
Lord, teach us once more the meaning of brotherhood!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Eia, mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac ut tecum lugeam.

--- --- ---

Jesus is stripped of his garments

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to John (19:23-24)

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another:
"Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be."
This was to fulfill the Scripture: "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."


The soldiers take Jesus' tunic from him
with the brutality of thieves;
they also try to rob him
of his modesty and his dignity.

But Jesus is the modesty, Jesus is the dignity
that belongs to man and the human body.

And the scorned body of Christ
becomes the indictment of all the scorn
ever shown to the human body,
which God created as the mirror of the soul
and the language to speak of love.

Today bodies are constantly bought and sold
on the streets of our cities,
on the streets of our televisions,
in homes that have become like streets.

When will we realize that we are killing love?
When will we realize that, without purity,
the body can neither be alive nor life-giving?


Lord Jesus,
purity has everywhere fallen victim
to a calculated conspiracy of silence: an impure silence!
People have even come to believe
a complete lie:
that purity is somehow the enemy of love.

But the opposite is true, O Lord!
Purity is necessary
as a condition for love:
a love that is true, a love that is faithful.

In any event, Lord,
if we cannot be the master of ourselves?
how can we give ourselves to others?

Only the pure are capable of love;
only the pure can love without cheapening love.

Lord Jesus,
by the power of your blood poured out in love,
grant us pure hearts,
so that our world may see a rebirth of love,
that love for which our hearts so deeply yearn.

+ All: Pater noster ...

Fac ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.

--- --- ---

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:35-42)

And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read: "This is Jesus the King of the Jews."
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying:
"You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross."
So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying:
"He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him."


The hands that blessed everyone
are now nailed to the cross;
the feet that walked everywhere,
bringing hope and love,
are now bound to the stake.

Why, O Lord?
Because of love![13]
Why your passion?
Because of love!
Why your cross?
Because of love!

Lord, why didn't you come down from the cross,
to respond to our taunts?
I did not come down from the cross,
because then I would have made power
the lord of the world, whereas love alone is the power
capable of changing the world.

Why, Lord, did you pay this dreadful price?
To tell you that God is Love,[14]
infinite Love, all-powerful Love.
Do you believe me?


Jesus, Crucified Lord,
everyone else can deceive us,
abandon us, delude us:
you alone will never delude us!
You let our hands
nail you brutally to the cross,
as a way of telling us that your love is true,
sincere, faithful and irrevocable.

Jesus, Crucified Lord,
our eyes look upon your hands pierced with nails,
yet still capable of granting true freedom;
they look upon your feet, nailed to the cross,
yet still capable of walking
and making others walk.

Jesus, Crucified Lord,
The illusion of a happiness apart from God
is dead.
Let us return to you,
our sole hope and freedom,
our sole joy and truth:
Jesus, Crucified Lord,
be merciful to us sinners!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Sancta mater, istud agas,
Crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

--- --- ---

Jesus dies on the Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to John (19:25-27)

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother:
"Woman, behold your son!"
Then he said to the disciples:
"Behold your mother!"
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:45-46,50)

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice:
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?",
that is:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.


People foolishly thought: God is dead!
But if God is dead, who will still give us life?

If God is dead, what is life itself?

Life is Love!

So the cross is not God's death,
but the moment when the fragile shell
of the humanity taken up by God
is shattered
and a flood of love bursts forth[15]
to renew all humanity.

From the cross was born the new life of Saul,
from the cross was born the conversion of Augustine,
from the cross was born the joyful poverty of Francis of Assisi,
from the cross was born the radiant goodness of Vincent de Paul;
from the cross was born the heroism of Maximilian Kolbe,
from the cross was born the amazing charity of Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
from the cross was born the courage of John Paul II,
from the cross was born the revolution of love:
so the cross is not the death of God,
but the birth of his Love in our world.

Blessed be the cross of Christ!


Lord Jesus,
in the silence of this evening, your voice is heard:
"I thirst! I thirst for your love!"[16]

In the silence of this night, your prayer is heard:
"Father, forgive them! Father, forgive them!"[17]

In the silence of history, your cry is heard:
"It is finished."[18]

What is finished?
"I have given you everything, I have told you everything,
I brought you the most beautiful message of all:
God is love! God loves you!"

In the silence of the heart, we can feel the caress
of your final gift:
"Behold, your mother: my mother!"[19]

Thank you Jesus, for giving Mary
the mission of reminding us each day
that the meaning of everything is to be found in love:
the Love of God planted in the world
like a cross!
Thank you, Jesus!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
morientem desolatum,
cum emisit spiritum.

--- --- ---

Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:55,57-58; 17:22-2)

There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them:
"The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were greatly distressed.


The deed is done:
we have killed Jesus![20]

And Christ's wounds continue to sting
in Mary's heart,
as one sorrow
envelops both Mother and Child.

The Pietŕ! The sorrowing Mother and her Son!
The scene cries out to us, it brings distress and pain
even to those used to inflicting pain on others.

The Pietŕ! We almost seem
to feel compassion for God
and yet -- once again --
it is God who feels compassion for us.

The Pietŕ! Our pain
is no longer hopeless,
nor will it ever be hopeless again,
for God has come to suffer with us.

And with God, can we ever be hopeless?


O Mary,
in your Son you embrace every son and daughter,
and share in the anguish of every mother throughout the world.

O Mary,
your tears continue to fall in every age;
they bathe the faces
and mirror the grief of every man and woman.

O Mary,
you have known sorrow ... yet you still believe!

You believe that clouds do not darken the sun,
you believe that night gives way to dawn.

O Mary,
you who sang the Magnificat,[21]
lead us in the song that conquers sorrow
like the birth pangs that bring forth new life.

O Mary,
pray for us!
Pray that we too may experience
the infectious power of true hope.

+ All: Pater noster ...

Fac me vere tecum flere,
Crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

--- --- ---

Jesus is laid in the tomb

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:59-61)

Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.

From the Book of Psalms (16:9-11)

My heart is glad,
and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.
You show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.


There are times when life seems like
a long and dreary Holy Saturday.
Everything seems over,
the wicked seem to triumph,
and evil appears more powerful than good.[22]

But faith enables us to see afar,
it makes us glimpse the break of a new day
on the other side of this day.
Faith promises us that the final word
belongs to God: to God alone!

Faith is truly a little lamp,
yet it is the only lamp that can light up the night of the world:
and its lowly light blends
with the light of a new day:
the day of the Risen Christ.

So the story does not end with the tomb,
instead it bursts forth from the tomb:
just as Jesus promised us,[23]
it happened, and it will happen again![24]


Lord Jesus,
Good Friday is the day of darkness,
the day of blind hatred,
the day when the Just One was put to death!
But Good Friday is not the final word:
the final word is Easter,
the triumph of Life,
the victory of Good over Evil.

Lord Jesus,
Holy Saturday is the day of emptiness,
the day of bewilderment and dread,
the day when everything seems over!

But Holy Saturday is not the final day,
the final day is Easter,
the Light that is kindled anew,
the Love that conquers all hatred.

Lord Jesus,
whenever we experience our own Good Friday,
and we feel the anguish of Holy Saturday,
give us Mary's unwavering faith,
so that we can believe in the reality of Easter;
give us her clearsighted gaze
so that we can see the brilliant dawn
that announces the final day of history:
"new heavens and a new earth"[25]
already present in you,
Jesus, Crucified and Risen. Amen!

+ All: Pater noster ...

Quando corpus morietur,
fac ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

--- --- ---

The Holy Father addresses those present.

At the end of his address, the Holy Father imparts the apostolic blessing:

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

V. Sit nomen Domini benedictum.
R. Ex hoc nunc et usque in sćculum.

V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus,
Pater +, et + Filius, et + Spiritus Sanctus.
R. Amen.

--- --- ---

[1] John 16:22: Matthew 5:12.
[2] Luke 15:20.
[3] Matthew 25:31-46.
[4] Luke 22:53.
[5] John 1:10-11.

[6] Jeremiah 2:5,19; 5:25.
[7] Luke 9:24.
[8] Matthew 25:40.
[9] Matthew 25:11-13.
[10] Genesis 1:27; 2:24.

[11] B. Pascal, "Pensčes," 553 (ed. Brunswieg).
[12] Luke 12:20.
[13] John 13:1.
[14] 1 John 4:8,16.
[15] John 19:30.

[16] John 19:28.
[17] Luke 23:34.
[18] John 19:30.
[19] John 19:27.
[20] Zechariah 12:10.

[21] Luke 1:46-55.
[22] Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 1:13.
[23] Luke 18:31-33.
[24] Romans 8:18-23.
[25] Revelation 21:1.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]


The Vatican , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000



Lent, Jesus, Way, Cross, Good Friday, Pope

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