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Text Prepared by Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2007 (Catholic Online) - Here is the Vatican translation of the meditations prepared for Good Friday's Stations of the Cross at the Roman Colosseum.

Benedict XVI will preside over the event. The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff released the translation.

* * *

MEDITATIONS BY
Monsignor GIANFRANCO RAVASI
Prefect of the Ambrosian Library and Gallery of Milan

PRESENTATION

It was a late spring morning, somewhere between the years 30 and 33 of our era. In a street of Jerusalem -- which in centuries to come would be known simply as the "Via Dolorosa" -- a small procession was winding its way: escorted by a patrol of Roman soldiers, a man condemned to death advanced, carrying the patibulum, the horizontal arm of a cross whose vertical arm was already standing amid the stones of a small, rocky promontory called in Aramaic, Golgotha, and in Latin, Calvary, "the place of the skull".

This was the last chapter of a familiar story whose central figure is Jesus Christ, the man crucified and humiliated, the Lord risen and glorious. It was a story that began in the darkness and gloom of the evening before, beneath the olive branches of a field called Gethsemane, "the olive-press". A story that quickly unfolded in the strongholds of religious and political power and culminated in a sentence of death. Yet the case of that condemned man was unlike that of so many other victims of the brutal torture of crucifixion, which the Romans reserved for the punishment of revolutionaries and slaves. Not even the tomb, offered by a man of means named Joseph of Arimathea, could be the end of the story.

There would in fact be another chapter, astonishing and unexpected: the condemned man, Jesus of Nazareth, would splendidly reveal another nature hidden beneath the features of his human countenance and body: that of the Son of God. The end of the story was not the Cross and the tomb, but rather the brilliant light of his Resurrection and his glory. As the Apostle Paul, a few years later, would say: the one who renounced his glory to become powerless and weak like us, and abased himself even to accepting a shameful death by crucifixion, was exalted by the Father, who made him the Lord of earth and heaven, of history and eternity (cf. Phil 2:6-11).

For centuries Christians have retraced the steps of the Via Crucis, a path that leads to the hill of the crucifixion, with their gaze fixed on its ultimate goal, the light of Easter. They have made that journey as pilgrims along that same street in Jerusalem, but also in their cities, their churches and their homes. For centuries writers and artists, both famous and forgotten, have sought to touch the hearts of the faithful by bringing to life those steps or "stations", making them moments of meditation along the way to Golgotha. They have painted pictures ranging from the striking to the ordinary, from the sublime to the simple, from the dramatic to the plain and unaffected.

In Rome, this spiritual journey in the footsteps of Jesus sets out anew each Good Friday, led by the Pope, the Bishop of this City and the universal pastor, in union with Christians the world over. This year's reflections for each station are narrative and meditative in character, and follow the story of the Passion as recounted by the Evangelist Saint Luke. They have been written by a biblist, Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, prefect of the Ambrosian Library and Gallery in Milan, a cultural institution founded four centuries ago by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, Archbishop of that city and a cousin of Saint Charles Borromeo. A century ago, among its prefects, was Achille Ratti, the future Pope Pius XI.

Let us now begin together this journey of prayer, not simply for the sake of remembering past events and a tragic death, but to experience the crude realism of a story which nonetheless speaks of hope, joy and salvation. Perhaps others who are still searching, uncertain and troubled will make this journey alongside us. And as we make our way, step by step, along this path of suffering and of light, we will be able to hear an echo of the stirring words of the Apostle Paul: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory?... But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Cor 15:54-55, 57).

--- --- ---

OPENING PRAYER

The Holy Father:

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

Dear brothers and sisters, the shadows of evening have fallen on Rome, just as they did that evening on the houses and gardens of Jerusalem. We too will now go out to the olive trees of Gethsemane and follow in the steps of Jesus of Nazareth during the final hours of his life on earth.

It will be a journey into pain, solitude and cruelty, into evil and death. But it will also be a path trod in faith, hope and love, because the tomb which is the final stop on our way will not remain sealed for ever. Once the darkness has passed, at the dawn of Easter, the light of joy will arise, silence will be replaced by the word of life and death will give way to the glory of the Resurrection.

Let us now pray, and join our words to those spoken by an ancient voice of the Christian East.

Lord Jesus, Grant us the tears we lack, that our sins may be washed clean. Grant us the courage to implore your mercy. On the day of your final judgment tear out the pages listing our sins and consign them to oblivion.[1]

Lord Jesus, you repeat to us this evening the words you once spoke to Peter: "Come, follow me". Obedient to your summons, we wish to follow you, step by step, along the way of your Passion, so that we too may learn to think as God thinks and not by human standards.

Amen.

[1]. NIL SORSKIJ (1433-1508), from the Penitential Prayer.

--- --- ---

FIRST STATION
Jesus in the Garden of Olives

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 22:39-46

Jesus came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will but yours be done." And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation."

MEDITATION

When the veil of darkness descends upon Jerusalem, the olives of Gethsemane even today seem to bring us back, with the rustling of their leaves, to that night of suffering and prayer that Jesus experienced. He stands out, alone, at centre stage, kneeling on the soil of that garden. Like every person facing death, Christ too is filled with anguish; indeed, the original word used by the Evangelist Luke is "agonia", struggle. Jesus' prayer is dramatic, tense as if in combat, and the sweat streaked with blood running down his face is evidence of a harsh, bitter torment.

He cries out to heaven, to that Father who seems mysteriously silent: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me", the chalice of suffering and death. One dark night, on the banks of a tributary of the Jordan, one of the patriarchs of Israel, Jacob, had also encountered God as someone mysterious, and "wrestled with him until the breaking of the day"[2]. Praying at times of trial is an experience which disturbs the body and soul alike, and Jesus, in the darkness of that evening, "offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death"[3].

* * *

In the Christ of Gethsemane, struggling and filled with anguish, we see ourselves reflected, whenever we pass through the night of searing pain, of separation from friends, of God's silence. In this sense, it has been said that Jesus "will be in agony until the end of the world: we cannot sleep until that moment, for he seeks companionship and comfort"[4], like everyone else who suffers on this earth. In him too, we see our own face, when it is wet with tears and racked by distress.

But Jesus' struggle does not yield to the temptation of despair and surrender, but to a profession of confident trust in the Father and his mysterious plan. In that bitter hour it is the words of the "Our Father" that he holds out to us: "Pray that you may not enter into temptation... Not my will, but yours be done!". And then an angel of consolation, strength and comfort appears, who helps Jesus, and us, to persevere to the end of the journey.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.


[2] Cf. Genesis 32:23-32.
[3] Cf. Hebrews 5:7.
[4] Blaise Pascal, Pensées, No. 555, ed. Brunswieg.

--- --- ---

SECOND STATION
Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 22:47-53

While Jesus was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, "Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?" And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?" When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."

MEDITATION

Amid the olives of Gethsemane, plunged in darkness, a small crowd now comes forward: leading them is Judas, "one of the twelve", one of Jesus' disciples. In Luke's account he does not say a single word, he is merely an icy presence. It almost seems that he does not succeed in kissing the face of Jesus, stopped by the one voice that rings out, the voice of Christ himself: "Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?" These words are regretful but firm; they lay bare the knot of evil lodged in the restless, hardened heart of the disciple, who may have been disillusioned, disappointed and on the verge of despair.

Down the centuries, that betrayal and that kiss have become a symbol for countless infidelities, apostasies, deceptions. And so Christ faces another trial: betrayal and its resulting sense of abandonment and isolation. This is not the kind of solitude he loved when he would withdraw to the mountains to pray, it is not the interior solitude which is a source of peace and quiet, since it gives us a glimpse of the mystery of the soul and of God. Rather, it is the bitter experience of all those persons who, at this very moment when we are gathered here, as at other times of the day, find themselves alone in a room, facing a bare wall or a silent telephone, forgotten by everyone because they are elderly or infirm, foreigners or outsiders. Along with them, Jesus drinks from this chalice, which contains the gall of abandonment, loneliness and hostility.

* * *

The scene of Gethsemane, then, suddenly comes alive: the earlier picture of prayer, solemn, intimate and silent, is now replaced, beneath the olive trees, by agitation, uproar and even violence. Yet Jesus remains always at the centre, unmoved. He knows full well that evil encircles human history with its shroud of bullying, aggression, brutality: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness".

Christ does not want his disciples, ready to draw their swords, to react to evil with evil, to violence with more violence. He is certain that the power of darkness -- apparently invincible and never sated by its triumphs -- is destined to be defeated. Night will give way to dawn, darkness to light, betrayal to repentance, even for Judas. That is why, in spite of everything, we must continue to hope and to love. As Jesus himself taught us on the mount of the Beatitudes, if a new and different world is to come about, we need "to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us"[5].

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.


[5] Matthew 5:44

--- --- ---

THIRD STATION
Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

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

From the Gospel according to Luke 22:66-71

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, "If you are the Christ, tell us." But he said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God." And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, "You say that I am." And they said, "What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips."

MEDITATION

The dawn of Good Friday is breaking from behind the Mount of Olives, after brightening the valleys of the desert of Judah. The seventy-one members of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish institution, are gathered in a semicircle around Jesus. The hearing is about to begin, and it will follow the usual judiciary procedure: the identification of the defendant, the bringing of charges, the hearing of witnesses. The trial concerns a religious matter which falls within the competence of that tribunal. This is also clearly seen from the two principal questions: "Are you the Christ? ... Are you the Son of God?."

Jesus' answer starts from an almost discouraging premise: "If I tell you, you will not believe; if I ask you, you will not answer." He knows, then, that incomprehension, suspicion and misunderstanding are in store for him. He can feel himself surrounded by a icy wall of distrust and hostility, all the more oppressive because it is erected around him by his own religious and national community. The Psalmist before him had experienced such disappointment: "If this had been done by an enemy, I could bear his taunts; if a rival had risen against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, my own companion, my intimate friend! How close was the friendship between us. We walked in together in harmony in the house of God"[6].

* * *

And yet, despite that incomprehension, Jesus does not hesitate to proclaim the mystery within him, a mystery which from that moment on will be revealed as in an epiphany. Using the language of scripture, he acknowledges that he is "the Son of man, seated at the right hand of the power of God." The messianic glory awaited by Israel is now manifested in this prisoner. Indeed, it is the Son of God who now, paradoxically, appears in the guise of one accused. Jesus' response -- "I am" --, which at first sight seems like the confession of a crime, is in reality a solemn profession of his divinity. In the Bible, the words "I am" are the name and title of God himself[7].

The accusation, which will end in a death sentence, thus becomes a revelation, and also our own profession of faith in Christ, the Son of God. That defendant, humiliated by a disdainful court, by the sumptuous courtroom, by a sentence already sealed, reminds us of our own duty to bear witness to the truth. A witness which must be forcefully rendered even when there is a powerful temptation to hide, to give up, to go along with the prevailing opinion. In the words of a young Jewish woman destined to die in a concentration camp[8]: "each new horror or crime, we must oppose with a new fragment of truth and goodness which we have gained in ourselves. We can suffer, but we must not surrender".

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedica
mater Unigeniti!


[6] Psalm 55(54): 12-15.
[7] Cf. Exodus 3:14.
[8] Etty Hillesum, Diary 1941-1943 (3 July 1943).

--- --- ---

FOURTH STATION
Jesus is denied by Peter

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

From the Gospel according to Luke 22:54-62

Then they seized Jesus and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house. Peter followed at a distance; and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, "This man was with him." But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him." And a little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not." And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, "Certainly this man was also with him; for he is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

MEDITATION

Let us go back to the night we had left behind when we entered the hall where Jesus' first trial was taking place. The darkness and the cold are pierced by the flames of a brazier in the courtyard of the palace of the Sanhedrin. The servants and guards are holding out their hands to the warmth; their faces are lighted up. And three voices, one after another, speak out, and three hands point towards a face they recognize, the face of Peter.

The first is a woman's voice. She is one of the maids in the palace; looking the disciple in the eye, she exclaims, "You too were with Jesus!" A man's voice follows: "You are one of them!" Another man later makes the same accusation, after hearing Peter's northern accent: "You were with him!". Faced with these declarations, the Apostle, as if in a desperate crescendo of self-defence, does not hesitate to lie: "I do not know Jesus! I am not one of his disciples! I don't know what you are talking about!" The light of that brazier penetrates far beyond Peter's face, it lays bare his wretched heart, his frailty, his selfishness, his fear. And yet only a few hours earlier, he had proclaimed, "Even though all fall away, I will not! ... If I must die with you, I will not deny you!"[9]

* * *

The curtain, however, does not fall on this betrayal, as was the case with Judas. That night a noise pierces the silence of Jerusalem, but above all Peter's own conscience: the sound of the cock crowing. Precisely at that moment Jesus comes forth from the tribunal that has condemned him. Luke describes the exchange of glances between Christ and Peter with a word in Greek that suggests a penetrating stare at someone's face. But, as the Evangelist notes, this is not just any man who looks at another; it is "the Lord", whose eyes peer into the depths of the heart, into the deepest secrets of a person's soul.

From the eyes of the Apostle fall tears of repentance. In his story are condensed countless stories of infidelity and conversion, of weakness and liberation. "I wept, and I believed!" -- in these two simple words, centuries later, a convert [10] would compare his own experience to that of Peter, thus speaking for all of us who daily make petty betrayals, protecting ourselves with cowardly justifications, letting ourselves be overcome with base fears. But, like the Apostle, we too can take the road that brings us to Christ's gaze and we can hear him give us the same charge: you, too, "once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers!" [11].

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

Quć mćrebat et dolebat
pia mater, cum videbat
Nati pśnas incliti.


[9] Mark 14:29, 31.
[10] FRANÇOIS-RENÉ DE CHATEAUBRIAND, The Genius of Christianity (1802).
[11] Luke 22:32.

--- --- ---

FIFTH STATION
Jesus is judged by Pilate

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 23:13-25

Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him." But they all cried out together, "Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas -- a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him. But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.

MEDITATION

Jesus is now surrounded by the insignia of empire, the banners, eagles and standards of Roman authority, in yet another fortress of power, the palace of the governor Pontius Pilate, an obscure man whose name is overlooked in the histories of the Roman Empire. And yet it is a name which is heard every Sunday throughout the world, precisely because of the trial now taking place: for Christians proclaim in the Creed that Christ "was crucified under Pontius Pilate". On the one hand, he seems to incarnate repressive brutality, inasmuch as Luke, on one page of his Gospel, speaks of the day in the temple when he had mingled the blood of Jews with that of the sacrificial animals [12]. At his side we encounter another dark, strange power: the savage power of the masses, manipulated by occult forces hatching plots in the shadows. The result is the decision to release an insurgent and a murderer, Barabbas.

On the other hand, however, a different image of Pilate emerges: he seems to stand for the traditional equity and impartiality of Roman law. Three times, in fact, Pilate attempts to release Jesus for insufficient evidence, imposing at most the disciplinary sanction of scourging. The charges against him did not stand up to a serious judicial inquiry. As all the Evangelists show, Pilate displays a certain openness, a receptiveness that nonetheless slowly fades away and dies.

* * *

Pressured by public opinion, Pilate embodies an attitude which appears common enough in our own times: indifference, lack of concern, personal expediency. To avoid trouble and to get ahead, we are ready to trample on truth and justice. Explicit immorality generates at least a shock or some reaction, whereas this approach is pure amorality; it paralyzes the conscience, stifles remorse, and blunts the mind. Indifference is the lingering death of authentic humanity.

The outcome is found in Pilate's final choice. As the ancient Romans would say, a false and apathetic justice is like a spiderweb in which gnats are caught and die, but which birds can tear apart by the strength of their flight. Jesus, one of the little ones of the earth, powerless to utter a word, is smothered by this web. And as we ourselves so often do, Pilate looks on from afar, washes his hands and, as an alibi, tosses off -- so the Evangelist John tells us [13] -- the age-old question typical of every form of scepticism and ethical relativism: "What is truth?".

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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


[12] Cf. Luke 13:1.
[13] John 18:38

--- --- ---

SIXTH STATION
Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 22:63-65

Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" and they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.

From the Gospel according to John. 19:2-3

And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands.

MEDITATION

One day, walking in the valley of the Jordan not far from Jericho, Jesus halted and spoke to the Twelve with words of fire, words they found impossible to understand: "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; and they will scourge him and kill him, ....[14]". Now at last, the full meaning of those enigmatic words is revealed: in the courtyard of the pretorium, the residence of the Roman governor in Jerusalem, the grim ritual of torture has begun, while outside the palace the murmur of the crowd begins to swell, in expectation of the spectacle of the death march.

In that room closed to the public, things take place that will be repeated down the centuries in a thousand sadistic and perverse ways, in the darkness of countless prison cells. Jesus is not only physically struck but mocked. Indeed, the Evangelist Luke, to describe those insults, uses the word "blaspheme", as if to bring out the deepest meaning of the violent abuse which the soldiers heap on their victim. And the torments inflicted upon Christ's flesh are accompanied by a gruesome farce that is an affront to his personal dignity.

* * *

The Evangelist John recounts that insulting parody, based on the popular game of the mock king. There is a crown whose points are made of thorny twigs; the royal purple is replaced by a red mantle; there is the imperial salute: "Hail, Caesar!". And yet, behind all this mockery, we can see a glorious sign: yes, Jesus is reviled like a mock king, yet in reality he is the true Sovereign of history.

When, in the end, his kingship will be revealed -- as another Evangelist, Matthew, tells us[15] -- he will condemn every torturer and tyrant, and summon into his glory not only their victims, but all those who visited prisoners, healed the wounded and the suffering, and assisted the hungry, the thirsty and the persecuted. Now, however, the face transfigured on Tabor [16] is disfigured; the one who is "the reflection of God's glory"[17] is darkened and abased; as Isaiah had proclaimed, the messianic Servant of the Lord has his back furrowed by the lash, his beard plucked, his face covered with spittle [18]. In him, the God of glory, our suffering humanity is revealed; in him, the Lord of history, the frailty of every creature is revealed; in him, the Creator of the world, the painful cry of every living creature finds an echo.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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


[14] Luke 18:31-32
[15] Cf. Matthew 25:31-46.

[16] Cf. Luke 9:29.
[17] Cf. Hebrews 1:3.
[18] Cf. Isaiah 50:6

--- --- ---

SEVENTH STATION
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 Mark. 15:20

And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

MEDITATION

In the courtyards of the imperial palace the grim sport has ended, the silly royal robes have been taken away, the doors open. And Jesus comes forth, dressed in his own clothing, in a tunic "without seam, woven from top to bottom"[19]. His shoulders are bent beneath the cross-beam which will receive his arms and then be attached to the pole of the crucifix. His is a silent presence, his footprints stain with blood that street of Jerusalem which even today bears the name "Via Dolorosa".

Now begins the real Way of the Cross, the route we repeat tonight, which leads to the hill of executions, outside the walls of the holy city. Jesus slowly makes his way forward, his mangled, weak body staggering beneath the weight of the cross. Tradition has symbolically marked that route by three falls. They reflect the unending story of all those women and men laid low by poverty or starvation: frail children, the aged and infirm, the weak and the poor, those from whose veins all strength has been sucked.

Those falls also contain the story of all those who are desolate and unhappy, ignored by the busy and distracted crowd which hurries by. In Christ, bent beneath the weight of the cross, we see that frail and sickly humanity of which the prophet Isaiah says[20] "deep from the earth shall you speak, from low in the dust your words shall come; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and your speech shall whisper out of the dust."

* * *

Today too, as then, surrounding Jesus as he picks himself up and pushes forward carrying the wood of the cross, is the daily life of the street, with its business deals, its bright shop windows, its pursuit of pleasure. Surrounding him, however, there is not only hostility or indifference. Even today there are those who choose to follow him, to walk in his footsteps. They have heard the summons that he had issued one day as he walked through the fields of Galilee: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me"[21]. "Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured"[22]. At the end of the Via Dolorosa is not only the mount of death or the darkness of the tomb, but also the mount of his glorious Ascension, the mount of light.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

Quis non posset contristari,
piam matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?


[19] John 19:23.
[20] Isaiah 29:4.

[21] Luke 9:23
[22] Hebrews 13:13

--- --- ---

EIGHTH STATION
Jesus is helped by the Cyrenean to carry his cross

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 23:26

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

MEDITATION

He was returning from the countryside, perhaps after a few hours of work. Awaiting him at home were the preparations for the holy day: sunset, in fact, would mark the beginning of the Sabbath, as the first stars began to shine in the evening sky. His name was Simon; he was a Jew, a native of Cyrene, a city on the Libyan strand which was home to a large community of the Jewish Diaspora[23]. A curt order by the Roman soldiers escorting Jesus stops him in his tracks and forces him to take a turn at carrying the cross of that half-dead convict.

Simon was a chance passerby; he did not know how extraordinary that encounter was to be. As someone once wrote[24], "how many men over the centuries would have wanted to be there, in his place, to have been passing by just at that moment. But it was too late; he was the one who had passed by and over the centuries he would never have yielded his place to others." Here we see the mystery of the unexpected encounter with God which happens in so many lives. Paul, the Apostle, had been intercepted, seized and "overcome"[25] by Christ on the way to Damascus. And this led him to ponder anew those astonishing words of God: "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me"[26].

* * *

God lies in waiting along the paths of our daily life. At times he knocks on our door and asks to sit at our table to eat with us[27]. Even a chance encounter, like that of Simon of Cyrene, can become a gift of conversion. Indeed, the Evangelist Mark will name of the sons of that man, Alexander and Rufus, as fellow Christians[28]. The Cyrenean is thus the emblem of the mysterious embrace of divine grace and human effort. In the end, the Evangelist paints him as the disciple who "takes up the cross behind Jesus" and follows in his footsteps [29].

His gesture, carried out under constraint, becomes a symbol for every act of solidarity with the suffering, the oppressed, the weary. The Cyreanean thus represents the innumerable host of generous persons, missionaries, Samaritans who do not "pass by on the other side" of the street [30], but bend low to assist the suffering, to lift them up and to give them support. Over Simon's head and shoulders, bent beneath the weight of the cross, echo the words of Saint Paul: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ"[31].

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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


[23] Cf, Acts 2:10; 6:9; 13:1.
[24] CHARLES PÉGUY, The Mystery of the Charity of Saint Joan of Arc (1910).
[25] Philippians 3:12.

[26] Romans 10:20.
[27] Cf. Revelation 3:20.
[28] Cf. Mark 15:21.

[29] Cf. Luke 9:23.
[30] Cf. Luke 10:30-37.
[31] Galatians 6:2.

--- --- ---

NINTH STATION
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. 23:27-31

And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them 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 gave suck! Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us. ' For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

MEDITATION

On that spring Friday, the path leading to Golgotha was thronged not only with the idle, the curious and those hostile to Jesus. There was also a group of women, perhaps the members of a group devoted to consolation and ritual lamentation for the dying and those condemned to death. Christ, during his earthly life, had overcome convention and prejudice, and had often surrounded himself with women, conversing with them, listening to their troubles, small and great: from the fever of Peter's mother-in-law to the tragedy of the widow of Nain, from the weeping prostitute to the interior anguish of Mary Magdalen, from the affection of Martha and Mary to the sufferings of the woman afflicted by hemorrages, from the young daughter of Jairus to the crippled elderly woman, from the noble Joanna, the wife of Chuza, to the poor widow and the women in the crowd that followed him.

Jesus, to his final hour, is thus surrounded by a world of mothers, daughters and sisters. Standing at his side we now can also imagine all those women who have been abused and raped, ostracized and submitted to shameful tribal practices, anxious women left to raise their children alone, Jewish and Palestinian mothers, and those from all countries at war, widows and the elderly forgotten by their children... a long line of women who bear witness before an arid and pitiless world to the gift of tenderness and compassion, even as they did for the Son of Mary on that late morning in Jerusalem. They teach us the beauty of emotions: that we should not be ashamed when our heart is moved by compassion, when tears sometimes come to our eyes, when we feel the need of a caress and comforting words.

* * *

Jesus does not disregard the charitable concern shown by those women, just as once he had accepted other gestures of kindness. But paradoxically, he is now the one who is concerned for the sufferings about to befall those "daughters of Jerusalem": "Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." Looming on the horizon is a firestorm about to break upon the people and the holy city, a "dry wood" ready to stir up the blaze.

Jesus' gaze turns to the divine judgement soon to be visited on the evil, injustice, and hatred that feed that flame. Christ is distressed at the grief that is about to overtake those mothers once God's just intervention bursts in upon history. But his ominous words are not the seal set upon a hopeless fate, because he speaks with the voice of the prophets, a voice that creates not suffering and death, but conversion and life: "Seek the Lord and live... Then shall the maidens rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow"[32].

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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

[32] Amos 5:6; Jeremiah 31:13.

--- --- ---

TENTH STATION
Jesus is crucified

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 23:33-38

And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King ofthe Jews."

MEDITATION

It was merely a rocky spur, called Golgotha in Aramaic and, in Latin, Calvary, "the Skull", perhaps because of its physical appearance. On that peak rise three crosses, the crosses of men sentenced to death, two "criminals", probably anti-Roman revolutionaries, and Jesus. The last hours of Christ's earthly life begin, hours marked by the rending of his flesh, the dislocation of his bones, progressive asphyxia, interior desolation. These are hours that demonstrate the complete solidarity of the Son of God with human beings who suffer and slowly die.

A poet[33] once said: "The thief on the left and the thief on the right / felt only the nails driven into their hands. / But Christ felt the pain offered for salvation, / his side torn open, his heart run through. / It is his heart that burned. / His heart consumed by love." Truly, all around that cross there seem to echo the words of Isaiah: "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. He makes himself an offering for sin"[34]. The outstretched arms of that mangled body want to draw to themselves the entire horizon, embracing humanity, "as a hen gathers her brood under her wings"[35]. For this was his mission: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself"[36].

* * *

Beneath that dying body files the crowd, anxious to "view" a ghastly spectacle. It is a scene of superficiality, crass curiosity, thrill-seeking. A picture in which we can also see a society like our own, which looks for stimulation and excess as if they were a kind of drug capable of arousing a sluggish soul, an unfeeling heart, a darkened mind.

Beneath that cross there is also cold hard cruelty, that of the leaders and the soldiers who in their ruthlessness are even capable of profaning suffering and death by their mockery: "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" They are unaware that their words of sarcasm and the official title above the cross -- "This is the King of the Jews" -- are full of truth. Certainly, Jesus does not come down from the cross in a sudden dramatic turnabout: he does not desire servile obedience based on miracles, but a faith that is free, a love that is authentic. And yet, in his abject humiliation and in the very powerlessness of his death, he opens the door to glory and life, and reveals himself as the true Lord and King of history and of the world.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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


[33] CHARLES PÉGUY, The Mystery of the Charity of Saint Joan of Arc (1910).
[34] Isaiah 53:5, 10.

[35] Luke 13:34.
[36] John 12:32.

--- --- ---

ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus promises his Kingdom to the good thief

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

From the Gospel according to Luke. 23:39-43

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

MEDITATION

The minutes pass, as the crucified Jesus approaches his death; his life and his strength are slowly ebbing away. And yet he still has the strength to make a final gesture of love to one of the two men condemned to death who are beside him at that tragic moment, when the sun is still high in the heavens. Between Christ and that man a brief dialogue takes place, consisting of two essential phrases.

First, there is the plea of the criminal, whom tradition calls the "good thief", who is converted at the final hour of his life: "Jesus, remember me when you enter into your kingdom!" It is almost as if he was reciting his personal version of the "Our Father" with its invocation "Thy Kingdom come!" But he addresses it directly to Jesus, calling him by name, a name of extraordinary significance at that moment: "The Lord saves". Then, an imperative: "Remember me!" In the language of the Bible this verb has a particular force which conveys much more than our colourless word "remember". It is word that breathes certainty and confidence, as if to say: "Take care of me, do not abandon me, be like a friend who supports me and defends me!".

* * *

Then there is the reply of Jesus, quick, almost a whisper: "Today you will be with me in Paradise." This word, "Paradise", so rare in the Scriptures as to appear only two other times in the New Testament[37], in its original meaning suggests a lush and fruitful garden. It is a fragrant image of the Kingdom of light and peace that Jesus had proclaimed in his preaching and inaugurated with his miracles and which would shortly appear in its glory at Easter. It is the goal of our toilsome journey through history, it is fullness of life, it is the intimacy of God's embrace. It is the final gift which Christ makes to us, in the sacrifice of his death which opens up to the glory of the resurrection.

On that day of anguish and pain, those two crucified men said nothing else, yet the few words gasped from their parched throats echo even today. They will continue to echo as a sign of hope and salvation for those who have sinned, but have also come to believe and trust, even at life's final frontier.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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


[37] Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7.

--- --- ---

TWELFTH STATION
The crucified Jesus, the Mother and the disciple

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 disciple: "Behold your mother!". And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

MEDITATION

She had begun to distance herself from her Son since the day when, at twelve years old, he had told her that he had another home and another mission to accomplish, in the name of his Father in heaven. But now Mary faces the moment of complete separation. At that hour she felt the agony of all mothers who, contrary to the very nature of things, see their children precede them in death. But the Evangelist John wipes away every tear from her sorrowful face, silences every cry of lament from her lips, and keeps Mary from flinging herself to the ground in despair.

Instead, there is an aura of silence broken by a voice that descends from the cross and from the lips of her dying Son. It is much more than the usual testament: it is a revelation which marks a turning-point in the life of his Mother. That supreme separation of death is not barren but unexpectedly fruitful, like a mother giving birth. Just as Jesus himself had said a few hours earlier, on the final evening of his earthly life: "When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world"[38].

* * *

Mary goes back to being a mother: it is significant that in the few lines of the Gospel account this word -- mother -- appears fully five times. Mary goes back to being a mother, and her children will be those who are like "the beloved disciple", that is, all those who take shelter under the mantle of God's saving grace and follow Jesus in faith and love.

From that moment on, Mary will no longer be alone. She will become the mother of the Church, an immense assembly of every language, nation and people, who down the centuries will join her in clinging to the cross of Christ, her firstborn Son. From that moment on, we too walk with her along the path of faith, we stay with her in the house where the Spirit of Pentecost blows, we sit at the table where the bread of the Eucharist is broken and we await the day when her Son will return to bring us, like her, into the eternity of his glory.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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

[38] John 16:21.

--- --- ---

THIRTEENTH STATION
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 Luke. 23:44-47

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!" And having said this, he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, "Certainly this man was innocent!".

MEDITATION

At the beginning of our journey, the veil of night had fallen upon Jerusalem; now it is the darkness of an eclipse that spreads like a shroud over Golgotha. The "power of darkness"[39] seems to loom over the land where God is dying. Yes, the Son of God, to be truly human and our brother, must also drink from the chalice of death, that death which is really the mark of every descendent of Adam. And so Christ "has been made like his brethren in every respect"[40]; he has become fully one of us, standing at our side even in that final struggle between life and death. A struggle perhaps taking place even now for a man or a woman in this city of Rome, and in countless other cities and towns throughout the world.

This is no longer the God of the Greeks and Romans, impassible and remote, like an emperor confined to the gilded skies of his Olympus. In the dying Christ, God is now revealed as passionately in love with his creatures, even to the point of freely imprisoning himself within their twilight of pain and death. The crucifix is thus a universal human sign of the solitude of death, and of injustice and evil. But it is also a universal divine sign of hope for the fulfilment of the expectations of every centurion, that is, of every restless and searching person.

* * *

Indeed, even high on the cross, dying on that gibbet, Jesus, as he breathes his last, does not cease to be the Son of God. At that moment every human experience of suffering and death is embraced by the divine. It is made radiant with eternity, a seed of eternal life is planted within it, a spark of divine light bursts forth.

Death, while losing nothing of its tragedy, now shows an unexpected face: it has the same eyes as the heavenly Father. That is why Jesus at that final hour utters a touching prayer: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Let us make that plea our own, in the prayerful words of a poet:[41] "Father, let your fingers also close my own eyes. / You who are a Father to me, turn to me like a tender Mother, / at the bedside of her gently sleeping child. / Father, come to me and take me into your arms."

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
morientem desolatum,
cum emisit spiritum.


[39] Luke 22:53.
[40] Hebrews 2:17.
[41] MARIE NOËL, Song and Hours (1930).

--- --- ---

FOURTEENTH STATION
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 Luke 23:50-54

Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.

MEDITATION

Wrapped in the winding sheet, the "shroud", the crucified, torn body of Jesus slips slowly from the loving and gentle hands of Joseph of Arimathea into the tomb hewn from the rock. In the hours of silence which follow, Christ will truly be like all men and women who enter into the dark womb of death, the stiffening of the limbs, the end. And yet in that twilight of Good Friday something was already in the air. The Evangelist Luke notes that "the Sabbath was beginning;" lamps were already flickering in the windows of the homes of Jerusalem.

The vigil kept by the Jews in their homes becomes, as it were, a symbol of the hope of those women, of that secret disciple of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, and of the other disciples. An expectation that now fills with warmth the heart of every believer who stands before a tomb or feels the cold touch of sickness or death. It is the expection of a new and different dawn, which in just a few hours, once the sabbath has passed, will appear before our eyes, the eyes of Christ's followers.

* * *

When that day breaks, we will be met on the street of the tombs by the angel who will say to us: "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen"[42]! And as we return home, the Risen One will draw near and walk with us, coming to stay with us and breaking bread with us at table[43]. Then we too will pray in the faith-filled words of the magnificent Saint Matthew Passion, set to music by one of mankind's greatest musicians:[44]

"Though my heart is tearful because Jesus bids me farewell, yet his testament gives me joy. He bequeaths to me a precious treasure, his flesh and his blood... I will offer you my heart; immerse yourself therein, my Saviour! I will cast myself upon you! If the earth is too small for you, then you alone shall be for me more than earth and heaven!"

All:

Pater noster, qui es in cćlis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cćlo, 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.

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


[42] Luke 24:5-6.
[43] Luke 24:13-32.
[44] JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, St Matthew Passion, BWV 244, Nos. 18-19.

--- --- ---

The Holy Father addresses those present.
At the end of his address, the Holy Father imparts the Apostolic Blessing:

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 cćlum et terram.

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

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness - Part 2
Catholic Online

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Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Peter 1:10-16
10 This salvation was the subject of the search and investigation of the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has performed wonders, his ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:28-31
28 Peter took this up. 'Look,' he said to him, 'we have left everything ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 24th, 2016 Image

St. David I of Scotland
May 24: David, the youngest son of Scotland's virtuous ... Read More