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Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis

3/22/2008 - 20:06 PST

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yet not what I will, but what you will."


Jesus experienced fear, anguish and sorrow, even to death. He took with him three companions, but soon they fell asleep, and he began to pray alone: "May this hour pass from me, take away this chalice from me ... Yet, Father, may your will be done."

He had come into the world in order to do the Father's will, but never before had he tasted the full depth of the bitterness of sin, or felt so helpless.

In his Letter to the Catholics in China, Benedict XVI recalled the vision in the Apocalypse of Saint John where the apostle weeps before the sealed book of human history, the "mysterium iniquitatis". Only the Lamb that was slain is capable of removing the seal.

In many parts of the world, the Bride of Christ is undergoing the dark hour of persecution, as Esther once did, when threatened by Haman, as did the "Woman" of the Apocalypse, when threatened by the dragon. Let us be watchful, and let us accompany the Bride of Christ in our prayer.


Jesus, Almighty God, you chose to become weakness because of our sins, you recognize the cries of the persecuted, which are the echo of your agony. They ask: Why this oppression? Why this humiliation? Why this prolonged servitude?

The words of the Psalm come to mind: "Awake, Lord, why do you sleep? Awake! Do not cast us off for ever! Why do you hide your face, why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we lie prostrate in the dust, our body cleaves to the ground. Rise up, come to our help!" (Psalm 43:24-26).

No, Lord! You did not have recourse to this Psalm in Gethsemane, but you said: "Your will be done!" You could have summoned twelve legions of angels, but you did not.

Lord, suffering makes us afraid. We are tempted once again to grasp at easy means of success. Help us not to be afraid of fear, help us to trust in you.


Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in clo, 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 is betrayed by Judas and abandoned by his disciples

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (14:43a, 45-46, 50-52)

And immediately, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas came, one of the Twelve. And he went up to Jesus at once and said, "Master!" And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. And the disciples all forsook him and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.


Betrayal and abandonment on the part of those he had chosen as Apostles, those he had entrusted with the secrets of the Kingdom, those he had trusted completely! Total failure, then. What sorrow, what humiliation!

Yet all this took place to fulfil the sayings of the prophets. Otherwise, how could the ugliness of sin have been exposed, which is simply the betrayal of love?

Betrayal causes surprise, especially if it even involves the shepherds of the flock. How could they do this to him? The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak. Temptations, threats and blackmail bend the will. Yet what a scandal! What great sorrow in the Lord's heart!

Let us not be scandalized! Defections are never lacking at times of persecution. And afterwards, people have often returned to the fold. In that young man who cast away the linen cloth and ran away naked (cf. Mk 14:51-52), authoritative interpreters have seen the future evangelist Mark.


Lord, those who flee from your Passion are left without dignity. Have mercy on us, who stand naked before your Majesty. Let us place before you our most shameful wounds.

Jesus, to abandon you is to abandon the sun. If we seek to rid ourselves of the sun, we fall back into cold and darkness.

Father, we have distanced ourselves from your house. We are not worthy to be received back by you. Yet you have given orders that we should be washed and robed, supplied with sandals and a ring on our finger.


Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in clo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum ...
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