Read the 2008 Easter Message of the Passionist Superior General, Fr. Ottaviano D’Egidio, C.P. here
Archive for March, 2008
Below is the address given by Pope Benedict XVI at the closing of the Stations of the Cross in Rome on Good Friday 2008
Dear brothers and sisters,
This year too we have walked along the way of the cross, the Via Crucis, evoking again with faith the stages of the passion of Christ. Our eyes have turned to contemplate the sufferings and the anguish that our Redeemer had to bear in the hour of great sorrow, which entailed the highpoint of his earthly mission. Jesus dies on the cross and lies in the tomb. The day of Good Friday, so permeated by human sadness and religious silence, closes in the silence of meditation and prayer. In returning home, we too, like those who were present at the sacrifice of Jesus, beat our breasts, recalling what happened. Is it possible to remain indifferent before the death of the Lord, of the Son of God? For us, for our salvation he became man, so as to be able to suffer and die.
Brothers and sisters: Let us direct today our gaze toward Christ, a gaze frequently distracted by scattered and passing earthly interests. Let us pause to contemplate his cross. The cross, fount of life and school of justice and peace, is the universal patrimony of pardon and mercy. It is permanent proof of a self-emptying and infinite love that brought God to become man, vulnerable like us, unto dying crucified.
Through the sorrowful way of the cross, the men of all ages, reconciled and redeemed by the blood of Christ, have become friends of God, sons of the heavenly Father. “Friend,” is what Jesus calls Judas and he offers him the last and dramatic call to conversion. “Friend,” he calls each of us, because he is the authentic friend of everyone. Unfortunately, we do not always manage to perceive the depth of this limitless love that God has for us. For him, there is no distinction of race or culture. Jesus Christ died to liberate the humanity of old of their ignorance of God, of the circle of hate and violence, of the slavery to sin. The cross makes us brothers and sisters.
But let us ask ourselves, in this moment, what have we done with this gift, what have we done with the revelation of the face of God in Christ, with the revelation of the love of God that conquers hate. Many, in our age as well, do not know God and cannot encounter him in Christ crucified. Many are in search of a love or a liberty that excludes God. Many believe they have no need of God.
Dear friends: After having lived together the passion of Jesus, let us this night allow his sacrifice on the cross to question us. Let us permit him to challenge our human certainties. Let us open our hearts. Jesus is the truth that makes us free to love. Let us not be afraid: upon dying, the Lord destroyed sin and saved sinners, that is, all of us. The Apostle Peter writes: “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). This is the truth of Good Friday: On the cross, the Redeemer has made us adoptive sons of God who he created in his image and likeness. Let us remain, then, in adoration before the cross.
Christ, give us the peace we seek, the happiness we desire, the love the fills our heart thirsty for the infinite. This is our prayer for this night, Jesus, Son of God, who died for us on the cross and was resurrected on the third day.
Each Good Friday I choose a book to read and help my reflection during the course of the day. This year I’ve selected “The Cross – An Australian Journey” by Helen Barnes, RSJ (St. Paul Publications, Strathfield, 2007)
The book looks in a fresh way at the images of the Way of the Cross.
1. Jesus is condemned to death – Remembering those confined to imprisonment, illness etc.
2. Jesus takes up his cross – Remembering those who bear a cross of pain
3. Jesus falls the first time – Remember those who fall because of the loss of land, employment, etc.
4. Jesus meets his mother – Remembering mothers and children who suffer the loss of family and homeland
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross – Remembering those who need the kindness of others to help them on their journey
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus – Remembering those who tend the needs of others, such as those who care for the disabled
7. Jesus falls the second time – Remembering those homeless and disadvantaged
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem – Remembering the trafficking of women and exploitation of children
9. Jesus falls the third time – Remembering the elderly who are dependent on others
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments – Remembering those stripped of the land, of dignity and spirit
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross – Remembering those suffering mental illness
12. Jesus dies on the cross – Remember those who give their life for others
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross – Remembering those who care for bodies in wars, tragedies, accidents
14. Jesus is placed in the tomb – Remembering those who suffer the loss of a loved one
JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
My mind is in toment.
My brain is sometimes sluggish.
Sometimes I have difficulty expressing myself and become violent.
Physical pain gives way to mental anguish.
My suffering is unseen unless I have a disturbing episode
and my needs become more visible.
Inside I am a lovable person with unique talents and gifts.
Can you recognise me?
Jesus knows me.
He lies on the wooden cross
as his feet and hands are secured with nails.
His body is hoisted upright,
his body, mind and spirit experience excruciating pain.
But he remembers me.
THE CROSS OPENS THE WAY TO LIFE
The cross is ever before us. It wants to speak to us, if only we contemplate it with love, drawn by the power of the Spirit who is the gift of Christ crucified. If we look upon it with awe and affection, the cross becomes an enticing, warm and all-consuming fire: it gives us a challenge.
It asks us many things. The cross asks us, our communities, our societies and our cultures to confirm that there do exist paths from the cross to resolve human problems.
Jesus did not invent the cross. He, like every person, found it on his journey. The newness in his message was to plant the seed of love in our bearing of the Cross. The element of love turned the way of the Cross into a way that leads to life. The Cross itself became a message of love: a means of transformation. Our cross is also the Cross of Jesus!
This cross first embraces each of us, and entrusts us with a duty in our personal life, in our families, among our friends and acquaintances – in sum, with whoever else’s cross we encounter. I think of the many broken families, the many illnesses which have not been accepted, of hardened hearts which have become embittered, resenting and brooding. How many crosses have been borne up and down in elevators of our buildings. How many cross-bearers walk up and down our streets, populate our cities!
There are crosses without a name, and often, without a hope. There are crosses of doom which, at best, are merely tolerated. Those who bear them live lives of quiet desperation and silent resignation.
From His Cross, Jesus invites each of us today to put all these crosses, and not just own, into relationship with his own. Jesus invites us to do as he did, plant the seed of love and hope in the soil of each of the crosses we encounter.
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.