Jesus´ "Dark Night" Is Focus of Meditation

Papal-Household Preacher Centers on "Mystery of Mysteries"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- As a man, Christ experienced the "dark night" of the soul, and in the darkness of Gethsemane, he accepted the atrocious sufferings of his passion for our salvation, says the Papal Household preacher.



At 9 this morning, John Paul II went to the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Vatican to hear the third meditation in preparation for Holy Week, led by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Papal Household.

Father Cantalamessa centered his meditation on the "mystery of mysteries," reflected in Jesus´ face during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, a face that had lost its comeliness given the imminence of the sufferings that awaited him.

"Jesus´ anguish was not caused by simply foreseeing the torments; Jesus took sin upon himself, the whole sin of the world," Father Cantalamessa reminded the Holy Father and Roman Curia officials on hand.

"At that moment, the fact that he had not committed the sins made no difference: They were his because he freely assumed them: ´He bore our sins in his body,´" the Capuchin said.

"Sin causes God to distance himself," he continued. "Jesus experienced the dark night of the soul, but it was precisely the human ´yes´ pronounced by a God in the darkness of the spirit of his humanity who redeemed the rebellion of men, from Adam onward."

"Gethsemane does not end in failure, but in victory, in the greatest victory in history," the preacher stressed.

Since then, it is also possible for us to say "yes," even when we feel the temptation to struggle with God, Father Cantalamessa said, "when he asks for something that your nature is not willing to give him, or when his action is incomprehensible and disconcerting."

"When anguish overwhelmed him, Jesus prayed more intensely. He prayed to bend his will to God´s," the Papal Household preacher added.

"When you feel within you a cry of rebellion or a tumult of hostile thoughts and feelings toward brothers, go before the tabernacle or a crucifix and simply kneel down. You thus make your rebellions Jesus´ footstool. By that simple action, you are already on his side," the preacher emphasized.

"May we have the strength to give everything to the Father when he stretches his hand toward us. Teach us to say that word with which you saved us: ´Not my will but thine be done,´" was the preacher´s final exhortation.

Father Cantalamessa´s four meditations in preparation for Holy Week have the same theme: "To begin again in Christ."

He noted that the contemplation of Jesus´ face -- a topic John Paul II touches on in his apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte" -- gripped the youthful Karol Wojtyla.

The preacher quoted a passage from a poem of the future Pope: "I am a wayfarer on the narrow pavement of earth, and I do not put aside the thought of your face, which the world does not reveal to me."