Meditations for Good Friday Via Crucis

Texts Written by Augustinian Sister Maria Rita Piccione

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the meditations prepared by Augustinian Sister Maria Rita Piccione, president of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Federation of Augustinian Monasteries in Italy, for Good Friday's Stations of the Cross at the Roman Colosseum. Benedict XVI will preside over the event.

* * *

INTRODUCTION

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.[1]

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This evening we gather against the evocative backdrop of the Roman Colosseum. We are summoned by the Word just proclaimed to join Pope Benedict XVI along Jesus’ Way of the Cross.

Let us turn our inward gaze to Christ and implore him with hearts afire: "I beg you, Lord: Say to my soul: I am your salvation! Say it, that I may hear it!"[2]

Christ’s comforting voice blends with the delicate thread of our "yes", and the Holy Spirit, the finger of God, weaves within us the solid web of a faith full of consolation and guidance.

To follow, to believe and to pray: these are the simple and sure steps which guide our journey along the Way of the Cross, and gradually enable us to glimpse the path of Truth and Life.

OPENING PRAYER

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

R/. Amen.

The Holy Father: Let us pray.

A moment of silence follows

Lord Jesus,
you invite us to follow you
in this, your final hour.
In you, each one of us is present
and we, though many, are one in you.
In your final hour is our life’s hour of testing,
in all its harshness and brutality;
it is the hour of the passion of your Church
and of all humanity.
It is the hour of darkness:
when "the foundations of the earth tremble"[3]
and man, "a tiny part of your creation",[4]
groans and suffers with it;
an hour when the various masks of falsehood
mock the truth
and the allure of success stifles the deep call to honesty;
when utter lack of meaning and values
brings good training to nought
and the disordered heart disfigures the innocence
of the small and weak;
an hour when man strays from the way leading to the Father
and no longer recognizes in you
the bright face of his own humanity.
This hour brings the temptation to flee,
the sense of bewilderment and anguish,
as the worm of doubt eats away at the mind
and the curtain of darkness falls on the heart.
And you, Lord,
who read the open book of our frail hearts,
ask us this evening,
as once you asked the Twelve:
"Do you also wish to leave me?"[5]
No, Lord, we cannot and would not leave you,
for you alone "have the words of eternal life",[6]
you alone are "the word of truth"[7]
and your cross alone
is the "key that opens to us the secrets
of truth and life".[8]
"We will follow you wherever you go!"[9]
Following you is itself our act of worship,
as from the horizon of the not yet
a ray of joy
caresses the already of our journey.

R/. Amen.

[1] 1 Pet 2:21.
[2] Saint Augustine, Confessions, 1, 5, 5 (all non-biblical citations, unless otherwise noted, are from Saint Augustine).
[3] Is 24:18.
[4] Confessions, 1, 1, 1.
[5] Jn 6:67.
[6] Jn 6:68.
[7] Cf. Eph 1:13.
[8] Cf. Commentary on the Psalms, 45, 1.
[9] Cf. Mt 8:19.

* * *

FIRST STATION
Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus is silent; he guards the truth within himself

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 18:37-40

Pilate said to Jesus, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, "I find no crime in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?" They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.

MEDITATION

Pilate finds in Jesus no cause for condemnation, yet he does not find within himself the strength to oppose the sentence.

His inner hearing is deaf to the word of Jesus; he fails to understand Jesus’ testimony to the truth.

"To hear the truth is to obey it and believe in it".[1] It is to live freely under its aegis and to entrust one’s heart to it.

Pilate is not free: he is conditioned from without, yet the truth he has heard continues to echo within, knocking at his heart and troubling him.

So he goes out to the Jews; "he went out again", the text emphasizes, in an attempt, as it were, to flee from himself. And the voice coming to him from without prevails over the word within.

Here is where the condemnation of Jesus, the condemnation of the truth, is decided.

Jesus most humble,
we too let ourselves be conditioned from without.
We no longer know how to hear the quiet,
exacting and liberating voice of our own conscience
which lovingly invites us, appealing from within:
"Do not go out, return to yourself:
it is in the inner man that the truth dwells".[2]
Come, Spirit of Truth,
help us to encounter in the "inner man,
hidden deep within our hearts"[3]
the Holy Face of the Son
who renews us in the Divine Likeness!

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.

NOTES

[1] Cf. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 115, 4.
[2] On True Religion, 39, 72.
[3] Cf. Jerusalem Bible (Italian), note on 1 Pet 3:4.

* * *

SECOND STATION
Jesus takes up his cross
Jesus carries the cross; he shoulders the burden of truth

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 19:6-7, 16-17

When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God." [...]

Then [Pilate] handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his cross, to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.

MEDITATION

Pilate hesitates; he seeks a pretext to release Jesus, but yields to the outcry and the will which dominates, which appeals to the Law and spreads innuendo.

The history of the wounded human heart continues to be repeated: with its pettiness, its inability to see beyond itself, to escape the illusions of petty self-interest, and thus to find freedom, to take flight and to soar in the broad expanse of goodness and honesty.
The human heart is a microcosm.

Within it the great fortunes of humanity are decided, its conflicts resolved or intensified. But the decisive factor is always the same: whether to cling to, or to let go of, the truth which sets us free.

Jesus most humble,
in the ebb and flow of daily life
our heart looks down to its own small world,
and, all consumed by ledger of our own wellbeing,
remains blind to the outstretched hand of the poor and needy
which begs for a hearing and asks for help.
At most we are touched, but we do not stir.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
touch our heart and draw it to yourself.
"Keep sound our inner sense of taste,
that it may eat and drink
of wisdom, justice, truth and eternity"![1]

All:

Pater noster...

Cuius animam gementem
constristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

NOTES

[1] Commentary on the Gospel of John, 26, 5.

* * *

THIRD STATION
Jesus falls the first time
Jesus falls but, meek and humble, he rises

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

MEDITATION

The story of Jesus falling three times along the Way of the Cross is not part of the biblical account; it is a legacy of traditional devotion, carefully preserved and cultivated in the hearts of those who pray.

In his first fall, Jesus turns to us, shows us a path, becomes our teacher.

He invites us to come to him whenever we experience human powerlessness, and to discover there the closeness of God’s power.

He shows us the path leading to the fount of true refreshment, of the grace which is sufficient.

He teaches us the lesson of a meekness which quells rebellion and a trust which supplants arrogance.

As our teacher, the fallen Jesus gives us, most of all, the great lesson of humility, "the path that brought him to the resurrection".[1] The path that, after every fall, gives us the strength to say: "Now I will begin again, O Lord, with you and not alone!"

Jesus most humble,
our own falls, born of our shortcomings and sins,
bruise the pride of our hearts,
close them to the grace of humility
and halt our journey on the path that leads to you.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
free us from every pretence of self-sufficiency
and grant that we may recognize in every fall
a step upon the stairway that rises to you!

All:

Pater noster ...

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
Mater Unigeniti.

NOTES

[1] Commentary on the Psalms, 127, 10.

* * *

FOURTH STATION
Jesus meets his Mother
Near the cross of Jesus "stands" his Mother: this is her prayer and her motherhood

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

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

Saint John shows us Jesus’ Mother standing beneath his cross, but no Evangelist tells us outright of an encounter between the two.

And yet this "standing" of his Mother at the cross is truly an encounter in the most profound sense of the word. The seemingly static verb – "to stand" – actually expresses deep inner movement and vitality.

It is the intense movement of prayer joined to tranquil acquiescence. To pray is let oneself be caught up in the loving and true gaze of God, who reveals us to ourselves and sends us forth on mission.

In authentic prayer, a personal encounter with Jesus makes each of us a mother and a beloved disciple, it begets life and transmits love. It expands our inner receptivity and weaves mystical bonds of communion, entrusting us to one another and opening the individual you to the common we of the Church.

Jesus most humble,
when life’s trials and injustices,
its unmerited sufferings and brutal violence
make us lash out against you,
you ask us to stand, like your Mother,
at the foot of the cross.
When our plans and expectations
fall apart or seem doomed to failure,
and make us flee in desperation,
you recall us to the strength found in waiting.
We have indeed forgotten
the power of standing still as an expression of prayer!
Come, Spirit of Truth,
be the "cry of our heart"[1]
which incessantly and inexpressibly
stands with confidence in the presence of God!

All:

Pater noster ...

Quae moerebat et dolebat
pia Mater, cum videbat
Nati poenas incliti.

NOTES

[1] Cf. Commentary on the Psalms, 118, d. 29, 1.

* * *

FIFTH STATION
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross
Jesus learns the obedience of love along the path of his suffering

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Luke 23:26

"And as they led Jesus 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."

MEDITATIONS

Simon of Cyrene is a man portrayed by the Evangelists with precise details regarding his name and background, his family and work. His is the photograph of a man caught at a certain time and place, in some way forced to carry a cross not his own. Yet Simon of Cyrene is really each of us. He accepts the burden of the cross of Jesus, just as we ourselves received the sign of the cross at Holy Baptism.

The life of a disciple of Jesus consists in just such obedience to the sign of the cross, in a disposition ever more marked by the freedom of love and mirroring the obedience of the Master. It is a complete surrender to learning, like him, the geometry of love,[1] according to the measure of the cross: the breadth of good works, the length of perseverance in trial, theheight of the hope which trusts and fixes its gaze aloft, the depth of the grace that sinks it roots in gratuity".[2]

Jesus most humble,
when life gives us a bitter cup to drink,
our nature closes in upon itself, digs in,
fearful of being caught up in the folly
of that greater love
which turns renunciation into joy,
obedience into freedom
and sacrifice into greatness of heart!
Come, Spirit of Truth,
make us obedient when the cross comes into our lives,
and docile to its sign, which embraces our whole being:
"body and soul, thoughts and will,
senses and feelings, acting and suffering"[3]
and expands all things in accordance with love’s measure!

All:

Pater noster ...

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

NOTES

[1] Cf. Eph 3:18.
[2] Cf. Letter 140, 26, 64.
[3] Cf. R. GUARDINI, The Spirit of the Liturgy. Sacred Signs.

* * *

SIXTH STATION
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Jesus is not concerned with appearances. Jesus looks at the heart

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the second letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 4:6

God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

MEDITATION

Along the Way of the Cross popular devotion has depicted a woman’s gesture, steeped in gentleness and veneration, a kind of lingering trace of the perfume of Bethany. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. In that face, marred by suffering, Veronica recognizes the face transfigured by glory; in the features of the suffering Servant she sees the fairest of the sons of men. Seeing Jesus in this way leads to her generous gesture of kindness and in return she receives the imprint of the Holy Face! Veronica teaches us the secret of that feminine gaze that invites encounter and offers help: it sees persons with the heart![1]

Jesus most humble,
our eyes are incapable of looking beyond:
beyond poverty, to recognize your presence,
beyond the shadow of sin,
to glimpse the sun of your mercy,
beyond the blemishes of the Church,
to see the face of a Mother.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
pour into our eyes "the cleansing balm of faith"[2]
that they may not be distracted by outward appearances,
but come to know the allure of things unseen.

All:

Pater noster...

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

NOTES

[1] Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Women, 12.
[2] Commentary on the Gospel of John, 34, 9.

* * *

SEVENTH STATION
Jesus falls the second time
Jesus does not show power, but teaches patience[1]

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the first letter of Saint Peter 2:21b-24

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

MEDITATION

Jesus falls again beneath the weight of the cross. The wood of our salvation is burdened not only with the infirmities of our human nature but also the trials of our daily life. Jesus shouldered the burden of persecution against the Church, past and present, the persecution that murders Christians in the name of a heartless idol and offends her dignity "with lying lips and arrogant words."[2] Jesus bore the burden of persecution against Peter, against the untrammeled voice of "the truth that challenges and frees the heart."[3] By his cross, Jesus bore the burden of persecution against his servants and disciples, against those who respond to hatred with love, to violence with meekness. By his cross, Jesus bore the burden of that inordinate "love of self which leads to contempt of God"[4] and injustice against our brothers and sisters. He bore it all freely, he endured it all "in patience, as a means of instructing our own patience".[5]

Jesus most humble,
amid the injustices and trials of this life
we fail to stand fast in patience.
Often we implore you to show your power
by freeing us of the weighty wood of our personal cross.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
teach us to follow the example of Christ
and "to practise his great precepts of patience
by the tenor of our hearts!"[6]

All:

Pater noster ...

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

NOTES

[1] Cf. Commentary on the Psalms, 40, 13.
[2] Ps 11(12): 4.
[3] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, On Conscience, San Francisco, 2007.
[4] The City of God, 14, 28.
[5] Sermon 175, 3, 3.
[6] Commentary on the Gospel of John, 113, 4.

* * *

EIGHTH STATION
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, who weep for him
Jesus looks at us and evokes tears of conversion

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 23:27-31

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?"

MEDITATIONS

Jesus our Master, on the way to Calvary, continues to teach us what it is to be human. Meeting the women of Jerusalem and casting his gaze of truth and mercy upon them, he accepts every tear of compassion shed for him. The God who wept over Jerusalem[1] now directs the tears of those women away from fruitless outward pity. He invites them to see in him the fate of the innocent man unjustly condemned and then seared, like green wood, by the "chastisement that makes us whole".[2] He helps them to look to the dry wood of their own hearts in order to experience the life-giving pain born of compunction.
Our sorrow is authentic when we weep not only to confess our sin but also to express heartfelt anguish. Such tears are blessed, like the tears of Peter, a sign of repentance and a pledge of conversion, and they renew within us the grace of our Baptism.

Jesus most humble,
in your body, afflicted and abused,
disgraced and scorned,
we are unable to see
the wounds of our own infidelity and ambition,
our betrayal and our rebellion.
Your wounds cry out,
pleading for the balm of our conversion,
yet today we no longer know how to weep for our sins.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
pour out upon us the gift of Wisdom!
In the light of your saving Love,
make us aware of our own wretchedness,
grant us "the tears that take away guilt,
the weeping that merits forgiveness"![3]

All:

Pater noster ...

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

NOTES

[1] Cf. Lk 19:41.
[2] Is 53:5.
[3] Cf. SAINT AMBROSE, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, X, 90.

* * *

NINTH STATION
Jesus falls the third time
By his own weakness, Jesus strengthens our infirmity

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 22:28-30a, 31-32

You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom … Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.

MEDITATION

In his third fall, Jesus expresses the love with which, for our sake, he embraced the burden of suffering, and he renews his call to follow him faithfully to the end. But he also gives us a glimpse of what lies beyond the veil of the promise: "If we endure, we shall also reign with him".[1]

Jesus’ falls are part of the mystery of his Incarnation. He sought us out in our weakness, descending into its very depths in order to raise us up to himself. "In himself he showed us the path of humility, to open up for us the path of return".[2] "He taught us patience as the weapon that conquers the world".[3] Now, falling to the ground for the third time, even as he "sympathizes with our weaknesses",[4] he shows us how not to succumb to temptation: we are to persevere, to remain steadfast, in a word, "to remain in him".[5]

Jesus most humble,
amid the trials that sift our faith
we feel alone and forlorn:
we do not yet believe that these, our trials
were once yours
and that you ask us
simply to endure them with you.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
whenever we fall along the way!
Teach us to cling to Jesus’ fidelity
and to trust in his prayer for us,
that we may receive that stream of power
which he alone, God-with-us­, is able to give!

All:
Pater noster ...

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

NOTES

[1] 2 Tim 2:12.
[2] Cf. Sermon 50, 11.
[3] Cf. Commentary on the Gospel of John, 113, 4.
[4] Heb 4:15.
[5] Cf. Jn 15:7.

* * *

TENTH STATION
Jesus is stripped of his garments
Jesus stands naked, that we may be robed in the garment of sons

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

A reading from the Gospel according to John 19:23-24

The soldiers […] took Jesus’ 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 casts lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfil the scripture, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." So the soldiers did this.

MEDITATIONS

Jesus stands naked. The image of Christ stripped of his garments is richly biblical: it brings us back to the innocent nudity of our origins and to the shame of the Fall.[1]

In original innocence, nudity was the robe of man’s glory: his transparent and beautiful friendship with God. With the Fall, the harmony of that relationship is broken, nudity becomes shameful and it contains the tragic memory of that loss.

Nakedness is another word for the truth of being.

Jesus, stripped of his garments, wove from the cross the new robe of our dignity as sons and daughters of God. His seamless tunic remains there, for us, in its integrity: the garment of his divine sonship was not torn, but was bestowed upon us from the height of the cross.

Jesus most humble,
in the sight of your nakedness
we come to see what is essential
in our lives and in our joy:
that in you we are sons and daughters of the Father.
But we also see our own unwillingness
to embrace poverty as dependence on the Father,
and to accept nakedness as our the garment of our sonship.
Come, Spirit of Truth,
help us to acknowledge and bless
in every despoliation that we endure
a confrontation with the truth of our being,
an encounter with the redemptive nakedness of the Saviour,
a springboard towards filial embrace with the Father!

All:

Pater noster ...

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

NOTES

[1] Gen 2:25; 3:7.

* * *

ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus, lifted up from the earth, draws all to himself

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

A reading from the Gospel according to John 19:18-22

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

MEDITATIONS

The crucified Jesus is at the centre; the royal title, high above the cross, discloses the depths of the mystery: Jesus is the King and the cross is his throne. Jesus’ kingship, recorded in three languages, is a message for all: for the simple and the wise, the poor and the powerful, those who trust in God’s law and those who trust in political power. The image of the Crucified One, which no human decree will ever be able to remove from the walls of our heart, will remain for ever the royal Word of Truth: the "Crucified Light which enlightens the blind",[1]the "treasure which only prayer can unlock",[2] the heart of the world.

Jesus’ does not reign with worldly might, he has "no legions".[3] "Jesus reigns by drawing to himself":[4] his magnet is the love of the Father who gives himself for us, in the Son, "to the infinite end".[5] "Nothing is withdrawn from its burning heat!"[6]

Lord Jesus, crucified for our sake,
you are the proof
of the Father’s great love for mankind,
the image of that truth which alone is credible.
Draw us to yourself,
that we may learn to live
by "love of your love".[7]
Come, Spirit of Truth,
help us always to choose "God and his will
over the interests of the world and its powers",
and to discover, in the outward powerlessness of the Crucified Lord,
the ever new power of truth.[8]

All:

Pater noster ...

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

[1] Cf. Sermon 136, 4.
[2] Cf. Sermon 160, 3.
[3] BENEDICT XVI, Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, San Francisco, 2011, p. 190.
[4] Cf. Jn 12:32.
[5] H.U VON BALTHASAR, You Crown the World with Goodness.
[6] Ps 18/19:7.
[7] Confessions, 2, 1, 1.
[8] BENEDICT XVI, op. cit., pp. 192ff.

* * *

TWELFTH STATION
Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus experiences his death as a gift of love

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 19:28-30

Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said to fulfil the Scripture: "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

MEDITATIONS

"I thirst." "It is finished." With these two phrases Jesus, looking first to humanity and then to the Father, bequeaths to us the burning passion at the heart of his person and mission: love for man and obedience to the Father. His is a love both horizontal and vertical: in the shape of the cross! And at the intersection of this twofold love, at the place where Jesus bows his head, the Holy Spirit wells up, the first fruits of his return to the Father.
This final breath which brings Jesus’ life to completion evokes the work of creation,[1] which now is redeemed. But it is also a summons to all of us who believe in him to "bring to completion in our own flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions".[2] That all may be complete!

Lord Jesus, who died for our sake!
You ask, that you may give,
you die, that you may leave a legacy,
and thus you make us see that the gift of self
opens a space for unity.
Pardon the gall of our rejection and unbelief,
pardon the deafness of our hearts
to your cry of thirst
which echoes in the suffering of our many brothers and sisters.
Come, Holy Spirit,
parting gift of the Son who dies for us:
may you be the guide who "leads us into all the truth"[3]
and "the root which sustains us in unity"![4]

All:
Pater noster ...

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
morientem desolatum,
cum emisit spiritum.

NOTES

[1] Gen 2:2,7.
[2] Cf. Col 1:24.
[3] Cf. Jn 16:13.
[4] Cf. Commentary on the Psalms, 143, 3.

* * *

THIRTEENTH STATION
Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his Mother
The body of Jesus is embraced by his Mother

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 19:32-35, 38

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth – that you also may believe. After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.

MEDITATIONS

Jesus’ pierced side is not only a wound but a window; it is an open door to the heart of God. Here his infinite love for us can be drawn like life-giving water, a drink which, unseen, satisfies and revives. May we, too, draw near the body of Jesus, lowered from the cross and held in his Mother’s arms. Let us approach "not by walking but by believing, not with physical steps but with the free decision of our heart".[1] In this lifeless body we see ourselves as members of Christ, his limbs, wounded and suffering, yet safe in the loving embrace of our Mother.

But let us also see ourselves as held in these motherly arms, firm yet gentle.
The open arms of the Church, our Mother, are like the altar which offers us the Body of Christ. There we become Christ’s mystical Body.

Lord Jesus,
placed in the arms of your Mother, the image of our Mother the Church!
As we contemplate the figure of the Pietà
we learn devotion to the "yes" of love;
we learn surrender and acceptance,
trust and practical concern,
a tender heart which restores life and awakens joy.
Come, Holy Spirit,
guide us, as you guided Mary,
by the radiant gratuity of the love
"poured forth from God into our hearts
by the gift of your presence!"[2]

All:

Pater noster ...

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolore,
donec ego vixero.

NOTES

[1] Commentary on the Gospel of John, 26, 3.
[2] Cf. Rom 5:5.

* * *

FOURTEENTH STATION
Jesus is placed in the tomb
The land of silence and expection holds Jesus, the seed of new life

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 19:40-42

They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden there was a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

MEDITATIONS

A garden, whose colours are a symbol of life, receives the mystery of man, created and redeemed. It was in a garden that God set the man he had created,[1] and thence banished him after the Fall.[2] It was in a garden that the Passion of Jesus began,[3] and now in a garden an empty tomb receives the new Adam as he returns to the earth,[4] the maternal womb which holds the seed that dies to bear much fruit.

This is the hour of faith, which waits silently, and of hope, which already sees on the withered branch a a tiny bud, the promise of salvation and joy.

Now the voice of "God speaks in silent depths of the heart".[5]

All:

Pater noster ...

Quando corpus morietur,
fac ut animæ donetur
paradisi gloria.

Amen.

NOTES

[1] Gen 2:8.
[2] Gen 3:23.
[3] Jn 18:1.
[4] Jn 19:41.
[5] Commentary on the Psalms, 38, 20.

* * *

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
AND APOSTOLIC BLESSING

The Holy Father addresses those present.

At the end of his address, His Holiness imparts the Apostolic Blessing:

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

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

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

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

HYMN

R. Crux fidelis, inter omnes arbor una nobilis,
Nulla talem silva profert, flore, fronde, germine!
Dulce lignum dulci clavo dulce pondus sustinens.

1. Pange, lingua, gloriosi prœlium certaminis,
Et super Crucis trophæo dic triumphum nobilem,
Qualiter Redemptor orbis immolatus vicerit. R.

2. De parentis protoplasti fraude factor condolens,
Quando pomi noxialis morte morsu corruit,
Ipse lignum tunc notavit, damna ligni ut solveret. R.

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