Friday, April 19, 2019

Pope Francis leads Way of the Cross at Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday with Special Prayers - FULL TEXT + Video


Pope Francis leads Via Crucis at Rome's Colosseum on Good Friday Pope Francis leads the Way of the Cross against the iconic backdrop of Rome’s Colosseum on Good Friday evening. Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century started the tradition of celebrating the Way of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum. Every year a different person is chosen to prepare the texts that accompany a brief reflection at each of the 14 Stations. Pope Francis asked a religious Sister to prepare the meditations. Sr Eugenia Bonetti, a Consolata Missionary and President of the Association "Slaves no more".
The full text of Sr. Bonetti's prayers for the Way of the Cross can be found here:
https://www.catholicnewsworld.com/2019/04/way-of-cross-prayer-guide-by-sr-bonetti.html
At the end of the Stations Pope Francis recited a special prayer -
 Here is a Vatican News translation of the Pope’s prayer:

Lord Jesus, help us to see in your Cross all the crosses of the world:

The cross of those who hunger for bread and for love;

The cross of those who are alone or abandoned even by their own children and family members;

The cross of those who thirst for justice and peace;

The cross of those who do not have the comfort of the faith;

The cross of the elderly who are bowed down under the weight of years and loneliness;

The cross of migrants who find doors closed because of fear, and hearts sealed by political calculations;

The cross of the little ones, wounded in their innocence and purity;

The cross of humanity that wanders in the darkness of uncertainty and in the darkness of the culture of the fleeting moment;

The cross of families broken by betrayal, by the seductions of the evil one or by murderous lightness and by selfishness;

The cross of consecrated persons who tirelessly seek to bring your light into the world and feel rejected, mocked and humiliated;

The cross of consecrated persons who, along the way, have forgotten their first love;

The cross of your children who, believing in you and trying to live according to your word, find themselves marginalized and discarded even by their families and their peers;

The cross of our weaknesses, our hypocrisies, our betrayals, our sins and our many broken promises;

The cross of your Church which, faithful to your Gospel, struggles to carry your love even among the baptized themselves;

The cross of the Church, your bride, who feels continually attacked from within and from without;

The cross of our common home that withers seriously before our selfish eyes that are blinded by greed and power.

Lord Jesus, rekindle in us the hope of the resurrection and of your definitive victory against all evil and all death. Amen!

A Historical Look at the Deep Spiritual Significance of Veronica's Veil in Christendom by Mary-Catharine Carroll


The Veil of Veronica: From Concealment to Revelation

The Veil of Veronica (called the Veronica) belongs to the tradition of miraculous images on cloth that claim to be made from the imprint of Christ’s face. Called Volto santo, or Holy Face, they include the Holy Face of Manoppello, the Holy Face of Vienna, the Holy Face of Alicante, Holy Face of Jaén, the Holy Face of San Silvestro and the Roman Veronica. These images are described as “not made by human hands” (Gr. Acheiropoieta).

An early example is found in the legend of Abgar, King of Edessa. In the story, the King will not be seen in public because his face has been disfigured by leprosy. Hearing about Jesus’ miracles, Abgar writes to him requesting help. Jesus replies that he cannot visit, but instead will send a disciple to Edessa. The disciple cures Abgar in Jesus’ name, Abgar is baptized and Jesus’
letter is used as a talisman to protect the city. By the 4th century, however, the letter is replaced
by a cloth imprinted with Jesus’ image – known as the Image of Edessa or Mandylion, the cloth
produced many miracles over the centuries. The image was allegedly discovered in 525 C.E.
when a cloth bearing the facial features of a man was discovered hidden in the wall above one of
the city gates.
Another miraculous image tradition is of St. Luke’s painting an icon of the Virgin and
child. The story says that St. Luke painted the image on a tabletop that Jesus had made in his
earthly father’s workshop. While Mary sat for the icon, she told St. Luke about the life of her Son, which he later recorded in his Gospel. The legend first appeared in the 8th century, in a work called On the Veneration of Holy Images by Andrew of Crete who was writing during a time of the controversy over the Byzantine tradition of icon veneration. The early 8th to the mid-9th  century featured several periods of iconoclasm that required a defense of sacred art, including icons of Christ. While iconoclasts opposed the use of religious images and sought to ban their production, iconophiles worked to maintain the practice, believing that images were important teaching tools that honoured God and enhanced worship.

Iconoclasts argued that the second Commandment prohibited icon veneration:

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4-6).

While iconoclasm is sometimes understood in light of the Jewish, and later Islamic,
prohibition against holy images, disagreements often occurred in areas of conflicting
interpretations of Christ’s nature and person (in other words, the Incarnation).
The First Council of Nicaea (325) condemned the teachings of Arius and its variations,
which asserted that the Son (Christ) was a creature, brought forth by the free choice of the
Father. Athanasius of Alexandria defended the orthodox view that Jesus was of the same
substance as God the Father. The Nicene Creed, which emphasizes Jesus as “consubstantional
with the Father ... Begotten not made, one in being with the Father,” rejected Arianism and
established clear teaching on Christ’s divinity. The Council further anathematized those who
implied “there once was when he was not,” or “before he was begotten he was not,” or that he
came to be from things that were not, or from another substance, or that the Son of God is
subject to change or alteration.

Then, the Council of Ephesus (431), addressed Bishop Nestorius who distinguished between Jesus’ divine and human natures. Bishop Cyril of Alexandria, responded that Jesus was one person with two natures, one human, one divine. The Council agreed and insisted that he was truly one person, one being.

One century later, the Council of Chalcedon (451) confronted the Monophysite heresy, which held that Christ’s human nature had been absorbed by his divine nature. Chalcedon declared that Christ was one person, or hypostasis, “known in two natures [divine and human] without division or separation, confusion or change.” In the late 7th century, the second Council of Constantinople (680 – 681) condemned Monothelitism, which accepted that Christ had a divine and a human nature, but taught that he had a divine will, but no human will.

In 726, Emperor Leo III (717-741) proclaimed that the use of statues, pictures and icons
in worship was idolatry and ordered the removal of Christ’s image from the imperial palace in
Constantinople. Then, in February 754, the Council of Hieria ordered their removal from
churches and persecuted those who supported them:

After we had carefully examined their decrees under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we found that the unlawful art of painting living creatures blasphemed the fundamental doctrine of our salvation--namely, the Incarnation of Christ. [The painter] makes an image and calls it Christ. The name Christ signifies God and man. Consequently, it is an image of God and man, and consequently he has in his foolish mind, in his representation of the created flesh, depicted the Godhead which cannot be represented, and thus mingled what should not be mingled. Thus, he is guilty of a double blasphemy--the one in making an image of the Godhead, and the other by mingling the Godhead and the man.

In Three Treatises on the Divine Images, John of Damascus (676 – 749), wrote: “I am
emboldened to depict the invisible God, not as invisible, but as he became visible for our sake,
by participation in flesh and blood. I do not depict the invisible divinity, but I depict God made
visible in the flesh” (III, 6). At the same time, it was idolatrous to make an image of the invisible
God, whom, John asserted is “incorporeal and formless, invisible and uncircumscribable” (II, 5).
And, neither did he make “a likeness of God, nor of anything else as God” nor did he “worship
the creation instead of the Creator” (II, 9). John argued that icons of Christ are similar to but are
not exact reproductions of the original.

John also clarified the difference between worship and veneration – while worship is
reserved exclusively for God, other persons, places and objects may be venerated, including the
Virgin Mary and the saints; and humans (because they are in the image of God). John insisted
that iconophiles depicted and venerated the image of the incarnate God but worshipped the
prototype. He also quoted Basil the Great’s famous assessment that “the honor offered to the
image mounts up to the archetype” (III, 41).

Christ, the Incarnation, redeemed humanity and creation (matter) – both of which were
made by God. Therefore, matter can lead the faithful to the “immaterial God” (II, 22). John
explained “I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake
and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter,” and “I will not
cease from honouring that matter which works for my salvation. I venerate it, though not as
God” (I, 16). Clearly, John’s theology of the icon was based on the Incarnation, the revelation of
the image of God in the human form of Jesus Christ.

And, in 787, the second Council of Nicaea concurred that because Christ was revealed in
the flesh, sacred images were part of the unwritten tradition going back to apostolic times. And,
anathema was declared on anyone who would not confess that Christ could be represented in his
humanity.

In the Latin West, the acheiropoieta motif was associated with a woman whose name,
some believe, is a combination of the Latin word, vera (true) and the Greek word, ikona (image).
There are several versions of the Veronica story, the most familiar being the meeting between
Jesus and Veronica on the road to Calvary. In it, Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her veil and
then his image miraculously appears on the cloth. Veronica goes on to use the cloth to heal
disease. While this familiar version dates to the late medieval period, there is an earlier tradition
of Jesus and a woman that is related to an image of Christ. In Church History, Eusebius, Bishop
of Caesarea (263 – 339 CE), wrote about a woman in that city who commissioned a bronze
statue of herself and one of Jesus:

“For there stands upon an elevated stone, by the gates of her house, a brazen image of a woman kneeling, with her hands stretched out, as if she were praying. Opposite this is another upright image of a man, made of the same material, clothed decently in a double cloak, and extending his hand toward the woman ... They say that this statue is an image of Jesus ... Nor is it strange that those of the Gentiles who, of old, were benefited by our Saviour, should have done such things, since we have learned also that the likenesses of his apostles Paul and Peter, and of Christ himself, are preserved in paintings, the ancients being accustomed, as it is likely, according to a habit of the Gentiles, to pay this kind of honour indiscriminately to those regarded by them as deliverers.”

In the apocryphal Acts of Pilate (Gospel of Nicodemus), from the 4th century, a woman
named Berenice testifies for Jesus during his trial, and although there is no reference to a
miraculous cloth, when Jesus enters the praetorium to be tried by Pontius Pilate, the tops of the
standards bearing the image of the Emperor bend down and adore him. In the early medieval

Curing of Tiberius, the facially disfigured Emperor is healed by Veronica’s miraculous cloth;
and, in the Vengeance of the Saviour, dated to the early 8th century, Veronica’s cloth cures King
Titus’ facial cancer and the Emperor’s leprosy. The Golden Legend, from the late 13th century,
has Veronica walking to an artist’s workshop to commission a portrait of her beloved friend,
Jesus. On her way there, she meets Jesus who takes her cloth, presses it to his face and imprints
his image on it. And, like the other stories, the cloth goes on to cure various illnesses.

So far, none of the stories locate the Jesus and Veronica meeting on the via Dolorosa.
But, in several late medieval French narratives, including Robert de Boron’s Joseph d'Arimathie
and the Bible en François, the Veronica story is transposed onto the via Dolorosa.
So far, I’ve been talking about literary versions of the Veronica story. Somewhere
between the 8th (Pope John VII reportedly had a reliquary made for the Veronica in 705) and the
10th century, a cloth that tradition linked to Christ’s Passion was venerated at Old St. Peter’s
Basilica. Called a sudarium (or sweat cloth), it was allegedly stained with Jesus’ sweat and
blood, but was not considered a likeness of his face. Eventually, however, the cloth began to be
revered as a portrait of the Saviour and became an important relic of the Passion.
Near the end of the 12th century, the Archdeacon, Gerald of Wales, wrote that the cloth at
St. Peter’s was “a true icon ... a true image.” In Otia Imperialia, composed between 1214 and
1218, the canon lawyer, Gervase of Tilbury, called the Veronica “a true physical picture of the
Lord,” but added that it was covered by a veil. Later, in 1245, the Chronica majora (1245) of the
Benedictine monk, Matthew Paris, included a popular reproduction of the Veronica and
mentioned that Pope Innocent III, who was particularly devoted to the Veronica, had written the
prayer, Salve sancta facies (Hail Holy Face) that, when recited in front of the Veronica (or a
replica), would reduce a person’s time in Purgatory. The introduction of prayers attests to the
cloth’s representation in word and image, and its ontology as legend and object.
The Veronica was the first holy image to be associated with an indulgence. In the 14th
century, Pope John XXII promised a 1,000-day indulgence for praying Hail Holy Face in front
of the Veronica, or a replica. Innocent III is credited with making the Veronica the pre-eminent Christian relic in late medieval times (13th to the 15th century).
The Holy Office of the Veronica, attributed to him, opens with Psalm 66.2:
“May God have mercy on us and bless us: may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us,” 
and quotes Psalm 4.7:
“The light of thy countenance O Lord is signed upon us.” 
Then, he added his own prayer:
“O God, who didst will to leave to us, who are sealed with the light of Thy countenance, Thine image as a memorial of Thee, impressed on a handkerchief at the insistence of Veronica.” 
Art historian Jeffrey Hamburger states that implicit references to the imago Dei (image of God), highlight the Veronica’s doctrinal significance.

In “Veronica Images and the Office of the Holy Face,” Nigel Morgan sees the emphasis
on the Veronica image, as suggesting the person who is sealed by the light of God’s face. Just as
the Veronica preserves the imprint of God’s face, human beings bear an impressed sign of the
creator. The impressed sign is the imago Dei, the unique seal that God placed on humans to
identify their special place in creation. Art historian Joseph Leo Koerner suggests the Veronica
“resembles the original divine signature on the face of man, as being made in the image and
likeness of God,” while Hamburger suggests Jesus’ pressing his face on the cloth to form the
miraculous image is similar to human flesh’s malleability, into which the imago Dei was
imprinted and to which it will be restored at the end of time.
The imago Dei appears in the first book of the Bible:
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-28).
In the New Testament, the primary word for “image,” eikōn, is used within the context of
humanity’s relation to the image of Christ or God. It is linked to salvation via the doctrine of the
Incarnation. In fact, the objective of the imago Dei was to facilitate the Incarnation – God made
humanity in his image because he planned to enter into history to redeem humanity from sin and
death. The imago Dei allowed Jesus’ human nature to accommodate Christ’s divine nature,
thereby resulting in his being both God and fully human in a single person.

In Against Heresies, Bishop Irenaeus (140 – 202) states that the Incarnation
accomplished what humanity could not – returning the salvation “lost in Adam” and restoring the
imago Dei, while Bishop Athanasius (296-373) says the Incarnation accomplished “the
dissolution of death and the resurrection of life,” and allowed humans, who were made in God’s
image, to “have knowledge of him and his Word” (1 – 3). Because human beings had fallen into
idolatry, Christ, the Word of God and image of the Father, assumed human flesh to conquer sin
and death and restore God’s image.
Earlier, we discussed iconoclasm and Incarnation. While there was iconoclasm in the
West, specifically during the Carolingian period (between 790 and 840), more substantial were
the debates about the Eucharist. For example, as early as 110 CE, Bishop Ignatius of Antioch
warned about people who did not believe the Eucharist was Christ’s body. Around forty years
after the second council of Nicaea, a major eucharistic controversy erupted. The Benedictine
Abbot, Radbertus, asserted that following the consecration, the Eucharistic bread and wine were
literally transformed into Christ’s flesh and blood – but the monk, Ratramnus, argued that the
consecrated elements were not Christ’s actual body and blood, but were more symbolic. Then, in
the 11th century, the Archdeacon, Berengar of Tours, claimed that Christ’s presence in the bread
and wine was figurative and that the words of consecration should be interpreted metaphorically.
The Eucharistic controversies mirrored the heterodox ideas about Christ’s nature and person and
challenged Incarnational theology.

In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council, convened by Veronica’s promoter, Innocent III,
described the bread and wine as “transubstantiated” into Christ’s body and blood. The Lateran
Council could trace the belief to early documents that described the relationship between the
Incarnation and the Eucharist. In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes himself as “the bread of
life” and “the bread of God, which comes down from heaven and gives eternal life.” Later, in the
same Gospel, he introduces the second Eucharistic element – his blood: “those who eat my flesh
and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

Starr Hoffman’s study of vernicles notes that in the 11th century, the laity received the
Host only on specific days of the liturgical year, and within time, the chalice was withheld.
These changes resulted in the faithful’s separation from the Incarnate Christ in the Host - to
compensate, Veronicas were placed throughout the sanctuary and displayed on rood screens,
which eventually resulted in their incorporation into the Eucharistic liturgy.

Just as Christ is the invisible God in the flesh, the Veronica is the visual equivalent to the
invisible presence of Christ in the Eucharist. By standing for Christ’s body, the Veronicas that
accompanied the Eucharist gave the faithful the opportunity to connect with God’s physical
presence in the consecrated Host. And, in turn, both the Veronica and the Eucharist evoked
reflections on the Incarnation and the redemptive meaning of human suffering.

How specifically do the Eucharist and the Veronica symbolize the Incarnation? Both
have undergone a profound transformation – the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of
Christ and the cloth into the True Image – the vera ikona. And, like the Incarnate Christ, the
Eucharist provides spiritual nourishment, while the Veronica heals physical ills. Both indicate
Christ’s continued presence in the world, and both can be replicated without losing potency --
they have the same spiritual authority as the original. And, while the Eucharist is a sacramental
extension of the Incarnation, the Veronica is its visual proof. And, just as Christ’s human and
divine natures were united in the Incarnation, his two natures are united in the Eucharist and in
the Veronica.

The 12th century saw a “growing emotive element in Christianity.” Called affective piety,
it encouraged Christians to read texts or look at violent religious images as a way to stimulate
reflection on Jesus’ suffering during the Passion. Koerner notes that in the later Middle Ages
(14th and 15th centuries), the movement was supported by “visual triggers [like the Veronica] to
remind Christians of what God had suffered for them.” The faithful’s response to viewing the
Veronica was to make the sign of the cross, “so that the Incarnation of God in the suffering
Christ [was] met by the imitatio of his Passion in Christian piety.” The combination of the saint’s
association with the Passion and the simultaneous increase in affective piety resulted in the
Veronica cult’s extraordinary popularity during this period.

Beginning in the 14th century, the Veronica was included in the Arma Christi, the
instruments of the Passion. The cult that developed around the Arma Christi meditated on
Christ’s suffering humanity, so it made sense to include the Veronica, because of it had touched
Christ’s face and preserved the True Image during the Passion. At times, the Arma Christi was
included in the Man of Sorrows type of devotional art that was based on the Suffering Servant
described by Isaiah: “He was despised and rejected by men / a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces / he was despised, and we esteemed him
not.” In this image, Jesus, almost naked and surrounded by the Arma Christi, displays his
wounds. On its own, the face of the Man of Sorrows became an object of veneration, which was
accompanied by the previously mentioned prayer to the Veronica.

Another image, the Mass of St. Gregory, depicts the interrelationship of the Veronica, the
Eucharist and the Incarnation. Like the Veronica story, that of St. Gregory (c. 540–604) and the
Eucharist encompasses both word and image. In a version from the 7th century, St. Gregory is
saying Mass when the Host suddenly turns into a bleeding finger. In the 14th century, however,
text and image were standardized: the piteous Christ, accompanied by the Veronica,
miraculously appears in place of the Host on the altar. This image directly connects Christ and
the Veronica with the transformation of the Eucharistic elements into Christ’s body and blood
and facilitates an understanding of the Veronica in terms of the Real Presence of Christ and the
Eucharist as the centerpiece of the Mass.
The meeting between Jesus and Veronica has no scriptural foundation. But, from early days, it was associated with the story in the Synoptic gospels about the unnamed woman with the chronic blood flow, later referred to as the Haemorrhoissa (“bleeding woman”) who was cured after touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.
 For example, Chapter 18 of Eusebius’ Church History, is titled The Statue Erected by the Woman with an Issue of Blood, in Acts of Pilate, Berenike testifies that Jesus healed her of a 12-year flow of blood. Likewise, the Curing of Tiberius features the keeper of the cloth, Veronica, whom Jesus cured of a blood disorder. And, in the
Vengeance of the Saviour the king is told about “Veronica, who suffered twelve years from an  issue of blood.” The meeting on the road to Calvary has similarities with the Synoptic accounts of the
healed woman, which may explain why early writers connected the two. For example, both accounts include an unaccompanied woman approaching Jesus; an immediate miracle that arises
from touching cloth; a foreshadowing of future miracles; and, elements of discipleship. Finally,
both texts are part of a larger, coherent narrative, which is the story of faith and salvation.
As I mentioned, the meeting between Jesus and Veronica is honoured in the Sixth
Station of the Cross. Following Jesus’ death, Christians who lived in Jerusalem
began visiting the sites associated with the Passion, including the supposed
location of Veronica’s house. But, for pilgrims from other countries who wanted to
walk in Jesus’ steps, the journey to Jerusalem could be expensive and dangerous. So, to meet the
need, the Stations of the Cross were developed – first in 5th c. Bologna, at the Church of San
Stefano and later augmented by returning Crusaders who built tableaux of the holy sites.

Even though Veronica’s inclusion in the Stations has no explicit scriptural foundation,
possibly the truths about humanity’s being created in God’s image and the revelation of the
invisible God in Christ, were so compelling that early writers, and later, artists, connected
Veronica with the Haemorrhissa of the Synoptic Gospels and later inserted the story into the
visual narrative of Christ’s Passion.

In The Art of God Incarnate, Aidan Nichols says that St. Paul communicates Christ’s
universal significance via a theology of the image. Nichols writes that “for St. Paul, the man,
Jesus, fulfilled the spoilt promise of Adam and renewed the image of God in the human.” St.
Paul calls Christ “the image of the invisible God / the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15. 2), and
Corinthians 4:6 speaks of “the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
A veil is a piece of material worn to cover the face or head – so the notion of
concealment is built into the meaning. But, rather than conceal, the veil of Veronica displays the
miraculous image and reveals the Face of God in Christ, the Incarnation. Morgan calls it “the
sudarium, the medium through which we encounter God on earth.”
Veronica did not ask for the miraculous image. Not only does this tell us about
Veronica’s selflessness, but it also tells us that God, not man, discloses himself as he chooses.
There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s love – it is gift, freely given in recognition of our
being created in his image. But, what of Veronica herself? In the narratives, she is neither wealthy nor famous.
Her story begins with a nameless woman defined by illness – the Haemorrhissa – who becomes
Veronica the image bearer – she is each of us, created in God’s image, and exhorted to reveal the Face of God by lives of faith, grace and courage.

I will end this discussion with St. Paul’s words that, I believe, encapsulate Veronica’s
essence: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his
likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2
Cor. 3:18). The Veronica shows us the Face of God, the True Image, and facilitates the
restoration of the imago Dei. In those early stories, Abgar, Tiberius and Titus suffered from
facial disfigurement; but they were cured and transformed by looking upon the face of Christ –
the perfect image of God and man.

A presentation by Mary-Catharine Carroll, MA (English Literature), MA (Theology)
Department of Theology Saint Paul University Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
© 2018

Pope Francis celebrates the Solemn Good Friday Liturgy at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican - FULL TEXT Homily + Video







Pope Francis celebrated the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion During the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion in St Peter’s Basilica, on Good Friday. Good Friday is the only day of the year on which Holy Mass is not celebrated. The Solemn Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord, has three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, with the chanting of the Passion according to St John; the Adoration of the Cross; and Holy Communion. (In the image above you can see Pope Francis who prostrates himself , in prayer, before God in the Basilica during the service.)
Below, please find the full text of the homily preached by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Pontifical Household, for the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord, in St Peter's Basilica on Good Friday afternoon.
“HE WAS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY MEN”
Good Friday Sermon 2019, St. Peter’s Basilica

    He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
    and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Is 53:3)
These are the prophetic words of Isaiah with which we begin the Liturgy of the Word today. The account of the passion that follows has given a name and a face to this mysterious man of sorrows who was despised and rejected by all men: the name and the face of Jesus of Nazareth. Today we want to contemplate the Crucified One specifically in his capacity as the prototype and representative of all the rejected, the disinherited, and the “discarded” of the earth, those from whom we turn aside our faces so as not to see them.
Jesus did not begin to be that man just at his passion. Throughout his life he was part of this group. He is born in a stable “because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7). In presenting him in the temple, his parents offer “two turtledoves or two young pigeons,” the offering proscribed by the law for the poor who could not offer a lamb (see Lev 12:8). That was a genuine proof of poverty in Israel of that time. During his public life, he has nowhere to lay his head (see Mt 8:20): he is homeless.

Now we come to his passion. In the account there is a moment that we do not often focus on but that is extremely significant: Jesus in the praetorium of Pilate (see Mk 15:16-20). The soldiers had noticed a bramble bush in the adjacent open space; they gathered some thorny branches from it and pressed them into his head; to mock him they put a cloak on his shoulders that were still bloody from his scourging; his hands were bound with a rough rope; they placed a reed in his hands, an ironic symbol of his royalty. He is the prototype of handcuffed people, alone, at the mercy of soldiers and thugs who take out the rage and cruelty they stored up during their lives on the unfortunate poor. He was tortured!

“Ecce homo!” “Here is the man!” exclaims Pilate in presenting him shortly after to the people (Jn 19:5). These are words which, after Christ, can be said of the endless host of men and women who are vilified, reduced to being objects, deprived of all human dignity. The author Primo Levi titled the account of his life in the extermination camp in Auschwitz If This Is a Man. On the cross Jesus of Nazareth becomes the symbol of this part of humanity that is “humiliated and insulted.” One would want to exclaim, “You who are rejected, spurned, pariahs of the whole earth: the greatest man in history was one of you! Whatever nation, race, or religion you belong to, you have the right to claim him as yours.”

***

The African-American writer and theologian Howard Thurman—the man Martin Luther King considered his teacher and his inspiration for the non-violent struggle for human rights—wrote a book called Jesus and the Disinherited.”[1] In it he shows what the figure of Jesus represented for the slaves in the south, of whom he himself was a direct descendant. When the slaves were deprived of every right and completely abject, the words of the Gospel that the minister would repeat in their segregated worship —the only meeting they were allowed to have— would give the slaves back a sense of their dignity as children of God.

The majority of Negro Spirituals that still move the world today arose in this context.[2] At the time of public auction, slaves experienced the anguish of seeing wives separated from their husbands and children from their parents, being sold at times to different masters. It is easy to imagine the spirit with which they sang out in the sun or inside their huts, “Nobody knows the trouble I have seen. Nobody knows, but Jesus.”

***

This is not the only meaning of the passion and death of Christ, and it is not even the most important. The most profound meaning is not social but spiritual and mystical. That death redeemed the world from sin; it brought the love of God to the farthest and darkest place in which humanity has been trapped in its flight from him, that is, death. This is not, as I said, the most important meaning of the cross, but it is the one that all people, believers and non-believers, can recognize and receive.

I repeat, everyone, and not just believers. Through the event of the Incarnation of the Son of God he made himself man and united himself to all of humanity, but through the manner of his Incarnation he made himself one of the poor and rejected and embraced their cause. He took it upon himself to ensure that when he solemnly affirmed that whatever we did for the hungry, the naked, the incarcerated, the outcast, we did to him, and whatever we omitted doing for them, we omitted doing to him (see Mt 25:31-46).

But we cannot stop here. If Jesus had only this to say to the disinherited of the world, he would only be one more among them, an example of dignity in the face of misfortune and nothing more. Then it would be a further proof against the God who allowed all of this. We know the indignant reaction of Ivan, the rebellious brother in The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, when Aloysha, the younger brother, mentions Jesus to him: “Ah, yes, the ‘only sinless One’ and his blood! No, I have not forgotten about him; on the contrary, I’ve been wondering all the while why you hadn’t brought him up for so long, because in discussions your people usually trot him out first thing.”[3]

The Gospel does not in fact stop here. It says something else: it says that the Crucified One is risen! In him a total reversal of roles has taken place: the vanquished has become the victor; the one judged has become the judge, “the stone which was rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone” (see Acts 4:11). The final word is not and never will be injustice and oppression. Jesus not only restored dignity to the disinherited of the world, he also gave them hope!

In the first three centuries of the Church the celebration of Easter was not spread out over several days the way it is now: Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Everything was concentrated in one day. Both the death and resurrection were commemorated at the Easter vigil. To be more precise, neither the death nor the resurrection were commemorated as distinct and separate events; instead what was commemorated was the passage of Christ from one to the other, from death to life. The word “pascha” (pesach) means “passage”: the passage of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom, the passage of Christ from this world to the Father (see Jn 13:1), and the passage from sin to grace for those who believe in him.

It is the feast of the reversal directed by God and accomplished in Christ; it is the beginning and the promise of the unique turnaround that is completely just and irreversible concerning humanity’s fate. We can say to the poor, the outcasts, those who are trapped in different forms of slavery still occurring in our society: Easter is your feast!

***

The cross also contains a message for those who are on the opposite side of this equation: the powerful, the strong, those who are comfortable in their role as “victors.” And it is a message, as always, of love and salvation, not of hate or vengeance. It reminds them that in the end they are bound to the same fate as everyone else: whether weak or strong, defenseless or tyrannical, all are subjected to the same laws and to the same human limitations. Death, like the sword of Damocles, hangs over everyone’s head by a thread. It warns against the worst evil for a human being, the illusion of omnipotence. We do not need to go back too far in time; it is enough to remember recent history to be aware of how frequent this danger is and how it leads individuals and nations to catastrophe.

Scripture has words of eternal wisdom for those who dominate the world’s stage:

Learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. / . . . Mighty men will be mightily tested. (Wis 6:1, 6)

Man cannot abide in his pomp, / he is like the beasts that perish. (Ps 49:20)

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Lk 9:25)

The Church has received the mandate from its founder to stand with the poor and the weak, to be the voice for those who have no voice, and, thanks be to God, that is what she does, especially in her Chief Shepherd.

The second historical task that religions need to take on together today, besides promoting peace, is not to remain silent in the face of the situation that is there for everyone to see. A few privileged people possess more goods than they could ever consume, while for entire centuries countless masses of poor people have lived without having a piece of bread or a sip of water to give their children. No religion can remain indifferent to this because the God of all the religions is not indifferent to all of this.

***

Let us return to the prophecy of Isaiah that we started with. It begins with a description of the humiliation of the Servant of God, but it concludes with a description of his final exaltation. God is the one speaking:

He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. . . .
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Is 53:11-12)

In two days, with the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection, the liturgy will give a name and a face to this victor. Let us keep watch and meditate in expectation.

___________________________________________

Translated from Italian by Marsha Williamson
FULL TEXT Source of Homily by Vaticannews.va


[1] See Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949; repr., Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).

[2] See Howard Thurman, Deep River and The Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1975).

[3] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), p. 246.

Fr. Fournier Saved the Blessed Sacrament and Crown of Thorns from the Burning Notre Dame Cathedral and recently gave an Interview - Video


Fr. Jean-Marc Fournier is the Catholic chaplain of the Fire Brigade in Paris, France. He was on the scene at the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. He was able to save the relic of the Crown of Thorns and the Blessed Sacrament with the other Firefighters. Amazingly, he also gave a quick Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament: “I did not want to simply leave with Jesus: I took the opportunity to perform a Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.”
He explains what happened in a recent interview:
***********
Video Transcript Translated:
I am father Fournier, chaplain-major at the Paris Fire Brigade and I was the chaplain on duty this 15th of April when an extraordinary fire occurred in the Notre-Dame cathedral.

As I was on duty, I was called on the scene, and right away two things must absolutely be done : save this unfathomable treasure that is the crown of thorns, and of course our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.

As I entered the cathedral, there was little smoke and almost no heat, but we had a vision of what hell may be : like waterfalls of fire pouring down from the openings in the roof, due to the downfall not only of the spire but also of other smaller debris in the choir.

I was escorted by a senior officer; the difficulty was in finding the holder of the code to the safe that sheltered the Crown of Thorns. This took us much time, and during this quest for the code a team of firefighters was trying to break open the safe, and they did just as I got a hold of the keys.

The relic was then extracted [from the building] and guarded by police officers.

Everybody understands that the Crown of Thorns is an absolutely unique and extraordinary relic, but the Blessed Sacrament is our Lord, really present in his body, soul, divinity and humanity and you understand that it is hard to see someone you love perish in the blaze. As firefighters we often see casualties from fire and we know its effects, this is why I sought to preserve above all the real presence of our Lord Jesus-Christ.

[Something about Macron and the fact that there were 400 up to 600 firefighters on scene...]

[Compliments to the general officer commanding the Paris fire brigade who showed exceptional leadership]

The time when the fire attacked the northern bell tower and we started to fear losing it, was exactly the time when I rescued the Blessed Sacrament. And I did not want to simply leave with Jesus: I took the opportunity to perform a Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.

Here I am completely alone in the cathedral, in the middle of burning debris falling down from the ceiling, I call upon Jesus to help us save His home.

It was probably both this and the excellent general maneuver of the firefighters that led to the stopping of the fire, the ultimate rescuing of the northern tower and subsequently of the other one.

We started Lent by imposing ashes and saying "remember you are dust", and truly this was a miniature Lent: the Cathedral went to ashes, not to disappear, but to emerge stronger, as we Christians are, after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus-Christ.I am father Fournier, chaplain-major at the Paris Fire Brigade and I was the chaplain on duty this 15th of April when an extraordinary fire occurred in the Notre-Dame cathedral.

As I was on duty, I was called on the scene, and right away two things must absolutely be done : save this unfathomable treasure that is the crown of thorns, and of course our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.

As I entered the cathedral, there was little smoke and almost no heat, but we had a vision of what hell may be : like waterfalls of fire pouring down from the openings in the roof, due to the downfall not only of the spire but also of other smaller debris in the choir.

I was escorted by a senior officer; the difficulty was in finding the holder of the code to the safe that sheltered the Crown of Thorns. This took us much time, and during this quest for the code a team of firefighters was trying to break open the safe, and they did just as I got a hold of the keys.

The relic was then extracted [from the building] and guarded by police officers.

Everybody understands that the Crown of Thorns is an absolutely unique and extraordinary relic, but the Blessed Sacrament is our Lord, really present in his body, soul, divinity and humanity and you understand that it is hard to see someone you love perish in the blaze. As firefighters we often see casualties from fire and we know its effects, this is why I sought to preserve above all the real presence of our Lord Jesus-Christ.

[Something about Macron and the fact that there were 400 up to 600 firefighters on scene...]

[Compliments to the general officer commanding the Paris fire brigade who showed exceptional leadership]

The time when the fire attacked the northern bell tower and we started to fear losing it, was exactly the time when I rescued the Blessed Sacrament. And I did not want to simply leave with Jesus: I took the opportunity to perform a Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.

Here I am completely alone in the cathedral, in the middle of burning debris falling down from the ceiling, I call upon Jesus to help us save His home.

It was probably both this and the excellent general maneuver of the firefighters that led to the stopping of the fire, the ultimate rescuing of the northern tower and subsequently of the other one.

We started Lent by imposing ashes and saying "remember you are dust", and truly this was a miniature Lent: the Cathedral went to ashes, not to disappear, but to emerge stronger, as we Christians are, after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus-Christ. (Translation source: Reddit)

Amazing Mexican Artist Captures Jesus at Calvary with Optical Illusion - Octavio Ocampo

Octavio Ocampo is a Mexican  surrealist painter. He grew up in a family of designers, and studied art from early childhood. The artist was born on February 28, 1943 (age 76 years), Celaya, Mexico.

Way of the Cross Prayer Guide by Sr. Bonetti - used by Pope Francis on Good Friday - FULL TEXT


GOOD FRIDAY - THE PASSION OF THE LORD THE WAY OF THE CROSS 
LED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS - COLOSSEUM - ROME, 19 APRIL 2019

VIA CRUCIS OLIO SU TELA (2017-2018) RAÚL BERZOSA FERNÁNDEZ (MÁLAGA, 1979) CHIESA DELLA BEATA VERGINE MARIA, REGINA DELLA FAMIGLIA CIUDAD CAYALÁ (GUATEMALA)

MEDITATIONS - by  Sister Eugenia Bonetti

WITH CHRIST AND WITH WOMEN  ON THE WAY OF THE CROSS
Introduction
Forty days have now passed since we began our Lenten journey with the imposition of ashes. Today we relived the final hours of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus, to the moment when, from the cross, he cried out “Consummatum est”, “it is finished”. We have gathered in this place where thousands of people once suffered martyrdom for their fidelity to Christ. We want to walk this via dolorosa in union with the poor, the outcast of our societies and all those who even now are enduring crucifixion as victims of our narrowmindedness, our institutions and our laws, our blindness and selfishness, but especially our indifference and hardness of heart. We Christians too suffer from that disease. May the Cross of Christ, a means of death but also of new life, embracing heaven and earth, north and south, east and west, enlighten the consciences of citizens, of the Church, of lawmakers and of all those who call themselves followers of Christ, so that the Good News of our redemption may be made known to all.

First Station
Jesus is condemned to death
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7:21)
Meditation:
Lord, who could be a better disciple of yours than Mary your Mother? She accepted the Father’s will even at the darkest moment in her life, and she stood by you, heartbroken. She conceived you and bore you in her womb; she held you in her arms, she showered you with her love, and she accompanied you throughout your earthly life. How could she fail to follow you on the road to Calvary and share in the most tragic and painful moment of your life and her own?
Prayer:
Lord, how many mothers even today share the experience of your Mother, as they weep for the fate of their daughters and sons? How many conceive and give birth to their children, only to see them suffer and die from disease, malnutrition and lack of water, medical care and hope for the future? We pray for those who hold positions of responsibility, that they may heed the cry of the poor rising up to you from every part of our world. The plea of all those young lives condemned in different ways to death by the indifference born of selfish and discriminatory political policies. Grant that none of your children may lack employment and all that is needed for an honest and dignified life.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord help us to do your will”:
in times of difficulty and despair;
in times of physical and moral suffering;
in times of darkness and loneliness.

Second Station
Jesus takes up his Cross
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23)
Meditation:
Lord Jesus, it is easy to wear a crucifix on a chain around our neck or to use it to decorate the walls of our beautiful cathedrals or homes. It is less easy to encounter and acknowledge today’s newly crucified: the homeless; the young deprived of hope, without work and without prospects; the immigrants relegated to slums at the fringe of our societies after having endured untold suffering. Sadly, these camps, unsafe and insecure, are being razed to the ground along with the dreams and hopes of thousands of marginalized, exploited and forgotten women and men. How many children, too, suffer discrimination on the basis of their origin, the colour of their skin or their social status? How many mothers suffer the humiliation of seeing their children mocked and deprived of opportunities open to their schoolmates and others their age?
Prayer:
We thank you Lord because by your own life, you have taught us how to show genuine and selfless love for others, especially for our enemies or simply those who are different from ourselves. Lord Jesus, how many times have we, your disciples, been ready to be identified as your followers when you performed healings and wonders, when you fed the crowd and forgave sins. Yet we have not found it so easy when you spoke about serving and forgiving others, about self-sacrifice and suffering. Grant that we may put our lives always at the service of others.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord help us to hope”:
when we feel abandoned and alone;
when it is not easy to follow in your footsteps;
when serving others becomes difficult.

Third Station
Jesus falls for the first time
“He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:4)
Meditation:
Lord Jesus, on the steep path leading to Calvary, you chose to experience our human frailty and weakness. Where would the Church be today without the presence and generosity of so many volunteers, the new Samaritans of the third millennium? One cold January night, in a street on the outskirts of Rome, three young African women, little more than girls, poorly clad, were huddled near a brazier to keep warm. Some young people passing by in a car, just for fun, threw flammable material onto the fire, burning them badly. At that very moment, one of the many street units of volunteers passed by and came to their aid. They brought them to hospital and then welcomed them into a family home. How much time will it take for those young women to be healed not only of their painful burns, but also of the pain and humiliation of finding their bodies mutilated and disfigured forever?
Prayer:
Lord, we thank you for all those new Samaritans of the third millennium who, today too, can be found on our streets, stooping with love and compassion over the many physical and spiritual wounds of those who live every night in fear and the terror of darkness, loneliness and indifference. Sadly, Lord, often today we are no longer able to see those in need, those hurt and humiliated. We are quick to demand respect for our rights and interests, but we forget those of the poor and the last in line. Lord grant us the grace to overcome our blindness to their tears, their sufferings and their cry of pain, so that through them we can encounter you.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord help us to love”:
when it is challenging to be a Samaritan;
when we find it hard to forgive;
when we do not want to see the sufferings of others.

Fourth Station
Jesus meets his Mother
“And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35)
Meditation:
Mary, when you presented the infant Jesus in the Temple for the rite of purification, the aged Simeon predicted that a sword would pierce your heart. Now it is time to renew your “fiat”; your acceptance of the Father’s will, even though the experience of accompanying your child, treated as a criminal, to his execution causes you heartrending pain. Lord, have mercy on the many, all too many, mothers who have allowed their young children to depart for Europe in the hope of helping their poverty-stricken families, only to meet with humiliation, contempt and at times even death. Like young Tina, a mere twenty years old, brutally killed on the street, leaving behind a child just a few months old.
Prayer:
Mary, at this very moment, you experience the same tragedy as all those mothers who suffer for their children who set out for other countries with the hopes of a better future for themselves and their families, but sadly find humiliation, contempt, violence, indifference, loneliness and even death. Give them strength and courage.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, grant that we may always give support and comfort, and be present to offer help”:
to console mothers who weep for the fate of their children;
to those who have lost all hope in life;
to those who daily experience violence and contempt.

Fifth Station
Simon the Cyrenean helps Jesus to carry the cross
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2)
Meditation:
Lord Jesus, on the way to Calvary you were crushed by the weight of carrying that rough wooden cross. In vain, you hoped for a sign of help from a friend, from one of your disciples, from one of the many persons whose sufferings you relieved. Sadly, only a stranger, Simon of Cyrene, out of obligation, came to your aid. Where are the new Cyreneans of the third millennium? Where do we find them today? I think of the experience of a group of religious women of different nationalities, places of origin and communities with whom, for more than seventeen years, every Saturday, we visit a centre for undocumented immigrant women. Women, often young, anxiously waiting to know their fate, whether it be expulsion or the chance to remain. How much suffering we see, yet at the same time how much joy when these women find Sisters from their own country, who speak their language, dry their tears, share moments of prayer and celebration, and make easier the long months spent behind iron bars and on cement pavements.
Prayer:
For all the Cyreneans of our history, that they may never falter in their desire to welcome you in the least of our brothers and sisters, in the knowledge that in welcoming the poorest members of our society, we welcome you. May these Samaritans speak out on behalf of those who have no voice.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, help us to carry our cross”:
when we are tired and disheartened;
when we feel the burden of our weaknesses;
when you ask us to share the sufferings of others.

Sixth Station
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40)
Meditation:
Let us think of all those children in various parts of the world who cannot go to school but are instead exploited in mines, fields and fisheries, bought and sold by human traffickers for organ harvesting, used and abused on our streets by many, including Christians, who have lost the sense of their own and others’ sacredness. Like the young girl with a slim body we met one evening in Rome while men in luxury cars lined up to exploit her. She might have been the age of their own children. What kind of imbalance can this violence create in the lives of all those young women who experience only the oppression, arrogance and indifference of those who, night and day, seek them out, use them and exploit them, only to cast them back onto the street again, as prey for the next trader in human lives?
Prayer:
Lord Jesus, cleanse our eyes so that we can see your face in our brothers and sisters, especially in all those children who, in many parts of the world, are living in poverty and squalor. Children deprived of their right to a happy childhood, education and innocence. Little ones used as cheap goods, bought and sold at will. Lord, we ask you to have mercy and compassion on this sick world. Help us rediscover the beauty of our dignity, and that of others, as human beings created in your image and likeness.
Let us pray together, saying: “Lord, help us to see”:
the faces of innocent children who ask for our help;
social injustices;
people’s inherent dignity that is violated.

Seventh Station
Jesus falls for the second time
“When he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:23)
Meditation:
What a thirst for vengeance we see all around us! Our societies today have lost the great value of forgiveness, a gift second to none, a cure for wounds, the basis of peace and human coexistence. In a society where forgiveness is seen as weakness, you, Lord, ask us not to stop at appearances. Not with words, but by your example. To those who tortured you, you asked: “Why do you persecute me?” For you knew very well that true justice can never be based on hatred and revenge. Make us capable of asking for, and granting forgiveness.
Prayer:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). Lord, you too bore the burden of condemnation, rejection, abandonment and suffering inflicted by persons who had met you, listened to you, and followed you. In the certainty that the Father had not abandoned you, you found the strength to accept his will by offering forgiveness, love and hope to those who today, like you, walk the same path of ridicule, contempt, mockery, abandonment, betrayal and loneliness.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, help us to give comfort”:
to those who feel offended and insulted;
to those who feel betrayed and humiliated;
to those who feel judged and condemned.

Eighth Station
Jesus meets the women
Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Lk 23:28)
Meditation:
The social, economic and political situation of migrants and the victims of human trafficking challenges and disturbs us. We must have the courage, as Pope Francis firmly maintains, to denounce human trafficking as a crime against humanity. All of us, and Christians in particular, must come to realize that we are all responsible for the problem, and that all of us can and must be part of the solution. All of us, but above all we women, are challenged to be courageous. Courageous in knowing how to see and take action, as individuals and as a community. Only by being united in our poverty can we make it a great treasure, capable of changing people’s approach and alleviating humanity’s sufferings. The poor, the foreigner, the other, must not be seen as an enemy to be rejected and resisted, but as a brother or a sister to be welcomed and assisted. They are not a problem, but a precious resource for our fortified citadels, where prosperity and consumption fail to alleviate our growing weariness and fatigue.
Prayer:
Lord, teach us to see with your eyes, with that welcoming and merciful gaze with which you see our limitations and our fears. Help us to imitate you in how we regard different ideas, behaviours and points of view. Help us to realize that we are part of the same human family, and to find bold new ways of accepting diversity and working together to build communities, families, parishes and civil society.
Let us pray together and say: “Help us to share in the suffering of others”:
those grieving the death of loved ones;
those who find it hard to ask for help and comfort;
those who have experienced oppression and violence.

Ninth Station
Jesus falls for the third time
“He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Is53:7)
Meditation:
Lord, you fell a third time, exhausted and humiliated, beneath the weight of your cross. Like all those girls forced onto the streets by groups of traffickers in human slavery. Like you, they cannot hold up under the exhaustion and humiliation of seeing their young bodies manipulated, abused and ruined, together with their hope and dreams. Those young women feel divided in two: sought out and used, while at the same time rejected and condemned by a society that conveniently ignores this kind of exploitation, the fruit of its throwaway culture. On one of many nights spent on streets of Rome, I looked for a young woman recently arrived in Italy. Not seeing her in her group, I kept calling out her name: “Mercy!” In the darkness, I caught sight of her curled up and half asleep at the edge of the street. When she heard me calling, she awoke and said she couldn’t go on. “I can’t take it any more”, she kept repeating. I thought of her mother. If she knew what had happened to her daughter, she would burst into tears.
Prayer:
Lord, how many times have you asked us this disturbing question: “Where is your brother? Where is your sister?” How many times have you reminded us that their heartbreaking cry rises up to you? Help us to share the sufferings of all those treated as refuse. It is all too easy to condemn people and difficult situations that offend our false sense of decency. It is less easy to accept our responsibilities as individuals, as governments, and as Christian communities.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, give us the strength and courage to repudiate”:
the exploitation and humiliation faced by many young people;
the indifference and silence of many Christians;
unjust laws lacking in humanity and solidarity.

Tenth Station
Jesus is stripped of his garments
“Put on then compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12)
Meditation:
Money, comfort, power. These are the idols of every age. Especially our own, which can boast of enormous progress in the acknowledgment of individual rights. Everything can be bought, including the body of minors, stripped of their dignity and hope for the future. We have forgotten the centrality of the human being, the dignity, beauty and strength of each man and woman. Even as the world is building walls and barriers, we want to recognize and thank all those who in various ways during these past months have risked their own lives, especially in the Mediterranean, to save the lives of so many families in search of safety and opportunity. Human beings fleeing poverty, dictatorships, corruption and slavery.
Prayer:
Lord, help us to rediscover the beauty and richness present in every person and people as your unique gift, to be placed at the service of society as a whole and not used for our personal profit or gain. Grant, Jesus, that your example and your teaching on mercy and forgiveness, on humility and patience, may make us a little more human, and thus, more Christian.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, give us merciful hearts”:
when faced with lust for pleasure, power and money;
when faced with injustices inflicted on the poor and the weak;
when faced with the illusions born of self-interest.

Eleventh Station
Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34)
Meditation:
Our society proclaims equal rights and dignity for all human beings. Yet it practises and tolerates inequality. It even accepts extreme forms of inequality. Men, women and children are bought and sold like slaves by the new traders in human lives. The victims of trafficking are then exploited by others. And in the end, they are cast aside, discarded as worthless goods. How many people are growing rich by devouring the flesh and blood of the poor?
Prayer:
Lord, how many men and women even today are nailed to a cross, victims of brutal exploitation, stripped of dignity, freedom and hope for the future! Their cry for help challenges us as individuals, as governments, as society and as Church. How is it possible that we continue to crucify you by our complicity in the trafficking of human beings? Give us eyes to see and a heart to feel the suffering of all those who today too are nailed to a cross by our systems of life and consumption.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, have mercy”:
on those newly crucified throughout today’s world;
on those in society who enact laws and exercise power;
on those unable to forgive and unable to love.

Twelfth Station
Jesus dies on the Cross
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34)
Meditation:
On the cross, Lord, you too bore the weight of scorn, mockery, insults, violence, abandonment and indifference. Only Mary, your Mother, and a few other women stayed with you as witnesses to your suffering and death. May their example inspire in us a commitment to stand by all those dying today on Calvaries throughout the world: in transit camps, on boats denied entry to safe ports, in shelters, hot spots and camps for seasonal workers, amid protracted negotiations about their final destination.
Prayer:
Lord, we implore you: help us to be true neighbours to those newly crucified and despairing in today’s world. Teach us to wipe away their tears, to comfort them, even as you were consoled by the presence of Mary and the other women beneath your cross.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord help us to give freely of ourselves”:
to all those suffering from injustice, hatred and vengeance;
to all those unjustly slandered and condemned;
to all those who feel alone, abandoned and humiliated.

Thirteenth Station
Jesus is taken down from the cross
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24)
Meditation:
In this era of news flashes, who remembers those twenty-six young Nigerian women who drowned and whose funerals were held in Salerno? Their Calvary was lengthy and difficult. First the crossing of the Sahara desert, crammed in ramshackle buses. Then their forced stay in frightful detention centres in Libya. Finally the leap into the sea, where they met death at the gates of the “promised land”. Two of them were bearing in their womb the gift of a new life, children who would never see the light of day. Yet their death, like that of Jesus taken down from the Cross, was not in vain. We entrust all these lives to the mercy of God our Father and the Father of all, especially the poor, the desperate and the abased.
Prayer:
Lord, at this hour, we hear once more the cry of Pope Francis at Lampedusa, the site of his first apostolic journey: “Has anyone wept?” And now after countless shipwrecks, we continue to cry out: “Has anyone wept?” Has anyone wept, we wonder, before those twenty-six coffins lined up and covered with white roses? Only five of those women have been identified. Nameless or not, all of them are our daughters and sisters. All deserve respect and remembrance. They appeal to us – our institutions, our authorities and each of us – to accept responsibility for our silence and indifference.
Let us pray together and say: “Lord, may we join in weeping”:
at the sufferings of others;
at all those nameless coffins;
at the tears of so many mothers.

Fourteenth Station
Jesus is laid in the tomb
“It is finished” (Jn 19:30)
Meditation:
The desert and the seas have become the new cemeteries of our world. These deaths leave us speechless. Yet responsibility has to be taken. People let their brothers and sisters die: men, women, children that we could not, or would not, save. While governments, closed off in their palaces of power, debate, the Sahara is filled with the bones of men and women who could not survive exhaustion, hunger and thirst. How much pain is involved in these new exoduses! How much cruelty is inflicted on those fleeing their homelands: in their desperate journeys, in the extortion and tortures they endure, in the sea that becomes a watery grave.
Prayer:
Lord, make us realize that we are all children of one Father. May the death of your Son Jesus grant to the leaders of nations and lawmakers consciousness of the role they must play in the defence of every person created in your image and likeness.

CONCLUSION:
We would like to recount the story of Favour, a nine-month old baby, who left Nigeria together with her young parents who sought a better future in Europe. During the long and dangerous journey in the Mediterranean, her father and mother died along with hundreds of other people who had relied on unscrupulous traffickers to come to the promised land. Only Favour survived; like Moses, she was saved from the waters. May her life become a light of hope on the path towards a more fraternal humanity.
Prayer:
At the conclusion of your way of the cross, we ask you, Lord, to teach us to keep watch, together with your Mother and the women who stood by you on Calvary, in expectation of your resurrection. May it be a beacon of hope, joy, new life, fraternity, acceptance and communion among peoples, religions and systems of law. So that all the sons and daughters of man will be truly recognized in their dignity as sons and daughters of God, and never again treated as slaves.

Beautiful Meditative "Stay with Me" by Taizé with Images from Christ's Passion will touch your Soul!


Listen to this Beautiful Meditative "Stay with Me" by Taizé with Images from Christ's Passion that will touch your Soul! Taizé is a group from France famous for their repetitive prayerful songs that are often based on scriptural texts.