Vatican City, Apr 14, 2006 (CNA) - This Good Friday at night, in the Roman Coliseum, the place where numerous Christians suffered martyrdom in the first centuries of the Church, became again this year the Via Dolorosa, were thousands of faithful lead by Pope Benedict XVI meditated on the destructive power of sin and the saving power of Christ’s Cross.
The meditations and prayers of the Way of the Cross were prepared this year by the Vicar General of his Holiness for the City of the Vatican, Archbishop Angelo Comastri. At the onset of the way, the text of the prelate was read, in which it affirmed that “as we follow the way of the Cross, we are startled by two facts: the certainty of the devastating power of sin and the certainty of the healing power of God’s love.”
The route of the way of the Cross started inside the famous Flavian amphitheatre, then followed through the Trajan Arch and ended on the Palatine Hill.
The Vicar of the Pope for the diocese of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini carried the cross for the second station, he was then followed by a roman family, a young seminarian from the United States, a young Mexican girl from the diocese of Léon, two Franciscan friars from the Holy Land, a Korean , another women and finally two African girls from Angola and Nigeria.
This was the first time that Benedict XVI presided over this traditional Way of the Cross as Pope. The Holy Father was vested in a red cape and carried the cross during the first and last station.
Before the conclusion of the Way of the Cross, the Holy Father addressed a few words to the faithfull assembled, refering to the importance and centrality of love and mercy.
"The Cross of Our Lord embraces the World, his Way of the Cross goes across continents and times. We are all involved in this way. We cannot be mere spectators. Pilate sought the way to be neutral, to be far off, and it is exactly this way he took a position for conformism and against justice," Pope Benedict said.
"In the mirror of the Cross we have seen all the sufferings of today's humanity. But we have also seen stations of consolation. We have seen the Mother whose goodness is faithful beyond death. we have seen the courageous women kneeling before her Lord without fear of proving her solidarity with the suffering," the Pope said.
He continued bay saying that "in this way, we have been invited all along to find our own place, to find with these righteous ones the path with Jesus, the path of goodness, truth, courage and love."
The pontiff concluded his message refering to his predecessor, " We have understood the Way of the Cross as not only a collation of dark and sad events in the world, but rather as a path of mercy and mercy that puts an end to evil, as we have learnt from Pope John Paul II."
Vatican City, Apr 14, 2006 (CNA) - Today, Benedict XVI presided over the celebration of the office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the veneration of the Cross at Saint Peter’s Basilica. The predication for the office was given by the official preacher of the Pontifical household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.
Fr. Cantalamessa first started his predication by making explicit reference to the recent attacks to the authenticity of the passion of Christ in the past months and days: "As we celebrate today the memory of the passion and death of Our Savior, millions of people are driven by skilful reshuffles of old legends to make them believe that Jesus of Nazareth was never really crucified,” referring to the false Gospel of Thomas.
“We talk a lot these days on the betrayal of Judas and we don’t realize that these apocryphal gospels on which these thesis are based are well-known texts, on which no historian, even the most critical and hostile to the Church would consider basing a story. We can not allow that the faith of the believers be so coarsely manipulated by the media without raising a voice of protest,” He said.
Subsequently, Fr. Cantalamessa delivered a vivid teaching on the passion as a sign of God’s Love: “God’s love is Light, happiness and fullness of life(..) Were it springs, it heals and brings life, It is the water promised to the Samaritan that extinguishes all thirsts.
Referring widely to Pope Benedict’s first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” he followed by saying: “God is Love and Christ’s Cross is the supreme evidence, the historical demonstration, the strongest way to prove one’s love towards somebody is to suffer for this one.”
“He loved us by a love of suffering for redemption, therefore it is on the cross that more than ever we should contemplate the truth that ‘God is Love.”
Again referring to the first encyclical of Pope Benedict, he affirmed that “Christianity belongs to a greater order of things, greater than the material order and ideas, Christianity belongs to the order of Love and Goodness.
A love that forgives. This quality shines intensely in the mystery of the Cross.”
“We should reflect on how concretely the love of Christ on the Cross can help each man to find the path of his living and of his loving,” he continued.
He later emphasized on the forgiving love of God displayed on the Cross: “It is precisely of this mercy and capacity to forgive that we need today, in order not to drift away into the abysm of a globalized violence.”
“Finally-he said- a great teaching we receive from God’s Love on the Cross, is that God’s love is faithful and eternal. “
He then ended his predication on the specific crisis of matrimony in our societies by saying that “Many People asked themselves today what relation there can be between love of two people and the law of matrimony.”
“The duty to love protects love from hopelessness and makes it independent and happy. These thoughts are not enough to change a culture that glorifies the freedom to change and the spontaneity of the moment," he concluded.