Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Popes’s Vicar to the City of rome, will replace the Holy Father at leading throngs of faithful gathered at Rome's Collosium, the once site of massive Christian persecution, now the site of today's 'Way of the Cross' remembrance.
At the celebration that will take place in Rome at 9:15 p.m., Cardinal Ruini will follow the meditations made by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was asked by the Holy Father to write today's Way of the Cross meditations.
In his reflexions, Cardinal Ratzinger calls the centuries old tradition, observed on Good Friday by faithful worldwide, "a path leading to the heart of the Eucharistic mystery: popular piety and sacramental piety of the Church blend together and become one."
This year's reflections note Jesus' words from John's Gospel that, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." The cardinal unites this idea with gift of life given in the Eucharist-a gift which, he said, could only be given with Christ's death.
Likewise, the theme of humility play deeply into today's reflections. Cardinal Ratzinger noted Philippians 2:6-8, which says of Christ, "though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men... He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross."
Speaking on the second station, 'Jesus takes up His cross', the Cardinal reflects on the corruption of power.
"How often", he says, "are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times are their pomps and their lofty words nothing but grandiose lies, a parody of their solemn obligation to serve the common good."
He continues: "The price of justice in this world is suffering: Jesus, the true King, does not reign through violence, but through a love which suffers for us and with us. He takes up the Cross, our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world."
Drawing a connection between Jesus' three falls on the way to His crucifixion to human fallenness, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asks, "Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church?"
"How often", he says, "is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words!"
Speaking on Vatican radio yesterday, Cardinal Ratzinger said that, "the Way of the Cross is not simply a chain of suffering, terrible events, but a mystery, the process by which the grain of wheat falls into the earth and bears fruit."
"We realize", he said, "that we can participate in the Lord's Way of the Cross because he has transformed this way of his into a way of life for us, saying: 'Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, will save it.'"
Finishing his reflections, the Cardinal speaks of the fourteenth station, 'Jesus is laid in the tomb.' He notes that, "From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world…Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us.”
“The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.”
Read the full Way of the Cross of Cardinal Ratzinger at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=54