.- In the final few days of Holy Week, Catholics should recognize that Christâs love for them is shown by âthe total gift of himself on the cross,â said Pope Benedict XVI.
âLet us allow ourselves to be touched by this love, to be transformed, so that the resurrection may really be realized in us. I invite you, therefore, to live the Paschal Triduum intensely, and I wish you all a Holy Easter!â the Pope said on April 4.
The Pope made his remarks to over 11,000 pilgrims who were gathered in St. Peterâs Square for his Wednesday general audience. He explained to them that from tomorrow afternoon onwards, âwe enter the Easter Triduum, the summit of the liturgical yearâ that celebrates âthe central mystery of faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.â
Exploring the scriptural texts that will be used over those three days, the Pope explained how St. Johnâs Gospel describes those days in the life of Jesus as his âhour.â
âBefore the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end,â Pope Benedict said, quoting the passage from St. John 13:1 in full.
âThe whole life of Jesus is oriented towards this hour,â he noted, proposing that the whole historical episode is âcharacterized by two aspects that illuminate each other.â
The Pope described the first aspect is Christâs hour being a âpassageâ -- âmetabasisâ in ancient Greek â while the second feature of his hour is Jesusâ âlove until the end,â which is called âagapeâ in Greek.
âIt is the divine love, the Holy Spirit of which Jesus is filled, which allows Jesus to âpassâ through the abyss of evil and death, and sees him emerge into the new âspaceâ of the resurrection,â he said.
And his hour is marked by âagape,â which âbrings about this transformationâ that allows Jesus to go âbeyond the limits of the human condition marked by sin and overcomes the barrier that keeps man prisoner, separated from God and eternal life.â
Pope Benedict finished his reflections on the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) by saying that those who participate in faith in the liturgical celebrations âare invited to experience this transformation brought about by agape.â
The next four days will be among the busiest of the year for 84-year-old Pope Benedict.
Tomorrow morning he will celebrate the Chrism Mass with the priests of the Diocese of Rome in St. Peterâs Basilica at 9:30 a.m. He will then travel across the city for the Mass of the Lordâs Supper at his cathedral church, the basilica of St. John Lateran, at 5:30 p.m.
On Good Friday, the Pope will lead the Celebration of the Lordâs Passion in St. Peterâs at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Stations of the Cross in Romeâs Coliseum at 9:15 p.m.
On Holy Saturday evening, the Pope will preside over the Easter Vigil, beginning at 9:00 p.m. in St. Peterâs.
The Popeâs intense schedule will wrap up with 10:15 a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday in St. Peterâs Square, followed by his âUrbi et Orbi" message and blessing to the âcity and worldâ at noon.