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.