Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the beginning of the Way of the Cross at the Roman Coliseum, noting that in this “hour of darkness” God reads "the open book of our frail hearts."
The meditations of this year's Way of the Cross were entrusted to Sister Maria Rita Piccione, O.S.A., President of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Federation of Augustinian Contemplatives in Italy. Sister Mary Rita is a member of the Augustinian hermitage of Lecceto, near Siena (Italy,) one of the Tuscan convents of the 13th century and a cradle of the Order of Saint Augustine.
The full opening prayer said by Pope Benedict follows:
you invite us to follow you
in this, your final hour.
In you, each one of us is present
and we, though many, are one in you.
In your final hour is our life’s hour of testing,
in all its harshness and brutality;
it is the hour of the passion of your Church
and of all humanity.
It is the hour of darkness:
when “the foundations of the earth tremble”
and man, “a tiny part of your creation,”
groans and suffers with it;
an hour when the various masks of falsehood
mock the truth
and the allure of success stifles the deep call to honesty;
when utter lack of meaning and values
brings good training to nought
and the disordered heart disfigures the innocence
of the small and weak;
an hour when man strays from the way leading to the Father
and no longer recognizes in you
the bright face of his own humanity.
This hour brings the temptation to flee,
the sense of bewilderment and anguish,
as the worm of doubt eats away at the mind
and the curtain of darkness falls on the heart.
And you, Lord,
who read the open book of our frail hearts,
ask us this evening,
as once you asked the Twelve:
“Do you also wish to leave me?”
No, Lord, we cannot and would not leave you,
for you alone “have the words of eternal life,”
you alone are “the word of truth”
and your cross alone
is the “key that opens to us the secrets
of truth and life.”
“We will follow you wherever you go!”
Following you is itself our act of worship,
as from the horizon of the not yet
a ray of joy
caresses the already of our journey.