.- Pope Benedict XVI gathered today with tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the day before the Church enters its most solemn and holy season. The Holy Father reminded the faithful that what the Holy Triduum celebrates Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death.
"What we are celebrating over the coming days," he said, "is the supreme confrontation between Light and Darkness, between Life and Death. We too must place ourselves in this context - aware of our own night, our own sins, our own responsibilities - if we wish to gain spiritual benefit from reliving the Paschal Mystery, which is the heart of our faith."
The Holy Father recalled how on Holy Thursday, during the Chrism Mass, diocesan bishops and priests "renew the promises they made on the day of their priestly ordination," and "the oils used for catechumens, to anoint the sick and for confirmation" are blessed. During Mass "in Cena Domini" the Christian community relives "the events of the Last Supper. In the Cencacle, the Redeemer wished, in the Sacrament of the bread and wine transformed into His Body and Blood, to anticipate the sacrifice of His life, His definitive gift of self to humanity."
Following Mass "in Cena Domini" the faithful are invited "to adore the Blessed Sacrament, reliving Jesus' agony in Gethsemane. ... Thus they can better understand the mystery of Holy Thursday, which incorporates the supreme triple gift of priestly ministry, the Eucharist and the new Commandment of love."
Holy Friday, Pope Benedict continued, "is a day of penance, of fasting and of prayer, of participation in the death of the Lord. ... The community adores the Cross and takes the Eucharist, consuming the sacred species conserved from the Mass 'in Cena Domini' of the preceding day." On Holy Friday, Christian tradition also includes "the Way of the Cross, which offers us the chance ... to imprint the mystery of the Cross ever more deeply in our hearts."
On Holy Saturday, the Pope proceeded, "Christians are called to interior meditation, ... something often difficult to cultivate in our own times, in order to prepare for the Easter vigil" in which "the veil of sadness shrouding the Church for the death and burial of the Lord will be shattered by the cry of victory: Christ is risen and has overcome death forever!"
"The Paschal Mystery we relive in the Easter Triduum is not just a memory but a current reality. Even today, Christ overcomes sin and death with His love. Evil in all its forms does not have the last word. The final triumph is of Christ, truth, love! If we are prepared to suffer and die with Him, as St. Paul reminds us in the Easter vigil, His life become out life. It is upon this certainty," the Pope concluded, "that our Christian lives are built."