2015-04-04 08:49:00

Pope presides at Via Crucis

(Vatican Radio) Thousands of faithful filled the Colosseum on Friday night for the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis.

The reflections accompanying the Stations this year were composed by Italian Bishop Renato Corti, Bishop-Emeritus of Novara.

Entitled “The Cross: Radiant Culmination of God’s Protective Love,” Bishop Corti’s reflections drew attention to different types of suffering in the world, such as child abuse, human trafficking and Christian persecution. The cross was carried by families of different nationalities, as well as individuals from nations where Christians are currently being persecuted, such as Iraq, Syria, and China.

The second station, when Jesus takes up his cross, commemorated Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who was martyred in Pakistan in 2011, and the words he spoke before his death: I want my life, my character and my actions to speak for me, and to say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. This is so strong a desire in me that I would consider it a privilege if Jesus should wish to accept the sacrifice of my life.”

The tenth station, where Jesus is stripped of his garments, recalled those who suffer child abuse and human trafficking in the world, accompanied with the prayer “You urge us in humility to beg forgiveness of all who have suffered these atrocities, and to pray that the conscience of those who darkened their lives will at last be stirred. In your presence, Jesus, we renew our resolve to “overcome evil with good.”

At the conclusion of the Stations, Pope Francis said the Via Crucis is the “synthesis” of Jesus’ life and the “Icon of obedience” to God the Father.

In words that recalled the recent execution of Christians in Kenya, the Pope prayed, “In you, divine love, we see also today our persecuted brothers and sisters, decapitated and crucified for their faith in you, before our eyes and often with our complicit silence.”

He prayed that the faithful might learn to never tire of asking forgiveness and to believe in his unlimited mercy. He then recited the Anima Christi and urged those present to go home, filled with the hope of the joyous resurrection.

Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson:

Here is an unofficial translation of the words of Pope Francis at the end of the Via Crucis

O Christ crucified and victorious, Your Way of the Cross is the summary of your life,  the icon of Your obedience to the will of the Father,  and the realization of your infinite love for us sinners. It is the proof of Your mission. It is the final fulfillment of the revelation and the history of salvation. The weight of Your cross frees us from all of our burdens.  In Your obedience to the will of the Father, we become aware of our rebellion and disobedience.

In You, sold, betrayed, crucified by Your own people and those dear to you,  we see our own betrayals and our own usual infidelity.  In Your innocence, Immaculate Lamb, we see our guilt. In Your face, slapped, spat on and disfigured, we see the brutality of our sins. In the cruelty of Your passion,  we see the cruelty of our heart and of our actions. In Your own feeling of abandonment,  we see those abandoned by their families,  by society, by attention and by solidarity.

In Your body, sacrificed, ripped and torn,  we see the body of our brothers who have been abandoned along the way,  disfigured by our negligence and our indifference. In Your thirst Lord, we see the thirst of Your merciful Father,  who desired to embrace, forgive and save all of humanity. In You, Divine Love, we see even today, before our very eyes,  and often with our silence and complicity, our persecuted brothers and sisters,  decapitated, crucified for their faith in You.

Imprint in our heart, Lord, sentiments of faith, hope and charity,  of sorrow for our sins, and lead us to repent for our sins that have crucified You. Lead us to transform our conversion with words  into a conversion of life and works.

Help us to preserve within us a living memory of Your disfigured face, so that we may never forget the terrible price You paid to free us. Crucifed Jesus, strengthen in us a faith that does not collapse  in the face of temptations; awaken in us the hope that does get lost  following the temptations of the world. Preserve in us the charity that is not fooled by the corruption of worldliness.

Teach us that the cross is the way to the resurrection. Teach us that Good Friday is the way to the Easter of light. Teach us that God never forgets any of his children, and never tires of forgiving us and embracing us with His infinite mercy. But also teach us to never tire of asking Him for forgiveness and believing in the boundless mercy of the Father.

Soul of Christ, sanctify us!

Body of Christ, save us!

Blood of Christ, inebriate us!

Water from the side of Christ, wash us!
Passion of Christ, comfort us!

O Good Jesus, hear us!

Hide us in your wounds!

Do not allow us to separate from You!

From the evil enemy defend us!

In the hour of our death, call us!

And command us to come to You,

so that we may praise You with Your Saints forever and ever. AMEN.

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