Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Fifth Station: Simon Of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

They compelled Simon (cf. Mk 15:21).

The Roman soldiers did this because they feared that in his exhaustion the Condemned Man would not be able to carry the Cross as far as Golgotha. Then they would not be able to carry out the sentence of crucifixion.

They were looking for someone to help carry the Cross.

Their eyes fell on Simon. They compelled him to take the weight upon his shoulders. We can imagine that Simon did not want to do this and objected. Carrying the cross together with a convict could be considered an act offensive to the dignity of a free man.

Although unwilling, Simon took up the Cross to help Jesus.

In a Lenten hymn we hear the words: “Under the weight of the Cross Jesus welcomes the Cyrenean.” These words allow us to discern a total change of perspective: the divine Condemned One is someone who, in a certain sense, “makes a gift” of his Cross.

Was it not he who said: “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38)?

Simon receives a gift.

He has become “worthy” of it. 

Thank You, Pope Benedict XVI

The aim for which you have always striven since your very first years as a priest has been to serve the truth, seeking to know it ever more thoroughly and make it ever more widely known.

Blessed John Paul II wrote this of his successor in 2002, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. As Pope Benedict XVI, Ratzinger continued striving for this aim, never wavering in his mission to share the truth.  

Thank you, Holy Father, for giving your profound love for the Gospel to the Church. We will be praying for you, as your flock and as your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and his kingdom will have no end” (Lk 1:30-33).

Mary remembered these words. She often returned to them in the secret of her heart.
When she met her Son on the way of the Cross, perhaps these very words came to her mind. With particular force.

“He will reign... His kingdom will have no end,” the heavenly messenger had said.

Now, as she watches her Son, condemned to death, carrying the Cross on which he must die, she might ask herself, all too humanly: So how can these words be fulfilled? In what way will he reign over the House of David? And how can it be that his kingdom will have no end?

Humanly speaking, these are reasonable questions.

But Mary remembered that, when she first heard the Angel’s message, she had replied: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Gospel And The Computer Culture

The internet has become a playground for sinners. There are status updates for the prideful, photo albums for the envious, anonymous comments for the wrathful, search engines for the slothful, online stores for the greedy, worldwide access for the gluttonous, and new domains for the lustful.

The web is full of distractions, so much so, that it seems like Christians should steer clear of it altogether. But because it is very much a part of the world be live in, Blessed John Paul II urged Christians to keep in tune with new forms of technology. In his message for the 24th World Communications Day, he reflected upon this point made in Gaudium et Spes, one of the four Apostolic Constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council:

Far from suggesting that the Church should stand aloof or try to isolate herself from the mainstream…the Council Fathers saw the Church as being in the very midst of human progress, sharing the experiences of the rest of humanity, seeking to understand them and to interpret them in the light of faith. It was for God's faithful people to make creative use of the new discoveries and technologies for the benefit of humanity and the fulfillment of God's plan for the world.

In the face of a “computer culture,” Blessed John Paul II focused on the good that could come out of new ways to communicate and make connections. He wrote:

With the advent of computer telecommunications and what are known as computer participation systems, the Church is offered further means for fulfilling her mission. Methods of facilitating communication and dialogue among her own members can strengthen the bonds of unity between them. Immediate access to information makes it possible for her to deepen her dialogue with the contemporary world.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

“God laid on him the sins of us all” (cf. Is 53:6).

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6).

Jesus falls under the Cross. This will happen three times along the comparatively short stretch of the “via dolorosa”.

Exhaustion makes him fall. His body is stained with blood from the scourging, his head is crowned with thorns. All this causes his strength to fail.

So he falls, and the weight of the Cross crushes him to the ground.

We must go back to the words of the Prophet, who foresaw this fall centuries earlier. It is as though he were contemplating it with his own eyes: seeing the Servant of the Lord, on the ground under the weight of the Cross, he tells us the real cause of his fall. It is this: “God laid on him the sins of us all”.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Today, 22 February, is the liturgical Feast of the Chair of St Peter. It sheds light on the special ministry of strengthening and guiding the Church in the unity of the faith which the Lord entrusted to the Head of the Apostles. It consists in this ministerium petrinum (Petrine ministry), the particular service that the Bishop of Rome is called to render to the entire Christian people. It is an indispensable mission that is not built on human prerogatives but on Christ himself, the cornerstone of the Ecclesial Community.

Let us pray that the Church in the different cultures, languages and traditions will be unanimous in believing and professing the truths of faith and morals passed down by the Apostles.

-Blessed John Paul II, 2004

Pope Benedict XVI reflected upon the history and significance of the Chair of St. Peter in his General Audience address for this feast in 2006.

Let us pray for Pope Benedict during this final week of his pontificate. Let us beg our beloved Blessed John Paul II, who once occupied this seat, to pray for him as well. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Second Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

The cross. The instrument of a shameful death.
It was not lawful to condemn a Roman citizen to death by crucifixion: it was too humiliating. The moment that Jesus of Nazareth took up the Cross in order to carry it to Calvary marked a turning-point in the history of the cross.

The symbol of a shameful death, reserved for the lowest classes, the cross becomes a key. From now on, with the help of this key, man will open the door of the deepest mystery of God.

Through Christ’s acceptance of the Cross, the instrument of his own self-emptying, men will come to know that God is love

Love without limits: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). 

This truth about God was revealed in the Cross.
Could it not have been revealed in some other way?
Perhaps. But God chose the Cross

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The First Station: Jesus Is Condemned To Death

V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

“Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33).
“My Kingdom is not of this world; if my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my Kingdom is not from the world” (Jn18:36).

Pilate said to him:
- “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered:
- “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
Pilate said in answer:
“What is truth?”
At this point, the Roman Procurator saw no need for further questions. He went to the Jews and told them: “I find no crime in him” (cf. Jn 18:37-38). 

The tragedy of Pilate is hidden in the question: What is truth?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thirty Days For Fatherhood

In his Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris custos, Blessed John Paul II encouraged the faithful to turn to St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Mother and father to Jesus, as our model and patron. He wrote:

May St. Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ's saving mission, a mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church: husbands and wives, parents, those who live by the work of their hands or by any other kind of work, those called to the contemplative life and those called to the apostolate.

As protector of the Holy Family, St. Joseph gave himself completely and generously to the Mother of God and her Son. Inspired by this true “gift of self,” join us in praying the Thirty Days’ Prayer to St. Joseph for the future of fatherhood in our society.

In these days leading up to the feast of St. Joseph, let us entrust fathers and husbands to his must humble and loving care. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Way of the Cross Continues to Speak

In his opening prayer for the Stations of the Cross, Blessed John Paul II began:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).

Good Friday evening.
For twenty centuries
the Church has gathered on this evening
to remember and to re-live
the events of the final stage
of the earthly journey of the Son of God.
Once again this year,
the Church in Rome
meets…to follow the footsteps of Jesus,
who “went out, carrying his cross,
to the place called the place of the skull,
which is called in Hebrew Golgotha” (Jn 19:17).

We are here
because we are convinced that the Way of the Cross of the Son of God
was not simply a journey
to the place of execution.
We believe that every step of the Condemned Christ,
every action and every word,
as well as everything felt and done
by those who took part in this tragic drama,
continues to speak to us.
In his suffering and death too,
Christ reveals to us the truth about God and man.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Church Has Confidence in Young People

...the Church has confidence in young people, she hopes in them and in their energies, she needs them and their vitality, to continue to live with renewed enthusiasm the mission entrusted them by Christ. I very much hope, therefore, that the Year of Faith may be, also for the younger generation, a precious opportunity to rediscover and strengthen our friendship with Christ, from which to derive joy and enthusiasm to profoundly transform cultures and societies.

                -Pope Benedict XVI to Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture