The days that direct our
On Wednesday, 31 March , at the
General Audience in St Peter's Square the Holy Father reflected on the
celebration of the Easter Triduum and the Liturgies of these days that
"invite us to ponder Christ's saving sacrifice and his promise of new
life". The following is a translation of the Pope's Catechesis, given in
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are living the holy days that invite
us to meditate on the central events of our Redemption, the essential
core of our faith. Tomorrow the Easter Triduum begins, the fulcrum of
the whole Liturgical Year in which we are called to silence and prayer
in order to contemplate the mystery of the Passion, death and
Resurrection of the Lord.
In their Homilies the Fathers often
referred to these days which, as St Athanasius observed in one of his
Easter Letters, bring "us to a new beginning, even the
announcement of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed"
(Letter 5, 1-2: PG
I therefore urge you to live these days
intensely, so that they may decisively direct the life of each one to
generous and convinced adherence to Christ, who died and rose for us.
Tomorrow morning, the Holy Chrism Mass,
a morning prelude to Holy Thursday, will see priests gathered with their
own Bishop. During an important Eucharistic celebration which usually
takes place in the diocesan cathedrals, the oil of the sick and of the
catechumens and chrism will be blessed. In addition, the Bishop and
Priests will renew the priestly promises that they spoke on the day of
their Ordination. This year, this action acquires a very special
prominence because it is taking place in the context of the Year for
Priests, which I established to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the
death of the holy Cure d'Ars. To all priests I would like to repeat the
hope I expressed at the end of my Letter for its inauguration: "In the
footsteps of the holy Curé
of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will
be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and
peace!" (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 24 June 2009, p.
Tomorrow afternoon we shall celebrate the
institution of the Eucharist. Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle
Paul strengthened the early Christians in the truth of the Eucharistic
Mystery, conveying to them what he himself had learned. "The Lord Jesus
on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given
thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my Body which is for you. Do
this in remembrance of me'. In the same way also the cup, after supper,
saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my Blood. Do this, as often as
you drink it, in remembrance of me'" (1 Cor 11:23-25).
These words clearly express Christ's
intention: under the species of the bread and the wine, he makes himself
really present with his Body given and his Blood poured out as a
sacrifice of the New Covenant. At the same time, he constitutes the
Apostles and their successors ministers of this Sacrament, which he
entrusts to his Church as a supreme proof of his love.
We also commemorate with an evocative
rite the gesture of Jesus who washes the Apostles' feet (Jn 13:1-25).
For the Evangelist this act comes to portray the whole of Jesus' life
and reveals his love to the end, an infinite love that is capable of
preparing man for communion with God and of setting him free. At the end
of the Holy Thursday Liturgy the Church puts the Blessed Sacrament in a
specially prepared place that represents Jesus' loneliness and mortal
anguish in Gethsemane. Before the Eucharist, the faithful contemplate
Jesus in the hour of his solitude and pray that all the loneliness in
the world may cease.
This liturgical itinerary is likewise an
invitation to seek the intimate encounter with the Lord in prayer, to
recognize Jesus among those who are lonely, to watch with him and to
proclaim him with the light of one's own life.
On Good Friday we shall commemorate the
Passion and death of the Lord. Jesus wanted to give his life as a
sacrifice for the forgiveness of humanity's sins, choosing to this end
the most brutal and humiliating death: crucifixion. There is an
inseparable connection between the Last Supper and Jesus' death. At the
Last Supper Jesus gives his Body and his Blood, that is, his earthly
existence, himself, anticipating his death and transforming it into an
act of love. Thus he makes death
which by its nature is the end, the
destruction of every relationship
an act of the communication of himself, a means of salvation and of the
proclamation of the victory of love. In this way, Jesus becomes the key
to understanding the Last Supper, which is an anticipation of the
transformation of violent death into a voluntary sacrifice; into an act
of love that redeems and saves the world.
Holy Saturday is marked by a profound
silence. The Churches are bare and no special Liturgies are planned. In
this time of waiting and hope, believers are invited to prayer,
reflection and conversion, also by means of the sacrament of
Reconciliation, in order to take part, intimately renewed, in the
celebration of Easter.
In the night of Holy Saturday, during
the solemn Easter Vigil, "mother of all vigils", this silence will be
broken by the singing of the Alleluia which announces Christ's
Resurrection and proclaims the victory of light over darkness, of life
over death. The Church will rejoice in the encounter with her Lord,
entering Easter Day which the Lord will inaugurate by rising from the
Dear brothers and sisters, let us
prepare to live intensely this Sacred Triduum, now at hand, so as to be
ever more deeply inserted into the Mystery of Christ, who died and rose
for us. May the Most Holy Virgin accompany us on this spiritual journey.
May she, who followed Jesus in his Passion and who stood beneath the
Cross, lead us into the Paschal Mystery so that we may experience the
joy and peace of the Risen One.
With these sentiments, from this moment
I offer you all my most cordial good wishes for a holy Easter, extending
them to your Communities and to all your loved ones.