Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pope: Easter Triduum "Fulcrum" of Liturgical Year

Offers Reflection at General Audience

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2009 ( Benedict XVI reflected on the Easter triduum at the general audience today, which he called the "fulcrum of the entire liturgical year."

Holy Week, the Pope said, "offers us the opportunity to be immersed in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great mystery of the faith."

"How marvelous, and at the same time amazing, is this mystery," the Pontiff said. "We can never meditate this reality sufficiently. Jesus, though being God, did not want to make of his divine prerogatives an exclusive possession; he did not want to use his being God, his glorious dignity and power, as an instrument of triumph and sign of distance from us.

"On the contrary, 'he emptied himself' assuming our miserable and weak human condition."

Benedict XVI noted that the Easter triduum begins Thursday afternoon with the Mass of the Lord's Supper: "The Church commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood and the new commandment of charity, left by Jesus to his disciples."

Holy Thursday, he said, is "a renewed invitation to render thanks to God for the supreme gift of the Eucharist, to be received with devotion and to be adored with lively faith."

Good Friday, the Pontiff continued, is the "day of the Passion and crucifixion of the Lord. Every year, placing ourselves in silence before Jesus nailed to the wood of the cross, we realize how full of love were the words he pronounced on the eve, in the course of the Last Supper."

"Jesus willed to offer his life in sacrifice for the remission of humanity's sins," the Holy Father reflected. "Just as before the Eucharist, so before the Passion and Death of Jesus on the cross the mystery is unfathomable to reason. We are placed before something that humanly might seem absurd: a God who not only is made man, with all man's needs, not only suffers to save man, burdening himself with all the tragedy of humanity, but dies for man.

"Christ's death recalls the accumulation of sorrows and evils that beset humanity of all times: the crushing weight of our dying, the hatred and violence that again today bloody the earth. The Lord's Passion continues in the suffering of men."

He added, "If Good Friday is a day full of sadness, then it is at the same time all the more propitious a day to reawaken our faith, to strengthen our hope and courage so that each one of us will carry his cross with humility, trust and abandonment in God, certain of his support and victory."

"Hope," said Benedict XVI, "is nourished in the great silence of Holy Saturday, awaiting the resurrection of Jesus. On this day the Churches are stripped and no particular liturgical rites are provided. The Church watches in prayer like Mary, and together with Mary, sharing the same feelings of sorrow and trust in God.

"Justly recommended is to preserve throughout the day a prayerful climate, favorable to meditation and reconciliation; the faithful are encouraged to approach the sacrament of penance, to be able to participate truly renewed in the Easter celebrations."

Following the "recollection and silence of Holy Saturday" is the solemn Easter Vigil, which the Pope called the "mother of all vigils."

"Proclaimed once again will be the victory of light over darkness, of life over death, and the Church will rejoice in the encounter with her Lord," he added. "We will thus enter into the climate of the Easter of Resurrection."

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