Authors of Via Crucis Meditations Affirm Church's Love for Family

Married Couple Tells of Surprise, Fear at Being Chosen by the Pope to Write Good Friday Reflections

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By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, APRIL 5, 2012 ( At 9:15 pm tomorrow the Holy Father will preside over the traditional Via Crucis at the Colosseum. This year the texts that accompany the meditations for the stations were composed, at the request of the Holy See, by a married couple: Danilo and Anna Maria Zanzucchi, members of the New Families Movement of Grottaferrata. 

The Zanzucchis, natives of Parma, have five children and are consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Family. They are the founders and animators of the New Families project, born in 1967, and desired by Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement. Its objective is to give back the just value to the family, the basic element of society, which today more than ever is at the center of crises and attacks.

Danilo and Anna Maria themselves expressed this to ZENIT when we spoke to them about the task of writing the Via Crucis meditations. 

ZENIT: Danilo and Anna Maria, with what sentiments did you receive this very honorable request from the Holy Father?

Zanzucchis: We learned of having been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to write the texts of the meditations for Good Friday, with astonishment, emotion and, we don’t hide it, with trepidation and fear.

On the other hand, with very great joy: the fact that the Pontiff called a family to extend the thought of the Church with the texts of the Via Crucis seems to put in evidence that the family, in the Church herself, is not only the object of evangelization but a real and proper “way” of the Church to live and take the Gospel, carrying out what John Paul II wrote in the Letter to Families in 1994.

ZENIT: The main point of your texts is, in fact, the subject of the family. How did you insert it in the reflections of the Via Crucis?

Danilo: We tried to see the Via Crucis in the correspondence it could have with the life of the family. In our life as a couple, but also in our experience in the New Families Movement, we got to know and, in a certain way, to share in the sorrows of so many families, seeing how in every one of these sufferings there is a reflection of the family’s Via Crucis.

In fact, the sorrow of a family is always a mystery because it grips the person and also the two spouses together and the children, when there are children. It is a community sorrow which has repercussions also on society.

Anna Maria: The conviction we developed somewhat in turn is, hence, that the Via Crucis is very linked to human life and to the life of the family, in particular in the family’s painful moments.

For example, the station of the Cyrenean: this bending down to the pain of a relative, doing one’s best to give him relief … Or Jesus’ meeting with his Mother, her co-participation … These are episodes that speak of true moments, lived in the family.

The Via Crucis is a living reality. Penetrating this tradition of the Church, we accepted it as a reality that, not only made up Jesus’ life bit by bit but, in Him, human life in all its stages, in all its sorrows.

ZENIT: What is the Movement (New Families) that you represent and what does it do?

Zanzucchis: New Families is a branch of the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich in 1967. It is a Movement of Families at the service of families, to develop their potential in a context such as today’s which seems unaware of its functions.

They are families who have discovered in evangelical love the source and inspiration for a new and stronger commitment in the life of a couple, in the growth of the children, in engaging in constructive dialogue with other families, along guidelines of spirituality, of the spirituality of unity.

Active with family and community initiatives, the Movement offers formative courses for couples and persons in different phases and ages of family life and, through AFN Onlus, it supports 102 projects of cooperation for development in 54 countries, which are inserted in a continuous way until they become autonomous, in addition to 18,000 children and their families.

ZENIT: What are the most urgent problems for the natural family today?

Zanzucchis: We can refer at least to two: first of all the presence of ideological pressures that, wishing to make every form of living together equal to the family that, in fact, would empty the family of its profound significance and its specific tasks.

The second is the scarce attention that, in these times of economic and social difficulties, the political and legislative organs give to the family. In this connection, the prominence given by the Holy Father to the family, through the task entrusted to us, is an important sign of its recognized value by the Church.

ZENIT: Based on all this, can it be said that there is hope for families in the future and especially for numerous ones?

Zanzucchis: We are convinced that the lack of recognition and attention in dealing with the family is a transitional phase. Already perceived are the negative effects of the reduction almost to zero of births. From this we believe that there will soon be a new awareness of the value of procreation also for the common good. Therefore, there will be new support for those families that generously decide to give our society a future.

ZENIT: In this phase of “transition,” to which you referred, how is it possible to nurture the desire of maternity and paternity in younger couples?

Zanzucchis: By witnessing and spreading the awareness of the joy that comes from maternity and paternity. As New Families we see that so many young couples at first are surprised and then want to live this gift personally. Therefore, we organize formative courses for young couples desirous of confronting one another and helping one another also in the educational experience toward their children.

ZENIT: In what way can the faith help to reinforce and support matrimony from so many attacks and criticisms?

Zanzucchis: From the faith, also as a family, we draw the stimulus to associate with one another and to act. Because of this, since 1992  we have contributed to the action of the Forum of Family Associations, present in Italy, Spain and other European nations. However, above all the action is important that we seek to carry out with local institutions, so that the family is recognized and helped to carry out its function of “first cell of society,” or the place that furnishes human resources to society and that, through the testimony of the gratuitousness on which family relations are founded, is also a model of life for the whole society.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Texts of the Zanzucchis’ meditations:

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