VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As the Church contemplated the passion of death of Christ at the Way of the Cross in the Roman Colosseum, they were led to reflect as well on the virtue of hope.
The meditations for the traditional event were written this year by Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, who began the introductory meditation with an invitation to “sing together a ‘hymn of hope.'”
“We want to tell ourselves that all is not lost in hard times,” he said. “Indeed, in testing times we see no reason for believing and hoping. And yet we believe. And yet we hope.”
“It is truly in Christ that we understand the full meaning of suffering,” the archbishop continued. “During this meditation, while we watch with anguish the painful side of Jesus’ suffering, we shall also give attention to its redemptive value. It was God’s plan that the ‘Messiah had to suffer,’ and that these sufferings should be for us.
“An awareness of this fills us with living hope. It is this hope that keeps us joyful and patient in our troubles.”
“May this message of hope echo from the Hoang-Ho to Colorado, from the Himalayas to the Alps and the Andes, from the Mississipi to the Brahmaputra,” Archbishop Menamparampil wrote.
After reflecting on themes such as peace, the integrity of public servants, the persecution of believers and the increased secularization of society, in the Tenth Station — Jesus Is Crucified — the archbishop returned to the topic of hope.
“Experience tells us that even the sturdiest man can descend to the depths of despair,” he wrote. “Frustrations accumulate, anger and resentment pile up. Bad health, bad news, bad luck, bad treatment — all can come together. It may have happened to us. It is at such moments we need to remember that Jesus never fails us.”
In the prayer, he wrote, “Lord, when clouds gather on the horizon and everything seems lost, when we find no friend to stand by us and hope slips from our hands, teach us to trust in you, who will surely come to our rescue.
“May the experience of inner pain and darkness teach us the great truth that in you nothing is lost, that even our sins — once we have repented of them — come to serve a purpose, like dry wood in the cold of winter.”
In the Twelfth Station — The Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple at the Foot of the Cross — the archbishop noted the role of forgiveness in learning to hope.
“In Mary we do not notice even the least sign of resentment; not a word of bitterness,” he wrote. “The Virgin becomes an archetype of forgiveness in faith and hope. She shows us the way to the future.
“Even those who would like to respond to violent injustice with ‘violent justice’ know that that is not the ultimate answer. Forgiveness prompts hope.”