VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Easter triduum should remind the faithful that love has triumphed, and that we can “start again from Christ” to build a society of peace and love.
The Pope said this today in a commentary on the Easter triduum during the general audience in Paul VI Hall.
He said the three days prior to Easter allow “us to relive the event central to our Redemption,” and “lead us to the nucleus of Christian faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
The Pontiff said they “could be considered one single day. They make up the heart and are the key to both the liturgical year and the life of the Church. At the end of Lent we also enter that climate which Christ himself experienced back then in Jerusalem.
“We want to rekindle in ourselves the living memory of the suffering which our Lord endured for us and to joyously prepare ourselves for next Sunday.”
The Holy Father then commented on each of the liturgies of the triduum, beginning with Thursday’s chrism Mass, which takes place “in every diocese during which the bishop and priests of the diocese renew their promises made at ordination.”
Benedict XVI called the Mass “one of the most important moments in the life of every Christian diocese, which, gathered around it’s pastor, strengthens it’s unity and faith in Christ, the supreme and eternal priest.”
On Thursday evening, the Church celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, “when Christ gave himself to all of us as the food of salvation, as the drug of immortality and the mystery of the Eucharist — source and pinnacle of Christian life.”
During the Mass, the priest washes the feet of twelve people. The Holy Father said this reminds the faithful “how much Christ did for his Apostles.”
Gesture of love
“Washing their feet was a concrete way of exclaiming the primacy of his love, a love that serves even to the point of giving oneself, anticipating as well the supreme sacrifice of giving his life, which he was to do the following day on Calvary,” said the Pope. “According to a beautiful tradition, the faithful close on Holy Thursday for a vigil of prayer and Eucharistic adoration enabling them to relive the agonies that Christ suffered at Gethsemane more vividly.”
Even though no Mass is said on Good Friday, the Pontiff said the Church “gathers to consider the mystery of sin and evil that oppress humanity. They revisit, in the light of the word of God, the sufferings of Christ that atone for this evil.”
He said that on this day popular devotions, such as the Way of the Cross, take place as a way for the faithful “to consider the passion and death of the Redeemer, to express their love and to […] participate in the suffering of Christ.”
Benedict XVI said Holy Saturday “is marked by a deep silence. […] While waiting for the Resurrection, the faithful persevere in the wait with Mary by praying and meditating.
“A day of silence is necessary to ponder the reality of human life, the forces of evil and the enormous power of good unleashed by the passion and resurrection of Christ.”
Saturday night is the Easter vigil, the Pontiff explained that this is when “the Church holds vigil next to the newly blessed fire and meditates on the great promise contained in the Old and New Testaments, of the conclusive liberation from the ancient slavery to sin and death. In the darkness of the night, the Easter candle is lit from the new fire as a symbol of Christ who rises again in glory.”
Light of the world
“Christ, the light of humanity, dispels any shadows in the heart and the spirit and illuminates all men who come into the world,” said the Pope. “Together with the lighting of the Easter candle, the great Easter announcement reverberates throughout the Church: Christ has truly risen, death no longer has any power over him. With his death he defeats evil forever and makes man a gift of God’s own life.”
The Holy Father summed up the meaning of the triduum, “The rites suggested for Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the rich silence of prayer of Holy Saturday and the solemn Easter vigil provide us with the opportunity to deepen the feelings and the values of our Christian vocation unleashed by the Paschal mystery, and to strengthen it by faithfully following Christ in all circumstances, just as he did, even to the point of giving up our own existence to him.”
Benedict XVI also reminded the faithful that Easter isn’t only about remembering the events of Christ’s life, but also about remembering “the terrible facts and situations that afflict our brothers across the world. We know that hate, division and violence never have the last word in historical events.”
“These holy days reawaken a great hope in us,” he added. “Christ was crucified, yet he rose again and conquered the world.
“Love is stronger than hate, it has triumphed and we should affiliate ourselves with this victory of love. We should therefore start again from Christ and work together with him for a world founded on peace, justice and love.”