In the days leading up to Good Friday, ZENIT is republishing the texts for the Via Crucis that Pope Francis will lead in the Colosseum.
The texts this year were prepared by Lebanese young people under the guidance of the patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï.
The introduction and first stations were published Tuesday.
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V Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:26
As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the Cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
Jesus’ meeting with Simon of Cyrene took place in silence, providing us with a lesson for our lives: God does not want suffering and he does not accept evil. The same is true of the human being. But suffering, accepted in faith, is transformed into a path of salvation. Then we accept it as Jesus did, and we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did.
you have involved man in the carrying of your Cross.
You have invited us to share your sufferings.
Simon of Cyrene is like us
and he teaches us to accept the Cross
that we encounter on the paths of life.
Following your example, Lord,
we too carry the Cross
of suffering and illness today,
but we accept it because you are with us.
It can nail us to our chair,
but it cannot prevent us from dreaming;
it can obscure our vision,
but it cannot touch our conscience;
it can deafen our ears,
but it cannot prevent us from listening;
it can bind our tongue
but it cannot suppress our thirst for truth;
it can weigh down our spirit,
but it cannot rob us of our freedom.
we want to be your disciples
so as to carry your Cross every day;
we will carry it with joy and hope
because you are carrying it with us,
because you have triumphed over death for us.
We give you thanks, Lord,
for every sick or ailing person
who knows how to bear witness to your love,
and for every “Simon of Cyrene”
whom you place on our journey.
VI Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
A Reading from the Book of Psalms 27:8-9
Of you my heart has spoken: “Seek his face.” It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face. Dismiss not your servant in anger; you have been my help. Do not abandon or forsake me, O God my help!
Veronica sought you in the midst of the crowd. She sought you and finally found you. While your anguish was at its height, she wanted to ease it by wiping your face with a towel. A small gesture, but it expressed all her love for you and all her faith in you; it has remained impressed on the memory of our Christian tradition.
it is your face that we seek.
Veronica reminds us that you are present
in every person who suffers
and goes forward along his or her path to Golgotha.
Lord, grant that we may find you in the poor,
in the least of your brethren,
in order to wipe away the tears of those who weep,
to take care of those who suffer
and to support those who are weak.
Lord, you teach us
that a wounded and forgotten person
loses neither worth nor dignity
and remains a sign
of your hidden presence in the world.
Help us to wipe away from his or her face
the marks of poverty and injustice,
so that your image in him or her
may be revealed and may shine forth.
We pray for those who are seeking your Face
and who find it in those of the homeless,
the poor and children exposed to violence and exploitation.
VII Station: Jesus falls for the second time
A Reading from the Book of Psalms 22:8,12
All who see me deride me. They curl their lips, they toss their heads. Do not leave me alone in my distress; come close, there is none else to help.
Jesus is alone under the interior and exterior weight of the Cross. In this fall, the weight of evil becomes too great and there seems no longer to be any limit to injustice and violence.
But he rises once more, strong in the infinite trust that he places in his Father. Before the men who abandon him to his lot, the power of the Spirit raises him up; it unites him fully to the Father’s will, that of love which can do all things.
in your second fall,
we recognize so many of our situations
from which there seems to be no way of escape.
Among them are those that derive from prejudice and hatred,
which harden our hearts
and lead to religious conflicts.
Enlighten our minds
so that they recognize,
despite “human and religious differences,”
that “a ray of truth
shines on all men and women”,
called to walk together
– with respect for religious freedom –
towards the truth that is in God alone.
Thus, the different religions can
“join one another in service to the common good
and contribute to the development of each person
and the building of society” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 27-28).
Come, Holy Spirit,
to console and strengthen Christians,
especially those from the Middle East,
so that, united in Christ,
they may be witnesses of your universal love
in an area torn apart by injustice and conflicts.
VIII Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:27-28
There followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
On the path to Calvary, the Lord meets the women of Jerusalem. These women are weeping at the Lord’s sufferings as if it were suffering without hope. All they can see in the Cross is the wood, sign of a curse (cf. Dt 21:23), whereas the Lord chose it as a means of Redemption and Salvation.
In the Passion and Crucifixion, Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many. Thus he gave relief to those who were oppressed under the yoke and he consoled the afflicted. He wiped away the tears of the women of Jerusalem and opened their eyes to Paschal truth.
Our world is full of afflicted mothers, of women whose dignity has been wounded, abused by discrimination, injustice and suffering (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 60). O suffering Christ, be their peace and be a balm to their wounds.
by your incarnation from Mary,
“Blessed among women” (Lk 1:42),
you raised the dignity of every woman.
With the Incarnation
you unified the human race (cf. Gal 3:26-28).
may the encounter with you be the desire of our hearts.
Let our path, filled with sufferings,
always be a path of hope,
with you and towards you
who are the refuge of our life
and our Salvation.
IX Station: Jesus falls for the third time under the weight of the Cross
A Reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 5:14-15
The love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
For the third time Jesus falls under the Cross, burdened with our sins, and for the third time he seeks to get up again, summoning up the strength that remains to him, so as to continue his journey towards Golgotha, refusing to let himself be crushed and to succumb to temptation.
From the moment of his Incarnation, Jesus carries the Cross of human suffering and sin. He has fully and eternally assumed human nature, showing men that victory is possible and that the path towards divine sonship is open.
the Church, born from your open side,
is oppressed under the Cross of the divisions
that distance Christians from one another
and from the unity that you willed for them;
they turn away from your desire
“that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21)
as the Father is with you.
This cross bears down with all its weight
on their lives and on their common testimony.
Grant us, Lord, the wisdom and the humility
to rise once more and to move forward along the path of unity,
in truth and love,
without succumbing to the temptation
to have recourse merely to the criteria
of personal or sectarian interests,
in the face of our divisions (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 11).
Grant that we may renounce the mentality of division,
“lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor 1:17).
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Full text of 14 Stations: