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 Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Maronite Church.
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X Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments
A Reading from the Book of Psalms 22:19
They divide my clothing among them, they cast lots for my robe.
In the fullness of time, Lord Jesus, you clothed yourself in our humanity, you whose “train filled the temple” (Is 6:1); already, you are walking in our midst, and those who wish to touch the hem of your garments are healed. But you have been stripped even of this garment, Lord! They have stolen your cloak and you have also given us your tunic (cf. Mt 5:40). You have allowed the veil of your flesh to be torn so that we might once more be admitted into the Father’s presence (cf. Heb 10:19-20).
We thought we could find fulfilment by ourselves, independently of you (cf. Gen 3:4-7). We found ourselves naked, but in your infinite love you reclothed us with the dignity of sons and daughters of God and of his sanctifying grace.
Bestow, Lord, upon the children of the Eastern Churches – stripped by various difficulties, sometimes to the point of persecution, and weakened by emigration – the courage to remain in their countries to proclaim the Good News.
O Jesus, Son of Man,
who were stripped so as to reveal to us
the new creation raised from the dead,
tear in us the veil that separates us from God
and weave in us your divine presence.
Grant us to conquer fear
before the events of life
that strip us and leave us naked,
and to put on the new man of our Baptism,
in order that we may announce the Good News,
proclaiming that you are the only true God
who guides history.
XI Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:16a,19
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Behold, the long-awaited Messiah, hanging on the wood of the cross between two thieves. The two hands which blessed humanity are pierced. The two feet which trod our earth to proclaim the Good News are now suspended between earth and heaven. The eyes full of love, whose gaze healed the sick and forgave our sins, now gaze only heavenward.
you were crucified for our sins.
You pray to God the Father and you intercede for humanity.
Each hammer blow echoes like a beat of your immolated heart.
How beautiful upon the mount of Calvary
are the feet of the One who proclaims
the Good News of salvation.
Your love, Jesus, has filled the universe.
Your pierced hands
are our refuge in distress.
They embrace us
whenever the abyss of sin threatens us,
and in your wounds
we find healing and forgiveness.
we pray to you for all those young people
who are overcome by hopelessness,
for young people who are the victims of drugs,
of sects and of perversions.
Free them from their enslavement.
May they lift up their gaze and accept Love.
May they find happiness in you;
save them, our Saviour.
XII Station: Jesus dies on the cross
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:46
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And having said this, he breathed his last.
From the height of the cross a cry is heard a cry: a cry of abandonment at the moment of death, a cry of trust amid suffering, a cry accompanying the birth of a new life. Behold, hanging on the tree of life, you deliver your spirit into your Father’s hands, causing life to spring up in abundance and forming the new creation. Today we too face the challenges of this world: we sense the surge of fears which overwhelm us and shake our trust. Grant us, Lord, the strength to know deep within our heart that no death will conquer us, until we rest in the hands which have shaped us and accompany us.
May every one of us be able to cry out:
“Yesterday I was crucified with Christ,
today I am glorified with him.
Yesterday I died with him,
today I live with him.
Yesterday I was buried with him.
Today I have risen with him.” (Gregory Nazianzen)
In the darkness of our nights,
we contemplate you.
Teach us to turn towards the Most High,
your heavenly Father.
Today, let us pray
that all those who promote abortion
may become aware that love
can only be a source of life.
Let us think also of those who defend euthanasia
and those who encourage
techniques and procedures
which endanger human life.
Open their hearts
to know you in the truth
and to work for the building
of the civilization of life and love.
XIII Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his Mother
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:26-27a
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple: “Behold, your mother!”
Lord Jesus, those who love you remain at your side and keep faith. In the hour of your agony and death, when the world believes that evil triumphs and that the voice of truth, love, justice and peace is silent, their faith does not fail.
O Mary, into your hands we place our earth. “How sad it is to see this blessed land suffer in its children, who relentlessly tear one another to pieces and die!” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 8). It seems that nothing can overcome evil, terrorism, murder and hatred. “Before the cross on which your Son stretched out his sinless hands for our salvation, O Virgin, we fall prostrate this day: grant us peace” (Byzantine liturgy).
Let us pray
for the victims of the wars and of the violence
which in our days devastate
various countries in the Middle East,
as well as other parts of the world. <br> Let us pray that the displaced and the forced migrants
may soon return
to their homes and lands.
that the blood of innocent victims
may be the seed of a new East,
ever more fraternal, peaceful and just,
and that this East
may recover the splendour of its vocation
as the cradle of civilization and of spiritual and human values.
Star of the East,
show us the coming of the Dawn!
XIV Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:39-40
Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
Nicodemus receives the body of Christ, he looks after it and puts it in a tomb in the middle of a garden which evokes the garden of Creation. Jesus lets himself be buried, even as he let himself be crucified, in the same abandonment, entirely “delivered” into the hands of men and “perfectly united” to them, “even to sleeping beneath the tombstone” (Saint Gregory of Narek).
To accept difficulties, painful events, death, demands steadfast hope, living faith.
The stone placed before the entrance of the tomb will be overturned and a new life will arise. For “we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:4)
We have received the freedom of the children of God, so that we will not return to slavery; life has been given to us in abundance, so that we will no longer be satisfied with a life lacking beauty and meaning.
make us children of the light
who do not fear the darkness.
We pray to you today
for all those who search for meaning in life
and for all those who have lost hope,
that they may have faith in your victory
over sin and death.
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Full text of 14 Stations: