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Monday 14 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Francisa de Paula de Jesus Isabel
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Text of the Stations of the Cross for 2020, led by Pope Francis

POPE VIA CRUCIS

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Aleteia - published on 04/09/20

First Station
Jesus is condemned to death

STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Walwyn | Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

(Meditation by a prisoner serving a life sentence)

Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will(Lk 23:20-25).

Many times that cry, “Crucify him, crucify him!” is shouted out in court-rooms and in newspapers. It is a cry I even heard against me: I was condemned, together with my father, to a life sentence. My crucifixion began when I was a child: when I think back I see myself curled up on the bus that took me to school, sidelined because of my stutter, with no friends. I started to work when I was small, without having a chance to study: ignorance prevailed over innocence. Then bullying stole what was left of childhood from this boy born in Calabria during the 1970s. I am more like Barabbas than Christ, yet the harshest condemnation remains that of my own conscience: at night I open my eyes and I desperately search for a light that will shine upon my story.

Alone in my cell, when I re-read the pages of the Passion of Christ, I burst into tears: after 29 years in prison I have not yet lost the capacity to cry, to feel ashamed of my past history and of the evil I did. I feel like Barabbas, Peter and Judas in one single person. I am repelled by my past, even though I know it is my story. I have lived for years under the restrictive conditions of Article 41b of the Prison Administration Act and my father died under the same conditions. Many times at night I heard him crying in his cell. He tried to hide it, but I knew. We were both plunged into deep darkness. In that non-life, however, I was always searching for something that would be life: strange to say, prison was my salvation. If, for some, I am still Barabbas, that does not make me angry: I know in my heart that the Innocent One, condemned like me, came to find me in prison to teach me about life.

Lord Jesus, despite the uproar, we glimpse you among the crowds shouting for you to be crucified; perhaps we too are among them, blind to the evil of which we are capable. From our cells we want to pray to your Father for all those who, like you, are condemned to death and for all those who would substitute their own for your supreme judgment.

Let us pray.

O God, lover of life, in the sacrament of Reconciliation, you always give us a new opportunity to experience your infinite mercy. We ask you to grant us the gift of wisdom so that we can see every man and woman as a temple of your Spirit and respect their inviolable dignity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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