Some background, from the man who composed this year’s prayers:
When he told Pope Francis that writing the meditations for the papal Way of the Cross service was tough, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve said the pope told him, “Remember, you aren’t doing it for me, but for the church.” The Good Friday service, which takes places at night at Rome’s Colosseum, is broadcast around the world. Tens of thousands of people gather with the pope around the ancient Roman amphitheater to meditate on the last moments of Jesus’ life. Each year the pope asks a different person to write the meditations and prayers that are read out after each station is announced. Cardinal Bassetti was chosen for the March 25 service. “For every station I tried to make a reference to current events because, as Pope Francis says, ‘God is real and shows himself today,’” the cardinal told the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Reflecting on Christ’s passion, the cardinal also urged people to reflect on how human sin and suffering continue today. His meditations refer to modern martyrs being killed “in every corner of the globe” just because they are Christians. He refers to the suffering of migrants and refugees fleeing poverty and persecution but risking disease and death as they make the perilous journey toward a new life.
An example, from the Ninth Station:
Jesus falls the third time
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem redemisti tuam mundum.
From the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians ( 2: 6-7 )
Though he was in the form of God, did not consider it a privilege to be like God, but emptied himself, taking a slave, coming in human likeness .
Jesus falls the third time. The Son of God experiences in depth the human condition. With this fall comes even more firmly in the history of mankind. It takes, at all times, suffering humanity. “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28, 20).
How many times men and women fall to the ground. How many times the men, women and children suffering from a broken family. How many times men and women feel they have no more dignity because they do not have jobs. How many times young people are forced to live a precarious life and lose hope for the future.
Falling Man, and contemplating the God who falls, is the man who can finally admit his weakness and helplessness without fear and despair, because even God has proven in his Son. It is a mercy that God has lowered up to this point, up to lie down in the dust of the road . Wet dust from the sweat of Adam and the blood of Jesus and of all the martyrs of history; Dust blessed by the tears of so many brothers who died for their violence and exploitation of man by man.In this powder blessed, outraged, violated and robbed man’s selfishness, the Lord has reserved his final embrace.
prostrate on this parched earth,
you are close to all men who suffer
and penetrate their hearts the strength to get up.
Please, God of mercy,
for all those who are on the ground for so many reasons:
personal sins, failed marriages , loneliness,
loss of job, family dramas, anxiety about the future.
Let me hear that you are not far from each one of them,
because the nearest to you, you are the mercy incarnate,
is the man who feels the need for more of forgiveness
and continue to hope against hope!
Read the entire Way of the Cross here.