"The Immense Lesson of Love"
Dear brothers and sisters,
In prayer, with a collected and moved spirit, we've traveled this night the way of the Cross. With Jesus we've ascended Calvary and meditated on his suffering, discovering anew how profound is the love he had and has still for us. But in this moment, we don't want to limit ourselves to a detached compassion solely of weak sentiment; we want instead to feel ourselves participants in the suffering of Jesus, we want to accompany our Teacher, sharing his Passion in our life, in the life of the church, for the life of the world, so we might know that only in the Lord's Cross, in love without limit, that gives all of oneself, is the growth of grace, of freedom, of peace, of salvation.
The texts, meditations and prayers of the Via Crucis have helped us to look upon this mystery of the Passion, to learn its immense lesson of love that God has given us on the Cross, that it might birth in us a renewed desire to convert our heart, living every day that same love, the only force able to change the world.
Tonight we've contemplated Jesus, his face full of sorrow, derided, ostracized, disfigured by the sin of man; tomorrow night we will contemplate his face full of joy, radiant and luminous. When Jesus rose in the sepulchre, the tomb and death were no longer a place without hope, where history closed itself in the most total failing, where man touches the extreme limit of his weakness. Good Friday is the day of our greatest hope, matured on the Cross when Jesus dies, taking his last breath, crying out in a loud voice: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:36). Handing over his existence "given" to the hands of the Father, he knows that his death becomes the rising-point of life, as his seed in the earth must break itself that the plant might grow: "If the grain of wheat falls to the ground and not die, it remains alone; if it does die, it will produce much fruit" (Jn 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat fallen to the ground, spent, broken, dead, and through this he's able to bear fruit. From the day in which raised, the Cross, that appears as the sign of abandonment, solitude, failure, becomes a new impetus: from the depths of death rises the promise of eternal life. On the Cross already shines the victorious splendor of the dawn of Easter Day.
In the silence of this night, in the silence that encases Holy Saturday, touched by the unconfined love of God, let us live in expectation of the dawn of the Third Day, the dawn of the victory of the love of God, the dawn of light that allows the eyes of the heart to see, in a new way, life, difficulties, suffering. Our failures, our disappointments, our bitterness that seems to mark the fall of everyone, are illuminated by hope. The act of love of the Cross confirmed by the Father and the blazing light of the Resurrection wraps around and transforms everything: from betrayal can grow friendship, from denial, pardon; from hatred, love.
Grant us, Lord, that we might carry our own cross with love, our everyday crosses, with the certainty that they will be made into light by the brilliance of your Pasch. Amen.
For the record, the holder of Cantalamessa's post has long been entrusted with pulpit duty for the Vatican's Good Friday rites. Still, the current papal preacher is no stranger to scoring ink -- in his 2006 Good Friday homily, given a month before the film release of The Da Vinci Code, the Capuchin made similar global headlines for deriding the movie, saying that "There is much talk about Judas' betrayal, without realizing that it is being repeated.
"Christ is being sold again," he went on, "no longer to the leaders of the Sanhedrin for thirty denarii, but to editors and booksellers for billions of denarii.
"No one will succeed in halting this speculative wave," he said, "which instead will flare up with the imminent release of a certain film."
Meanwhile, following his emphatic Wednesday defense of B16 and the Holy See's handling of cases, Cardinal William Levada's prior history of dealing with abuse claims is now coming under closer scrutiny... a fresh apology has come from the Vatican (at least, technically speaking)... and with a case from Arizona coming again to light, it's no small matter that coverage of the scandals' return has returned to the place most famous for exposing their existence to begin with: the pages of the Boston Globe... which is owned by....
SVILUPPO: In a rare Holy Saturday message-intervention, the Holy See responded to the aforelinked Arizona case.
In a statement released mid-afternoon Rome time (9am ET), the director of the Vatican Press Office, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, said that while "some newspapers have recently reported on the 'Teta case,' of abuse by a priest of the Diocese of Tucson in the 1970's, much of the reportage has been misleading.
“The Diocese of Tucson contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the case because it regarded the canonical crime of solicitation in the confessional. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took an active interest in the case throughout the 1990’s, in order to guarantee that the Church trial underway in the Diocese of Tucson was properly completed. The trial was completed in 1997. The cleric in question was found guilty and laicized. The evidence clearly and certainly shows this. The Bishop of Tucson, Bishop Kicanas had already stated as much in response to local press inquiries. Published letters from the CDF confirm this”.
PHOTO: Getty(1,3); Reuters(2)