Tag Archives: Sacred Triduum

Christ crucified transforms the old man, a new creation: is our gaze on Him?

The Church is silent. The Lord is dead; His mother and the Beloved disciple have buried the Lord. We carry on in sorrow, our hearts are quiet and searching for the one who made the promise that things would be different if we believed in Him. Holy Saturday is a distinct day in the Church. Good Friday totally transforms us from something old to something new, this is a time of patient awareness that it is not business as usual. If it is, if we can’t see that our real lives are not the same, then we need to beg the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother to show the reasons why life is different now with Jesus crucified and in the tomb. 

Pope Benedict’s meditation at the Colosseum lst evening gives us focus:

Via Crucis Colosseum April 22 2011.jpg

This evening, in faith, we have accompanied Jesus as he takes the final steps of his earthly journey, the most painful steps, the steps that lead to Calvary. We have heard the cries of the crowd, the words of condemnation, the insults of the soldiers, the lamentation of the Virgin Mary and of the women. Now we are immersed in the silence of this night, in the silence of the cross, the silence of death. It is a silence pregnant with the burden of pain borne by a man rejected, oppressed, downtrodden, the burden of sin which mars his face, the burden of evil. Tonight we have re-lived, deep within our hearts, the drama of Jesus, weighed down by pain, by evil, by human sin.

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Fr Cantalamessa: Good Friday – there is one truth…

Cantalamessa.jpgThe papal preacher preaches to the Pope each Good Friday. A distinction not given to many. The renown Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said many good things to think about, not a few points that are crucial to our own witness of the Gospel, a few are given here now. The link to his homily is given below.

There is a truth that must be proclaimed loud and
clear on Good Friday. The One whom we contemplate on the cross is God “in
person.” Yes, he is also the man Jesus of Nazareth, but that man is one person
with the Son of the Eternal Father. As long as the fundamental dogma of the
Christian faith is not recognized and taken seriously — the first dogma
defined at Nicea
, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and is himself God, of
one substance with the Father — human suffering will remain unanswered.

response of the cross is not for us Christians alone, but for everyone, because
the Son of God died for all. There is in the mystery of redemption an objective
and a subjective aspect. There is the fact in itself, and then awareness of the
fact and our faith-response to it. The first extends beyond the second. “The
Holy Spirit,” says a text of Vatican II, “offers to all the possibility of
being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery.”

One thing
distinguishes genuine accounts of martyrdom from legendary ones composed later,
after the end of the persecutions. In the former, there is almost no trace of
polemics against the persecutors; all attention is concentrated on the heroism
of the martyrs, not on the perversity of the judges and executioners. St.
Cyprian even ordered his followers to give twenty-five gold coins to the
executioner who beheaded him. These are the disciples of the one who died
saying: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” Truly, “Jesus’
 blood speaks a different language from the blood of Abel
(Hebrews 12:24): it does not cry out for vengeance and punishment; it brings

Read the papal preacher’s homily in full here: Fr Cantalamessa Good Friday homily 2011.pdf

Christ’s love is both horizontal and vertical

12th station.jpg

Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said to fulfill the Scripture: “I thirst.” A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“I thirst.” “It is finished.” With these two phrases Jesus, looking first to humanity and then to the Father, bequeaths to us the burning passion at the heart of his person and mission: love for man and obedience to the Father. His is a love both horizontal and vertical: in the shape of the cross! And at the intersection of this twofold love, at the place where Jesus bows his head, the Holy Spirit wells up, the first fruits of his return to the Father.

This final breath which brings Jesus’ life to completion evokes the work of creation, which now is redeemed. But it is also a summons to all of us who believe in him to “bring to completion in our own flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. That all may be complete!

Lord Jesus, who died for our sake!
You ask, that you may give,
you die, that you may leave a legacy,
and thus you make us see that the gift of self
opens a space for unity.
Pardon the gall of our rejection and unbelief,
pardon the deafness of our hearts
to your cry of thirst
which echoes in the suffering of our many brothers and sisters.

Come, Holy Spirit,
parting gift of the Son who dies for us:
may you be the guide who “leads us into all the truth”
and “the root which sustains us in unity”!

The silence of Holy Saturday

Some say that on Holy Saturday Jesus went to hell in triumph, to free the souls long imprisoned there. Others say he descended into a death deeper than death, to embrace in his love even the damned. We do not know. Scripture, tradition and pious writings provide hints and speculations, but about this most silent day it is perhaps best to observe the silence. One day I expect he will tell us all about it. When we are able to understand what we cannot now even understand why we cannot understand. Meanwhile, if we keep very still, there steals upon the silence a song of Easter that was always there. On the long mourners’ bench of the eternal pity, we raise our heads, blink away our tears and exchange looks that dare to question, ‘Could it be?’ But of course. That is what it was about. That is what it is all about. O felix culpa!


O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,

Which gained for us so great a Redeemer!


To prodigal children lost in a distant land, to disciples who forsook him and fled, to a thief who believed or maybe took pity and pretended to believe, to those who did not know that what they did they did to God, to the whole bedraggled company of humankind he had abandoned heaven to join, he (Jesus) says: ‘Come. Everything is ready now. In your fears and your laughter, in your friendships and farewells, in your loves and losses, in what you have been able to do and in what you know you will never get done, come, follow me. We are going home to the waiting Father.'”


Father Richard John Neuhaus

Death on a Friday Afternoon

Jesus is the victor because He’s the victim, Cantalamessa reminds us on Good Friday

Cantalamessa.jpgThe official preacher to the pope, but not an official of the Holy See, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preached this homily to the Holy Father (and thus to the world) at the Good Friday Service. The preacher’s has received much criticism –VERY unfairly in my opinion if you read what he said– from the secular world, from Catholics who live on the margins of the Faith and others like the Jews for the points of comparisons made therein. It is not a perfect text and nor is it prudent in some places, but it needs to be engaged with faith and reason and not broken into pieces and read out of context. Read the text!!! The problem is that the sound bites we receive from the media become the only criteria of assessing whether something is good, worthy or acceptable for consumption whereas reason would want to hear the whole thing, even to re-read what was said before making foolish comments. Does the imperfect always mean bad? Father Cantalmessa is an evocative and provocative thinker and preacher. I think he deserves a fair hearing without the spin given in the media.

Father Raniero’s homily can be read here Good Friday homily 2010.pdf.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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