is not a remote god, untouchable in His beatitude; our God has a heart.
He has a heart of flesh. He took on flesh precisely to be able to
suffer with us and be with us in our sufferings. He became man to give
us a heart of flesh and to awaken in us love for those who suffer and
The Vatican's page on Holy Week 2007 includes links to the Presentation and Meditations from last night's Via Crucis, in various languages. In the future, pictures of the celebration will be added. That address now appears on that page only in Italian, and other languages probably will be added later. The translation above is from Teresa Benedetta. A translation is also available from Zenit.
Father Cantalamessa spoke about the women at the cross, describing them as "Mothers of Courage." He said that all of the people who wanted Jesus dead were men, and no women are described among them in the Gospels. Even Pilate's wife distanced herself from the sentence. They were the first to see the resurrected Jesus, he said, because they were the ones who never left him, and even when he was dead, they came to bring spices to the tomb. Jesus explained their motivation in describing the woman who bathed and kissed his feet in Luke 7:47: "She has shown great love."
Here are excerpts on what he had to say about women and the Church, from Denis Barrett's translation:
"On all sides the need is arising for us to give more scope to women. We
don’t believe that “the eternal feminine will save us”[W. Goethe, Faust, finale of part II: “Das ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan"]. Everyday
experience shows that woman can 'lift us to the heights', but can also
plunge us into the depths. Woman too needs to be saved by Christ. But
it is clear that once she has been 'set free', on the human level, of
all the old subjections, she will be able to do much to save our
society from certain inveterate evils that threaten us: violence, the
will to power, spiritual aridity, the lack of regard for life. . . ."
"After this Joseph of Arimathe'a, who was a disciple of Jesus, but
secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away
the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away
his body. Nicode'mus
also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of
myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight." - John 19:38-39 (RSV)
- Picture: "The Deposition" by a follower of Roger van der Weyden, Netherlandish, about 1490, photo by me. Museum information.
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And
about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, la'ma
sabach-tha'ni?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Eli'jah." And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Eli'jah will come to save him." And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit." - Matthew 27:45-50 (RSV)
Picture: "Christ on the Cross" by El Greco, Greek/Toledo, Spain, 1600-1610, photo by me. Museum information.
"How did Jesus love His disciples and why did He love them? Ah! It was not their natural qualities that could have attracted Him, since there was between Him and them an infinite distance. He was knowledge, Eternal Wisdom, while they were poor ignorant fishermen filled with earthly thoughts. And still Jesus called them his friends, His brothers. He desires to see them reign with Him in the kingdom of His Father, and to open that kingdom to them He wills to die on the cross, for He said: 'Greater love than this no man has than that he lay down his life for his friends.'" [John 15:13]
Picture: "The Crucifixion" by a Westphalian master, England, abour 1490-1500, photo by me, taken at the Getty (lent by the Berger Collection). I could not find it presently on the Getty website. More information here.
The Easter Triduum begins today with the Chrism Mass in each cathedral. Asia News has an article about the Mass at the Vatican, with the Pope's Chrism Mass homily, blessing of the oils, and priests' renewal of their ordination vows. He spoke about the theology of baptism and the role of a priest.
Here is an excerpt from the Pope's homily from Teresa Benedetta's translation:
theology of Baptism returns in a new way and with new insistence in
priestly ordination. As in Baptism, there is an 'exchange of garments',
a change of life, a new existential communion with Christ. In the
priesthood, one undergoes a change: in administering the sacraments,
the priest acts and speaks in persona Christi. "In
the sacred mysteries, the priest does not represent himself, he does
not speak to express himself, he speaks for the Other - for Christ. So
the Sacraments make dramatically visible what being a priest means, in
general: what we expressed by our "Adsum" - I am here, I am ready -
during our priestly consecration: I am here so you may dispose of me. "We make ourselves available to Him who "died for
everyone, so that those who live no longer live for themselves" (2 Cor
5,15). To put ourselves at the disposition of Christ means we allow
ourselves to be drawn into His 'for everyone' - being with Him, we can
truly be 'for everyone'."
"After Communion, I saw our Lord most
distinctly close beside me; and He began to comfort me with great
sweetness, and said to me, among other things: 'Thou beholdest Me
present, My daughter,—it is I. Show me thy hands.' And to me He
seemed to take them and to put them to His side, and said: 'Behold
My wounds; thou art not without Me. Finish the short course of thy
life.' By some things He said to me, I understood that, after His
Ascension, He never came down to the earth except in the most Holy Sacrament to
communicate Himself to any one. He said to me, that when He rose again
He showed Himself to our Lady, because she was in great trouble; for
sorrow had so pierced her soul that she did not even recover herself at once in order to have
the fruition of that joy. By this I saw how different was my piercing. But what must that of the Virgin
have been? He remained long with her then because it was necessary to
- St. Teresa of Avila, On the graces received at Salamanca at the end of Lent, 1571, from Relation IV.
Picture: "The Entombment" by Rubens, Flemish, about 1612, photo by me. Museum information.
"In the coming days, we will commemorate the supreme battle between Light and Darkness, between Life and Death.
"We also have to place ourselves within this context -- aware of our
own "night," of our sins and responsibilities -- if we want to
spiritually benefit again from the paschal mystery, if we want to bring
light to our hearts, by way of this mystery, which is the center point
of our faith. . . .
"These liturgical celebrations are not mere commemorations of past
events; they introduce us to the ever-present reality of God's saving
power. Today too, Christ's love triumphs over evil, sin and death.
Truly, as Saint Paul says, 'if we have died with Christ, we believe
that we shall also live with him" (Rom 6:8).'"