Ave Maria Meditations
All Meditations from the WAY OF THE CROSS AT THE COLOSSEUM, GOOD FRIDAY 2005
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

 

FIRST STATIONJesus is condemned to death

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

[We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee]

 R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

[For by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.]

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:22-23,26 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

MEDITATION The Judge of the world, who will come again to judge us all, stands there, dishonored and defenseless before the earthly judge. Pilate is not utterly evil. He knows that the condemned man is innocent, and he looks for a way to free him. But his heart is divided. And in the end he lets his own position, his own self-interest, prevail over what is right.

Nor are the men who are shouting and demanding the death of Jesus utterly evil. Many of them, on the day of Pentecost, will feel “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), when Peter will say to them: “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God… you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law” (Acts 2:22ff.). But at that moment they are caught up in the crowd.

They are shouting because everyone else is shouting, and they are shouting the same thing that everyone else is shouting. And in this way, justice is trampled underfoot by weakness, cowardice and fear of the diktat of the ruling mindset. The quiet voice of conscience is drowned out by the cries of the crowd. Evil draws its power from indecision and concern for what other people think.

PRAYER Lord, you were condemned to death because fear of what other people may think suppressed the voice of conscience. So too, throughout history, the innocent have always been maltreated, condemned and killed. How many times have we ourselves preferred success to the truth, our reputation to justice? Strengthen the quiet voice of our conscience, your own voice, in our lives. Look at me as you looked at Peter after his denial. Let your gaze penetrate our hearts and indicate the direction our lives must take. On the day of Pentecost you stirred the hearts of those who, on Good Friday, clamored for your death, and you brought them to conversion. In this way you gave hope to all. Grant us, ever anew, the grace of conversion.

All: Pater noster, qui es in cælis: [Our Father, who art in heaven] sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra. Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie; et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris; et ne nos inducas in tentationem; sed libera nos a malo.

Stabat mater dolorosa,

 iuxta crucem lacrimosa,

dum pendebat Filius.

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SECOND STATION:  Jesus takes up his Cross

2nd station

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew. 27:27-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

MEDITATION: Jesus, condemned as an imposter king, is mocked, but this very mockery lays bare a painful truth. How often are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times are their pomps and their lofty words nothing but grandiose lies, a parody of their solemn obligation to serve the common good!

It is because Jesus is mocked and wears the crown of suffering that he appears as the true King. His scepter is justice (cf. Ps 45:7). The price of justice in this world is suffering: Jesus, the true King, does not reign through violence, but through a love which suffers for us and with us. He takes up the Cross, our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world. And so he goes before us and points out to us the way which leads to true life.

PRAYER: Lord, you willingly subjected yourself to mockery and scorn. Help us not to ally ourselves with those who look down on the weak and suffering. Help us to acknowledge your face in the lowly and the outcast. May we never lose heart when faced with the contempt of this world, which ridicules our obedience to your will. You carried your own Cross and you ask us to follow you on this path (cf. Mt 10:38). Help us to take up the Cross, and not to shun it. May we never complain or become discouraged by life’s trials. Help us to follow the path of love and, in submitting to its demands, to find true joy.

All: Pater noster, qui es in cælis: sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra. Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie; et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris; et ne nos inducas in tentationem; sed libera nos a malo.

Cuius animam gementem,

contristatam et dolentem

pertransivit gladius.

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THIRD STATION : Jesus falls the First Time

Jesus falls for the first time

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:4-6 Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

MEDITATION: Man has fallen, and he continues to fall: often he becomes a caricature of himself, no longer the image of God, but a mockery of the Creator. Is not the man who, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among robbers who stripped him and left him half-dead and bleeding beside the road, the image of humanity par excellence?

Jesus’ fall beneath the Cross is not just the fall of the man Jesus, exhausted from his scourging. There is a more profound meaning in this fall, as Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians: “though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men… He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

In Jesus’ fall beneath the weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary abasement, which lifts us up from the depths of our pride. The nature of our pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own lives.

In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god, creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction. The humility of Jesus is the surmounting of our pride; by his abasement he lifts us up. Let us allow him to lift us up. Let us strip away our sense of self-sufficiency, our false illusions of independence, and learn from him, the One who humbled himself, to discover our true greatness by bending low before God and before our downtrodden brothers and sisters.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the weight of the cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our pride, brought you down. But your fall is not a tragedy, or mere human weakness. You came to us when, in our pride, we were laid low. The arrogance that makes us think that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from your humility, to rise again.

All: Pater noster, qui es in cælis: sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra. Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie; et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris; et ne nos inducas in tentationem; sed libera nos a malo.

 O quam tristis et afflicta

fuit illa benedica

mater Unigeniti!

pieta 1

Author Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Our Lady found this unworthy lukewarm person and obtained for her the grace to enter the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. May this person spend all eternity in showing her gratitude.

More posts by Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

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