|OPENING PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, for our sake you became like the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies, so that it may bear much fruit (cf. Jn.12:24). You invited us to follow you along this path when you told us “the one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn.12:25). Yet we are attached to our life. We do not want to abandon it; we want to keep it all for ourselves. We want to hold on to it, not to give it away. But you go before us, showing us that it is only by giving away our life that we can save it.
As we walk with you on the Way of the Cross, you lead us along the way of the grain of wheat, the way of a fruitfulness that leads to eternity. The cross, our self-offering, weighs heavily upon us. Along your own Way of the Cross you also carried my cross. Nor did you carry it just at one distant moment in the past, for your love continues to accompany every moment of my life. Today you carry that cross with me and for me, and, amazingly, you want me, like Simon of Cyrene, to join you in carrying your cross; you want me to walk at your side and place myself with you at the service of the world’s redemption.
Grant that my Way of the Cross may not be just a moment of passing piety. Help all of us to accompany you not only with noble thoughts, but with all our hearts and in every step we take each day of our lives. Help us resolutely to set out on the Way of the Cross and to persevere on your path. Free us from the fear of the cross, from the fear of mockery, from the fear that our life may escape our grasp unless we cling possessively to everything it has to offer. Help us to unmask all those temptations that promise life, but whose enticements in the end leave us only empty and deluded. Help us not to take life, but to give it. As you accompany us on the path of the grain of wheat, help us to discover, in “losing our lives,” the path of love, the path that gives us true life, and life in abundance (Jn.10:10).
Opening prayer to the Way of the Cross 2005 by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger now Pope Benedict XVI