Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
On the Paschal Mystery
"Let Yourselves be Enthralled by Him"
H.H. Benedict XVI
March 31, 2010
Dear brothers and sisters,
We are living the holy days that invite us to meditate on the central
events of our redemption, the essential nucleus of our faith. Tomorrow
the Easter Triduum begins, summit of the whole liturgical year, in which
we are called to silence and prayer to contemplate the mystery of the
passion, death and resurrection of the Lord.
In their homilies, the Fathers often make reference to these days that,
as St. Athanasius observes in one of his Easter letters, introduce us
"into that time that makes us know a new beginning, the day of Holy
Easter, in which the Lord immolated himself" (Letter 5,1-2: PG 26,
I exhort you, therefore, to live these days intensely so that they will
decisively orient each one's life to a generous and convinced adherence
to Christ, dead and resurrected for us.
The Holy Chrism Mass, morning prelude of Holy Thursday, will find
gathered together tomorrow morning the presbyters with their respective
bishops. During a significant Eucharistic celebration, which customarily
takes place in the diocesan cathedrals, the oil of the sick, of the
catechumens and the chrism will be blessed. Moreover, the bishop and the
presbyters will renew their priestly promises pronounced on the day of
ordination. This gesture takes on this year a special importance,
because it is situated in the ambit of the Year for Priests, which I
proclaimed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy
Curé d'Ars. I would like to repeat to all priests the exhortation that I
formulated as a conclusion of the letter of convocation: "In the
footsteps of the Curé d'Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In
this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope,
reconciliation and peace!!"
Tomorrow afternoon we will celebrate the moment of the institution of
the Eucharist. Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul confirmed
the first Christians in the truth of the Eucharistic mystery,
communicating to them what he had learned: "That the Lord Jesus, on the
night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in
remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you
drink it, in remembrance of me'" (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
These words manifest with clarity Christ's intention: Under the species
of bread and wine, he makes himself present in a real way with his body
given and with his blood shed as sacrifice of the New Covenant. At the
same time, he constitutes the Apostles and their successors as ministers
in this sacrament, which he gives to his Church as supreme proof of his
With a thought-provoking rite we will remember as well Jesus' gesture
washing the feet of the Apostles (cf. John 13:1-25). This act becomes,
for the evangelist, the representation of Jesus' whole life and reveals
his love to the end, an infinite love, capable of making man fit for
communion with God and of making him free. At the end of the liturgy of
Holy Thursday, the Church reposes the Most Holy Sacrament in a place
especially prepared, which represents the loneliness of Gethsemane and
Jesus' mortal anguish. Before the Eucharist, the faithful contemplate
Jesus in the hour of his loneliness and pray for an end to all the
loneliness of the world. This liturgical journey is, on the other hand,
an invitation to seek an intimate encounter with the Lord in prayer, to
recognize Jesus among those who are alone, to watch with him and to be
able to proclaim him light of one's life.
On Good Friday we will remember the Passion and Death of the Lord. Jesus
wished to offer his life in sacrifice for the remission of humanity's
sins, choosing for this end the most cruel and humiliating death:
crucifixion. There is an indivisible connection between the Last Supper
and Jesus' death. In the first, Jesus gives his body and blood, namely,
his earthly existence, likewise, anticipating his death and transforming
it into an act of love. Thus death that, by nature is the end, the
destruction of every relationship, is made by him an act of
communication of himself, the instrument of salvation and proclamation
of the victory of love. In this way, Jesus becomes the key to understand
the Last Supper, which is the anticipation of the violent death in
voluntary sacrifice, an act of love that redeems and saves the world.
Holy Saturday is characterized by a great silence. The Churches are
naked and no private liturgies are planned. In this time of expectation
and hope, believers are invited to prayer, reflection and conversion
also through the sacrament of reconciliation, to be able to participate,
profoundly renewed, in the celebration of Easter.
On the night of Holy Saturday, during the solemn Easter Vigil, "mother
of all vigils," this silence will be broken with the singing of the
Alleluia, which announces the resurrection of Christ and proclaims the
victory of light over darkness, of life over death. The Church will
rejoice in the encounter with her Lord, entering the day of Easter that
the Lord inaugurates resurrecting from the dead.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us dispose ourselves to live intensely
this Holy Triduum now imminent, to be ever more profoundly inserted in
the Mystery of Christ, dead and resurrected for us. May the Most Holy
Virgin accompany us in this spiritual itinerary. May she, who followed
Jesus in his passion and was present beneath the cross, introduce us
into the Paschal Mystery, so that we will be able to experience the joy
and peace of the Risen One.
With these sentiments I address to you already now my most cordial
wishes for a holy Easter, extending them to your communities and to all
your loved ones.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[The Holy Father then addressed the people in several languages. In
English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Tomorrow the Church begins her celebration of the Easter Triduum, a time
devoted to silent prayer and contemplation of the mystery of the Lord's
passion, death and resurrection. The liturgies of these days invite us
to ponder Christ's saving sacrifice and his promise of new life. In this
Year for Priests, the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, at which priests renew
the promises made on the day of their ordination, will take on a
particular significance. May priests everywhere be conformed ever more
closely to Christ as heralds of his message of hope, reconciliation and
peace! The Mass of the Lord's Supper, celebrated the evening of Holy
Thursday, recalls the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and
Holy Orders. The liturgy of Good Friday, in which we enter into the
mystery of Christ's redemptive death, invites us to contemplate the deep
relationship between the Last Supper and the sacrifice of Calvary.
Following the great silence of Holy Saturday, the Easter vigil proclaims
the resurrection of Christ and his victory over sin and death. May the
joy of the resurrection even now fill our hearts as we prepare to
celebrate the great events of the Lord's passover from death to the
fullness of life. I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking
visitors present in today's Audience, especially those from England,
Japan, Canada and the United States. I also greet the various student
groups present, including those taking part in the annual "Univ
Congress." Upon all of you I invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace!
[In Italian, he said:]
Finally I direct my cordial thoughts to youth, the sick and newlyweds.
May the contemplation of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus,
dear young people, make you ever more firm in your Christian witness.
And you, dear sick, extract from the cross of Christ the daily support
to overcome the moments of trial and distress. Dear newlyweds, may the
strength to make your family a place of faithful and fruitful love come
from the Paschal Mystery that we contemplate these days.
[Translation by ZENIT]
at the One they Pierced!
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