Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
On the Easter Triduum
"We Will Relive the Passion, Death and Resurrection"
H.H. Benedict XVI
April 12, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Tomorrow the Easter triduum begins, which is the fulcrum of the whole
liturgical year. Aided by the sacred rites of Holy Thursday, Good Friday
and the solemn Easter Vigil, we will relive the passion, death and
resurrection of the Lord.
They are propitious days to reawaken in us a more intense desire to be
united to Christ and follow him generously, conscious that he has loved
us to the point of giving his life for us. The events that the sacred
triduum again proposes to us are the sublime manifestation of this love
of God for man.
Let us dispose ourselves, therefore, to celebrate the Easter triduum
taking up St. Augustine's exhortation: "Consider now attentively the
three holy days of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Lord.
From these three mysteries we realize in the present life that of which
the cross is symbol, while we realize through faith and hope, that of
which the burial and resurrection is symbol" (Letter 55,14,24).
The Easter triduum begins tomorrow, Holy Thursday, with the evening Mass
"in Cena Domini," though in the morning another significant liturgical
celebration is usually held, the Chrism Mass, during which, gathered
around the bishop, the whole presbyterate of every diocese renews
priestly promises, and takes part in the blessing of the oils of the
catechumens, of the sick and of the chrism. This is what we will also do
tomorrow here, in St. Peter's.
In addition to the institution of the priesthood, on this holy day will
be commemorated Christ's total giving of himself to humanity in the
sacrament of the Eucharist. On the very night he was betrayed, he left
us, as sacred Scripture recalls, the "new commandment" -- "mandatum
novum" -- of fraternal love by carrying out the striking gesture of the
washing of the feet, which reminds us of the humble service of slaves.
This singular day, evocative of the great mysteries, ends with
Eucharistic adoration, in memory of the Lord's agony in the Garden of
Gethsemane. Feeling great anguish, recounts the Gospel, Jesus asked his
own to watch with him, remaining in prayer: "Remain here, and watch with
me." And we see how also today, we, the disciples of today, often remain
asleep. This was, for Jesus, the hour of abandonment and solitude, which
was followed, in the middle of the night, by the arrest and beginning of
the painful way to Calvary.
Good Friday, centered on the Passion, is a day of fast and abstinence,
oriented to the contemplation of the cross. Proclaimed in the churches
is the account of the Passion, and the words of the prophet Zechariah
resound: "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (John 19:37).
And on Good Friday we also wish to direct our gaze to the pierced heart
of the Redeemer in whom, as St. Paul writes, "are hid all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3), more than that, "in him the
whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Colossians 2,9), for this
reason, the Apostle can affirm his decision "to know nothing ... except
Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). It is true: The
cross reveals "the breadth and length and height and depth" -- the
cosmic dimensions, this is the meaning of a love that surpasses all
knowledge -- love goes beyond what is known and fills us with "all the
fullness of God" (cf. Ephesians 3:18-19).
In the mystery of the Crucified is brought about that "turning of God
against himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in
its most radical form" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 12). The cross of
Christ, wrote Pope St. Leo the Great in the fifth century, "is source of
all blessings, and the cause of all blessings" (Discourse 8 on the
Passion of the Lord, 6-8; PL 54, 340-342).
On Holy Saturday the Church, united spiritually to Mary, remains in
prayer before the sepulcher, where the body of the Son of God lies inert
in a state of repose after the creative work of redemption, realized
with his death (cf. Hebrews 4:1-13). At night the solemn Easter Vigil
will begin, during which the joyous Easter "Gloria" and "Alleluia" will
rise from the hearts of the newly baptized and the whole Christian
community, joyful because Christ has risen and conquered death.
Dear brothers and sisters, to be able to live a profitable celebration
of Easter, the Church asks the faithful to draw near these days to the
sacrament of penance, which is a kind of death and resurrection for each
one of us. In the early Christian community, on Holy Thursday the rite
of the Reconciliation of Penitents was celebrated, over which the bishop
Of course the historical conditions have changed, but to prepare for
Easter with a good confession continues to be a duty which must be fully
appreciated, as it offers us the possibility to begin our life again and
this new beginning is realized in the joy of the Risen One and in the
communion of forgiveness that it gives us. Conscious that we are
sinners, but trusting in divine mercy, let us allow ourselves to be
reconciled by Christ to experience more intensely the joy that he
communicates to us in his resurrection.
The forgiveness that Christ gives us in the sacrament of penance is
source of interior and exterior peace and makes us apostles of peace in
a world in which continue, unfortunately, divisions, sufferings and the
tragedies of hatred and violence, of inability to be reconciled to begin
again with a sincere pardon.
We know, however, that evil does not have the last word, as he who
triumphs is Christ crucified and risen, and his victory is manifested
with the force of merciful love. His resurrection gives us this
certainty: Despite all the darkness in the world, evil does not have the
last word. Supported by this truth, we will be able to commit ourselves
with greater courage and enthusiasm to make a more just world come into
This is what I wish all of you from my heart, dear brothers and sisters,
hoping that you will prepare with faith and devotion for the imminent
Easter celebrations. May you be accompanied by Mary Most Holy, who,
after having followed her divine Son in the hour of the passion and
cross, shared the joy of his resurrection.
© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [translation by ZENIT]
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