Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
On the Easter Triduum
"Love Is Stronger Than Hate, It Has Triumphed"
H.H. Benedict XVI
March 19, 2008
Here is a translation of the greetings Benedict XVI gave today to
students participating in the international UNIV congress who had
gathered at St. Peter's Basilica, and the catechesis he gave afterward
during his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall.
[Pope's greeting to students in St. Peter's Basilica]
[In English, he said]
I offer a cordial welcome to all of you who have come to Rome from
various countries and universities to celebrate Holy Week together, and
to take part in the International UNIV Congress. In this way, you will
be able to benefit from moments of common prayer, cultural enrichment
and a helpful exchange of the experiences gained from your association
with the centres and activities of Christian formation sponsored by the
Prelature of Opus Dei in your respective cities and nations.
[In Spanish, he said]
You know that with a serious personal commitment, inspired by the Gospel
values, it is possible to respond adequately to the great questions of
The Christian knows that there is an inseparable link between the truth,
ethics and responsibility. Every authentic cultural expression
contributes to form the conscience and encourage the person to better
himself with the end of bettering society. In this way one feels
responsible before the truth, at the service of which one must put one's
own personal liberty.
This certainly has to do with a mission requiring commitment, and to
fulfill it the Christian is called to follow Jesus, cultivating an
intense friendship with him through prayer and contemplation.
To be friends of Christ, and to give testimony of him wherever we are,
demands, furthermore, the strength to go against the grain, remembering
the words of the Lord: You are in the world but not of the world (cf.
Do not be afraid, then, to be nonconformists when it is necessary; at
your university, school and in all places.
[In Italian, he said]
Dear young people of UNIV, be leaven of hope in the world that desires
to meet Jesus, often without knowing it. To better the world, make an
effort above all to change yourselves through an intense sacramental
life, especially through approaching the sacrament of penance, and
participating assiduously in the celebration of the Eucharist.
I commend each one of you and your families to Mary, who never stopped
contemplating the face of her son Jesus. I invoke over each one of you
the protection of Saint Josemaría and of all the saints of your lands,
while I heartily wish you a happy Easter.
[Catechesis in Paul VI Hall]
Dear brothers and sisters
We have reached the eve of the Easter triduum. The next three days are
commonly known as 'holy' because they allow us to relive the event
central to our Redemption. They lead us to the nucleus of Christian
faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These three
days could be considered one single day. They make up the heart and are
the key to both the liturgical year and the life of the Church. At the
end of Lent we also enter that climate which Christ himself experienced
back then in Jerusalem.
We want to rekindle in ourselves the living memory of the suffering
which our Lord endured for us and to joyously prepare ourselves for next
Sunday “"the true Passover, which the Blood of Christ has covered with
glory, the Passover on which the Church celebrates the Feast that is the
origin of all feasts” as stated in the preface for Easter in the
Tomorrow, Holy Thursday, the Church remembers the Last Supper during
which our Lord, on the eve of his own passion and death, institutes the
sacrament of the Eucharist and that of ministerial priesthood. On that
same evening, Jesus gave us a new commandment, "mandatum novum," the
commandment of brotherly love.
Tomorrow morning, before entering the Easter triduum, but very closely
tied to it, the "Messa Crismale" will take place in every diocese during
which the bishop and priests of the diocese renew their promises made at
Also, the oils used to celebrate the sacraments are blessed: the oil for
the catechumen, the oil for the sick and the holy chrism. It is one of
the most important moments in the life of every Christian diocese,
which, gathered around it's pastor, strengthens it's unity and faith in
Christ, the supreme and eternal priest.
In the evening during the "Cena Domini" Mass, we remember the Last
Supper when Christ gave himself to all of us as the food of salvation,
as the drug of immortality and the mystery of the Eucharist -- source
and pinnacle of Christian life.
Through this sacrament of salvation the Lord offered and realized for
all those who believe in him, the most intimate union possible between
our lives and his. With the humble and most expressive gesture of
washing someone's feet, we are reminded how much Christ did for his
Washing their feet was a concrete way of exclaiming the primacy of his
love, a love that serves even to the point of giving oneself,
anticipating as well the supreme sacrifice of giving his life, which he
was to do the following day on Calvary. According to a beautiful
tradition, the faithful close on Holy Thursday for a vigil of prayer and
Eucharistic adoration enabling them to relive the agonies that Christ
suffered at Gethsemane more vividly.
On Good Friday we remember the passion, crucifixion and death of Christ.
On this day the Church does not celebrate mass, but the Christian
community gathers to consider the mystery of sin and evil that oppress
humanity. They revisit, in the light of the word of God, the sufferings
of Christ that atone for this evil.
After they have listened to the retelling of the passion of Christ, the
congregation prays for all the necessities of the Church and of the
world, they pay homage to the cross and take the consecrated bread and
wine kept from the "Cena Domini" mass of the previous day.
By way of further invitation to consider the passion and death of the
Redeemer, to express their love and to enable the faithful to
participate in the suffering of Christ, Christian tradition has created
popular processions and holy representations which aim to impress ever
more deeply on the souls of the faithful a sense of having truly
participated in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.
The Via Crucis stands out among these. Over the years it has been
enriched with many spiritual and artistic expressions linked to the
sensitivities of the various cultures.
In many countries, sanctuaries with the name “Calvary” have been born
which are accessible after a steep climb. In recalling the painful climb
of the passion, it allows the faithful to participate in Jesus' climb
toward the mount of the Cross, the mount of love offered right up to the
Holy Saturday is marked by a deep silence. The Churches are left
undecorated and there are no particular liturgies set aside for this
day. While waiting for the Resurrection, the faithful persevere in the
wait with Mary by praying and meditating. A day of silence is necessary
to ponder the reality of human life, the forces of evil and the enormous
power of good unleashed by the passion and resurrection of Christ.
Great importance is given during this time to participation in the
sacrament of reconciliation, indispensable for the purification of the
heart and to prepare for the celebration of Easter completely renewed.
We need to undertake this inner purification and renewal of ourselves at
least once a year.
This Saturday of silence, of meditation, of forgiveness, of
reconciliation leads into the Easter Vigil, which introduces the most
important Sunday in history, the Sunday that marks the Passover of
The Church holds vigil next to the newly blessed fire and meditates on
the great promise contained in the Old and New Testaments, of the
conclusive liberation from the ancient slavery to sin and death. In the
darkness of the night, the Easter candle is lit from the new fire as a
symbol of Christ who rises again in glory.
Christ, the light of humanity, dispels any shadows in the heart and the
spirit and illuminates all men who come into the world. Together with
the lighting of the Easter candle, the great Easter announcement
reverberates throughout the Church: Christ has truly risen, death no
longer has any power over him. With his death he defeats evil forever
and makes man a gift of God's own life.
It is tradition that Christ's followers received the sacrament of
baptism during the Easter Vigil. This was to underline the participation
of Christians in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ.
The joy, the light and the peace of Christ spread from the shining
Easter night to fill the lives of the faithful in every Christian
community and reaches into every area of space and time.
Dear brothers and sisters, during these special days let us guide our
lives definitively toward a complete and decisive adherence to the
designs of our celestial Father; let us renew our “yes” to the divine
will as Jesus did with his sacrifice on the cross. The rites suggested
for Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the rich silence of prayer of Holy
Saturday and the solemn Easter vigil provide us with the opportunity to
deepen the feelings and the values of our Christian vocation unleashed
by the Paschal mystery and to strengthen it by faithfully following
Christ in all circumstances, just as he did, even to the point of giving
up our own existence to him.
Remembering the mysteries of Christ also means a willing and complete
adherence to the history of today, convinced that when we celebrate, it
is reality. Let us include in our prayers the terrible facts and
situations that afflict our brothers across the world. We know that
hate, division and violence never have the last word in historical
events. These holy days reawaken a great hope in us: Christ was
crucified, yet he rose again and conquered the world.
Love is stronger than hate, it has triumphed and we should affiliate
ourselves with this victory of love. We should therefore start again
from Christ and work together with him for a world founded on peace,
justice and love.
In this commitment that involves all of us, let us allow ourselves to be
guided by Mary, who accompanied her divine son on the road to his
passion and cross, and who participated with the strength of her faith
in the realization of his plan of salvation.
With these thoughts I send you my best wishes for a happy and holy
Easter to you, your loved ones and your communities.
[Translation by Giustina Montaque]
[After his address, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various
languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Easter Triduum, which the Church now prepares to celebrate, invites
us to share in the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and
resurrection. These days are the heart of the liturgical year. On Holy
Thursday the Church recalls the Last Supper. At the Chrism Mass, the
Bishop and his priests renew their priestly promises and the sacramental
oils are blessed. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus’
institution of the sacrament of his Body and Blood and his commandment
that we should love one another. On Good Friday, we ponder the mystery
of sin as we listen to the account of the Lord’s passion and venerate
the wood of his Cross. Holy Saturday, a day of silence and prayer,
prepares for the joy of the Easter Vigil, when the light of Christ
dispels all darkness, and the saving power of his Paschal Mystery is
communicated in the sacrament of Baptism.
May our sharing in these solemn celebrations deepen our conversion to
Christ, particularly through the sacrament of Reconciliation, and our
communion, in the hope of the resurrection, with all our suffering
brothers and sisters throughout the world.
I offer a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors
present at today’s Audience, especially the pilgrims from Ireland,
Canada and the United States. Upon you and your families I cordially
invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord!
[After his greetings, the Holy Father made the following appeal in
I follow with deep unrest the news that in these days is coming from
Tibet. My fatherly heart feels sadness and sorrow at the suffering of so
many people. The mystery of the passion and death of Jesus, that we live
again in this Holy Week, helps us to be particularly sensitive to their
With violence, problems are not solved, only aggravated. I invite you to
unite yourselves to my prayer, asking God all-powerful, source of light,
to enlighten the minds of all and give to each one the courage to choose
the path of dialogue and tolerance.
(c) Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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