Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The pope is following "with great trepidation" what is taking place in Tibet, and feels "sadness and sorrow in the face of so much suffering", issuing an appeal to recall that "violence never resolves problems, but only worsens them", and asking that "God may illuminate the minds of all and give each one the courage to choose the path of dialogue and tolerance". These words for the tormented Asian region today concluded the last general audience before Easter, at which Benedict XVI had already issued an appeal to include in prayer "the dramatic events and situations that in these days are weighing upon our brothers in so many parts of the world", and pointed to the "great hope" of the days of Holy Week. "We know", he said to the 15,000 faithful present at the general audience, "that hatred, division, and violence never have the last word in the events of history. These days renew within us the great hope that the crucified and risen Christ has overcome the world: love is stronger than hatred, he has conquered". We must "work in communion with Christ, for a world founded upon peace, justice, and love. This is a task that involves all of us".
Again today, the audience was divided between the Paul VI audience hall and the basilica of St. Peter's, because of the great numbers of the crowds, and Benedict XVI dedicated it to illustrating the days in which the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus are commemorated. "The next three days", he said, "make us relive the central events of our redemption", the "essential nucleus of the Christian faith". They are "days that we can consider as a single day, the heart and fulcrum of the liturgical year and of the Church's life".
Benedict XVI, greeted with choruses of good wishes for his name day, then indicated the main characteristics of the days of the Triduum: tomorrow, Holy Thursday, the Church "remembers the last supper, during which the Lord instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist and of the ministerial priesthood". "That same night, he left the new commandment, of fraternal love". Before entering into the commemoration of the last days of Jesus, "in every Christian community the bishop and priests renew their promises", and the oil of the catechumens, of the sick, and the sacred chrism are blessed. It is "a very important moment for every diocesan community gathered around its pastor".
On Good Friday, "the liturgy does not provide for the celebration of Mass, but the assembly gathers to meditate on the great mystery of sin and evil". As "the last moment for meditation", Christian tradition has given rise to various manifestations of popular piety: outstanding among these is the Stations of the Cross, "a pious exercise that in the course of time has been enriched with many spiritual and artistic manifestations".
Holy Saturday "is marked by a profound silence; the churches are bare, and no special liturgies are provided". Believers "wait together with Mary, meditating and praying". On this day, the pope said, great importance is attached to the sacrament of reconciliation, an irreplaceable means for purification. The day ends with the Easter vigil, "which flows into the most important Sunday of history, that of the resurrection of Christ", "the definitive liberation from the ancient slavery to sin and death".
In these days, Benedict XVI added, "let us decisively orient our lives toward generous and steadfast adherence to the plans of the heavenly Father. Let us orient our lives toward the 'yes', as Jesus did upon the Cross"; these are days, he concluded, that "offer us the opportunity to deepen the meaning and profundity of our Christian vocation".