The Way of the Cross: May the Cross provoke shame, repentance and hope
In the year of the Synod dedicated to youth, 15 young people wrote the texts of Francis’ prayer, which concluded the Way of the Cross. The text centred on shame, including the priests "who let themselves be deceived by ambition and vain glory", as well as " hope that your Church, holy and a home for sinners, may continue, still today, despite all attempts to discredit it, to be a beacon that enlightens, encourages, uplifts and bears witness to your endless love”.
Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis’ ended the Way of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum with a prayer centred on three words: shame, repentance and hope.
Shame comes from choosing “power instead of you”, for the ambition of men of the cloth, for leaving a world divided to the young in which the weak are marginalised; repentance “springs from the certainty that only you can save us from evil, [that] only you can heal us from our leprosy of hate, selfishness, pride, greed, revenge, idolatry;” and finally, despite all attempts to discredit it, hope is the “beacon that enlightens, encourages, uplifts and bears witness to your endless love”.
In the year of the Synod dedicated to young people, Francis chose to have a group of young men and women to write the meditations of the Way of the Cross. Thus, 15 students, aged 16 t0 27, coordinated by Andrea Monda, a writer and teacher of religion, authored the texts that all begin with "I see you, Jesus" as they imagined themselves being right there, that day, in Jerusalem.
The interests of the youth are included in the meditations, the Internet for instance. At the eleventh Station (where Jesus is nailed to the cross), "I look all around,” writes Greta Sandi, “and I see eyes glued to telephone screens, people trolling the social networks in order to nail others for their every mistake, with no possibility of forgiveness. People ruled by anger, screaming their hatred of one another for the most futile reasons.” By contrast, “You have forgiven us, you held no grudge, you taught us to offer the other cheek and you kept going, even to the total sacrifice of your self.
Another young woman, Greta Giglio, 18, at the tenth station (where Jesus is stripped of his clothes), writes: “I see you, Jesus, naked [. . . you have lost the last shred of your remaining dignity”. When “I see you, Jesus, [. . .] I see a young migrant, his body ravaged” seeking hope.
The 15 who wrote the meditations also carried the cross. They were joined by their religion teacher with his wife and child, the director of Caritas Syria with his wife and three children, three Iraqi religious, a disabled child, a stretcher-bearer, two sisters from Unitalsi, two Franciscans from the Custody of the Holy Land, as well as Mgr Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General of His Holiness to the diocese of Rome, who carried it at the first and last station.
“Lord Jesus, we turn to you, filled with shame, repentance and hope.
“Before your supreme love, shame pervades us for leaving you alone to suffer for our sins:
shame for running away from trials, although we say thousands of times: "If everyone leaves you, I will never leave you";
shame for choosing Barabbas instead of you, power instead of you, appearance instead of you, the god of money instead of you, worldliness instead of eternity;
shame for challenging you with words and intentions, every time we face a problem, saying: "If you are the Messiah, save yourself and we will believe!";
shame for all those people, including some of your ministers, who let themselves be deceived by ambition and vain glory, forgetting their dignity and first love;
shame for our generation which is leaving young people a world shattered by divisions and wars; a world devoured by selfishness where the young, the vulnerable, the sick, and the elderly are marginalized;
shame for losing a sense of shame;
“We look to you filled with repentance, begging for your mercy, before your eloquent silence:
repentance that springs from the certainty that only you can save us from evil, only you can heal us from our leprosy of hate, selfishness, pride, greed, revenge, idolatry; only you can embrace us and restore our dignity as your children, rejoicing for our return home, to life;
repentance that comes from being aware of our smallness, our nothingness, and our vanity, allowing ourselves to be caressed by your sweet and powerful invitation to convert;
the repentance of David who finds his only strength in you from the depths of his suffering;
repentance born of our shame, of the certainty that our heart will always remain restless until it finds you and in you, its only source of fulfilment and peace;
the repentance of Peter who, when his eyes met yours, wept bitterly for denying you.
“Lord Jesus, always grant us the grace of holy repentance!
“Before your Supreme Majesty, hope is born and lights up the darkness of our despair, because we know that the only measure of your love, is to love us without measure.
“The hope that your message may continue, still today, to inspire many people, knowing that only good can defeat evil and wickedness, only forgiveness can overcome resentment and revenge, only a fraternal embrace can disperse the hostility and fear of the other.
“The hope that your sacrifice may continue, still today, to emanate the fragrance of divine love that touches the hearts of all those who continue to consecrate their lives, becoming living examples of charity and free service, in a world devoured by the idea of quick profits and easy money.
“The hope that missionaries may continue, still today, to challenge the slumbering consciousness of humanity, by risking their lives to serve you in the poor, the rejected, in immigrants, in those who are invisible, in the exploited, the hungry and in prisoners;
The hope that your Church, holy and a home for sinners, may continue, still today, despite all attempts to discredit it, to be a beacon that enlightens, encourages, uplifts and bears witness to your endless love for humanity; may it be a model of unselfish generosity, a safe haven of salvation, and a source of certainty and truth.
“The hope that comes from knowing that your Cross, created by the greed and cowardice of hypocrites and Doctors of the Law, is the source of the Resurrection, which transforms the darkness of the tomb into the dawn brightness of the Sunday on which the sun never sets, and that teaches us that your love is our hope.
“Lord Jesus, always give us the grace of holy hope!
“Son of man, help us to strip ourselves from the arrogance of the unrepentant thief, of the short-sighted and the corrupt, of all those who see you as an opportunity to exploit, a convict to criticise, a loser to mock, another chance to put the blame on someone else, even God.
“We ask you instead, Son of God, to empathise with the good thief who looked at you with eyes full of shame, repentance and hope; who, with the eyes of faith, saw in your apparent defeat the divine victory and so knelt before your mercy and with honesty stole his way into heaven! Amen!" (FP)