Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pope Prepares For Easter Weekend, UPDATED Holy Thursday Pics, Links

Related Links:

Chrism Mass Homily

The Vatican website pope2you is offering live video and audio streaming of all the events, with each of the ceremonies being broadcast in English as well as Italian, Spanish, French and German

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Wednesday Papal Events:

St. Peter's Basilica is reflected in the sunglasses of a girl attending Pope Benedict XVI's weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 31, 2010. (Daylife-AP)

Photos courtesy of Daylife

VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Easter Triduum was the central theme of Benedict XVI 's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square.

"We are", the Pope began, "living through the holy days that invite us to meditate upon the central events of our Redemption, the essential nucleus of our faith". In this context, he encouraged everyone "to experience this period intensely, that it may decisively guide everyone's life to a generous and strong adherence to Christ, Who died and rose again for us".

At the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, apart from the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed, priests will renew their vows. "This year the gesture has particular significance because it takes place in the context of the Year for Priests, which I called to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy 'Cure of Ars'. To all priests I would like to reiterate the hope I expressed at the end of my Letter inaugurating the Year: 'In the footsteps of the Cure of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by Christ. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!'".

On the evening of Holy Thursday "we will celebrate the moment of the institution of the Eucharist" when Christ, "in the species of the bread and the wine, makes Himself truly present with the Body He gave and the Blood He split as a sacrifice of the New Covenant. At the same time He made the Apostles and their successors ministers of this Sacrament, which He consigned to His Church as the supreme proof of His love".

On Good Friday, in memory of the passion and death of the Lord, we will recall how "Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for the remission of the sins of humankind, choosing the most cruel and humiliating death: crucifixion. There exists an indissoluble link between the Last Supper and the death of Jesus", said Pope Benedict , explaining how in the Upper Room "Jesus offered His Body and Blood (that is, his earthly existence, Himself), anticipating His own death and transforming it into an act of love. And so death, which by its nature is the end, the destruction of all relations, is made by Him an act of communication of Self, an instrument of salvation and a proclamation of the victory of love".

Easter Saturday "is characterised by a great silence. ... At this time of expectation and hope, believers are invited to prayer, reflection and conversion, also through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that, intimately renewed, they may participate in the celebration of Easter", said the Holy Father.

On the night of Easter Saturday, "that silence will be broken by the cry of Alleluia, which announces the resurrection of Christ and proclaims he victory of light over darkness, of life over death. The Church will joy in the meeting with her Lord, entering the day of Easter which the Lord inaugurated by rising from the dead", the Pope concluded.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to offer special prayers during Holy Week that their priests would be holy messengers of hope, reconciliation and peace.

During his weekly general audience March 31, the pope said the priests' annual renewal of their vows was particularly significant during the Year for Priests, which ends in June.

In his remarks in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese, the pope highlighted the importance of the Holy Week chrism Mass, during which priests gather with their bishop to bless the oils used in the sacraments and to renew their priestly promises.

Most dioceses celebrate the chrism Mass Thursday morning during Holy Week. The pope, speaking in Spanish, invited people to keep the priests in their prayers.

"We pray that by growing each day in fidelity and love for Christ, they will be messengers of hope, reconciliation and peace in the midst of their brothers and sisters," he said.

The pope did not mention the attention and concern caused by new revelations about clerical sex abuses cases in Europe and North America.

Speaking to an estimated 11,000 visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict discussed each of the Holy Week liturgies. Among the visitors were 4,000 university students from around the world participating in a conference sponsored by Opus Dei.

The students gave the pope a letter, which they later distributed to reporters, offering him their support at a time when "many have taken advantage of some episodes that are painful for the church and for the pope" in order "to spread doubts and suspicion."

In his main audience talk, the pope said the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper marks the institution of the Eucharist and Christ giving the Twelve Apostles and their successors the authority to be ministers of the sacrament.

The rite of washing feet during the Mass, repeating Jesus' gesture, "is the representation of Jesus' whole life and reveals how he loved to the end with a love that was infinite and could bring men and women into communion with God and make them free," he said.

The practice of placing the Eucharist on a special altar of repose at the end of Mass is meant to remind people of Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said. "Before the Eucharist, the faithful contemplate Jesus in his hour of solitude and pray that all the loneliness in the world would cease," he said.

The Good Friday liturgy, he said, is a powerful reminder that Jesus willingly accepted "the cruelest and most humiliating form of death" -- crucifixion -- in order to save all men and women.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence and a time of waiting and hope, the pope said. It also should be a time for making a firm commitment to conversion and would be an appropriate time to go to confession, he said.

Saturday night, during the Easter Vigil, the silence that followed Jesus' death is "broken by singing 'Alleluia,' which announces the resurrection of Christ and proclaims the victory of light over darkness and of life over death," he said.

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"We are living the holy days that invite us to meditate on the central events of our Redemption, the essential nucleus of our faith," said Pope Benedict at Wednesday's General Audience

The Latin word triduum refers to a period of three days and has long been used to describe various three-day observances that prepared for a feast day through liturgy, prayer, and fasting. But it is most often used to describe the three days prior to the great feast of Easter: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil

Maundy Thursday

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During a frustrating argument with a Roman Catholic cardinal, Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly burst out: “Your eminence, are you not aware that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The cardinal, the anecdote goes, responded ruefully: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

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Holy Thursday:

Presiding this morning in Rome the Mass of Chrism, Pope Benedict XVI reminded that Christians, like Christ, do not “conquer” through the sword, but through the Cross.

The full text of the Holy Father’s homily follows:

At the center of the Church’s worship is the notion of "sacrament". This means that it is not primarily we who act, but God comes first to meet us through his action, he looks upon us and he leads us to himself. Another striking feature is this: God touches us through material things, through gifts of creation that he takes up into his service, making them instruments of the encounter between us and himself.

There are four elements in creation on which the world of sacraments is built: water, bread, wine and olive oil. Water, as the basic element and fundamental condition of all life, is the essential sign of the act in which, through baptism, we become Christians and are born to new life. While water is the vital element everywhere, and thus represents the shared access of all people to rebirth as Christians, the other three elements belong to the culture of the Mediterranean region. In other words, they point towards the concrete historical environment in which Christianity emerged.

God acted in a clearly defined place on the earth, he truly made history with men. On the one hand, these three elements are gifts of creation, and on the other, they also indicate the locality of the history of God with us. They are a synthesis between creation and history: gifts of God that always connect us to those parts of the world where God chose to act with us in historical time, where he chose to become one of us.

Within these three elements there is a further gradation. Bread has to do with everyday life. It is the fundamental gift of life day by day. Wine has to do with feasting, with the fine things of creation, in which, at the same time, the joy of the redeemed finds particular expression. Olive oil has a wide range of meaning. It is nourishment, it is medicine, it gives beauty, it prepares us for battle and it gives strength.

Kings and priests are anointed with oil, which is thus a sign of dignity and responsibility, and likewise of the strength that comes from God. Even the name that we bear as "Christians" contains the mystery of the oil. The word "Christians", in fact, by which Christ’s disciples were known in the earliest days of Gentile Christianity, is derived from the word "Christ" (Acts 11:20-21) – the Greek translation of the word "Messiah", which means "anointed one".

To be a Christian is to come from Christ, to belong to Christ, to the anointed one of God, to whom God granted kingship and priesthood. It means belonging to him whom God himself anointed – not with material oil, but with the One whom the oil represents: with his Holy Spirit. Olive oil is thus in a very particular way a symbol of the total com-penetration of the man Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

In the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, the holy oils are at the center of the liturgical action. They are consecrated in the bishop’s cathedral for the whole year. They thus serve also as an expression of the Church’s unity, guaranteed by the episcopate, and they point to Christ, the true "shepherd and guardian" of our souls, as Saint Peter calls him (1 Pet 2:25).

At the same time, they hold together the entire liturgical year, anchored in the mystery of Holy Thursday. Finally, they point to the Garden of Olives, the scene of Jesus’ inner acceptance of his Passion. Yet the Garden of Olives is also the place from which he ascended to the Father, and is therefore the place of redemption: God did not leave Jesus in death. Jesus lives for ever with the Father.

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