Sacred Triduum With Pope Francis
Pope Francis had a packed schedule during the most solemn and sacred three days of the whole liturgical calendar. Here is a summary based on Vatican Radio’s reports of the different events.
Holy Thursday morning – Chrism Mass
On April 2, anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II, Pope Francis celebrated the Chrism Mass with the priests of the diocese of Rome.
During the homily, the Holy Father focused on the tiredness a priest can feel as he goes about his ministry (see page 4 for full text of homily). “Our weariness, dear priests, is like incense which silently rises up to heaven (cf. Ps 141:2; Rev 8:3-4). Our weariness goes straight to the heart of the Father.”
He added, “Know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is well aware of this tiredness and she brings it straight to the Lord. As our Mother, she knows when her children are weary, and this is her greatest concern. ‘Welcome! Rest, my child. We will speak afterwards….’ ‘Whenever we draw near to her, she says to us: ‘Am I not here with you, I who am your Mother?’ (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 286). And to her Son she will say, as she did at Cana, ‘They have no wine’ (Jn 2:3).”
After the Mass, the Holy Father took the now traditional lunch with some priests of the diocese of Rome. Francis met nine parish priests of the diocese and the superior of one religious community at the home of Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute Secretary of State, and spent about an hour and a half with them.
One of them, Fr Antonio Fois, commented to an Italian news agency, “He repeated to us that pastoral activities are tiring – that’s natural. Being pastors is tiring but tiredness repays you; the joy of being at the service of the Gospel repays you.”
He added, “It was wonderful, to feel loved by your own bishop – this too repays any tiredness.”
Holy Thursday evening – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
On Thursday evening, he celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Rebibbia prison. The Mass was also attended by inmates at a nearby women’s detention centre. During the Mass Pope Francis washed the feet of 6 men and 6 women, including one mother holding her small child in her lap.
During his off-the-cuff homily, Pope Francis focused on the passage of the Gospel reading which said “He loved His own in the world, and He loved them until the end.”
“He loves us without limits, until the end,” Pope Francis said. “He never tires of loving…He loves all of us, so that he would even give his own life for us.”
Pope Francis pointed at individual inmates and said, Jesus gave his life “for you, for you, for you, for me…for everyone, first name and last name. His love is like this…so personal.”
During the Rite of the Washing of the Feet, several of the inmates cried as the Pope washed their feet. One woman detainee from Africa was holding her young child, and the Pope washed his feet, too.
Earlier in his homily, the Pope has said in the time of Jesus, washing feet was the work of a slave.
“Jesus is so loving, that he became a slave to serve us, to heal us, to cleanse us,” said Pope Francis.
“I also need to be cleansed by the Lord,” he said. “And for this, pray during this Mass, so that the Lord also washes my sins and stains, too, so that I become more slave-like in the service of people as Jesus did.”
Good Friday afternoon – Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion
Pope Francis also presided over the Good Friday service. The homily was given by the Papal Preacher, Fr Cantalamessa who reminded everyone that Jesus continues to suffer. He warned, however, “For once let us not think about social evils collectively: hunger, poverty, injustice, the exploitation of the weak. These evils are spoken about often (even if it is never enough), but there is the risk that they become abstractions—categories rather than persons. Let us think instead of the suffering of individuals, people with names and specific identities; of the tortures that are decided upon in cold blood and voluntarily inflicted at this very moment by human beings on other human beings, even on babies.”
Fr Cantalamessa spoke about the need to learn and draw the power to forgive from Jesus. “We might want to say, ‘Lord, you are asking us to do the impossible!’ He would answer, ‘I know, but I died to give you what I am asking of you. I not only gave you the command to forgive and not only an heroic example of forgiveness, but through my death I also obtained for you the grace that enables you to forgive. I did not give the world just a teaching on mercy as so many others have. I am also God and I have poured out for you rivers of mercy through my death. From them you can draw as much mercy as you want during the coming jubilee year of Mercy.’”
Good Friday night – Way of the Cross at the Colosseum
Thousands of faithful filled the Colosseum on Friday night for the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis.
The reflections accompanying the Stations this year were composed by Italian Bishop Renato Corti, Bishop-Emeritus of Novara.
As the Way of the Cross ended, the Pope offered his own prayer to the suffering Lord. He then recited the Anima Christi and urged those present to go home, filled with the hope of the joyous resurrection.
Meanwhile, as Pope Francis was presiding at the Via Crucis at the Colosseum, his Almoner brought a sign of Pontiff’s love to the poor of Rome. For the second consecutive year, Archbishop Krajewski spent the evening of Good Friday with his colleague Msgr Ravelli in the city’s main train stations, homeless shelters and dormitories around St Peter’s Square conveying the Pope’s concern for them: The two prelates described it as “a little embrace”, distributing to about 300 men and women gift bags with the Pope’s Easter card, an image of the Pope and a donation of money. Many, visibly moved, kissed the photograph of Francis, asking them to thank him on their behalf.
Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil
Pope Francis presided the over the Vigil awaiting the Lord’s resurrection. During the homily, the Holy Father invited everyone to “enter into the tomb” as the women did, entering into the mystery of the Resurrection. This requires humbling ourselves and learning to worship the Lord once more. (See text of homily in We need the humility not to take ourselves so seriously.)
Easter Sunday morning
On Easter Sunday, the Holy Father prayed, “From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence.” He then mentioned the different places torn by violence and persecution.
Finally, Pope Francis said, “May the marginalized, the imprisoned, the poor and the migrants who are so often rejected, maltreated and discarded, the sick and the suffering, children, especially those who are victims of violence; all who today are in mourning, and all men and women of goodwill, hear the consoling voice of the Lord Jesus: “Peace to you!” (Lk 24:36). “Fear not, for I am risen and I shall always be with you” (cf. Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon for Easter Day).
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