Vatican City, 3 April 2015 (VIS) – At 9.15 p.m. today, Good Friday, at Rome's ancient Colosseum, Pope Francis offered a meditation following the torch-lit Via Via Crucis in which thousands of faithful participate every year, accompanying Christ's journey to the Cross. From the terrace of the Palatine Hill, the Holy Father listened to the reflections that accompanied each of the fourteen stations, all of which were united by the constant reference to the gift of being protected by God's love, and in particular that of the crucified Jesus, and the task of being, in turn, protectors of the whole of Creation, especially the poorest and most marginalised. He reflected on the situation of men and women who are persecuted and martyred for their faith or for working to promote justice and peace, on the family, on the condition of life for women, on human trafficking and violence against children in its various forms.
The cross was carried between the fourteen stations by the cardinal archbishop of Rome, Agostino Vallini, a large family, another family with adopted children, two patients, citizens of Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Egypt and China, women religious from secular institutes and of Our Lady of Piety in Latin America, and two custodians of the Holy Land.
At the end of the Via Crucis, the Pope recited the following prayer:
“O Christ crucified and victorious, Your Way of the Cross is the summary of Your life, the icon of Your obedience to the will of the Father,and the realisation of Your infinite love for us sinners. It is the proof of Your mission. It is the final fulfilment of the revelation and the history of salvation. The weight of Your cross frees us from all of our burdens.
“In Your obedience to the will of the Father, we become aware of our rebellion and disobedience. In You, sold, betrayed, crucified by Your own people and those dear to You, we see our own betrayals and our own usual infidelity. In Your innocence, Immaculate Lamb, we see our guilt. In Your face, slapped, spat on and disfigured, we see the brutality of our sins. In the cruelty of Your passion, we see the cruelty of our heart and of our actions. In Your own feeling of abandonment, we see those abandoned by their families, by society, by attention and by solidarity. In Your body, sacrificed, ripped and torn, we see the body of our brothers who have been abandoned along the way, disfigured by our negligence and our indifference. In Your thirst Lord, we see the thirst of Your merciful Father, who desired to embrace, forgive and save all of humanity. In You, Divine Love, we see even today, before our very eyes, and often with our silence and complicity, our persecuted brothers and sisters, decapitated, crucified for their faith in You.
“Imprint in our heart, Lord, sentiments of faith, hope and charity, of sorrow for our sins, and lead us to repent for our sins that have crucified You. Lead us to transform our conversion with words into a conversion of life and works. Help us to preserve within us a living memory of Your disfigured face, so that we may never forget the terrible price You paid to free us. Crucified Jesus, strengthen in us a faith that does not collapse in the face of temptations; awaken in us the hope that does get lost following the temptations of the world. Preserve in us the charity that is not fooled by the corruption of worldliness. Teach us that the cross is the way to the resurrection. Teach us that Good Friday is the way to the Easter of light. Teach us that God never forgets any of his children, and never tires of forgiving us and embracing us with His infinite mercy. But also teach us to never tire of asking Him for forgiveness and believing in the boundless mercy of the Father”.