Friday, April 14, 2017

Before the Cross, Today's "Shame" and "Hope"

Despite the wider world's enduring interest in the Pope's traveling Holy Thursday Mass, for Francis himself, the most emotional time of this Week, and arguably his entire year, is instead tonight – the Good Friday Via Crucis, which brings back the evocative memory of the candlelit processions of Buenos Aires to which he was taken as a boy.

In keeping with the depth of the moment, Papa Bergoglio again closed the Colosseum rites with a personally-written prayer linking the crucifixion with the modern-day suffering of the innocent, here in an English translation....
O Christ,
left alone and then betrayed by your own
and sold for a fleeting price.

O Christ,
judged by sinners
and taken captive by the powerful.

O Christ,
your flesh torn,
crowned with thorns
and cloaked in purple.

O Christ
slapped and atrociously nailed.

O Christ,
pierced by the lance which ripped at your heart.

O Christ,
dead and buried,
You who are the God of life and existence.

O Christ,
our only Savior,
again we return to You this year
with our eyes lowered from shame
and a heart full of hope:

Shame for all the images
of devastation, destruction and shipwrecks
that have become ordinary in our life.

Shame for the innocent blood that has been shed
by women, children, immigrants and persecuted people
whether for the color of their skin,
their ethnic and social appearance
and for their faith in You.

Shame for the many times when,
like Judas and Peter,
we have sold you and betrayed you
and left you alone to die for our sins,
fleeing like cowards from our responsibilities.

Shame for our silence before injustices,
for our hands, lazy in giving yet
keen to snatch away and conquer,
for our shrill voices in defending our own interests
and timid in speaking of those of others,
for our fast feet along the way of evil,
yet paralyzed on the way of good.

Shame for all the times that us,
bishops, priests, consecrated men and women
have scandalized and wounded your body, the Church,
and have forgotten our first love, our first enthusiasm
and our complete availability,
letting our heart and our consecration turn to rust.

So much shame, Lord, but our heart still remembers
the hopeful trust that you don’t treat us according to our merits
but only by the abundance of your mercy,
that our own betrayals don’t come close
to the immenseness of your love,
that your heart, that of a mother and a father,
doesn’t forget us despite our own hardness.

Hope. The sure hope that our names are written in your heart
and that we are in your sight.

The hope that your Cross might transform our hardened hearts
to hearts of flesh, able to dream, to forgive and to love;

transform the darkness of this night into the radiant joy of your Resurrection.

The hope that your faithfulness is not based on our own.

The hope that the host of men and women faithful to your Cross
continues and will continue to live faithfully as the leaven that gives flavor
and as the light which opens new horizons in the body of our wounded humanity.

The hope that your Church will seek to be a voice that cries out in the desert of
humanity, to prepare the way for your return in triumph,
when you will come to judge the living and the dead.

The hope that good will win, even in the face of defeat!

O Lord Jesus, Son of God,
innocent victim of our redemption,
before your royal banner,
the mystery of your death and glory,
before this, your scaffold,
we fall to our knees, ashamed yet hopeful,
and we ask you to wash us clean in the solvent of the blood and water
which came from your broken heart;
to forgive our sins and our faults.

We ask you to remember our brothers and sisters cut down
by violence, by indifference, and by war.

We ask you to break the chains that keep us
as prisoners in our selfishness,
in our willful blindness
and in the vanity of our worldly calculations.

O Christ,
we ask you to teach us
to never be ashamed of your Cross,
to not instrumentalize it
but to honor and adore it,
because by it you have shown
the monstrousness of our sins,
the greatness of your love,
the injustice of our judgment
and the power of your mercy.