ROME — Pope Francis gave his own meditation at the end of the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum this evening. Here is our translation of his remarks in Italian:
O Crucified and victorious Christ.
Your Way of the Cross is the synthesis of your life, the icon of your obedience to the Father’s will, it is the fulfillment of your infinite love for us sinners.
It is the ordeal of your mission.
It is the definitive fulfillment of the revelation and history of salvation.
The weight of your cross frees us from all of our burdens.
In your obedience to the Father’s will, we notice our rebellion and disobedience.
In you, sold, betrayed, crucified by your people and those dear to you, we see our daily betrayals and our habitual unfaithfulness.
In your innocence, immaculate lamb, we see our guilt.
In your face, that has been 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 our actions.
In your feeling abandoned, we see all those who have been abandoned by their family, by society, by people’s attention and solidarity.
In your sacrificed, lacerated and tormented body, we see the body of our brothers and sisters abandoned along the roadside, disfigured by our negligence and our indifference.
In you thirst Lord, we see the thirst of your merciful Father who wanted — through you — to embrace, forgive and save all of humanity.
In you, Divine Love, we still see today our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, decapitated and crucified for their faith in you, in front of our eyes or often with our silent complicity.
Let the feelings of faith, hope, charity and sorrow for our sins be ingrained in our hearts, Lord, and lead us to repent for our sins that have crucified you.
Lead us to transform our conversion made of words into a conversion of life and deeds.
Lead us to safeguard inside of us a vivid memory of your disfigured face, so as to never forget the enormous price you paid to free us.
Crucified Jesus, strengthen the faith in us so that it not give in before temptations, rekindle hope in us, so that it not get lost by following the world’s seductions.
Protect charity in us, so that it not be deceived by corruption and worldliness.
Teach us that the cross is the way to resurrection.
Teach us that Good Friday is the path towards the Easter of light.
Teach us that God never forgets any of his children and he never tires of forgiving us and embracing us with his infinite mercy.
But also teach us to not get tired of asking Him for forgiveness and to believe in the Father’s limitless mercy.
Then the pope recited the Soul of Christ prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within the wounds, shelter me
from turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into your presence lead me
to praise you with all your saints
Forever and ever
Finally the pope gave his blessing and said to everyone: “Now let us return home with the recollection of Jesus in his Passion, of his great love and also with the hope of his joyous resurrection.”
During tonight’s ceremony, the cross was carried by a different group of people for each of the 14 stations. The groups included three Italian families as well as lay Catholics and religious who live in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land, Nigeria and China — areas of the world where Christians experience great hardship.
The meditations, written by a longtime spiritual director, 79-year-old Bishop Renato Corti, reflected on how God protects his people and calls everyone to watch over each other.