This section features select texts by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI on various celebrations throughout the liturgical year. We started with a Pentcost homily given by Ratzinger, posted along with the launch of this website. Additional texts will be posted following the Church's liturgical calendar.
For spiritual reflection on the Paschal Triduum, we present an address given by Benedict XVI at a general audience on 19 May 2008.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have arrived at the eve of the Easter Triduum. The next three days are commonly called „holy“ because they make us relive the central event pf our Redemption; in fact, they lead us back to the essentials nucleus of the Christian faith: the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are days we can consider as a single day: they constitute the heart and fulcrum of the entire liturgical year as well as of the Church’s life.
At the end of the journey through Lent, we too are preparing to enter the same atmosphere that Jesus loved then in Jerusalem. Let us reawaken within us the vivid memory of the suffering Jesus bore for our sake and prepare ourselves to celebrate with joy next Sunday, „the true Pass-over which Christ’s Blood has covered in glory, the Passover on which the Church celebrates the Feast that is the origin of all feasts“, as the Preface for Easter Day says in the Ambrosian rite.
picture-alliance/ dpa | epa ansa Maurizio Brambatti
Washing of the Feet, Holy Thursday 2008.
Tomorrow, Holy Thursday, the Church commemorates the Last Supper, during which the Lord insituted on the eve of his Passion and death the Sacramento f the Eucharist and that of the Priestly Ministry. That same night Jesus bequeathed to us the new commandment, „mandatum novum“, the commandment of brotherly love.
Tomorrow morning, before entering the Holy Triduum but already in close connection with it, the Chrism Mass will take place in every diocesan Community, during which the Bishop and priests of the diocesan presbyterate renew the promises of their Ordination. In addition, the oils for the celebration of the sacraments are blessed: the oil of the catechumens, the oil of the sick and the holy chrism. It is a particularly important moment for the life of every diocesan Community which, gathered around its Pastor, strengthens its own unity and its own faithfulness to Christ, the one Eternal High Priest.
In watching their feet he proclaimed in a concrete manner the primacy of love that becomes a service even to the gift of self, thereby also anticipating the supreme sacrifice of his life.
In the evening, the Mass of »the Coena Domini« is the commemoration of the Last Supper when Christ gave himself to all of us as the food of salvation, the drug of immortality: it is the mystery of the Eucharist, source and summit of Christian life. In this Sacrament of salvation the Lord offered and brought about for all who believe in him the closest possible union between our life and his life.
The humble and especially expressive gesture of the washing of the feet invites us to recall all that the Lord did for his Apostles: in watching their feet he proclaimed in a concrete manner the primacy of love that becomes a service even to the gift of self, thereby also anticipating the supreme sacrifice of his life which was to be consummated the following day on Calvary. In accordance with a beautiful tradition, the faithful end Holy Thursday with a prayer vigil and Eucharistic Adoration in order to relive more intimately Jesus‘ agony in Gethsemane.
picture alliance / dpa | Fabio Frustaci
Veneration of the Cross, Good Friday 2010.
Good Friday is the day when the Passion, Crucifixion and death of Jesus ware commemorated. On this day the liturgy of the Church does not provide for the celebration of Holy Mass, but the Christian assembly gathers to meditate on the great mystery of evil and sin which oppress humanity in order to retrace, in the light of God’s Word and assisted by moving liturgical actions, the Lord’s suffering that expiated this evil. After hearing the narrative of Christ’s Passion, the community prays for all the needs of the Church and the world, adores the Cross and receives the Eucharist, consuming the species preserves from the previous day’s Mass of »the Coena Domini« .
As a further invitation to meditate on the Passion and death of the Redeemer and to express the love and participation of the faithful in Christ’s suffering, the Christian tradition has given life to various manifestations of popular piety, processions and Passion plays that aim to impress sentiments of true participation in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice ever more deeply in the souls of the faithful. The Way of the Cross stands out among these. It is a pious practice which in the course of the years has been enriched with a multitude of spiritual an artistic expression linked to the sensitivities of the different cultures. Thus, in many countries, shrines have come into being with the name of „Calvary“ which are reached after a steep climb that recalls the sorrowful way of the Passion, enabling the faithful to participate in the Lord’s ascent towards the Mount of the Cross, the Mount of Love, impelled to the very end.
In fact, a day of silence is necessary in order to meditate on the reality of human life, on the forces of evil and on the great force of good that flowed from the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
Holy Saturday is marked by a profound silence. Churches are bare and no special liturgies are planned. While believers wait with expectation for the great Resurrection, they persevere with Mary in prayer and meditation. In fact, a day of silence is necessary in order to meditate on the reality of human life, on the forces of evil and on the great force of good that flowed from the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. On this day great importance is given to the Sacramento f Reconciliation, an indispensable means of purifying the heart and preparing oneself to celebrate Easter profoundly renewed. We need the inner purification of this renewal of ourselves at least once a year.
This Saturday of silence, with meditation, forgiveness a reconciliation, flows into the Easter Vigil which ushers in the most important Sunday of history, the Sunday of Christ’s Pasch. The Church watches beside the new fire that is blessed and meditates on the great promise, contained in the Old and New Testaments, of definitive liberation from the ancient slavery of sin and death.
picture alliance / abaca | Vandeville Eric
Adult baptism during the Easter Vigil, 2010
Christ is truly risen, death no longer has any power over him. With his death he defeated evil for ever and made a gift to all human beings of God’s life itself.
In the darkness of the night, the paschal candle is lit from the fire, a symbol of Christ who rises in glory, Christ the light of humanity dispels the darkness of the heart and the spirit and illuminates every person who comes into the world. Next to the paschal candle the great Easter proclamation rings out in the Church: Christ is truly risen, death no longer has any power over him. With his death he defeated evil for ever and made a gift to all human beings of God’s life itself.
Following an ancient tradition, catechumens receive Baptism during the Easter Vigil to emphasize Christians‘ participation in the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection. From the resplendent night of Easter, Christ’s joy, light and peace expand in the life of the faithful of every Christian community and reach every point in space and time.
Dear brothers and sisters, in these unique days let us direct our lives with determination towards a generous and convinced adherence to the Heavenly Father’s plans; let us renew our ‚yes‘ to the divine will as Jesus did with his sacrifice on the Cross. The evocative rites of Holy Thursday, of Good Friday, the silence rich in prayer of Holy Saturday and the solemn Easter Vigil give us the opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian vocation which flows from the Paschall Mystery and to put it into practice by faithfully following Christ in every circumstance, even to the point of generously giving out lives as he did.
picture alliance / abaca | -
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Urbi et Orbi on Easter Sunday 2010.
May these days revive within us the great hope: the Crucified Christ is risen and has conquered the world! Love is stronger than hate, it has overcame it.
Commemorating the mysterious of Christ also means living in profound and supportive adherence to the today of history, convinced that we celebrate is a living, actual reality. Let us therefore carry in our prayers the drama of the events and situations which in these days afflict so many of our brethren in every part of the world. We know that hatred, divisions and violence never have the last word in the events of history.
May these days revive within us the great hope: the Crucified Christ is risen and has conquered the world! Love is stronger than hate, it has overcome it, and we must associate ourselves with the victory of love. In this commitment which involves us all may we let ourselves be guided by Mary, who accompanied her divine Son on the way of the Passion and the Cross and took part, with the strength of her faith, to carry out his saving plan. With these sentiments, I express from this moment my most cordial good wishes for a happy and holy Easter to you all, your loved ones and your Communities.
Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Headings, subheadings, and quotations are editorial insertions.