Bookmark and Share

The Holy Cross

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II
at his first general audience in the Jubilee of the Redemption
Wednesday 30 March 1983 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Holy Year, Holy Door, Holy Places, Holy Week ...: this traditional attribution of "holiness" to the reality of space and time attests that in them the popular soul, or even the Church, discover and recognize a special bond with God, and therefore a title of "consecration".

For us Christians the sacred value of these holy days is given by the memory of the Passion and Death of Christ which we celebrate in them with a more lively faith, with a more tender and at the same time austere and conscious piety, with our liturgical and spiritual identification in that mystery of the Redemption expressed in the Creed of every day: “Crucifixus etiam pro nobis. . ., passus et sepultus est ".

These are therefore days of the Cross, days in which there rises spontaneously to the lips of Christians the ancient liturgical hymn, transmitted from generation to generation, and repeated by millions of believers at all times, even in the period of the first Holy Year, announced by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300: “Vexilla Regis prodeunt / fulget Crucis mysterium ... "

The Cross is the sign of Christ that we venerate and sing. Indeed, due to its function as an instrument of our Redemption closely linked, according to the Father's plan, to the One who has been suspended there as from a gallows, we adore it as an extension of the cult that we reserve for the Man-God. In reality to adore the Cross (as we will do liturgically on Good Friday) is to adore Christ himself: "Adoramus Te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum!"

2. In reality, the cross belongs to our existential condition, as experience proves to us every day. Indeed, it would seem that it has its roots in the very essence of created things.

Man is aware of the values, but also of the limit. Hence the problem of evil which, in certain conditions of physical, psychological, spiritual bewilderment, is pain, suffering or even sin. Why evil, why pain, why this human cross that seems co-essential to our nature, yet, in many cases, so absurd?

These are questions that have always tormented the mind and heart of man, and to which, perhaps, partial theoretical answers can be given, but which continue to recur in the reality of life, at times in a dramatic way, especially when it comes to of the pain of the innocent, of children, even of human groups and entire peoples subjugated by overbearing forces that seem to mark the triumph of wickedness in the world. Who among us does not feel a wound in the heart in the face of so many painful facts, so many crosses?

It is true that universal experience also teaches the beneficial effects that pain has on many men and women, as a generator of maturity, wisdom, goodness, understanding, solidarity, so that it was possible to speak of the fruitfulness of pain. But this observation leaves the basic problem unresolved and does not eliminate the temptation of Job, which also faces the Christian spirit, when he feels compelled to ask God: why? Indeed, for many, the problem of evil and pain is an objection against the Providence of God, when not even against his existence. The reality of the cross then becomes a scandal, because it is a cross without Christ: the heaviest and the most unbearable, terrible at times to the point of tragedy!

3. The Cross with Christ is the great revelation of the meaning of pain and the value it has in life and in history. Whoever understands the Cross, whoever embraces it, begins a very different journey from that of the trial or contestation of God; in it he rather finds the reason for a new ascent to him, on the way of Christ, which is precisely the Via Crucis, the path of the Cross.

The Cross is the proof of an infinite Love which, precisely in that host of atonement and pacification, has placed the principle of universal restoration and especially of human redemption: redemption from sin, and at least at its root, from evil, pain and death.

But the Cross invites us to respond to love with love. To God who first loved us, we can in turn give the sign of our intimate participation in his plan of salvation. We do not always manage to discover, in this design, the reason for the pains that mark the path of our life. Supported by faith, however, we can come to the certainty that it is a design of love, in which the whole immense range of crosses, large and small, tends to merge into the one Cross.

The Cross is therefore for us a guarantee of life, of resurrection and of salvation, because it contains in itself and participates in believers in the renewing power of Christ's Redemption. In it, according to St. Paul, the future resurrection and celestial glorification is also an already acquired reality, which will be in eternity the glorious manifestation of the victory won by Christ with his Passion and Death. And we, with the experience of our daily pain, are called to participate in this mystery which is, yes, of passion, but also of glory.

4. In these days of Holy Week and Holy Year we are invited to look to Christ who loved us to the point of dying on the cross for us. We are invited to join the Church, which especially with the celebration of the concluding mysteries of Christ's earthly life wants to instill in us a more lively awareness of the mystery of the Redemption; and this is the fundamental reason for the Jubilee.

We greet on the Cross, sign and instrument of Christ the Redeemer, the foundation of our hope, because we recognize in it the experimental proof of the almighty and merciful love that God has for man.

We turn to the Cross and to Christ Crucified in this "time of Passion": a time not only liturgical, but historical, social and spiritual, in which we see so many pains, so many "passions" and unfortunately so many crosses without Christ gathering over the world!

We ask the Redeemer, in the name of his Cross, to grant his Church and all humanity the grace of the Holy Year, the gifts of conversion and holiness we need.

This is what the Holy Year wants, this is what Jesus asks of us from the Cross: a greater openness to his Redemption with the repentance of sins and the aspiration to holiness. "


"Saluto di cuore i vari gruppi di lingua italiana, riservando un particolare pensiero per i giovani. Carissimi, partecipi della Passione del Signore, di cui la sacra liturgia di questi prossimi giorni fa abbondante memoria, possiate voi dare, come i discepoli del Signore, sempre e dovunque testimonianza anche della sua Risurrezione, con l’esempio luminoso della vostra vita. Confermo tali voti con la mia Benedizione.

Anche gli ammalati, qui presenti, rivolgo un pensiero, ormai consueto, ma sempre nuovo ed affettuoso. Continuamente, ma soprattutto in questo Anno della Redenzione, auspico che voi, mediante la vostra sofferenza, possiate conseguire la grazia di una rinnovata scoperta della misericordia di Dio. Con la vostra volonterosa unione all’Uomo dei dolori e alla vostra amorosa obbedienza alla volontà del Padre Celeste continuate a dare significato e valore alla vostra sofferenza, conseguendo la beatitudine evangelica e contribuendo, in pari tempo all’edificazione della Chiesa, Corpo Mistico di Cristo. Vi conforti la mia Benedizione.

Un saluto, infine agli Sposi Novelli, a cui va anche il mio auspicio e il mio vivo ringraziamento per la loro significativa presenza. Cristo vi accompagni per l’intero arco dell’esistenza; sia forza per poter agevolmente superare difficoltà e pericoli: e, insieme con la grazia sacramentale, sia pegno dell’aiuto celeste per assolvere con amore e fedeltà, i doveri assunti col Matrimonio. A tutti e di cuore imparto la mia Benedizione.

Chers Frères et Soeurs, Je suis heureux de vous accueillir, au seuil de cette Année sainte, en ce lieu sanctifié par le martyre de l’Apôtre Pierre qui est venu jusqu’ici témoigner de sa foi et de son amour du Christ, après avoir connu Jésus dans sa Passion et sa Résurrection. Vous êtes venus de France, de Belgique, de Suisse, du Danemark, du Canada, d’Afrique et d’ailleurs; jeunes, parents, religieuses, prêtres, et vous priez ici, avec vos frères de tout l’univers. Je vous souhaite de bien vous mettre, durant ces jours saints, devant le mystère du Christ crucifié et ressuscité pour nous. Il a porté sa croix. Sans doute, chacun d’entre vous porte aussi, dans le secret de sa vie, une croix, une souffrance physique, morale, spirituelle, ou bien vous connaissez des parents, des amis, des voisins qui souffrent. Le monde est un immense chemin de croix! Dans le Christ la croix est le signe d’un amour infini, de celui qui a surmonté le mal, le péché, la douleur, la mort, pour entrer dans la Vie, et nous faire entrer avec Lui dans sa sainteté, dans sa Vie. A vous, à vos familles, mes meilleurs voeux de Pâques! Au nom du Père, du Fils et du Saint-Esprit.

Dear brothers and sisters, I welcome all the pilgrims who have come to Rome during this sacred time of Holy Week when we commemorate with greatest solemnity the Passion, death and Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ. I greet the visitors who have come from England, Ireland, Sweden, Malta, Canada and the Unites States. And in a special way, I greet the group of professional people from Finland. I wish, too, to extend a warm welcome to all the Religious who are present, in particular the newly-ordained deacons of the Society of Jesus, to whom I offer my prayerful congratulations. With the Apostle Paul, I invite you all to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus who inspires and perfects our faith. May you see in the Cross the depths of Christ’s love for us, and in his Resurrection the source of our hope and the cause of our joy. May God bless you all.

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Mit besonderer Freude grübe ich euch heute zu dieser ersten Audienz im Jubiläumsjahr der Erlösung hier auf dem weiten Petersplatz. Ich grübe jeden einzelnen, die Familien und verlesenen Gruppen, vor allem den groben Diözesanpilgerzug aus Münster unter der Leitung des hochwürdigsten Herrn Weihbischofs Ostermann. Unsere heutige Begegnung in der Mitte der Heiligen Woche ist ein gemeinsames Zeugnis unseres Glaubens an Christus, den Gekreuzigten, der uns durch sein Leiden und Sterben erlöst hat. Das Kreuz is das Siegeszeichen Christi, unseres Erlösers. Zugleich gehört das Kreuz als Erfahrung von Leid, Schmerz und Tod zu unserem persönlichen Leben im Alltag. Auf die Frage nach dem”Warum“gibt es letztlich nur vom Kreuze Christi her eine Antwort. Er hat in seinem Sterben alles menschenmögliche Leid zutiefst verwandelt und uns dadurch auch unser Kreuz als Mittel und Weg zu Erlösung und Auferstehung aufgezeigt. Öffnen wir uns neu für diese trostvolle und ermutigende Heilsbotschaft der Heiligen Woche und des Jubiläumsjahres der Erlösung! Mit besten österlichen Wünschen erteile ich euch allen von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas, En esta primera Audiencia general del Ano Santo, saludo con afecto a todos los presentes de lengua española. Mi saludo va en primer lugar a las religiosas Siervas de Jesús de la Caridad, a los miembros de las varias parroquias, y sobre todo a los estudiantes de diversos colegios de España que son los más numerosos, así como a los grupos procedentes de América Latina. El principio del Ano Santo y la celebración de la Semana Santa que conmemora los misterios centrales de la Redención, son para nosotros una fuerte llamada a buscar la gracia que nos salva, a unirnos con espíritu de fe al dolor redentor de Cristo que es también esperanza de resurrección, a purificarnos de nuestros pecados y vivir cada día más intensamente el misterio de salvación en Cristo. Esta es la finalidad del Ano Jubilar. A todos os aliento a seguir con valentía y perseverancia ese camino, y a todos os doy mi Bendición.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, Ao dirigir a vós a saudação cordial deste acto religioso, num momento da Semana Santa e do Ano Santo, a todos exorto a voltar a mente e a coração para a Paixão e Morte do Senhor, a fixar a cruz; Cristo, o Servo sofredor de Javé, confiante no amor misericordioso, faz-nos um duplo apelo:
- ao amor fiel até à morte, como resposta à Misericórdia divina, manifestada no mesmo Cristo, Vítima de expiação e de pacificação, princípio e fonte da restauração universal e da redenção pessoal;
- a abrir-nos à graça, pelo arrependimento dos pecados e pela aspiração à santidade de vida: estas são “as marcas” que a Páscoa iminente, a passagem da Salvação de Deus no tempo, há-de encontrar na nossa morada provisória, de peregrinos para a Páscoa eterna, que para todos desejo, com a Bênção Apostólica."

Preghiera alla Madonna di Jasna Gora

Matko Najświętsza,
Do serca twego mieczem boleści wskroś przeszytego!
Wielki Tydzień 1983.
Przez Twoje Serce Macierzyńskie przybliżamy się do niezgłębionej tajemnicy Męki Chrystusa. Do tajemnicy Jego krzyża.
Tak jest na całej ziemi polskiej. W tylu kościołach, kaplicach, parafiach, wspólnotach - w tylu sercach. Rozważamy Mękę Chrystusa przez cały Wielki Post. Przeżywamy dni Wielkiego Tygodnia: Czwartek, Piątek, Sobotę.
Przyjmij, Matko Jasnogórska, tę naszą wolę bycia z Chrystusem Ukrzyżowanym i złożonym do grobu.
Przyjmij wszystko, co uczyniono, aby w tym Wielkim Poście nawrócić się, odmienić życie. Przyjmij wszystkie rekolekcje, dni skupienia, Drogi Krzyżowe, Gorzkie Żale. Przyjmij wszystkie spowiedzi i Komunie święte. Przyjmij wszystkie modlitwy.
Przyjmij też wszystkie cierpienia tych, którzy cierpią na ziemi polskiej: cały ten nowy rozdział cierpienia, który wpisał się na przestrzeni drugiego już roku w nasze dzieje.
Niech Twój Syn, Jezus Chrystus, umęczony, ukrzyżowany, złożony do grobu - Chrystus Wielkiego Tygodnia - stanie się dla nas również i w tym roku źródłem Mocy i znakiem Nadziei.

Madre santissima, eleviamo il nostro grido al tuo Cuore trafitto con la spada del dolore! (canto polacco). Attraverso il tuo cuore materno ci avviciniamo all’inscrutabile mistero della Passione di Cristo; al mistero della sua croce.

Così avviene su tutta la terra polacca. In tutte le chiese, le parrocchie, le cappelle, le comunità, in tanti cuori. Meditiamo sulla Passione di Cristo durante tutta la Quaresima. Viviamo i giorni della Settimana Santa: giovedì, venerdì e sabato.

Accogli, Madre di Jasna Gora, questa nostra volontà di essere con Cristo crocifisso e deposto nel sepolcro. Accogli tutto ciò che è stato fatto per convertirsi nella Quaresima, per cambiare vita. Accogli tutti gli esercizi spirituali, i giorni di ritiro, la “Via Crucis”, la devozione quaresimale “Gorzkie zale”. Accogli tutte le confessioni e le sante comunioni. Accogli tutte le preghiere. Accogli pure tutti i sacrifici di coloro che soffrono in terra polacca: quell’intero nuovo capitolo della sofferenza che si è iscritto nella nostra storia da quasi due anni.

Che il tuo Figlio, Gesù Cristo, martoriato, crocifisso e deposto nel sepolcro - il Cristo della Settimana Santa - diventi per noi, anche in questo anno, la sorgente della forza e il segno della speranza."