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Pope Francis' Catechesis in Holy Week
St Peter's Square, General Audience, Wednesday 1 April 2015 - in ArabicEnglish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Tomorrow is Holy Thursday. In the afternoon, with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we will begin the Easter Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, which is the culmination of the whole liturgical year and the pinnacle of our Christian life as well.

The Triduum begins with the commemoration of the Last Supper. Jesus, on the eve of his passion, offered his body and blood to the Father under the species of bread and wine and, which he gave to the Apostles as nourishment with the command that they perpetuate the offering in his memory. The Gospel of this celebration, recalling the washing of the feet, expresses the same meaning of the Eucharist under another perspective. Jesus — like a servant — washes the feet of Simon Peter and the other eleven disciples (cf. Jn 13:4-5). By this prophetic gesture, He expresses the meaning of his life and of his passion as service to God and to his brothers: “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45).

This also occurred in our Baptism, when the grace of God washed us of sin and clothed us in Christ’s nature (cf. Col 3:10). This takes place every time we celebrate the memory of the Lord in the Eucharist: we enter into communion with Christ Servant by obeying his command — to love one another as He has loved us (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12). If we approach Holy Communion without being sincerely ready to wash the feet of one another, we don’t recognize the Body of the Lord. It is the service, Jesus gives himself entirely.

Then, the day after tomorrow, in the liturgy of Good Friday we shall meditate on the mystery of Christ’s death and adore the Cross. In the final moments of his life, before giving up his spirit to the Father, Jesus said: “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). What do these words mean, when Jesus says: “It is finished”? It means that the work of salvation is finished, that all of the Scriptures have found their total fulfillment in the love of Christ, the immolated Lamb. Jesus, by his Sacrifice, has transformed the greatest iniquity into the greatest love.

Over the course of the centuries there have been men and women who by the witness of their lives reflected a ray of this perfect love, full and undefiled. I would like to recall a heroic witness of our times, Don Andrea Santoro, a priest of the Diocese of Rome and a missionary in Turkey. A few days before being assassinated in Trebisonda, he wrote: “I live among these people so that Jesus can live among them through me... only by offering one’s flesh is salvation possible. The evil that stalks the world must be borne and pain must be shared till the end in one’s own flesh as Jesus did” (A. Polselli, Don Andrea Santoro, le eredità, Città Nuova, Rome 2008, p. 31). May the example of a man of our times, and so many others, sustain us in the offering of our own life as a gift of love to our brothers and sisters, in the imitation of Jesus.

And today too there are many men and women, true martyrs who offer up their lives with Jesus in order to confess the faith, for this motive alone. It is a service, the service of Christian witness even to the pouring out of blood, a service that Christ rendered for us: he redeemed us to the very end. And this is the meaning of those words “It is finished”. How beautiful it will be when we all, at the end of our lives, with our errors and our faults, as well as our good deeds and our love of neighbour, can say to the Father as Jesus did: “It is finished”; not with kind of perfection with which He said it, but to say: “Lord, I did everything that I could do. It is finished”. Adoring the Cross, looking to Jesus, let us think of love, of service, of our lives, of the Christian martyrs, and it will do us good too to think of the end of our lives. No one knows when that will be, but we can ask for the grace to be able to say: “Father, I did what I could do. It is finished”.

Holy Saturday is the day on which the Church contemplates the “repose” of Christ in the sepulchre after the victorious battle of the Cross. On Holy Saturday the Church, yet again, identifies with Mary: all her faith is gathered in Her, the first and perfect disciple, the first and perfect believer. In the darkness that enveloped creation, She alone stayed to keep the flame of faith burning, hoping against all hope (cf. Rm 4:18) in the Resurrection of Jesus.

And on the great Easter Vigil, in which the Alleluia resounds once more, we celebrate Christ Risen, the centre and the purpose of the cosmos and of history; we keep vigil filled with hope in expectation of his coming return, when Easter will be fully manifest. At times the dark of night seems to penetrate the soul; at times we think: “there is nothing more to be done”, and the heart no longer finds the strength to love.... But it is precisely in the darkness that Christ lights the fire of God’s love: a flash breaks through the darkness and announces a new start, something begins in the deepest darkness. We know that the night is “most night like” just before the dawn. In that very darkness Christ conquers and rekindles the fire of love. The stone of sorrow is rolled away leaving room for hope. Behold the great mystery of Easter! On this holy night the Church gives us the light of the Risen One, that in us there will not be the regret of the one who says: “if only...”, but the hope of the one who opens himself to a present filled with future: Christ has conquered death, and we are with Him. Our life does not end at the stone of the sepulchre, our life goes beyond with hope in Christ who is Risen from that very tomb. As Christians we are called to be sentinels of the dawn, who can discern the signs of the Risen One, as did the women and the disciples who ran to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week.

Dear brothers and sisters, during these days of the Holy Triduum let us not limit ourselves to commemorating the passion of the Lord, but let us enter into the mystery, making his feelings and thoughts our own, as the Apostle Paul invites us to do: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). Then ours will be a “Happy Easter”."

"Je souhaite la bienvenue aux pèlerins de langue française. Je vous invite à entrer de tout votre cœur dans la célébration des mystères que la liturgie de l’Église nous offre ces prochains jours. Partagez les sentiments et les attitudes que Jésus a connus aux jours de sa passion, c’est ainsi que vous ferez de « Bonnes Pâques ».
Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Do il benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua francese. Vi invito ad entrare con tutto il vostro cuore nella celebrazione dei misteri che la liturgia della Chiesa ci offre nei prossimi giorni. Condividete i sentimenti e le azioni che Gesù ha conosciuto nei giorni della sua passione, in questo modo farete una «Buona Pasqua». Che Dio vi benedica!]

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States. May the Risen Lord confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and resurrection. May God bless you!

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Danimarca, Indonesia, Giappone, Hong Kong e Stati Uniti. Il Signore Risorto vi confermi nella fede e vi faccia testimoni del suo amore e della sua risurrezione. Dio vi benedica!]

Mit Freude heiße ich die Gläubigen deutscher Sprache willkommen. Besonders grüße ich die Jugendlichen des Regnum Christi und des ECyD. Liebe Freunde, treten wir in diesen Tagen wirklich in das Geheimnis Christi ein und machen wir uns seine Gesinnung zur unsrigen, wie der Apostel Paulus sagt: Seid „so gesinnt, wie es dem Leben in Christus Jesus entspricht (Phil 2,5). Dann werden unsere Ostern „frohe Ostern“. Gott segne euch.

[Sono lieto di accogliere i fedeli di lingua tedesca. In particolare saluto i giovani del Regnum Christi e dell’ECyD. Cari amici, entriamo veramente in questi giorni nel mistero di Cristo, facendo nostri i suoi sentimenti, come ci invita l’apostolo Paolo: “Abbiate in voi gli stessi sentimenti che furono in Cristo Gesù” (Fil 2,5). Allora la nostra Pasqua sarà una “buona Pasqua”. Dio vi benedica.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los muchos jóvenes, así como a los grupos provenientes de España, México, Ecuador, Argentina y otros. Que el Señor nos conceda a todos participar plenamente en el misterio de su muerte y resurrección haciendo nuestros sus propios sentimientos. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare i tanti giovani, così come i gruppi provenienti da Spagna, Messico, Ecuador, Argentina e altri. Che il Signore conceda a tutti noi di partecipare pienamente al mistero della sua morte e risurrezione, facendo nostri i suoi sentimenti. Grazie mille.]

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! De coração vos saúdo a todos, desejando-vos um Tríduo Pascal verdadeiramente santo que vos ajude a viver a Páscoa, cheios de alegria, consolação e esperança, como convém a quantos ressuscitaram com Cristo. Boa Páscoa!

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, benvenuti! Di cuore vi saluto tutti, augurandovi un Triduo Pasquale davvero santo che vi aiuti a vivere la Pasqua, pieni di gioia, consolazione e speranza, come si addice a quanti sono risorti con Cristo. Buona Pasqua!]

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط. أيها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزاء، لندخل في سرّ آلام الرب ولتكن فينا المشاعر التي هي "أَيضاً في المَسيحِ يَسوع". أتمنى لكم فصحًا مجيدًا وليبارككُم الرب!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente! Cari fratelli e sorelle, entriamo nel mistero della passione del Signore e facciamo nostri gli “stessi sentimenti di Cristo Gesù”. Vi auguro una Buona Pasqua e il Signore vi benedica!]

Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruję do Polaków. Drodzy bracia i siostry, w tych dniach Triduum Sacrum, przeżywając na nowo mękę naszego Pana, wejdźmy w tajemnicę i podejmijmy zachętę apostoła Pawła: „Niech was ożywiają uczucia znamienne dla Jezusa Chrystusa” (Flp 2,5). Wtedy nasze Święta będą dla nas „dobrą Paschą”.
Jutro przypada dziesiąta rocznica śmierci św. Jana Pawła II. Wspominamy go jako wielkiego świadka Chrystusa cierpiącego, umarłego i zmartwychwstałego, i prosimy go, aby wstawiał się za nami, za rodzinami i za Kościołem, by światło zmartwychwstania rozjaśniało wszelkie mroki naszego życia, i napełniało na radością i pokojem. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

[Un cordiale saluto rivolgo ai polacchi. Cari fratelli e sorelle, in questi giorni del Triduum Sacrum, rivivendo la passione del nostro Signore, entriamo nel mistero e seguiamo l’invito dell’apostolo Paolo: «Abbiate in voi gli stessi sentimenti di Cristo Gesù” (Fil 2,5). Allora la nostra sarà una “buona Pasqua”.
Domani cade il decimo anniversario della morte di San Giovanni Paolo II. Lo ricordiamo come grande Testimone di Cristo sofferente, morto e risorto, e gli chiediamo di intercedere per noi, per le famiglie, per la Chiesa, affinché la luce della risurrezione risplenda su tutte le ombre della nostra vita e ci riempia di gioia e di pace. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere gli universitari riuniti a Roma per l’incontro Internazionale UNIV e gli studenti dell’Istituto San Vincenzo de’ Paoli di Reggio Emilia, che ricordano i 150 anni di attività: vi esorto a crescere nell’amicizia con il Signore, perché “quello che serve non è una vita comoda ma un cuore innamorato”. Saluto i partecipanti alla Marcia Internazionale Montefortiana di Verona; i membri dell’Unione Camere Penali Italiane e i gruppi parrocchiali, in particolare la delegazione di Pescia. A tutti auguro che il Triduo Pasquale, centro della fede e della vita della Chiesa, sia occasione per entrare pienamente nel mistero della morte e risurrezione di Gesù.

Un pensiero speciale rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Domani ricorre il decimo anniversario della morte di San Giovanni Paolo II: il suo esempio e la sua testimonianza sono sempre vivi tra noi. Cari giovani, imparate ad affrontare la vita con il suo ardore e il suo entusiasmo; cari ammalati, portate con gioia la croce della sofferenza come egli ci ha insegnato; e voi, cari sposi novelli, mettete sempre Dio al centro, perché la vostra storia coniugale abbia più amore e più felicità.

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