Wednesday, March 19, 2008

General Audience: The Central Events of Our Salvation

~from Asia News
Again today, the audience was divided between the Paul VI audience hall and the basilica of St. Peter's, because of the great numbers of the crowds, and Benedict XVI dedicated it to illustrating the days in which the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus are commemorated. "The next three days", he said, "make us relive the central events of our redemption", the "essential nucleus of the Christian faith". They are "days that we can consider as a single day, the heart and fulcrum of the liturgical year and of the Church's life".

Benedict XVI, greeted with choruses of good wishes for his name day, then indicated the main characteristics of the days of the Triduum: tomorrow, Holy Thursday, the Church "remembers the last supper, during which the Lord instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist and of the ministerial priesthood". "That same night, he left the new commandment, of fraternal love". Before entering into the commemoration of the last days of Jesus, "in every Christian community the bishop and priests renew their promises", and the oil of the catechumens, of the sick, and the sacred chrism are blessed. It is "a very important moment for every diocesan community gathered around its pastor".

On Good Friday, "the liturgy does not provide for the celebration of Mass, but the assembly gathers to meditate on the great mystery of sin and evil". As "the last moment for meditation", Christian tradition has given rise to various manifestations of popular piety: outstanding among these is the Stations of the Cross, "a pious exercise that in the course of time has been enriched with many spiritual and artistic manifestations".

Holy Saturday "is marked by a profound silence; the churches are bare, and no special liturgies are provided". Believers "wait together with Mary, meditating and praying". On this day, the pope said, great importance is attached to the sacrament of reconciliation, an irreplaceable means for purification. The day ends with the Easter vigil, "which flows into the most important Sunday of history, that of the resurrection of Christ", "the definitive liberation from the ancient slavery to sin and death".

In these days, Benedict XVI added, "let us decisively orient our lives toward generous and steadfast adherence to the plans of the heavenly Father. Let us orient our lives toward the 'yes', as Jesus did upon the Cross"; these are days, he concluded, that "offer us the opportunity to deepen the meaning and profundity of our Christian vocation".

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