VATICAN CITY – The rituals of Holy Week and Easter offer Catholics an opportunity to understand the “priceless gift of salvation obtained by Christ’s sacrifice” on the cross, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The Easter triduum, which represents the heart of the whole liturgical year, is a time for the faithful to immerse themselves in the central events of redemption, to relive the paschal mystery and to meditate “more vividly on the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord”, he said.
The pope explained the meaning of the Easter triduum liturgies.
Priests renew their promises to their bishop during the Holy Thursday morning chrism Mass. It is an important gesture because priests are also reaffirming their fidelity in Christ who chose them as his ministers, he said.
The pope said the ritual would have added meaning this year as the Church prepares for the year for priests that will begin Jun 19.
The Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper recalls the institution of the Eucharist, which is “the supreme sign of Christ’s love for us” and is offered to all Catholics with no distinction made according to a person’s race or culture, he said.
On Good Friday, the pope said, Catholics silently contemplate Jesus on the cross and reflect not only on how God became man and suffered and bore all human tragedies, but how he willingly died for humanity.
While it is a day filled with sadness, it is also a day for believers to “reawaken our faith and to strengthen our hope and courage to carry our own cross with humility, trust and abandon in God – sure of his support and his victory” over evil, said the pope.
Holy Saturday is when the faithful silently wait with hope and prepare for the great joy of the Resurrection, he said.
“The celebration of the paschal mystery recalls the depth of Christ’s love” for humanity, said the pope.
Jesus did not want to use his divinity and glorious power “as an exclusive possession, a means of domination, or a sign of distance between him and us”, he said.
“On the contrary, he took upon himself the miserable and weak human condition” and was crucified – the most degrading and humiliating form of torture one could imagine – out of love for humanity and his desire to truly be a brother to all men and women, he said.