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Volume 4, Issue 66

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  • Noralee D. Rorvik
    ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS Volume 4, Issue 66 FRIDAY 9 April 2004 ~GOOD FRIDAY~ * * * SAINT OF THE DAY April 9, 2004 St. Casilda (11th century) * * * WEAR THE BROWN
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2004
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      ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS

      Volume 4, Issue 66

      FRIDAY 9 April 2004

      ~GOOD FRIDAY~

      * * *

      SAINT OF THE DAY

      April 9, 2004


      St. Casilda


      (11th century)

      * * *

      WEAR THE BROWN SCAPULAR OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL AND
      PRAY THE ROSARY DAILY FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE WHOLE
      WORLD AND FOR CHURCH UNITY

      * * *

      INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
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      . LOVE FOR EUCHARIST A KEY TO VOCATIONS, SAYS POPE
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      . RWANDA STILL HEALING 10 YEARS AFTER GENOCIDE
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . APOSTOLIC DELEGATE IN JERUSALEM PROTESTS LACK OF VISAS
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . 'PASSION BREAKS RECORDS ON 1ST NIGHT IN ITALY
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . THE PIETA, IN PHOTOS; "THE PASSION" IN ITALY
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . GIBSON'S FILM IN TIME FOR THE TRIDUUM
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . O HOLY NIGHT
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . MEL GIBSON AND THOMAS AQUINAS: HOW THE PASSION WORKS
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . NOTES
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . PAPAL HOMILY AT HOLY THURSDAY MASS OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      . LETTTER TO PRIESTS, HOLY THURSDAY 2004
      ----------------------------------------------------------
      .
      The Way of the Cross at the Colosseum
      With the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, Presiding
      Good Friday 2004
      ---------------------------------------------------
      • LECTIO DIVINA
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      • CATALOGUE OF LINKS
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      • EUCHARISTIC PRAYER IN HONOR OF THE SORROWFUL HEART OF MARY
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      • DAILY REMINDER
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      • ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS ARCHIVES
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      • COPYRIGHT NOTICES
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      * * *


      * * *

      Love for Eucharist a Key to Vocations, Says Pope
      Homily at Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper

      VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Only a Church in love with the
      Eucharist "generates holy and numerous priestly vocations," John Paul II
      says.

      The Pope delivered that message in his homily at the Mass of the Lord's
      Supper this evening in St. Peter's Basilica, the first day of the Easter
      triduum, the most intense days in the Church's liturgical calendar.

      The Holy Father presided at two Holy Thursday Eucharistic celebrations, the
      Chrism Mass in the morning and the evening Mass to commemorate Jesus' last
      supper, when he instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood.

      Recalling Jesus' washing of the feet of the apostles, John Paul II said in
      his homily: "Christians know, therefore, that they must remember their
      Teacher in rendering one another the service of charity: to wash one another
      s feet."

      "In particular," the Pope added, "they know that they must remember Jesus by
      repeating the memorial of the Supper with the bread and wine consecrated by
      the minister who repeats over them the words then spoken by Christ."

      "The Eucharist, therefore, is a memorial in the full sense," the Holy Father
      continued. "The bread and wine, by the action of the Holy Spirit, really
      become the body and blood of Christ, who gives himself to be man's
      nourishment in his journey on earth."

      "The same logic of love precedes the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of
      Mary and his making himself present in the Eucharist. It is 'agape,' charity
      love in the most beautiful and pure sense," the Pope added.

      "While we fix our gaze on Christ who institutes the Eucharist, we have a
      renewed awareness of the importance of the priests in the Church and of
      their union with the Eucharistic sacrament," he said.

      "In the Letter that I wrote to priests for this holy day, I wished to repeat
      that the Sacrament of the altar is gift and mystery, and that the priesthood
      is gift and mystery, both having flowed from the heart of Christ during the
      Last Supper," the Holy Father said.

      "Only a Church in love with the Eucharist generates, in turn, holy and
      numerous priestly vocations," he added. "And she does so through prayer and
      the testimony of holiness, offered in a special way to the new generations."


      On Good Friday the Pope's plans include presiding over the Stations of the
      Cross, at the Colosseum. On Holy Saturday he will preside at the Easter
      Vigil Mass and on Easter Sunday he will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square


      * * *

      Rwanda Still Healing 10 Years After Genocide
      Church Continuing Its Work of Reconciliation

      KIGALI, Rwanda, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Ten years after the outbreak of
      the genocide that left more than 1 million dead in Rwanda, the country is
      still healing, day by day.

      This week a series of official commemorations for the genocide is under way
      in Kigali, the capital.

      "From the analysis of the last census, there were more than 1 million people
      killed in just three months of massacres," Father Dominique Karekezi, of the
      Office of Social Communications of the Rwandan bishops' conference, told the
      Vatican agency Fides. That death toll could rise as more data surface, he
      said.

      On April 6, 1994, a surface-to-air missile downed a plane that was carrying
      President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, and Burundian President Cyprien
      Ntaryamira, and triggering a series of massacres without precedent.

      Ensuing violence killed many people of the Tutsi minority, as well as Hutus
      opposed to the existing regime. Confrontations spread to border countries
      giving rise to a decade of instability in the Great Lakes Region.

      To the terrible killings at the hands of soldiers and militiamen of the then
      head of state Habyarimana, were added crimes by the rebel Rwandan Patriotic
      Front (RPF). The war ended in the summer of 1994 with the victory of the RPF
      which established a government of national unity.

      "Thousands of people are still detained and awaiting trial, but many
      thousands have already been sentenced," said Father Karekezi, director of
      the Catholic newspaper Kinyamateka.

      "Many were released when being judged innocent, or for lack of evidence;
      others because they admitted their faults and asked for pardon from the
      community," he said. "Others, instead, were found guilty and are serving
      their sentence."

      The Rwandan government decided to establish 11,000 traditional courts to
      cope with the high number of those detained -- at present some 115,000 --
      accused of having taken part in the 1994 massacres. In October 2001, the
      juries were elected by popular acclamation.

      Indicative of the Catholic Church's active involvement in the country's
      process of reconciliation was the international meeting held March 29-31 in
      Rwanda to reflect on the situation in the region.

      "All the bishops, priests, men and women religious, and numerous lay people
      of Rwanda participated in the meeting," as well as "delegations of the
      neighboring countries, Burundi and Tanzania in particular," Father Karekezi
      explained.

      The meeting was one more initiative "of the Catholic Church in favor of the
      reconciliation and pacification of the country," he said. "Immediately after
      the genocide, the Rwandan bishops promoted synods of reconciliation in all
      the dioceses and parishes of Rwanda, and continued to do so for several
      years."

      Among the activities promoted by the Church are meetings of women who lost
      their husbands in the massacres and those whose husbands are in prison
      accused of being among the attackers.

      John Paul II raised his voice from the moment he heard the news of the
      bloody confrontations in Rwanda. On April 9, 1994, the Holy Father sent a
      message to the Rwandan Catholic community imploring it "not to give in to
      feelings of hatred and vengeance, but to courageously practice dialogue and
      forgiveness."

      On June 23, 1994, the Pope sent Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to the central
      African country on a mission of solidarity and peace. The cardinal visited
      the hardest-hit dioceses, the places where the bishops were killed, and held
      meetings with the interim president of the republic and the RPF leader.

      In 1994, the Church in Rwanda also paid a high price in blood with the death
      of 248 persons, according to data provided by Fides: three bishops, 103
      priests, 47 men religious, 65 women religious, and 30 consecrated lay people
      Another 15 died from lack of proper treatment or disappeared.

      * * *

      Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem Protests Lack of Visas
      Religious and Priests Facing Difficulties

      JERUSALEM, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A papal representative in Jerusalem
      has presented a complaint to Israel's interior minister and foreign minister
      about the visa problems of priests and religious in the Holy Land.

      On Wednesday, the newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported an incident with
      Israeli border policewomen who were inspecting the documents and residence
      permits of 23 Catholic women religious in Jerusalem's Malhala shopping
      center.

      The police obliged the nuns, headed by the 70-year-old superior of the
      convent, to stand with their faces against the wall while being inspected,
      as they did not have the required permits because the Ministry of the
      Interior has delayed in issuing them.

      Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem, presented a
      complaint to Interior Minister Abraham Poraz and to Foreign Minister Silvan
      Shalom.

      The archbishop stated in his complaint that the delay in processing the
      permits affects the religious of the Church throughout the country.

      A spokesman for the Interior Ministry explained that it is a question of
      religious who arrive from Arab countries. For security reasons, their
      documents take longer to process, the aide said.

      Two weeks ago, the immigration police detained a Franciscan friar of Polish
      nationality, and were about to expel him from the country, as was the case
      of hundreds of religious without residence permits, despite the fact that he
      explained to the officers that he was awaiting the extension of his expired
      permit.

      The expulsion was avoided thanks to the intervention of the Foreign Ministry
      the newspaper reported.

      Sources of that ministry told the newspaper that "the problems have been
      aggravated lately."

      Gadi Golan, in charge of the Division of Worship in the Foreign Affairs
      Ministry, acknowledged that the criticisms are becoming a source of concern.
      According to sources of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, Israel has
      refused to grant residence permits to 130 priests.

      A few days ago, the newspaper Haaretz reported that, in response to the Holy
      See's protests, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has appointed an
      interministerial commission to resolve the problems.

      * * *

      'Passion' Breaks Records on 1st Night in Italy


      ROME, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"
      broke all box office records for a first night showing in Italy, its
      distributor said today.

      The film took 1.22 million euros ($1.5 million) Wednesday, beating the 1.11
      million first-night takings for "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,'
      Reuters reported.

      In Germany, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders have made a joint
      statement to warn the film could fan anti-Semitism.

      "The Passion" enjoyed a week at the top of British box office charts. Four
      Anglican churches in Kent gave away $37,000 of tickets hoping to attract
      people back to Christ.

      * * *

      The Pietà, in Photos; "The Passion" in Italy
      A Moving Exhibit on a Michelangelo Masterpiece

      By Elizabeth Lev

      ROME, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Few images of Christ's passion rival the
      evocative Pietà. Though often associated with Michelangelo's statue of the
      same name in St. Peter's Basilica, the name "pietà" refers to any
      representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ,
      usually shown held on her lap. In fact, Michelangelo himself produced not
      one, but four separate Pietà statues during his artistic career.

      I thought it might be appropriate to start out my Holy Week by visiting the
      Pietà show that opened on March 18 in the Charlemagne wing near St. Peter's
      Basilica.

      With this show it seemed that the Vatican was resurrecting a lost Lenten
      usage of temporarily placing terracotta statues in churches to assist the
      faithful in contemplating Christ's passion.

      Struggling through the post-Palm Sunday crowds and persuading the police and
      "carabinieri" that my entering the Charlemagne wing posed no threat to the
      president of Costa Rica who was visiting the Pope that morning appeared so
      daunting that I thought I might turn back. But the moment I entered the
      exhibit I was transported to another world.

      Truth be told, I was not expecting a great deal from this exhibit. It
      consists of about 150 black-and-white photographs taken by composer and
      photographer Robert Hupka while Michelangelo's Pietà was on display at the
      1964 World's Fair in New York. Hupka's own passion for the work manifests
      itself in thousands of black-and-white and color photos taken in daylight or
      by night, featuring frontal and side views, close-ups and faraway shots.

      I thought I might catch a view or angle I had never seen before. The
      magnificent artwork has been kept behind bulletproof glass since its
      restoration following an attack in 1972 by a disturbed artist who hit the
      statue 15 times with a hammer, knocking off Mary's nose and causing other
      damage. The new arrangement keeps viewers at a safe distance but also
      impedes closer inspection.

      What I got was a deeply moving, contemplative experience.

      The entrance hall introduces Michelangelo and his Pietàs, concentrating on
      his first, the well-known Vatican Pietà commissioned by French Cardinal Jean
      Bilhières de Lagraulas in 1498 for the St. Petronilla Chapel in St. Peter's
      Basilica and his last, the Rodanini Pietà, started in 1552 and worked on by
      the artist at intervals up to a few days before his death in 1564, and which
      today is housed in Milan.

      Copies of either Pietà placed at opposite sides of the room help the viewer
      to see the evolution of this subject matter in the hands of this great
      artist. From a disproportionately large Mary holding the body of Christ on
      her lap in the Vatican version, we travel to the other extreme, the Rodanini
      Pietà where we are not sure if it is she who is supporting the body or if it
      is her Son's body supporting her. Enlarged images of Michelangelo's studies
      for the Rodanini Pietà trace the fascinating stages of this development.

      Stepping further into the pavilion, the entire wing has been transformed. In
      complete contrast to the sunny spring day outside, the hall was draped in
      black and the air was chilly. In this tomblike atmosphere, photo after photo
      of the Pietà lit by hundreds of little spotlights arranged above my head
      seemed to float along in the dark.

      The face of the Blessed Virgin dominates the first chamber. From light into
      shadow, her solemn, resigned expression envelops the visitor, setting a mood
      of meditation and prayer. In some of the photos, Hupka widened the angle to
      include the profile of Christ, or a curve of shoulder.

      Looking at those pictures, the viewer is struck by the brightness of the
      highly polished surface of Jesus' body juxtaposed to the matte surface of
      the Virgin. The luminousness of Christ provides a glimmer of hope to the
      tragic scene.

      The following section offers views of the Pietà from every possible angle.
      From the side, from below, in light, in shadow, the Mother and Son are
      everywhere. Mary cradles her Son, she embraces her Son and she offers her
      Son in images that force one to reflect on the sacrifice made by both.

      Then there are Christ's wounds. His hands and feet appear everywhere,
      sculpted with intense and unnerving precision. Soft skin, protruding veins,
      slender fingers and toes marred only by nail marks. The pathos of
      contrasting the limp, folded fingers of Christ with Mary's open hand results
      in one of the most intensely suggestive photos of the show.

      At this point the viewer is ready. Glimpses and hints in the earlier photos
      have awakened the greatest desire of all, to look upon the face of Christ.
      Penetrating the heart of the exhibition space, the viewer's wish is granted.
      The exquisitely carved face of Christ is everywhere. There is a serene
      repose to the smooth planes of his cheeks and brow. In some of the images it
      almost seems as if Jesus were smiling in serene satisfaction in the
      knowledge that "it is accomplished."

      Tearing oneself away from the beautiful visage of Christ, a few images of
      the back of the group allow the visitor to reluctantly take his leave and to
      conclude this time of contemplation. But one last large image bars the path.
      In a novel perspective of the Pietà, we are permitted a "Father's-eye view"
      as we gaze from above at the shining body of Christ offered up as the
      perfect sacrifice.

      The show, "Michelangelo's Pietà, photographs by Robert Hupka," runs through
      July 23. It is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., barring papal
      ceremonies in St. Peter's Square. Tickets are 5 euros for adults and 3 euros
      for children.

      * * *

      Gibson's Film in Time for the Triduum

      This Holy Week, most Italians will draw artistic inspiration for their
      contemplation from another source entirely. Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the
      Christ" opened in Italy on Wednesday, just in time for the sacred triduum.

      With debate over the film echoing topics already hashed out in the American
      press, the film has received good coverage. Despite a few Italian film
      critics who adopted a hostile tone, reviews have generally been favorable,
      and unlike the cases of France and Germany, ecclesiastical pronouncements in
      Rome and the rest of Italy have been almost unanimously enthusiastic.

      Moreover, where the film received an R rating in the United States, it
      gained a benevolent PG rating from the Italian Film Commission, which is
      especially remarkable given the commission's sensitivity to violence (and
      indulgence of sex) vis-à-vis its American counterpart.

      As expected, the film opened to an unprecedented viewer interest. Here in
      Rome, the largest cineplex (18 theaters) dedicated a full half of the halls
      -- nine theaters -- to "La Passione di Cristo" and pre-sold the entire lot
      down to the last seat.

      * * *

      O Holy Night

      These beautiful and thoughtful artistic visions of Christ, however, are no
      substitute for the real thing, and during the Easter triduum, Rome's usually
      bustling and chaotic nightlife takes on a somber and meditative air,
      especially on Holy Thursday when the entire city seems to dedicates the
      evening to Eucharistic adoration.

      Simultaneously with the Holy Father in St. Peter's Basilica, every church in
      Rome (of which there are 900) opens in the evening to celebrate the Mass of
      the Lord's Supper. Large or small, ornate or sparse, Tridentine or Novus
      Ordo, all these places of worship open their doors, in some cases for the
      only time during the year, to commemorate the beginning of Christ's passion.


      At the end of the Eucharistic celebration the Blessed Sacrament is brought
      to a specially designated (and often beautifully adorned) chapel or altar of
      repose. Some churches conduct elaborate processions through courtyards and
      naves, while in some of the tiny chapels, participants merely crowd around
      the altar.

      Here begins one of the most inspiring traditions of Holy Week in Rome. From
      church to church and altar to altar many Romans spend hours walking around
      the city, visiting the various altars of repose. In silence, whether alone
      or in small groups, Romans and pilgrims pass several hours and some the
      whole night accompanying Jesus from chapel to chapel.

      Many of the city's university students take a night off from carousing and
      bar hopping, in order to spend the evening visiting the chapels.

      Occasionally, the stray tourist, astounded to see some church open after
      dinner, wanders through the doors and is further amazed to see people filing
      in, kneeling and praying before the Blessed Sacrament. It is an eloquent
      rebuttal to the stereotypical axiom that Rome is filled with churches but
      nobody ever uses them.

      Many works of art come into their own on this night. For example, entering
      San Lorenzo in Lucina in semi-darkness with Guido Reni's haunting painting
      of the Crucifixion seeming to float above the altar imparts a supernatural
      aura to the church, the altar and the experience.

      From the most splendid baroque gilded altar to the simplest barest stone, we
      find Jesus omnipresent, in self-offering, awaiting company. This encounter
      shared shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Christ, is one
      of the most moving moments of Holy Week.

      * * *

      Mel Gibson and Thomas Aquinas: How the Passion Works
      Father Romanus Cessario Takes a Theological Look

      BOSTON, Massachusetts, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- If the violence in "The
      Passion of the Christ" seems excessive, its director may have had a valid
      theological reason.

      So says Father Romanus Cessario, a Dominican who teaches at St. John's
      Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts, in this essay on Mel Gibson's film.

      * * *

      Mel Gibson and Thomas Aquinas: How the Passion Works
      By Father Romanus Cessario, O.P.

      No reviewer to my knowledge has suggested that Mel Gibson read the "Summa
      Theologiae" before setting about to direct "The Passion of the Christ."

      But he must have read Question 48 of the third part of Aquinas' "Summa."
      There, Aquinas examines how the passion of Christ produced its effect -- its
      efficiency, if you will.

      Efficiency is a technical, philosophical term that points us back to
      Aristotle's four causes, and urges us to inquire about what is responsible
      for something coming into being. In Aquinas' usage, "efficiently" does not
      connote as it does in modern English the restricted meaning of "working
      productively with minimum wasted effort or expense."

      Modes of efficiency

      The Latin word "modum" may be compared roughly to the English word "model."
      The five modes that Aquinas discusses in Question 48 together capture
      everything that the Gospels communicate about Christian salvation. These
      modes answer the question, "How does the passion of the Christ accomplish
      our salvation?" Even the most outspoken critics of Mel Gibson allow that
      this is the question that he too sets out to answer.

      The mode of merit

      When Aquinas says that "Christ by his passion merited salvation not only for
      himself, but for all who are his members, as well," he introduces the
      question of the relationship of the cross to the Church.1

      Merit denotes the right to a reward. The reward of the passion of the Christ
      is beatific communion open to every member of the human race. According to
      the formula of St. Anselm, only God could merit such a grace, while only man
      should expend the energies to regain what he had lost. Christ is given grace
      not only for himself but for his members.

      We thus call this grace the "capital grace" of Christ inasmuch as he remains
      the "caput Ecclesiae," the head of the Church. Some wonder why Christ's
      other merits would not have been sufficient to win for us the reward of
      eternal life. Aquinas replies that Christ did everything from the greatest
      charity, but the passion remains that "kind of work" best suited to the
      effects that we attribute to it.

      Mel Gibson clearly constructed his film in such a way as to ensure that the
      viewer understands that this kind of work is ordered to an effect that
      transcends whatever particular persons or events may be depicted in the
      drama. It is the passion of "the Christ."

      Like Greek drama, Gibson has cast the film so as to allow its universal
      significance to emerge slowly from within the consciousness of the viewer.
      The epic proportions of the film, emphasized by the musical accompaniment,
      inform the viewer with a sense of the universal and majestic.

      The mode of satisfaction

      Aquinas takes up a theme that has figured in Catholic theology since at
      least the early sixth century, but which most students now identify with the
      work of the 11th-century archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (c.1033-1109), "Cur
      Deus Homo?"

      Aquinas reports the received teaching: "Christ's passion was not only
      sufficient but superabundant satisfaction for the sins of mankind."2
      Christian satisfaction falls among the theological themes less well-studied
      during the post-conciliar period.

      At the same time, the renewal of interest in the Eucharist as sacrifice
      should prompt theologians to return to this mode of Christ's passion
      inasmuch as it remains the lodestar for Catholic sacramental practice.

      Aquinas holds that Christ's suffering was all-embracing and his pain so
      great on account of the dignity of his person that, in addition to other
      reasons, the satisfaction he offers suffices as recompense for the sins of
      the world, from the original sin to the last sin to be committed. While
      merit earns a reward on account of good works, satisfaction entails the
      acceptance of punishment, of difficult works.

      No theme emerges with more clarity in Mel Gibson's film than that of the
      satisfaction of Christ. Most commentators have failed to observe that there
      exists a theological reason for portraying, even, as some have argued,
      excessively, the sufferings of Christ from the time of his arrest in the
      Garden of Gethsemane to his final "Consummatum est."

      If one allows that the scenes of punishment exceed the modesty of the
      Scriptures themselves, or if we follow those who opine that after such
      beatings and harsh treatment, no man would be able to shoulder the cross or
      even walk, there is still the explanation that the artist chose this excess
      for a theological reason.

      A long theological tradition supports this sort of iconographical
      modification: The Church asks us to ponder the price that the Savior of the
      world paid. Without this meditation, one cannot embrace the full dimensions
      of Catholic piety; instead, we would find ourselves moving rapidly toward
      those various forms of de-sacramentalized Christianity that focus
      exclusively on interior psychological states.

      The mode of sacrifice

      Sacrifice, writes Aquinas, "designates what men offer to God in token of the
      special honor due to him, and in order to appease him."3

      In his discussion of this mode, Aquinas allows St. Augustine to supply the
      instruction about sacrifice, especially what the Doctor of Hippo says in
      Book X of "The City of God" (chapters 5 and 6) and in his "De Trinitate." In
      short, sacrifice creates unity: "in order that we might remain one with him.
      4

      Christ's passion works according to the mode of sacrifice because it results
      ultimately, in that union of God and man which we call beatific vision or
      fellowship. How diverse the lot of those involved in bringing about this
      unique sacrifice, where Christ is both victim and priest.

      Aquinas replies to the objection that since those who slew Christ
      perpetrated a heinous crime, they could not have accomplished something
      sacred: "On the part of those who put Christ to death, the passion was a
      crime; on the part of Christ, who suffered out of love, it was a sacrifice.
      5

      Mel Gibson portrays this theme with an exactitude that conforms not only to
      the biblical accounts of the passion, but also to the theological
      affirmations that have been canonized by the Church with respect to the
      responsibility of those who had a hand in putting Christ to death.

      No one can watch the film and come away without an awareness that there are
      two kinds of persons surrounding the crucifixion scene: those who believe
      that what is happening conforms to God's plan, even if they suffer great
      sorrow, though not sadness; and those without comprehension of the mystery.
      The latter class of persons includes, on the one hand, those with natural
      human sympathies, especially exhibited in the wife of Pilate, Claudia, and
      on the other, those who exhibit crass indifference, especially the lower
      ranks of Roman soldiers.

      The mode of redemption

      The theme of redemption or ransom emerges from the biblical texts where
      Christ is said to redeem us: 1 Peter 1:18f., "You know that you were
      ransomed from the futile ways ... with the precious blood of a lamb," and
      Galatians 3:13: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law."

      Christ liberates man from both the punishment of sin itself, the bondage or
      slavery that sin imposes, and from the penalty of the divine justice that
      opposes all sin because God who is just cannot act against his justice.
      Redemption is the opposite of slavery and punishment; "we are freed," says
      Aquinas, "from both obligations."6

      The Latin poet and hymn-writer Prudentius (348-c. 410) expresses this
      ancient truth: "Lo, now to the faithful is opened/ The bright road to
      Paradise leading;/ Man again is permitted to enter/ The garden he lost to
      the Serpent."7

      This effect of course is possible only because of the work of the whole
      Trinity. "Christ as man therefore, is, properly speaking, the immediate
      Redeemer, although the actual redemption can be attributed to the entire
      Trinity as to its first cause."8

      From start to finish, Mel Gibson does not shrink from including the devil in
      the dramatic action of "The Passion of the Christ." The devil, "who would
      even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father," appears
      in androgynous guise not, in my view, as a commentary on contemporary social
      mores, but to remind the viewers that the devil is "a liar and the father of
      lies."9

      What people believe to be the good turns out to constitute a lie about the
      good of the human person. It's the oldest story in the book. In this case,
      the book is Genesis. ... The passion of Christ reverses the lot of man who
      had been expelled from the Garden. Christ decisively crushes the head of the
      serpent.

      Should we not recognize in the fact that Gibson places on the lips of Mary
      Magdalene the question customarily reserved for the youngest son in a Jewish
      family, "Why is this night ...," and that she asks the question of Mary,
      Christ's Mother, a sign that the New Eve now operates. Above all others,
      Mary, the New Eve, comprehends that great reversal of man's sorry plight has
      been inaugurated.

      The mode of efficient cause

      The final article of "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48 completes the discussion
      of the passion by clarifying the special status of the one who is Crucified.


      "God is the principal efficient cause of man's salvation. But," says St.
      Thomas, "since Christ's humanity is the instrument of his divinity, all
      Christ's acts and sufferings work instrumentally in virtue of his divinity
      in bringing about man's salvation."10

      Because it is impossible to represent visually what is invisible, it is
      difficult if not impossible to represent Christ. Godhead remains invisible.
      Saints recognize this truth. Blessed John of Fiesole, Fra Angelico, is said
      to have observed, "To depict Christ, it is necessary to live with Christ."
      We should take him at his eschatological word.

      Mel Gibson directs Jim Caviezel in a way that, in my view, approaches
      accomplishing the impossible. There are the Christs of Pasolini, of
      Zeffirelli, and of Rossellini, but the Christ of Gibson captures what these
      others were content to accomplish by representing a high expression of human
      values.

      Although I am not an art critic, it seems to me that the very excesses, even
      the distortions, which some commentators have questioned, in fact aim to
      show us that this man is more than human. That we have to look elsewhere for
      the source of his human endurance.

      Is it too much a stretch to ask whether Mel Gibson also indicates Christ's
      divine nature by suggesting that he possesses infused knowledge? For
      instance, when Christ designs a 16th-century European table for
      first-century Palestinians? Or when without effort Christ begins to speak
      with Pilate in Latin?

      Some experts have wondered about the absence in the film of Greek; none to
      my knowledge have conjectured that the "historical Jesus" would have had the
      occasion to learn conversational Latin.

      We should not leave the mode of efficiency without observing that Gibson
      does not shy away from visualizing the signs of divine intervention that the
      Gospels record at the moment of Christ's death.

      "The Passion of the Christ" does not end with musings over the presumed
      interior dispositions of Jesus' followers. The film rather concludes with
      the unquestionable affirmation that this crucifixion results in events of
      cosmic significance that only God can produce.

      Let me conclude with a word about the relationship of Christ's passion to
      the Church.

      Mel Gibson succeeds in a way that at once stresses the feminine character of
      the Church -- only women touch reverently the sacred blood, Veronica, Mary,
      Mary Magdalene, and by extension, even Claudia, who supplies fresh linen for
      the purpose.

      And at the same time, he places the Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate,
      in what is obviously the closest personal contact with the sufferings of her
      Son. She who is Mother of the Redeemer becomes by that fact mother of all
      who are redeemed.

      We see Mary's maternal mediation enacted on film. Gibson portrays Mary
      placing "herself between her Son and mankind [remember the times that Mary
      looks directly at us!] in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings
      [remember Peter at her feet]. She puts herself 'in the middle,' that is to
      say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as
      mother."11 The words are from Pope John Paul II. Mel Gibson captures what
      the Pope writes in "Mother of the Redeemer" in a way that alone merits the
      film the title "Catholic."

      If we recognize that the Passion is related to the Church, then we also
      recognize that it is related to the reality of the Eucharistic conversion.
      There is a sense in which the whole film is about the Eucharist. The Bread
      of Life.

      St. Jerome illustrates this truth: "Why should I not mourn, you say? Jacob
      put on sackcloth for Joseph (see Genesis 37:35) ..., but he only did so
      because Christ had not yet broken open the door of paradise, nor quenched
      with his blood the flaming sword and the whirling of the guardian cherubim
      (see Genesis 3:24; cf. Ezekiel 1:15-20). ... For, as the apostle says,
      death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned'
      (Romans 5:14). But under Jesus, that is, under the Gospel of Christ, who
      unlocked for us the gate of paradise, death is accompanied, not with sorrow,
      but with joy."12

      "The Passion of the Christ" invites its viewers to recognize that in the
      eucharistized bread that the joyful Jim Caviezel offers to his
      priest-disciples we discover the one source of the love that never ends.

      * * *

      NOTES

      1 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 1.

      2 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 2.

      3 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 3.

      4 "De Trinitate" IV, 14 (PL 42:901), cited in ibid.

      5 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 3, ad 3.

      6 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 4.

      7 "The Poems of Prudentius," trans. Sister M. Clement Eagan, "The Fathers of
      the Church," vol. 43 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press
      1962), p. 77.

      8 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 5.

      9 See 1 John 3:8 cited in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 392; also CCC,
      394.

      10 "Summa Theologiae" IIIa q. 48, art. 6.

      11 Encyclical letter of John Paul II, "Mother of the Redeemer," No. 21.

      12 St. Jerome, Letter 39, 4, to Paula, on the death of Blaesilla (Rome 389)
      in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series, v. 6, pp. 51-2.

      * * *

      Papal Homily at Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper
      Eucharist and Priesthood Are Gifts and Mysteries

      VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul
      II's homily delivered today at the concelebration of the Mass of the Lord's
      Supper, in St. Peter's Basilica.

      1. "He loved them to the end" (John 13:1).

      Before celebrating the last Pasch with the disciples, Jesus washed their
      feet. With a gesture that normally corresponded to a servant, he wished to
      impress upon the minds of the apostles the meaning of what was about to take
      place.

      In fact, the passion and death constitute the fundamental service of love
      with which the Son of God has freed humanity from sin. At the same time the
      passion and death of Christ reveal the profound meaning of the new
      commandment given by him to the apostles: "love one another. As I have loved
      you, so you also should love one another" (John 13:34).

      2. "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:24,25) -- he says twice,
      distributing the bread that has become his Body and the wine that has become
      his Blood. "I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for
      you, you should also do" (John 13:15) -- he had recommended earlier, after
      having washed the feet of the apostles. Christians know, therefore, that
      they "must remember" their Teacher in rendering one another the service of
      charity: "to wash one another's feet." In particular, they know that they
      must remember Jesus by repeating the "memorial" of the Supper with the bread
      and wine consecrated by the minister who repeats over them the words then
      spoken by Christ.

      The Christian community did this from the beginning, as we heard Paul
      attest: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim
      the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

      3. The Eucharist, therefore, is a memorial in the full sense: the bread and
      wine, by the action of the Holy Spirit, really become the body and blood of
      Christ, who gives himself to be man's nourishment in his journey on earth.
      The same logic of love precedes the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of
      Mary and his making himself present in the Eucharist. It is "agape," charity
      love in the most beautiful and pure sense. Jesus repeatedly requested his
      disciples to remain in his love (see John 15:9).

      To remain faithful to this request, to remain in him as shoots united to the
      vine, to love as he loved, it is necessary to nourish oneself with his Body
      and Blood. Saying to the apostles: "Do this in memory of me," the Lord has
      united the Church to the living memorial of his Pasch. Although he is the
      unique Priest of the New Covenant, he wished to have men, consecrated by the
      Holy Spirit, act in profound union with his Person in distributing the food
      of life.

      4. Because of this, while we fix our gaze on Christ who institutes the
      Eucharist, we have a renewed awareness of the importance of the priests in
      the Church and of their union with the Eucharistic sacrament. In the Letter
      that I wrote to priests for this holy day, I wished to repeat that the
      Sacrament of the altar is gift and mystery, and that the priesthood is gift
      and mystery, both having flowed from the Heart of Christ during the Last
      Supper.

      Only a Church in love with the Eucharist generates, in turn, holy and
      numerous priestly vocations. And she does so through prayer and the
      testimony of holiness, offered in a special way to the new generations.

      5. In the school of Mary, "Eucharistic woman," we adore Jesus truly present
      in the humble signs of bread and wine. Let us pray to him so that he will
      not cease to call to the service of the altar priests configured to his
      heart.

      Let us pray to the Lord that the Bread will never be lacking to the People
      of God to sustain them along the earthly pilgrimage. May the Holy Virgin
      help us to rediscover with wonder that the whole of Christian life is
      centered on the "mysterium fidei," that we solemnly celebrate this evening.

      * * *

      LETTER OF THE HOLY FATHER
      POPE JOHN PAUL II
      TO PRIESTS
      FOR HOLY THURSDAY 2004

      Dear Priests!
      1. It is with great joy and affection that I write you this Holy Thursday
      Letter, following a tradition which began with my first Easter as the Bishop
      of Rome twenty-five years ago. Our annual encounter through this Letter is a
      particularly fraternal one, thanks to our common sharing in the Priesthood
      of Christ, and it takes place in the liturgical setting of this holy day
      marked by its two significant celebrations: the morning Chrism Mass, and the
      evening Mass in Cena Domini.
      I think of you first as you gather in the cathedrals of your different
      Dioceses around your respective Ordinaries for the renewal of your priestly
      promises. This eloquent rite takes place following the consecration of the
      Holy Oils, especially the Chrism, and is a most fitting part of the Chrism
      Mass, which highlights the image of the Church as a priestly people made
      holy by the sacraments and sent forth to spread throughout the world the
      good odour of Christ the Saviour (2Cor 2:14-16).
      At dusk I see you entering the Upper Room for the beginning of the Easter
      Triduum. It is precisely to that “large room upstairs” (Lk 22:12) that Jesus
      invites us to return each Holy Thursday, and it is there above all that I
      most cherish meeting you, my dear brothers in the priesthood. At the Last
      Supper, we were born as priests: for this reason it is both a pleasure and a
      duty to gather once again in the Upper Room and to remind one another with
      heartfelt gratitude of the lofty mission which we share.
      2. We were born from the Eucharist. If we can truly say that the whole
      Church lives from the Eucharist (“Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit”), as I
      reaffirmed in my recent Encyclical [Ecclesia de Eucharistia], we can say the
      same thing about the ministerial priesthood: it is born, lives, works and
      bears fruit “de Eucharistia”(cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XXII, canon 2: DS
      1752). “There can be no Eucharist without the priesthood, just as there can
      be no priesthood without the Eucharist” (cf. Gift and Mystery. On the
      Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination, New York, 1996, pp.77-78).
      The ordained ministry, which may never be reduced to its merely functional
      aspect since it belongs on the level of “being”, enables the priest to act
      in persona Christi and culminates in the moment when he consecrates the
      bread and wine, repeating the actions and words of Jesus during the Last
      Supper.
      Before this extraordinary reality we find ourselves amazed and overwhelmed,
      so deep is the humility by which God “stoops” in order to unite himself with
      man! If we feel moved before the Christmas crib, when we contemplate the
      Incarnation of the Word, what must we feel before the altar where, by the
      poor hands of the priest, Christ makes his Sacrifice present in time? We can
      only fall to our knees and silently adore this supreme mystery of faith.
      3. “Mysterium fidei”, the priest proclaims after the consecration. The
      Eucharist is a mystery of faith, yet the priesthood itself, by reflection,
      is also a mystery of faith (cf. ibid., p.78). The same mystery of
      sanctification and love, the work of the Holy Spirit, which makes the bread
      and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, is at work in the person of
      the minister at the moment of priestly ordination. There is a particular
      interplay between the Eucharist and the priesthood, an interplay which goes
      back to the Upper Room: these two Sacraments were born together and their
      destiny is indissolubly linked until the end of the world.
      Here we touch on what I have called the “apostolicity of the Eucharist” (cf.
      Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 26-33). The sacrament of the
      Eucharist—like the sacrament of Reconciliation—was entrusted by Christ to
      the Apostles and has been passed down by them and their successors in every
      generation. At the beginning of his public life, the Messiah called the
      Twelve, appointed them “to be with him” and sent them out on mission (cf. Mk
      3:14-15). At the Last Supper, this “being with” Jesus on the part of the
      Apostles reached its culmination. By celebrating the Passover meal and
      instituting the Eucharist, the divine Master brought their vocation to its
      fulfilment. By saying “Do this in memory of me”, he put a Eucharistic seal
      on their mission and, by uniting them to himself in sacramental communion,
      he charged them to perpetuate that most holy act in his memory.
      As he pronounced the words “Do this...” Jesus' thoughts extended to the
      successors of the Apostles, to those who would continue their mission by
      distributing the food of life to the very ends of the earth. In some way,
      then, dear brother priests, in the Upper Room we too were called personally,
      each one of us, “with brotherly love” (Preface of the Chrism Mass), to
      receive from the Lord's sacred hands the Eucharistic Bread and to break it
      as food for the People of God on their pilgrim way through time towards our
      heavenly homeland.
      4. The Eucharist, like the priesthood, is a gift from God “which radically
      transcends the power of the assembly” and which the assembly “receives
      through episcopal succession going back to the Apostles” (Encyclical
      Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 29). The Second Vatican Council teaches that “the
      ministerial priest, by the sacred power that he enjoys ... effects the
      Eucharistic Sacrifice in the person of Christ and offers it to God in the
      name of all the people” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 10). The
      assembly of the faithful, united in faith and in the Spirit and enriched by
      a variety of gifts, even though it is the place where Christ “is present in
      his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations (Constitution
      Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7), is not by itself able to celebrate the Eucharist
      or to provide the ordained minister.
      Quite rightly, then, the Christian people gives thanks to God for the gift
      of the Eucharist and the priesthood, while praying unceasingly that priests
      will never be lacking in the Church. The number of priests is never
      sufficient to meet the constantly increasing demands of evangelization and
      the pastoral care of the faithful. In some places of the world the shortage
      of priests is all the more urgently felt since today the number of priests
      is dwindling without sufficient replacements from the younger generation. In
      other places, thank God, we see a promising spring-time of vocations. There
      is also a growing awareness among the People of God of the need to pray and
      work actively to promote vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated
      life.
      5. Vocations are indeed a gift from God for which we must pray unceasingly.
      Following the invitation of Jesus, we need to pray the Lord of the harvest
      to send out labourers into his harvest (cf. Mt 9:37). Prayer, enriched by
      the silent offering of suffering, remains the first and most effective means
      of pastoral work for vocations. To pray means to keep our gaze fixed on
      Christ, confident that from him, the one High Priest, and from his divine
      oblation, there will be an abundant growth, by the work of the Holy Spirit,
      of the seeds of those vocations needed in every age for the Church's life
      and mission.
      Let us pause in the Upper Room and contemplate the Redeemer who instituted
      the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper. On that holy night he
      called by name each and every priest in every time. He looked at each one of
      them with the same look of loving encouragement with which he looked at
      Simon and Andrew, at James and John, at Nathanael beneath the fig tree, and
      at Matthew sitting at the tax office. Jesus has called us and, along a
      variety of paths, he continues to call many others to be his ministers.
      From the Upper Room Christ tirelessly seeks and calls. Here we find the
      origin and the perennial source of an authentic pastoral promotion of
      priestly vocations. Let us consider ourselves, my brothers, the first ones
      responsible in this area, ready to help all those whom Christ wishes to
      associate to his priesthood to respond generously to his call.
      First, however, and more than any other effort on behalf of vocations, our
      personal fidelity is indispensable. What counts is our personal commitment
      to Christ, our love for the Eucharist, our fervour in celebrating it, our
      devotion in adoring it and our zeal in offering it to our brothers and
      sisters, especially to the sick. Jesus the High Priest continues personally
      to call new workers for his vineyard, but he wishes from the first to count
      on our active cooperation. Priests in love with the Eucharist are capable of
      communicating to children and young people that “Eucharistic amazement”
      which I have sought to rekindle with my Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia
      (cf. No. 6). Generally these are the priests who lead them to the path of
      the priesthood, as the history of our own vocations might easily show.
      6. In the light of this, dear brother priests, I would ask you, among other
      initiatives, to show special care for altar servers, who represent a kind of
      “garden” of priestly vocations. The group of altar servers, under your
      guidance as part of the parish community, can be given a valuable experience
      of Christian education and become a kind of pre-seminary. Help the parish,
      as a family made up of families, to look upon the altar servers as their own
      children, like “olive shoots around the table” of Jesus Christ, the Bread of
      Life (cf. Ps. 127:3).
      With the help of the families most involved and catechists, be particularly
      concerned for the group of servers so that, through their service at the
      altar, each of them will learn to grow in love for the Lord Jesus, to
      recognize him truly present in the Eucharist and to experience the beauty of
      the liturgy. Initiatives for altar servers on the diocesan or local level
      should be promoted and encouraged, with attention to the different age
      groups. During my years of episcopal ministry in Krakow I was able to see
      the great benefits which can accrue from a concern for their human,
      spiritual and liturgical training. When children and young people serve at
      the altar with joy and enthusiasm, they offer their peers an eloquent
      witness to the importance and beauty of the Eucharist. Thanks to their own
      lively imagination and the explanations and example given by priests and
      their older friends, even very young children can grow in faith and develop
      a love for spiritual realities.
      Finally, never forget that you yourselves are the first “Apostles” of Jesus
      the High Priest. Your own witness counts more than anything else. Altar
      servers see you at the regular Sunday and weekday celebrations; in your
      hands they see the Eucharist “take place”, on your face they see its mystery
      reflected, and in your heart they sense the summons of a greater love. May
      you be for them fathers, teachers and witnesses of Eucharistic piety and
      holiness of life!
      7. Dear brother priests, your particular mission in the Church requires that
      you be “friends” of Christ, constantly contemplating his face with docility
      at the school of Mary Most Holy. Pray unceasingly, as the Apostle exhorts
      (cf. 1Th 5:17), and encourage the faithful to pray for vocations, for the
      perseverance of those called to the priestly life and for the sanctification
      of all priests. Help your communities to love ever more fully that unique
      “gift and mystery” which is the ministerial priesthood.
      In the prayerful setting of Holy Thursday, I would recall once again some
      invocations of the Litany of Jesus Christ Priest and Victim (cf. Gift and
      Mystery, pp.108-114), which I have recited for many years with great
      spiritual profit:
      Iesu, Sacerdos et Victima,
      Iesu, Sacerdos qui in novissima Cena formam sacrificii perennis instituisti,
      Iesu, Pontifex ex hominibus assumpte,
      Iesu, Pontifex pro hominibus constitute,
      Iesus, Pontifex qui tradidisti temetipsum Deo oblationem et hostiam,
      miserere nobis!
      Ut pastores secundum cor tuum populo tuo providere digneris,
      ut in messem tuam operarios fideles mittere digneris,
      ut fideles mysteriorum tuorum dispensatores multiplicare digneris,
      Te rogamus, audi nos!
      8. I entrust each of you and your daily ministry to Mary, Mother of Priests.
      During the recitation of the Rosary, the fifth mystery of light leads us to
      contemplate with Mary's eyes the gift of the Eucharist, to marvel at the
      love that Jesus showed “to the end” (Jn 13:1) in the Upper Room, and at his
      humble presence in every tabernacle. May the Blessed Virgin obtain for you
      the grace never to take for granted the mystery put in your hands. With
      endless gratitude to the Lord for the amazing gift of his Body and Blood,
      may you persevere faithfully in your priestly ministry.
      Mary, Mother of Christ our High Priest, pray that the Church will always
      have numerous and holy vocations, faithful and generous ministers of the
      altar!
      Dear brother priests, I wish you and your communities a Holy Easter and to
      all of you I affectionately impart my blessing.
      From the Vatican, on 28 March, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, in the year 2004,
      the twenty- sixth of my Pontificate.


      Taken from:
      L'Osservatore Romano
      Weekly Edition in English
      L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.

      * * *
      OFFICE OF PAPAL LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS
      The Way of the Cross at the Colosseum
      With the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, Presiding
      Good Friday 2004
      Meditations by Abbot André Louf

      INTRODUCTION
      As every year on the evening of Good Friday, the liturgical commemoration of
      the Lord's Passion, the Church of God in Rome, guided by its Pastor, the
      Successor of Peter, participates in the devotional practice of the Way of
      the Cross at the Colosseum. Pilgrims from the worldwide household of God
      walk with the Christian community in Rome along the fourteen stations while
      millions of faithful of every language, people and culture take part in the
      prayers and meditations through radio and television broadcasts. A
      felicitous coincidence of calendars this year has the Christians of East and
      West celebrating simultaneously the great mystery of our one Lord's Passion,
      Death and Resurrection. All are therefore able to take part simultaneously
      in the commemoration of the founding event of their faith.
      This year the biblical texts for the Way of the Cross are taken from the
      Gospel of Luke and the meditation texts and prayers were composed by Abbot
      André Louf, a Cistercian monk of strict observance who is now living in a
      hermitage after exercising his ministry as Abbot in his community of
      Notre-Dame of Mont-des-Cats in France for thirty-five years, guiding it in
      the footsteps of Jesus Christ from the years of the Second Vatican Council
      to the threshold of the third millennium. He is a monk steeped in the
      Scriptures thanks to the daily practice of the lectio divina, an avid reader
      of the Church Fathers of the first centuries and of the Flemish mystics, a
      father of monks who is able to accompany his brothers in their spiritual
      life and in the daily quest for that "one heart and soul" that was
      characteristic of the apostolic community of Jerusalem. He is, then, a
      cenobite monk for whom solitude and communion are in constant existential
      converse: solitude before God and fraternal communion, inner unification and
      community unity, reducing all to the simplicity of what is essential and to
      the opening up to the varied expressions of a living faith. This is the
      daily undertaking of the monk, the dynamic of his stability in a specific
      community reality, the "work of obedience" (Rule of St. Benedict, prol. 2)
      by which a return is made to God.
      The texts of this Way of the Cross are filled with this liberating monastic
      labour, which is also the labour of every baptized member of the living
      community of the Church. Jesus is often found alone, sometimes by his free
      choice, other times because everyone has abandoned him: he is alone in the
      Mount of Olives, face to face with the Father; he is alone in facing the
      betrayal of one of his disciples and in the denial of another of their
      number; he faces the Sanhedrin alone, the judgment of Pilate, the scorn of
      the soldiers; alone he takes up the weight of the cross; alone he abandons
      himself totally to the arms of his Father.
      But Jesus' solitude is not fruitless, quite the contrary: since it arises
      from an intimate union with the Father and the Spirit, it in turn creates
      communion in those who enter into a living relationship with it. Thus in his
      Passion Jesus encounters the fraternal support of the Cyrenean; he
      recognizes the consolation of the women disciples who have come up to
      Jerusalem with him; he opens the doors of his Kingdom to the centurion and
      to the good thief, who are able to look beyond appearances; he sees the
      beginnings of the community taking place at the foot of the cross, being
      formed by his mother and the beloved disciple. Finally, the precise moment
      of what seems to be his greatest solitude, when he is laid in the tomb, when
      his body is swallowed by the earth, becomes the passage towards a renewed
      cosmic community: having descended to the underworld, Jesus meets all of
      humanity in Adam and Eve, announces salvation to "the spirits in prison" (1
      Pet 3:19) and re-establishes the community of paradise.
      For every disciple of Jesus Christ, participating in the Way of the Cross
      means entering into the mystery of solitude and communion experienced by our
      Master and Lord, accepting the will of the Father for us all, until we are
      able to see, beyond the suffering and death, the life without end that
      bursts forth from the pierced side and the empty tomb.

      OPENING PRAYER
      Holy Father:
      In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
      R/. Amen
      Brothers and Sisters,
      We have come together once more to follow the Lord Jesus
      on the way that leads to Calvary.
      There we shall meet people who followed him to the end
      - his Mother, the Beloved Disciple,
      the women who followed him in his preaching of the Good News -
      and all those, moved by compassion,
      who sought to console him and to alleviate his pain.
      We shall also meet those who called for his death
      and whom he, in an abundance of love, forgave.
      Let us ask him to pour forth into our hearts
      the sentiments that were his (Phil 2:5)
      so that we may "know him,
      and the power of his resurrection,
      and may share his sufferings,
      becoming like him in his death,
      that if possible [we] may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Phil
      3:10-11).
      This year, in which the date of Easter
      is providentially the same in all the Churches,
      our thought goes to Jesus' disciples,
      who throughout the world commemorate on this same day his death
      and his being placed in the tomb.
      Let us pray.
      Brief pause in silence.
      Jesus, innocent victim of sin,
      receive us as companions on your Paschal path,
      which from death leads to life,
      and teach us to live the time that we spend on earth
      rooted in faith in you,
      who have loved us and given yourself up for us (Gal 2:20).
      You are the Christ, the one Lord,
      who live and reign for ever and ever.
      R/. Amen
      * * *

      LECTIO DIVINA

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      * * *

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      link and click it on.

      2. Live EWTN TV and Radio
      <http://www.ewtn.com/audiovideo/index.htm>

      CONTAINS:

      • Live EWTN TV - English • EWTN AM/FM RADIO
      • Live EWTN TV - Spanish • Catholic World Today Radio
      • Today's Homily (Video) • Audio of Today's Homily
      • Pope's Wednesday Audience Audio • Radio Catolica Mundial
      • EWTN's The World Over • Mother Angelica Live Video
      • Audio Library • Life On The Rock (Video)
      • The Journey Home (Video) • EWTN Religious Catalogue

      Send EWTN donations online:
      <https://www.ewtn.com/ewtn/ssl/donation/donation_ewtn.asp>

      * * *

      3. Today's Lectionary Readings Text
      <http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/040904.htm> (English)

      <http://www.alingilalyawmi.org> (Arabic)

      Biblica Online
      <http://biblica.bsw.org>

      * * *

      4.DIVINE OFFICE TEXTS & AUDIO ONLINE:

      OFFICE OF READINGS, TEXTS
      <http://www.universalis.com/cgi-bin/display/600/USA/Readings.html>

      MORNING, EVENING & NIGHT PRAYERS, TEXTS:
      <http://www.liturgyhours.org>

      AUDIO RECORDINGS OF THE DIVINE OFFICE: recited by the
      Monks of Adoration:
      <http://www.monksofadoration.org/audiolit.html>

      * * *

      5. Polish Rosary Hour by the Conventual Franciscans
      <http://www.rosaryhour.net/ra/program.ram>

      * * *

      6. CHANTED ROSARY ONLINE
      <http://www.monksofadoration.org/rosarych.html>

      DOWNLOAD FREE SCRIPTURAL ROSARY
      <http://www.virtualrosary.org/>

      Our Father Movie
      <http://www.dayspring.com/movies/webmovies/lordsprayer.html>

      * * *

      7. CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY ONLINE
      <http://www.markhargrave.com/chaplet.html>

      * * *

      8. THE BEATIFICATION OF MAMA GILI

      Color Photograph of Mama Gili, Biography and Prayers
      <http://holyfaceofjesus.com/dolores_immacolata.htm>

      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 1)
      <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/message/33>

      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 2)
      <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/message/37>

      Need a Miracle?
      <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/message/55>

      Dolores Immacolata "Mama" Gili (1892-1985)
      <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/message/117>

      MAMA GILI GUILD

      The Mama Gili Guild was established several years ago to gather,
      collect, and publish information on Dolores Immacolata Gili (1892-
      1985) for an investigation into her cause as a Servant of God, as
      well as to promote her cause and toperpetuate her cult by directing
      prayer groups assembled in her honor. It has continuously enjoyed the
      ecclesiastical approval of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, and the Most
      Reverend John Joseph Myers, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

      Call or write today regarding favors granted through the intercession
      of Dolores Immacolata "Mama" Gili, or, for more information about the
      cause of her investigation for canonization to:

      Rev. Dante DiGirolamo, Director
      Mama Gili Guild
      P. O. Box 455
      Kearny, New Jersey 07032
      Phone (973) 412-1170
      Fax (973) 412-7011

      * * *

      9. ABBAYE SAINT-JOSEPH DE CLAIRVAL

      The Benedictine monks of Abbaye Saint-Joseph de Clairval mail a free
      monthly newsletter to anyone who requests it. Also free of charge
      are: the tract about the divinity of Jesus Christ; tract about the
      Truths of the Catholic Religion; scapular of Our Lady of Mount
      Carmel, with explanatory notice; the promises of the Sacred Heart;
      the mysteries of the Rosary.

      Sample Newsletter

      <http://www.clairval.com/lettre.cgi?language=EN>

      Abbey of Saint-Joseph de Clairval

      21150 FLAVIGNY-SUR-OZERAIN
      France

      Phone.: 03 80 96 22 31
      Fax: 03 80 96 25 29
      Email: <englishspoken@c...> or
      <stjoseph.flavigny@l...>

      <http://www.clairval.com>

      10. Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ. English Trans. Online
      <http://www.ccel.org/k/kempis/imitation2/htm/i.htm>

      Thomas a Kempis, De Imitatione Christi. Latin Text Online
      <http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/kempis.html>

      * * *

      EUCHARISTIC PRAYER IN HONOR OF THE SORROWFUL HEART OFMARY



      When the Eucharistic host is elevated at Mass say:

      "Eternal Father, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
      I offer you the crucified Body of Your dearly beloved Son, Jesus
      Christ, in reparation for all the sins committed against you and for
      the conversion and salvation of the whole world."

      When the Eucharistic chalice is elevated at Mass say:

      "Eternal Father, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
      I offer you the precious Blood of Your dearly beloved Son, Jesus
      Christ, in reparation for all the sins committed against you and for
      the conversion and salvation of the whole world."

      * * *

      DAILY REMINDER

      "during this important time, as the eve of the new millennium
      approaches unity among all Christians of the various confessions will
      increase until they reach full communion." John Paul II, Tertio
      Millennio Adveniente, 16

      "Keep close to the Mother of God as if you were the child Jesus
      clinging to her robes while walking down a dusty and busy crowded
      street and you'll always be safe."

      * * *

      ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS ARCHIVES
      To gain access to all of the Roman Catholic News archives go to the
      URL:<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News>

      This will give you the archive of all of the articles in all issues.
      There are four ways to access archived articles: (1) Go to the Home
      Page panel on the far left and click on the word "Messages" just
      below the word "Home"; (2) then click on the articles posted by date;
      (3) or click on the blue Arabic numerals in the box for the month in
      the yearly calen<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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