By Jim Fair
Pope Francis on the evening of Good Friday let the Via Crucis, the stations of the cross, in the courtyard of St. Peter’s Basilica.
As with all Holy Week services this year, the event did not include crowds of the faithful as in past years, this in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In the past, Pope Francis has overseen the stations in the Colosseum in Rome.
The meditations on the Stations of the Cross this year were prepared by the chaplaincy of the “Due Palazzi” House of Detention in Padua. Fourteen people were invited by Pope Francis to meditate on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, bringing it to bear on their own situations. Those invited included five prisoners, a family that was the victim of a murder, the daughter of a man given a life sentence, a prison teacher, a civil magistrate, the mother of a prisoner, a catechist, a volunteer religious brother, a prison guard and a priest who was accused and then finally acquitted after eight years in the justice system.
In a letter today, the Holy Father thanked them for their powerful reflections and reminded them that he “always carries them” in his heart. He also asked them to pray for him.
Accompanying Christ on the Way of the Cross, with the raw voices of those who live behind the walls of a prison, is an opportunity to view the great battle between life and death, to discover how the threads of good and evil inevitably intertwine. Contemplating Calvary from behind bars is to believe that an entire life can be played out in a few moments, as happened to the good thief. All it takes is to fill those moments with truth: contrition for sins committed, the realization that death is not forever, the certainty that Christ is the innocent man unjustly mocked. Everything is possible for those who believe, because even in the darkness of prison there resounds the proclamation full of hope: “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk 1:37). If someone holds out to them a hand, those capable of the most horrendous crimes can undergo the most unexpected resurrection. We can be certain that “even when we tell of evil, we can learn to leave room for redemption; in the midst of evil, we can also recognize the working of goodness and give it space” (Message of Pope Francis for World Communications Day 2020).
In this way, the Via Crucis becomes a Via Lucis.
The texts, compiled by the chaplain, Father Marco Pozza and volunteer Tatiana Mario, were written in the first person, but it was decided not to attribute names, for those who took part in this meditation wanted to lend their voice to all those throughout the world who are in the same situation. This evening, in the silence of prison, the voice of one wishes to become the voice of all.
© Deborah Castellano Lubov
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