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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Eucharist & the Way of the Cross

Cardinal Ratzinger Readies a Eucharistic "Way of the Cross"

Inspired by the Grain-of-Wheat Metaphor

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The meditations for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum this Good Friday will highlight the relationship between the Eucharist and Christ's passion.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is preparing the meditations. The prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that he found the theme "in the Lord's words in John's Gospel: 'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.'"

"With these words the Lord gave a Eucharistic, sacramental interpretation of his passion, of the Way of the Cross," the cardinal explained today on Vatican Radio.

The Stations, which in years past have been presided over by John Paul II, have used meditations written by various authors, including bishops and theologians.

It is not yet known if the Pope, who is convalescing after his throat surgery, will participate in this year's event.

Cardinal Ratzinger told Vatican Radio that "the Way of the Cross is not simply a chain of suffering, terrible events, but a mystery, the process by which the grain of wheat falls into the earth and bears fruit."

"It shows us that the passion is an offering of [Christ] himself and that this sacrifice bears fruit and becomes, therefore, a gift for many, for all," he said.

"I thought that in this Eucharistic Year we must understand the Way of the Cross precisely in the context of the Eucharistic mystery. The Way of the Cross is present in the Eucharist; present above all is the fruit, the multiplication of the bread, heavenly manna that comes from the Lord's death," the cardinal continued.

"We realize that we can participate in the Lord's Way of the Cross because he has transformed this way of his into a way of life for us, saying: 'Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, will save it.'"

To clarify this mystery, Cardinal Ratzinger mentioned the example of saints such as St. Francis of Assisi, who pronounced "his Canticle of the Creatures, one of the most beautiful and most joyful poems of the world, in an abyss of pain and suffering, but through this suffering he felt close to Christ, incarnate love.

"Thus St. Francis was able to transform his sufferings into an act of resurrection. To transform suffering in communion with Christ, in love with Christ, is an act of resurrection and, therefore, pre-announces the definitive resurrection."

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