An Invitation from Pope Francis

"The Easter Triduum is the memorial of a drama of love that gives us the certainty that we will never be abandoned in life’s trials." - Pope Francis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Triduum, we are invited in a special way to contemplate the revelation of God’s infinite mercy in the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. 

We will live Holy Thursday, Friday and Saturday as intense moments, which enable us to enter increasingly in the great mystery of our faith: the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything in these three days speaks of mercy, because it renders visible the point that God’s love can reach. We will listen to the account of the last days of Jesus’ life. The evangelist John offers us the key to understand the profound meaning: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). God’s love has no limits. As Saint Augustine often repeated, it is a love that goes “to the end without end.” God truly offers Himself wholly for each one of us and does not spare Himself in anything. The Mystery we adore in this Holy Week is a great story of love that knows no obstacles. Jesus’ Passion lasts until the end of the world, because it is a story of sharing with the sufferings of the whole of humanity and a permanent presence in the events of the personal life of each one of us. In sum, the Easter Triduum is the memorial of a drama of love that gives us the certainty that we will never be abandoned in life’s trials.

Jesus gives himself to us as food and, in the washing of feet, teaches us the need to serve others. 

On Holy Thursday Jesus institutes the Eucharist, anticipating in the paschal banquet His sacrifice on Golgotha. To make His disciples understand the love that animates Him, He washes their feet, offering once again a personal example of how they must act. The Eucharist is love that becomes service. It is the sublime presence of Christ, who wishes to satisfy the hunger of every person, especially of the weakest, to render him capable of giving witness through the difficulties of the world — but not only this. In giving Himself to us as food, Jesus attests that we must learn to break this nourishment with others, so that it becomes a true communion of life with all those in need. He gives Himself to us and asks us to abide in Him to do the same. Click here to reflect on the healing embrace of the Eucharist.

In the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross, we contemplate that undying divine love which embraces all humankind and summons us in turn to love one another in the power of the Spirit. 

Holy Friday is the culminating moment of love. The death of Jesus, who on the cross abandons Himself to the Father to offer salvation to the whole world, expresses the love given to the end, without end. A love that intends to embrace all, no one excluded. A love that extends to every time and place: an inexhaustible source of salvation from which each one of us, sinners, can draw. If God has shown His supreme love in Jesus’ death, then we also, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, can and must love one another.

Click here to reflect with Fr. Ronald Rolheiser on "Standing Under the Cross" with Mary.

Holy Saturday, the day of God’s silence, invites us not only to solidarity with all who are abandoned and alone, but also to trust in that faithful love which turns death into life. 

We must do everything possible so that Holy Saturday it is a day of God’s silence. Jesus placed in the sepulcher shares with the whole of humanity the tragedy of death. It is a silence that speaks and expresses love as solidarity with all those ever abandoned, which the Son of God reaches filling the emptiness that only the infinite mercy of God the Father can fill. God is silent, but out of love. In this day love, that silent love, becomes expectation of life in the resurrection. We think of Holy Saturday: it will do us good to think of the silence of Our Lady, “the Believer,” who in silence awaited the Resurrection. Our Lady must be the icon for us of that Holy Saturday. To think much of how Our Lady lived that Holy Saturday, in expectation. It is a love that does not doubt, but that hopes in the Lord’s word, and which becomes manifest and splendid on Easter day.

Click here to reflect with Fr. Ronald Rolheiser on "Paschal Mystery: The New You".

These three days speak to us powerfully of God’s love and mercy.

It is all a great mystery of love and mercy. Our words are poor and insufficient to express it fully. We can be helped by the experience of a not well-known girl, who wrote sublime pages on the love of Christ. Her name was Julian of Norwich; she was illiterate, this girl who had visions of Jesus’ Passion and who then, having become a recluse, described in simple but profound and intense language, the meaning of merciful love. She said this: “Then our good Lord asked me: ‘Are you happy that I suffered for you?’ I said: ‘Yes, good Lord, and I thank you very much; yes, good Lord, may you be blessed.” Then Jesus, our good Lord, said: “If you are happy, so am I. To have suffered the Passion for you is a joy for me, a happiness, and eternal bliss; and if I could suffer more, I would do so.’” This is our Jesus, who says to each one of us: “If I could suffer more for you, I would do so.”

How beautiful these words are! They enable us to truly understand the immense and limitless love that the Lord has for each one of us. Let us be enveloped by this mercy that comes to us and, in these days, while we have our gaze fixed on the Passion and Death of the Lord, let us receive in our heart the greatness of His love and, as Our Lady on Saturday, in silence, in the expectation of the Resurrection.

The above is excerpted from Zenit's translation of Pope Francis' General Catechesis on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Click here for the complete translation.