April 11, 2001
volume 12, no. 101


  On Good Friday in 2000, the Holy Father led the Via Crucis meditations with his own words while leading the faithful on the traditional Papal Way of the Cross. His deep spirituality, renewed by a spontaneous visit to Mount Calvary, within the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre during his "Jubilee Journey" to the Holy Land last year is an inspiration we want to share with our readers.

A Plenary Indulgence is attached to this devotion according to article 194 of the Raccolta.

      Stabat Mater:

        At the Cross her station keeping
        stood the mournful Mother weeping,
        close to Jesus to the last.

9. Jesus falls the Third Time

    We adore you, O Lord, and we praise You. Because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
    (genuflect or make the sign of the cross)

        MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, Your failing strength makes me see how helpless I am. Without You, I can do nothing. Help me to rely on Your strength, to see how much I need You.

        Once more Christ has fallen to the ground under the weight of the Cross. The crowd watches, wondering whether He will have the strength to rise again.

        Saint Paul writes: "Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).

        The third fall seems to express just this: the self-emptying the kenosis of the Son of God, His humiliation beneath the Cross. Jesus had said to the disciples that He had come not to be served but to serve (cf. Mt 20:28). In the Upper Room, bending low to the ground and washing their feet, He sought, as it were, to prepare them for this humiliation of His. Falling to the ground for the third time on the way of the Cross, He cries out loudly to us once more the mystery of Himself. Let us listen to His voice! This Condemned Man, crushed to the ground beneath the weight of the Cross, now very near the place of punishment, tells us: "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6). "He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

        Let us not be dismayed by the sight of a condemned man, Who falls to the ground exhausted under the cross. Within this outward sign of the death which is approaching the light of life lies hidden.


        Lord Jesus Christ, through Your humiliation beneath the Cross You revealed to the world the price of its redemption. Grant to the men and women of the third millennium the light of faith, so that, as they recognize in You the Suffering Servant of God and man, they may have the courage to follow the same path which, by way of the Cross and self-emptying, leads to life without end. To You, O Jesus, our support when we are weak, be honor and glory for ever.

    R. Amen.

    Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
HOLY THURSDAY: Station Ten: Jesus is stripped of His garments and offered gall and vinegar to drink

For the shorter meditative group of lessons on the full Stations of the Cross, see WAY OF THE CROSS

For previous meditative Stations composed by the Holy Father, see:
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus willingly takes up His Cross
3. Jesus falls the First Time
4. Jesus meets His Blessed Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the Second Time
8. Jesus comforts the woman of Jerusalem

April 11, 2001
volume 12, no. 101
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