April 4, 2001
volume 12, no. 94


  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.

3. Jesus Falls the First 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, You know how often I fall trying to follow You. Yet, You are always there to life me up. Help me always to trust in Your loving care for me.


      "God laid on him the sins of us all" (cf. Isaiah 53:6).
      "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

        Jesus falls under the Cross. This will happen three times along the comparatively short stretch of the "Via Dolorosa." Exhaustion makes him fall. His body is stained with blood from the scourging, His head is crowned with thorns. All this causes His strength to fail. So He falls, and the weight of the Cross crushes Him to the ground.

        We must go back to the words of the Prophet, who foresaw this fall centuries earlier. It is as though he were contemplating it with his own eyes: seeing the Servant of the Lord, on the ground under the weight of the Cross, he tells us the real cause of His fall. It is this: "God laid on him the sins of us all." It was our sins that crushed the divine Condemned One to the ground. It was our sins that determined the weight of the Cross that He carries on His shoulders. It was our sins that made Him fall.

        With difficulty Christ gets up again to continue His journey. The soldiers escorting Him urge Him on with shouts and blows. After a moment the procession sets out again.

        Jesus falls and gets up again. In this way, the Redeemer of the world addresses in a wordless way all those who fall. He exhorts them to get up again. "He himself bore our sins in His body on the wood of the cross, that we might no longer live for sin but for righteousness by His wounds we have been healed" (cf. 1 Peter 2:24).


    O Christ, as You fall under the weight of our faults and rise again for our justification, we pray, help us and all who are weighed down by sin to stand up again and continue the journey. Give us the strength of the Spirit to carry with You the cross of our weakness. To You, O Jesus, crushed under the weight of our faults be our praise and love for ever.

    R. Amen.

    Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Tomorrow: Station Four: Jesus meets His Blessed Mother.

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

April 4, 2001
volume 12, no. 94
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