April 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 96


  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.

5. Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross

    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, sometimes I am indifferent to the needs of others in my life. I even neglect those whom I love. Help me to see that loving others is the surest way to find You in my life.

        They compelled Simon (cf. Mark 15:2 1). The Roman soldiers did this because they feared that in His exhaustion the Condemned Man would not be able to carry the Cross as far as Golgotha. Then they would not be able to carry out the sentence of crucifixion. They were looking for someone to help carry the Cross. Their eyes fell on Simon. They compelled him to take the weight upon his shoulders. We can imagine that Simon did not want to do this and objected. Carrying the cross together with a convict could be considered an act offensive to the dignity of a free man.

        Although unwilling, Simon took up the Cross to help Jesus.

        In a Lenten hymn we hear the words: "Under the weight of the Cross Jesus welcomes the Cyrenean." These words allow us to discern a total change of perspective: the divine Condemned One is Someone Who, in a certain sense, "makes a gift" of His Cross. Was it not He Who said: "He who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:38)?

        Simon receives a gift. He has become "worthy" of it. What the crowd might see as an offence to his dignity has, from the perspective of redemption, given him a new dignity. In a unique way, the Son of God has made him a sharer in His work of salvation.

        Is Simon aware of this? The evangelist Mark identifies Simon of Cyrene as the "father of Alexander and Rufus" (15:2 1).

        If the sons of Simon of Cyrene were known to the first Christian community, it can be presumed that Simon too, while carrying the Cross, came to believe in Christ. From being forced, he freely accepted, as though deeply touched by the words: "Whoever does not carry his cross with Me is not worthy of Me."

        By his carrying of the Cross, Simon was brought to the knowledge of the gospel of the Cross.

        Since then, this gospel has spoken to many, countless Cyreneans, called in the course of history to carry the cross with Jesus.


        O Christ, You gave to Simon of Cyrene the dignity of carrying Your Cross. Welcome us too under its weight, welcome all men and women and grant to everyone the gift of readiness to serve. Do not permit that we should turn away from those who are crushed by the cross of illness, loneliness, hunger or injustice. As we carry each other's burdens, help us to become witnesses to the gospel of the Cross and witnesses to You, Who live and reign for ever and ever.

    R. Amen.

    Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Tomorrow: Station Six: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

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

April 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 96
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