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13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother

with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Good Friday 2005, at the Colosseum in Rome

From the Gospel according to John (19: 19-20)
Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the Cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”. Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27: 54-55)
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.

Meditation
Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord. Jesus’ legs are not broken, like those of the two men crucified with him. He is thus revealed as the true Paschal lamb, not one of whose bones must be broken (cf. Es 12:46). And now, at the end of his sufferings, it is clear that, for all the dismay which filled men’s hearts, for all the power of hatred and cowardice, he was never alone. There are faithful ones who remain with him. Under the Cross stand Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden. At Jesus’s burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Saviour. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.

Prayer
Lord, you descended into the darkness of death. But your body is placed in good hands and wrapped in a white shroud (Mt 27:59). Faith has not completely died; the sun has not completely set. How often does it appear that you are asleep? How easy it is for us to step back and say to ourselves: “God is dead”. In the hour of darkness, help us to know that you are still there. Do not abandon us when we are tempted to lose heart. Help us not to leave you alone. Give us the fidelity to withstand moments of confusion and a love ready to embrace you in your utter helplessness, like your Mother, who once more holds you to her breast. Help us, the poor and rich, simple and learned, to look beyond all our fears and prejudices, and to offer you our abilities, our hearts and our time, and thus to prepare a garden for the Resurrection.

Our Father ... She looked upon her sweet Son, saw him hang in desolation, till his spirit forth he sent.

13ª estación - Jesús es bajado de la cruz y entregado a su Madre      
Meditaciones y Oraciones del Cardenal Joseph Ratzinger (Papa Benedicto XVI)

13ème station - Jésus est descendu de la Croix et remis à sa Mère       
Méditations et prières du Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pape Benoît XVI) au Colisée

Music: from 'Triduum - Contemporary Sacred Music' by David Bevan & Neil Wright.
To download the free mp3 audio recordings individually, right/double click on the play buttons  
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The Thirteenth Station of the Cross       

with quotes from Julian of Norwich

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Since therefore the children share in the same flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. (Hebrews 2: 14)

And his body being slain and dead, he yielded his soul into the Father's hands with all mankind for whom he was sent. At this point be began first to show his might, for he went into hell and there uprooted Adam from the bitter valley and rightfully knit him to himself in high heaven. His body was in the grave until Easter morning, but from that time he was never more to be counted among the dead. For then was rightfully ended the struggling and the writhing, the groaning and the moaning. And our foul deadly flesh, which God's Son took on him - which was Adam's old serving robe - was by our Saviour made fair, new, white and bright and of endless cleanness.  Now the Son is seated, very God and Man, in his city in rest and peace; which his Father had made over to him of his endless purpose. And the Father is in the Son and thd Holy Ghost in the Father and the Son. (Julian of Norwich - XIV Revelation, Ch 51)

I love you Jesus, my love, above all things; I repent with my whole heart for having offended you.
Never permit me to separate myself from you again.
Grant that I may love you always, then do with me as you will.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory be.

Via Crucis with Blessed John Paul II

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. 
R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

on Good Friday in the Jubilee Year

21st April 2000 at the Colosseum in Rome
in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

In the arms of his Mother they have placed the lifeless body of the Son. The Gospels say nothing of what she felt at that moment.
It is as though by their silence the Evangelists wished to respect her sorrow, her feelings and her memories. Or that they simply felt incapable of expressing them.

It is only the devotion of the centuries that has preserved the figure of the “Pietà”, providing Christian memory with the most sorrowful image of the ineffable bond of love which blossomed in the Mother’s heart on the day of the Annunciation and ripened as she waited for the birth of her divine Son.

That love was revealed in the cave at Bethlehem
and was tested already during the Presentation in the Temple.
It grew deeper as Mary stored and pondered in her heart all that was happening.
Now this intimate bond of love must be transformed into a union which transcends the boundary between life and death.
And thus it will be across the span of the centuries:
people pause at Michelangelo’s statue of the Pietà, they kneel before the image of the loving and sorrowful Mother (Smetna Dobrodziejka) in the Church of the Franciscans in Kraków,
before the Mother of the Seven Sorrows, Patroness of Slovakia,
they venerate Our Lady of Sorrows in countless shrines in every part of the world.
And so they learn the difficult love which does not flee from suffering, but surrenders trustingly to the tenderness of God, for whom nothing is impossible.

Then Jesus adds: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mt 27:46). These words of the Psalm are his prayer. Despite their tone, these words reveal the depths of his union with the Father.
In the last moments of his life on earth, Jesus thinks of the Father. From this moment on, the dialogue will only be between the dying Son and the Father who accepts his sacrifice of love.
When the ninth hour comes, Jesus cries out: “It is accomplished!” (Jn 19:30).
Now the work of the redemption is complete.
The mission, for which he came on earth, has reached its goal.
The rest belongs to the Father:
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46).
And having said this, he breathed his last.
“The curtain of the temple was torn in two...” (Mt 27:51).
The “Holy of Holies” of the Jerusalem Temple is opened at the moment when it is entered by the Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant.

Prayer
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ; vita dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus... illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte
et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hoc exilium ostende.

Implore for us the grace of faith, hope and charity, so that we, like you,
may stand without flinching beneath the Cross until our last breath.
To your Son, Jesus, our Saviour, with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory for ever and ever.

on Good Friday 2003 at the Colosseum
in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

From the Gospel according to Mark (15: 42-43, 46)
And when evening had come, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, bought a linen shroud, and took the body of Jesus down from the Cross.

Meditation
When the body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross and laid in his Mother's arms, in our mind's eye we glimpse again the moment when Mary accepted the message brought by the angel Gabriel: "And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:31-33). Mary had replied simply: "Let it be to me according to your word", as though even then she wanted to give expression to what she now experiences.
In the mystery of the Redemption, grace - the gift of God himself - is interwoven with a "price" paid by the human heart. In this mystery we are enriched by a gift from on high (Jas 1:17) and at the same time "bought" by the ransom paid by the Son of God. And Mary, who more than anyone was enriched by gifts, pays all the more. With her heart.
Inseparable from this mystery is the extraordinary promise spoken of by Simeon during the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: "And a sword will pierce through your heart, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk 2:35).
This promise has also been fulfilled. How many human hearts bleed for the heart of this Mother who has paid so dearly!
Once again Jesus lies in her arms, as he did in the stable in Bethlehem, during the flight into Egypt and at Nazareth. Pietà.

Acclamation
Holy Mary, Mother of inexpressible sorrow, with you we open our arms to Life himself, and humbly beseech him:
R. Kyrie, eleison.
Holy Mary, Mother and associate of the Redeemer, in communion with you we open our arms to Christ, and filled with hope we call upon him.
R. Kyrie, eleison.

with Blessed John Henry Newman

V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

The multitude have gone home. Calvary is left solitary and still, except that St. John and the holy women are there. Then come Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and take down from the Cross the body of Jesus, and place it in the arms of Mary.

O Mary, at last thou hast possession of thy Son. Now, when His enemies can do no more, they leave Him in contempt to thee. As His unexpected friends perform their difficult work, thou lookest on with unspeakable thoughts. Thy heart is pierced with the sword of which Simeon spoke. O Mother most sorrowful; yet in thy sorrow there is a still greater joy. The joy in prospect nerved thee to stand by Him as He hung upon the Cross; much more now, without swooning, without trembling, thou dost receive Him to thy arms and on thy lap. Now thou art supremely happy as having Him, though He comes to thee not as He went from thee. He went from thy home, O Mother of God, in the strength and beauty of His manhood, and He comes back to thee dislocated, torn to pieces, mangled, dead. Yet, O Blessed Mary, thou art happier in this hour of woe than on the day of the marriage feast, for then He was leaving thee, and now in the future, as a Risen Saviour, He will be separated from thee no more.

Pater, Ave, Gloria ...
V. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
R. Have mercy on us.

May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.