Pope Benedict XVI’s meditations for the Good Friday Stations of the Cross ceremony have been written by an Italian couple that has been married for nearly 50 years.
“In all of the moments of the Stations of the Cross, there were special moments within us for the family,” Anna Maria Zanzucchi told EWTN News in a recent interview.
“They were taken on by Jesus to redeem the family. And this was the strongest thing that we confronted, and the path that we have always followed illumined us; we were illuminated by the grace concentrated in the stations,” Anna Maria explained.
The traditional Catholic practice of praying the Stations of the Cross is done each Friday of Lent. The liturgy involves remembering and reflecting on 14 different moments in the passion and death of Jesus.
Traditionally, the Pope leads a procession of pilgrims in praying the stations on the evening of Good Friday at Rome’s Colosseum. At each station, the Pope recalls the particular moment of Christ’s passion and reads a reflection. This year, the meditations will come from the Zanzucchis.
The Vatican asked 83-year-old Anna Maria and her 92-year-old husband, Danilo, to write this year’s stations. The Zanzucchis explained that they compiled the prayers with the help of the Holy Spirit and their own experience of family life.
The couple has known each other since 1952, when Danilo proposed within a day of meeting Anna Maria. She said “Yes,” and they were married the following spring. They went on to have five children.
In 1967 they were asked by the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich, to help establish a new families’ movement. It aims to help families to “live the spirituality of unity and to spread throughout the world family values that promote universal brotherhood.”
“It is God who helps the family and society to rebuild themselves, to live as true men,” said Danilo.
He explained that if families “have this disposition of being ready to love others as oneself, for the love of God,” then “they put into practice the words of Jesus that ‘wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am with them.’”
This, he said, is a “formidable resource to heal and aid people, without judging anyone, because we are all poor people.”
“The family needs to be renewed, to be reinforced, to be united,” added Anna Maria.
“Unity is that love that unites; it is the impetus that forms families, but then humanity is such that — and we all know what can happen — we have arguments, misunderstandings, little things can become big.”
She explained that these obstacles can be overcome by love, which is used in turn to “renew the love that we all carry within.
“It is like Danilo said: It is about renewing ourselves, and then we can look to help others.”