At Holy Week Audience, Pope Prays for Belgium and Says Triduum ‘Speaks of Mercy’
On March 23, speaking of deadly attack the day before, the Holy Father appealed to all people of goodwill ‘to unite themselves in the unanimous condemnation of these cruel abominations, which are causing only death, terror and horror.’ He also said: ‘The mystery that we adore in this Holy Week is a great story of love which knows no obstacles.’
VATICAN CITY — In his general audience the day after terrorist attacks in Belgium claimed the lives of at least 31 people and injured more than 270, Pope Francis led pilgrims in a moment of silent prayer for the victims and their families.
“With a sorrowful heart I have followed the sad news of the terrorist attacks which took place yesterday in Brussels and which caused numerous victims and wounded,” the Pope said March 23.
Assuring his prayer for the victims and their families, he appealed to all people of goodwill “to unite themselves in the unanimous condemnation of these cruel abominations, which are causing only death, terror and horror.”
Francis asked the faithful to persevere in prayer during the events of Holy Week in order to “comfort afflicted hearts and to convert the hearts of these people blinded by cruel fundamentalism.”
The Pope then led pilgrims in praying a Hail Mary and observing a moment of silence for the victims of yesterday’s attacks, for their families and for the entire Belgian people.
Pope Francis’ words came the day after two explosions at the Brussels airport and a third at a busy metro stop. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
In his general audience address, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on mercy as understood in Scripture, turning his attention to the events of the Easter Triduum, which consists of the days leading up to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Everything in the Triduum “speaks of mercy, because it makes visible the point to which the love of God arrives,” he said.
Francis pointed to the passage in the Gospel of John in which the Evangelist says that “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them until the end.”
The love of God “has no limits,” he observed, adding, “God truly offered himself for each one of us and didn’t spare himself in anything.”
“The mystery that we adore in this Holy Week is a great story of love which knows no obstacles,” the Pope continued, noting that Jesus’ passion endures to the end of the world, since, through it, he shares in the suffering of the whole of humanity.
It also speaks of Jesus’ permanent presence in the events of the personal lives of each one of us, he said, explaining that the Triduum is “a memorial of a drama of love which gives us the certainty that we will never be abandoned in the trials of life.”
Turning to the events of Holy Thursday, when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper, Pope Francis explained that when Jesus does these things, he is giving the disciples a “firsthand example” of how they themselves will have to act.
The Eucharist, he said, “is love made service. It’s the sublime presence of Christ who desires to feed each person, above all the weakest,” in order to enable them to follow a path of witness through the difficulties of the world.
Additionally, Jesus attests that we must learn to break with other forms of nourishment in order for our lives to become a true communion with those in need, the Pope said.
Francis then turned to Good Friday, “the culminating moment of love” and the day on which Jesus died on the cross.
Jesus’ abandonment to the Father and his death on the cross express an unending love which is given until the very last, he said, adding that it is a love which “intends to embrace all, no one excluded.”
The Pope encouraged the faithful to imitate this love, saying that “if God has demonstrated his supreme love to us in the death of Jesus, now also we, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, can and must love one another.”
Speaking of Holy Saturday, when Jesus is enclosed in the tomb, Pope Francis said that it is “the day of God’s silence.”
“It must be a day of silence,” he said, and he encouraged the faithful to do everything possible be silent that day and to imitate Mary, who believed in her Son and silently waited for his Resurrection.
When Jesus is laid in the tomb, he shares “the drama of death” with all humanity, Francis said, explaining that God’s silence “speaks and expresses love as solidarity with the abandoned forever.”
The Son of God is the one who fills this void of abandonment, “which only the infinite mercy of the Father can achieve,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis closed his audience encouraging pilgrims to let themselves be “enveloped” by God’s mercy during Holy Week.
He prayed that, throughout the week, “while we have our eyes fixed on the passion and death of the Lord, let us welcome in our hearts the greatness of his love, and like Mary, in the silence of Holy Saturday, wait for the Resurrection.”