Whether you're seriously dating, engaged, or married, Good Friday can be an opportunity for you and your significant other to reflect on the meaning of authentic love: willing the good of the other as other. That is what Christ did for each of us on the Cross, and it is what we are all called to do for our brothers and sisters. Those who are called to marriage are vowed to this kind of sacrificial love, no matter how painful it might be at times. To that end, we've put together a collection of short meditations on the Cross, all from the writings of our beloved theologian/Pope Emeritus/spiritual grandfather: Joseph Ratzinger.
1. "Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see."
"Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me" (Psalm 27:8-9). Veronica -- Bernice, in the Greek tradition -- embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus' Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. "Blessed are the pure in heart," the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, "for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself. (Joseph Ratzinger, Meditations on the Stations of the Cross)
2. "An inexhaustible torrent of merciful love."
Contemplating the crucified One with the eyes of faith, we can understand in depth what sin is, how tragic is its gravity, and at the same time, how immense is the Lord's power of forgiveness and mercy...Let us not distance our hearts from this mystery of profound humanity and lofty spirituality. Looking at Christ, we feel at the same time looked at by him. He whom we have pierced with our faults never tires of pouring out upon the world an inexhaustible torrent of merciful love. (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Angelus, 2/25/07)
3. "The world is redeemed by the patience of God."
This is God’s sign: he himself is love. How often we wish that God would make show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man. (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Inaugural Homily as Pope)
4. "True love is an event of dying."
True love is an event of dying, a stepping aside before the other and on behalf of the other. We do not want to die like that. We just want to remain ourselves, enjoying life to the full without any disturbance and without sharing it with anyone else. We do not perceive..that we are destroying our own future through our greed for life and handing over our life itself to death. (Joseph Ratzinger, The God of Jesus Christ)
5. "From the Cross the word love recovers its uniqueness."
“. . .we find ourselves in a strange situation: we have no choice but to speak of love if we are not to betray God and man, but it is almost impossible to do so because our language has already betrayed love so often. In such a situation, our help must come from without. God speaks to us of love; “Holy Scripture” which is God’s word cast in human words, raises the word, as it were, out of the dust, purifies it and restores it to us, cleansed. Scripture makes it shine again by placing it at the source of its luminosity — in the mystery of Jesus Christ. From the Cross the word love recovers its uniqueness. Men need more than just grasping and holding; they need understanding, which gives power to their actions and their hands; they also need perception, hearing, reason that reaches to the bottom of the heart. And only when understanding remains open to reason, which is greater that it is, can it be genuinely rational and acquire true knowledge. If you do not love, you do not know (cf. 1 John 4:8). (Joseph Ratzinger, Homily, 1985, from Co-Workers of the Truth)