Pope Francis returned this Thursday to a prison to celebrate with the prisoners the Mass “In coena domini” on Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper, and knelt before them to wash their feet, encouraging them to help each other each other, after two years in which the pandemic had suspended this tradition.
Unlike the other years, the Vatican has chosen to keep this mass under great confidentiality and did not even announce the Pope’s visit to this prison, the sixth time he visits for Holy Thursday in the last decade, since 2013.
Francisco, as confirmed by the Holy See in a brief statement at the end of the act, celebrated mass this afternoon in the Civitavecchia prison, on the Roman coast, together with some prisoners whose feet he then washed, as Jesus did with his disciples.
In the only three images released by the Vatican, the Pope kneeling before the detainees despite his knee pain and to them, men and women of various ages and nationalities, provided with masks.
During the mass, the pontiff explained in an impromptu homily that, with this gesture, Jesus taught the value of helping each other: “You must wash each other’s feet, one serves the other, without interest”, exhorted.
“God forgives everything and always! We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness. Each of us has something that has been in our hearts for a long time. Let’s ask Jesus for forgiveness”, he exclaimed.
Francis has made it a tradition officiate the mass “In coena domini” on Holy Thursday with the most disadvantagedsuch as patients, immigrants and especially prisoners.
The pandemic forced this tradition to be suspended in 2020 and 2021 but last year he decided to celebrate mass with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom he himself deprived of his cardinal rights for financial irregularities for which he remains charged.
On the other hand, In the morning, the Pope began the rites of Holy Week with the Chrism Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica before thousands of people, after the coronavirus reduced the capacity to a minimum in the last two years.
This liturgy commemorates the institution of the sacrament of holy orders by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and is dedicated to the renewal of priests of their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. That is why the Pope addressed his clergy.
Specifically, he warned of three forms of “hidden idolatry” in which the pastors of the Church can incur: spiritual worldliness or the “culture of the ephemeral”, the “primacy of the pragmatism of numbers” and statistics or “functionalism”.
“A worldly priest is nothing more than a clericalized pagan”he snapped.
Pope Francis thus began the rites for the Easter Triduum, the three days that will lead to Easter next Sunday, the tenth of his pontificate.
On Good Friday, when Catholics commemorate the Calvary and death of Jesus of Nazareth, Francisco will preside over the celebration of the Passion in the basilica of San Pedro, when he traditionally meditates completely lying down before the tomb of the apostle.
It is the only day in the liturgical calendar on which Mass is not celebrated and, therefore, the pontiff and his clergy will limit themselves to listening and reflecting on the homily of the Vatican preacherCardinal and Capuchin friar Raniero Cantalamessa.
Ukraine on the Via Crucis
At night, he Pope will preside over the Via Crucis in the Colosseum, a symbol of the persecution of the first Christiansa rite also suspended due to the pandemic and that this year will take place with the war in Ukraine as a worrying backdrop.
Francisco has intervened on several occasions in this conflict and is even thinking of making a trip to kyiv and, to send a message of reconciliation, it has been proposed that the cross, in part of its route, be carried by a Ukrainian and a Russian family.
However, the initiative has met with reticence of the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurashwho does not look favorably on celebrating anything with the Russians given the invasion that his country has been suffering for almost two months.
In any case, it will be time to think about the world martyrs. That is why Francis has sent to Ukraine to his beggar, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who plans to celebrate another Stations of the Cross in kyiv.
On Holy Saturday the pope will preside over the Easter Vigil, in which the resurrection of Christ is expected, baptizing and confirming some adults, and the next day will come Easter, when he will impart the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing to Rome and the world.
An act that the Pope, leaning out of the central loggia of the Vatican basilica, takes advantage of to review the main conflicts and tensions on the planet.
(With information from EFE)
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