We proclaim the triumph of life over death
   Our liturgical celebrations during the Easter Triduum lead us from the
        Upper Room to Calvary, and from there to the joy of Christ's
   At the General Audience of Wednesday, 19 April, the Holy Father
   reflected on the Sacred Triduum, when the Church celebrates the
   Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, and urged that we all "open
   our hearts and intensely live this Sacred Triduum. Let us immerse
   ourselves in the grace of these holy days". Here is a translation of
   his catechesis, which was given in Italian.
   1. The Lenten journey we began on Ash Wednesday reaches its
   culmination during this Week which is appropriately called "Holy". In
   the days ahead we are preparing to celebrate the most sacred events of
   our salvation:  the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
   The Cross stands before us in these days as an eloquent symbol of
   God's love for humanity. At the same time the dying Redeemer's
   entreaty rings out in the liturgy:  "My God, my God, why have you
   forsaken me?" (Mt 27: 46; Mk 15: 34). We often feel this cry of
   suffering as "our own" in the painful situations of life which can
   cause deep distress and give rise to worry and uncertainty. In moments
   of loneliness and bewilderment, which are not unusual in human life, a
   believer's heart can exclaim:  the Lord has abandoned me!
   However, Christ's Passion and his glorification on the tree of the
   Cross offer a different key for reading these events. On Golgotha the
   Father, at the height of his Only-begotten Son's sacrifice, does not
   abandon him, but brings to completion his plan of salvation for all
   humanity. In his Passion, Death and Resurrection, we are shown that
   the last word in human existence is not death but God's victory over
   death. Divine love, manifested in its fullness in the paschal mystery,
   overcomes death and sin, which is its cause (cf. Rom 5: 12).
   Christ's Death already holds the seeds of Resurrection
   2. In these days of Holy Week, we enter into the heart of God's saving
   plan. The Church, especially during this Jubilee Year, wishes to
   remind everyone that Christ died for every man and woman, because the
   gift of salvation is universal. The Church shows the face of a
   crucified God, who does not frighten but communicates only love and
   mercy. One cannot be indifferent to Christ's sacrifice! Feelings of
   deep gratitude spontaneously arise in the minds of those who pause to
   contemplate the Lord's Passion. By ascending Calvary in spirit with
   him, in a certain way we can experience the light and joy that radiate
   from his Resurrection.
   We relive all this, with God's help, in the Easter Triduum. Through
   the eloquence of the rites of Holy Week, the liturgy will show us the
   unbreakable continuity between the Passion and the Resurrection.
   Christ's Death already holds within itself the seed of the
   3. The prelude to the Easter Triduum will be the celebration of the
   Chrism Mass tomorrow morning, Holy Thursday, when priests will gather
   around their respective Pastors in diocesan cathedrals. The oils of
   the sick and of catechumens are blessed, and chrism consecrated for
   the administration of the sacraments. A rite rich in meaning, it will
   be accompanied by the equally significant renewal of priestly
   commitments and promises by the priests. It is the day of priests,
   which every year prompts us, the ministers of the Church, to
   rediscover the value and meaning of our priesthood, a gift and mystery
   of love.
   In the evening we will relive the institution of the Eucharist, the
   sacrament of God's infinite love for humanity. Judas betrays Christ;
   Peter, despite all his avowals, denies him; at the moment of the
   Passion, the other Apostles disappear. Few stay with him. Yet it is to
   these weak men that the Lord entrusts his testament, offering himself
   in his Body given and his Blood poured out for the life of the world
   (cf. Jn 6: 51). An unfathomable mystery of condescension and goodness!
   On Good Friday the account of the Passion will be heard again, and we
   will be invited to venerate the Cross, the extraordinary symbol of
   divine mercy. To man, so often uncertain in distinguishing
   good from evil, the crucified Christ shows us the only way to give
   meaning to human life. It is the way of total acceptance of God's will
   and the generous gift of self to one's brothers and sisters.
   Let us celebrate Easter with deeds as well as words
   On Holy Saturday, a day of deep liturgical silence, we will pause to
   reflect on the meaning of these events. The Church will vigilantly
   watch with Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, and wait with her for the
   dawning of the Resurrection. In fact, at daybreak on the "first day of
   the week", the silence will be broken by the joyful Easter message,
   proclaimed in the festive hymn of the Exsultet during the solemn
   liturgy of the Easter Vigil. Christ's triumph over death will move,
   with the tombstone, the minds and hearts of the faithful and flood
   them with the same joy felt by Mary Magdalen, the devout women, the
   Apostles and everyone to whom the risen Christ revealed himself on
   Easter Day.
   4. Dear brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts and intensely
   live this Sacred Triduum. Let us immerse ourselves in the grace of
   these holy days, and as the holy Bishop Athanasius once urged:  "Let
   us also follow the Lord, that is, let us imitate him, and thus we will
   find the way to celebrate the feast not only outwardly, but in the
   most effective way, that is, not only with words but also with deeds"
   (Paschal Letters, Let. 14, 2).
   With these sentiments, I wish all of you and your loved ones a
   fruitful Sacred Triduum and a joyful Easter of the Lord's
   To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
   I am pleased to welcome the many young people present at today's
   audience. I pray that your visit will be a time of particular
   closeness to Christ and that you will be renewed in your faith and
   Christian witness. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and
   visitors, especially those from Ireland, Sweden and the United States,
   I invoke the joy and peace of the risen Saviour. To all of you, a
   Happy Easter!
   (©L'Osservatore Romano - 26 April 2000)