I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. (Mt 25:35-36)
Joined by wholehearted participants, Pope Francis presided over the Stations of Cross at Blonia Park this evening at 6:00 pm. Wishing to remain in this 31st World Youth Day message of God’s Mercy, the procession intertwined the traditional practice with an added element of reflective works of mercy depicted in artistic demonstrations. Bishop Grzegorz Rys J. drew upon his pastoral experience and theological knowledge to assist with the reflection of each station along the Way of the Cross. Today’s meditation took on a very special and unique face of mercy after watching Pope Francis sit on a bench at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, in penetrating silence and prayer, uniting himself with a suffering humanity, prisoners who were stripped of their dignity and given poison as food, an event not very different from the Passion of Christ. Pope Francis reminded the people that, “Without mercy we can do nothing; without mercy, neither I nor you nor any of us can do a thing.” Jesus freely gave himself to humiliation by being stripped of his clothes, to be nakedly exposed to all, we freely received and continue to receive, thus we must freely give. To understand mercy, seven corporal works of mercy were remembered along the Way of the Cross: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, and burying the dead. The remaining seven stations depicted the seven spiritual works of mercy: counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, consoling the afflicted, pardoning offences, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead.
First station: Jesus is sentenced to death was remembered through a metaphorical show of hands accusing Jesus by the community of St. Egido.
Second station: Jesus takes the cross was remembered through a dance performance by Catholic Youth Society and OAZA in which the male performers arrange their bodies to form a cross.
Third station: Jesus falls for the first time was remembered by a few gymnasts from A Church in Need (ACN) formed a cross and the person of Jesus falls as he carries the human formed cross.
Fourth station: Jesus meets his Mother is depicted by a mother slowly rising on an elevator to meet her son.
Fifth station: Simeon helps Jesus carry the cross is depicted by pantomime L’Arche actors who move in a freeze-frame style moving towards Jesus to carry the cross.
Sixth station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus is portrayed through a modern ballet etude where a ballerina symbolically wipes the face of Jesus that appears printed on Veronica’s shawl.
Seventh station: Jesus falls for the second time is performed by sport climbers climbing a great wall with great effort to the rhythm of background music.
Eight station: Jesus encounters the weeping women is depicted by an artist who has been creating a mural on the stage during the procession and this mural is synchronised with a group of young pilgrims carrying the cross.
Ninth station: Jesus falls for the third time is depicted by an artist of the Cenacatolo Community. The artist is seen carrying a metal cross and when he reaches the top of the stairs he falls.
Tenth station: Jesus is stripped of his clothes is represented by a man flying above the pilgrims in Blonia Park and finally his clothes falls upon the gathered.
Eleventh station: Jesus is nailed to the cross is represented by the Missionaries of Charity from Calcuta in which Jesus is raised on an 8m cross to the rhythm of background music.
Twelfth station: Jesus dies on the cross is portrayed by the Bread of Life Community in which red beams of light surround the cross as Jesus dies.
Thirteenth station: Jesus is taken down from the cross is represented by Home Hospital by alpinists who use climbing equipment to bring down Christ’s body and give it to his weeping mother.
Fourteenth station: Jesus is placed in the tomb is represented by St. Lazarus Hospice. An artist and painter use sand to depict the scene. The etude ends up forming a connection between the main altar, the cross and Pope Francis.