Children’s hope and pains at the centre of Pope’s Via Crucis

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The solitude and isolation of men and women across the world, cut off from their families and friends, deprived of their work and livelihoods, living in fear of an uncertain future for themselves and for their children, were poignantly present during the “Way of the Cross” on the second day of the Easter Triduum 2021.

For the second year in a row, Pope Francis led the traditional Good Friday Via Crucis in a near-empty Saint Peter’s Square due to restrictions put in place by the Italian government to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vatican News reports that this year the Pope chose to entrust children and young people with the preparation of the meditations for the Via Crucis .

The Holy Father looked over the darkened Square where few children, accompanied by their parents, catechists and teachers, took it in turn to carry the cross around the obelisk. “One after the other, they read their reflections while their companions carried the Cross along a circular path marked out by burning torches on the ground at the centre of the Square.”

The opening prayer of the Via Crucis was a heartfelt plea of what goes in Children’s lives, their concerns and real issues which often find difficulty to emerge due to the noise and other situations.

The prayer:

Dear Jesus,

You know that we children also have crosses to carry. Crosses that are no lighter or heavier than those of adults, but are still real crosses, crosses that weigh us down even at night. Only you know what they are, and take them seriously. Only you.

Only you know how hard it is for me to learn not to be afraid of the dark and all alone.

Only you know how hard it is to wake up every morning after wetting the bed.

Only you know how hard it is to think quickly and to learn grammar and math.

Only you know how hard it is to see my parents fight and slam the door and not talk to each other for days.

Only you know how hard it is to be made fun of, and not be invited to parties.

Only you know what it means to be poor and have to do without things my friends have.

Only you know how hard it is to reveal a terrible secret, not knowing who to tell for fear of being betrayed, accused or not believed.

Dear Jesus, you once were a child like me. You used to play and maybe you would fall and hurt yourself. You also went to school and maybe some of your schoolwork was not exactly great. You too had a mom and a dad, and you know that there are times when I don’t want to obey them when they tell me to do my homework, to take out the trash, to make my bed and to tidy up my room. You too went to catechism and to prayer and you know that I’m not always perfectly happy to go there.

Dear Jesus, you more than anybody else know that there are children in our world who have nothing to eat, who cannot go to school, who are being used and forced to become soldiers.

Help us to carry our daily crosses as you carried yours. Help us to become better and better, to become what you want us to be. I thank you, because I know that you are always close to me and that you never abandon me, even when I am most afraid. And thank you too, for sending my guardian angel to light and guard me every day. Amen.

During the last reflection it was highlighted how children and young people hold the key and the hope for rebirth: “Lord, merciful Father,” the prayer read, “once again this year we have followed your Son Jesus on the way of the cross. We followed him by listening to the voices and the prayers of the children whom you yourself set before us as the model for entering your kingdom.”

Help us to be like them: little, in need of everything, open to life. May we regain our purity of heart and our ability to see things in a clear light.

We ask you to bless and protect every child in our world. May all children grow in wisdom, age and grace, and so come to know and follow your special plan for their happiness.


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