In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters, the shadows of evening have fallen on Rome, just as they did that evening on the houses and gardens of Jerusalem. We too will now go out to the olive trees of Gethsemane and follow in the steps of Jesus of Nazareth during the final hours of his life on earth.
It will be a journey into pain, solitude and cruelty, into evil and death. But it will also be a path trod in faith, hope and love, because the tomb which is the final stop on our way will not remain sealed for ever. Once the darkness has passed, at the dawn of Easter, the light of joy will arise, silence will be replaced by the word of life and death will give way to the glory of the Resurrection.
Let us now pray, and join our words to those spoken by an ancient voice of the Christian East.
Lord Jesus, Grant us the tears we lack, that our sins may be washed clean. Grant us the courage to implore your mercy. On the day of your final judgment tear out the pages listing our sins and consign them to oblivion.
Lord Jesus, you repeat to us this evening the words you once spoke to Peter: "Come, follow me". Obedient to your summons, we wish to follow you, step by step, along the way of your Passion, so that we too may learn to think as God thinks and not by human standards.
. NIL SORSKIJ (1433-1508), from the Penitential Prayer.
*** Moment of silence
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