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Lebanese Youths Lament Violence, Emigration in Way of Cross

25 Mar 2013 – By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meditating on Christ’s passion and the ways people contribute to his suffering, Lebanese youths lamented the ongoing emigration from and violence in the Middle East, divisions among Christians, the abuse of women and children, and other tragedy.

But despite the hardships, horrors and despair, Christians are called to walk with Christ because “suffering, embraced in faith, is transformed into the path to salvation,” the youths said in meditations for the 29 March Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum.

Christians can find hope in bearing their burdens because Christ is with them. However, acceptance does not mean putting an end to one’s dreams, to speaking out and fighting for freedom and the truth, the reflections said.

“God does not want suffering and does not accept evil,” the text said. In fact, people can carry the cross with joy and hope because Christians know Christ “triumphed over death for us.”

A group of Lebanese young people wrote the meditations at the request of retired Pope Benedict XVI; the Vatican released the published text with commentary and prayers on the 14 Stations of the Cross on 25 March.

Each year, the pope chooses a different person or group of people to write the series of prayers and reflections that are read aloud during the solemn, torch-lit ceremony.

The retired pope asked Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter to choose the youths and guide their preparation of the texts. The retired pope’s request was meant to recall his 2012 visit to Lebanon and invite the whole church to pray for the Middle East — its tensions and its beleaguered Christian community.

The task of composing the 14 meditations was divided equally among committees from the six rites of the Catholic Church represented in Lebanon: Latin, Maronite, Melkite, Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean. In addition, six Catholic youth groups, one special-needs group and a nongovernmental organization were randomly chosen and assigned a station on which to focus.

Participants said they tried to show the biggest challenges facing young people in the Middle East and elsewhere while also showing the Christian vision of hope and resurrection.

Each reflection begins with a passage or verse from the Bible. The accompanying meditation is based on Pope Benedict’s apostolic exhortation on the church in the Middle East — “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” — or references to liturgical texts and writings from the Eastern Catholic churches, saints or theologians.

Each meditation is followed by a prayer and illustrated with a color reproduction of a Via Crucis design by an unknown 19th-century Palestinian Franciscan artist; the artist’s work is found in Bethlehem.

In the group’s meditation on the first station — “Jesus is condemned to death” — it said the world is filled with many Pontius Pilates who use their position of power to serve the mighty rather than to serve justice, the right to life and human dignity.

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Tags: Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Prayers/Hymns/Saints Easter