The text, to be prayed at the Col0sseum on Good Friday, was supervised by a newly created cardinal, Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï, and written by Lebanese young people with a special emphasis on the struggles of people in the Middle East.
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 March 25.
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 Rai 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, a special needs group and a nongovernmental organization were randomly chosen and assigned a station to focus on.
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.
“A man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Mk 10:17).
Jesus answered this burning question, which arises in the innermost core of our being, by walking the way of the Cross.
We contemplate you, Lord, along this path which you were the first to tread, and after which “you built a bridge to death with your Cross, so that men might pass from the land of death to the land of Life” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homily).
The call to follow you is addressed to all, especially to the young and to those who are tried by division, wars or injustice and who fight to be signs of hope and builders of peace in the midst of their brethren.
We therefore place ourselves before you with love, we present our sufferings to you, we turn our gaze and our heart to your Holy Cross, and strengthened by your promise, we pray: “Blessed be our Redeemer, who has given us life by his death. O Redeemer, realize in us the mystery of your redemption, through your passion, death and resurrection” (Maronite Liturgy).
The text makes frequent references to the Eastern rite liturgies that may be unfamiliar to Latin rite Catholics; it also quotes extensively from Benedict’s recent exhortation to the church in the Middle East.
Here, for example, is the 13th Station, Jesus Is Taken from the Cross:
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 19:26-27a
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple: “Behold, your mother!”
Lord Jesus, those who love you remain at your side and keep faith. In the hour of your agony and death, when the world believes that evil triumphs and that the voice of truth, love, justice and peace is silent, their faith does not fail.
O Mary, into your hands we place our earth. “How sad it is to see this blessed land suffer in its children, who relentlessly tear one another to pieces and die!” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 8). It seems that nothing can overcome evil, terrorism, murder and hatred. “Before the cross on which your Son stretched out his sinless hands for our salvation, O Virgin, we fall prostrate this day: grant us peace” (Byzantine liturgy).
Let us pray
for the victims of the wars and of the violence
which in our days devastate
various countries in the Middle East,
as well as other parts of the world.
Let us pray that the displaced and the forced migrants
may soon return
to their homes and lands.
that the blood of innocent victims
may be the seed of a new East,
ever more fraternal, peaceful and just,
and that this East
may recover the splendour of its vocation
as the cradle of civilization and of spiritual and human values.
Star of the East,
show us the coming of the Dawn!
You can find the entire text at this link.