Pope Francis’ Advice for Holy Week: Look to the Cross, Our Hope is There

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from the pope mobile in St. Peter’s Square on April 5, 2023. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis has offered advice for how to have a fruitful Holy Week, urging people to focus on the essentials and look to the cross as the source of hope.

In his last public audience Wednesday before the start of the Paschal Triduum, the pope noted how many people today who walk down the street appear sad, focused “only on their cell phones, but without peace, without hope.”

He urged people to eliminate “useless things that are substitutes for hope” during Holy Week to focus on the true source of hope found in Christ.

Pope Francis blesses a baby at the general audience on April 5, 2023. Vatican Media

“During these holy days, let us draw near the Crucified One. Let us place ourselves before him … to take an honest look at ourselves, removing whatever is superfluous. Let us let Jesus regenerate hope in us,” Pope Francis said at the end of his general audience on April 5.


“This is needed: to go back to the heart, to the essentials, to a simple life, stripped of many useless things, which are substitutes for hope. Today, when everything is complex and we risk losing the plot, we need simplicity, to rediscover the value of sobriety, the value of renunciation, to clean up what pollutes the heart and makes us sad,” he said.

Speaking in St. Peter’s Square on a chilly spring morning, Pope Francis also highlighted how Jesus did not cover up or hide his wounds when he was nailed to the cross.

“Brothers and sisters, we too are wounded — who isn’t in life? And many times, with hidden wounds that we hide out of shame. Who does not bear the scars of past choices, of misunderstandings, of sorrows that remain inside and are difficult to overcome? But also of wrongs suffered, sharp words, unmerciful judgments?”

“God does not hide his wounds, that pierced his body and soul, from our eyes. He shows them so we can see that a new passage can be opened with Easter: to make of our own wounds, holes of light.”

By offering forgiveness and love from the cross, Jesus “converts evil into good” and “sorrow into love,” he said.

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“So today, let us look at the tree of the cross so that hope might germinate in us, that we might be healed of sadness … It takes a little hope to be healed of the sadness we are sick with, to be healed of the bitterness with which we pollute the Church and the world,” he said.

Pope Francis offered a reflection on how to have a fruitful Holy Week at his general audience on April 5, 2023. Vatican Media

“Brothers and sisters, let us look at the crucifix … our hope is there.”

Pope Francis offered the Holy Week reflection in his first general audience after being released from Gemelli Hospital, where he was being treated for bronchitis.

At the end of the Wednesday audience, Pope Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine and asked people to pray for victims of war during Holy Week.


“In this Holy Week of Christ's Passion, commemorating His unjust death, I remember in a special way all the victims of war crimes, and as I call for prayers for them, let us raise a supplication to God that the hearts of all may be converted,” he said.

“And as I look at Mary, Our Lady, before the Cross my thoughts go to the mothers: to the mothers of the Ukrainian and Russian soldiers who have fallen in the war. They are mothers of dead sons. Let us pray for these mothers.”

Despite last week’s sickness and hospitalization, Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over an intense schedule of Holy Week liturgies and services.

On Holy Thursday, the pope will preside over a Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 a.m. in the presence of cardinals, bishops, and priests living in Rome.

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In the evening, the pope will offer Mass at the juvenile detention center "Casal del Marmo," the same detention center where he offered Holy Thursday Mass in 2013, shortly after his election.

On Good Friday, Pope Francis will preside over a celebration for the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by the Stations of the Cross devotion at the Colosseum at night.

On Holy Saturday, Pope Francis is set to preside over the Easter Vigil Mass, “the greatest and most noble of all solemnities,” according to the Roman Missal.

Pope Francis will also preside over Mass on Easter Sunday morning and deliver the annual Easter urbi et orbi blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Papal liturgies during Holy Week will be broadcast live on EWTN and on YouTube.

Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.