Thank you for coming today, in such large numbers, to share the joy of Easter, the central mystery of our faith. Let us pray that the power of the resurrection of Christ might reach everyone - especially those who suffer - and every place that is in need of trust and hope.
Christ has conquered evil fully and finally, but it is up to us, to people in every age, to embrace this victory in our lives and in the realities of history and society. For this reason it seems important to point out that today we ask God in the liturgy:
“O God, who give constant increase to your Church by new offspring, grant that your servants may hold fast in their lives to the Sacrament they have received in faith.” (Collect for Monday in the Octave of Easter).
Indeed, the Baptism that makes us children of God, and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ, must become life. That is to say: they must be reflected in attitudes, behaviors, actions and choices. The grace contained in the Sacraments Easter is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. Nevertheless, everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let that grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, [to change whatever] might do harm to me and to others, then I allow the victory of Christ to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing – without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion can become an instrument of God's mercy – that beautiful mercy of God.
To Express in our lives the sacrament we have received: behold, dear brothers and sisters, our daily work – and, I would say, our daily joy! The joy of being instruments of the grace of Christ, as branches of the vine which is Christ himself, inspired by the sustaining presence of His Spirit! We pray together, in the name of the dead and risen Lord, and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Paschal mystery might work deeply in us and in our time, in order that hatred give way to love, lies to the truth, revenge to forgiveness, sadness to joy.
Let us pray the Regina coeli
REGINA CÆLI St. Peter's Square Second Sunday of Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday, 7 April 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
On this Sunday which brings the Octave of Easter to a close I renew to everyone my good wishes for Easter in the very words of the Risen Jesus: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19, 21, 26). This is not a greeting nor even a simple good wish: it is a gift, indeed, the precious gift that Christ offered his disciples after he had passed through death and hell.
He gives peace, as he had promised: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). This peace is the fruit of the victory of God’s love over evil, it is the fruit of forgiveness. And it really is like this: true peace, that profound peace, comes from experiencing God’s mercy. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, as John Paul II — who closed his eyes to the world on the eve of this very day — wanted it to be.
John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus appeared twice to the Apostles enclosed in the Upper Room: the first time on the evening of the Resurrection itself and on that occasion Thomas, who said unless I see and touch I will not believe, was absent. The second time, eight days later, Thomas was there as well. And Jesus said, speaking directly to him, I invite you to look at my wounds, to touch them; then Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28). So Jesus said: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (v. 29); and who were those who believed without seeing? Other disciples, other men and women of Jerusalem, who, on the testimony of the Apostles and the women, believed, even though they had not met the Risen Jesus. This is a very important word about faith, we can call it the beatitude of faith. Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed: this is the beatitude of faith! In every epoch and in every place blessed are those who, on the strength of the word of God proclaimed in the Church and witnessed by Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the love of God incarnate, Mercy incarnate. And this applies for each one of us!
As well as his peace Jesus gave the Apostles the Holy Spirit so that they could spread the forgiveness of sins in the world, that forgiveness which only God can give and which came at the price of the Blood of the Son (cf. Jn 20:21-23). The Church is sent by the Risen Christ to pass on to men and women the forgiveness of sins and thereby make the Kingdom of love grow, to sow peace in hearts so that they may also be strengthened in relationships, in every society, in institutions.
And the Spirit of the Risen Christ drove out fear from the Apostles’ hearts and impelled them to leave the Upper Rome in order to spread the Gospel. Let us too have greater courage in witnessing to our faith in the Risen Christ! We must not be afraid of being Christian and living as Christians! We must have this courage to go and proclaim the Risen Christ, for he is our peace, he made peace with his love, with his forgiveness, with his Blood and with his mercy.
Dear friends, this afternoon I shall celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica of St John Lateran, which is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. Together let us pray the Virgin Mary that she help us, Bishop and People, to walk in faith and charity, ever trusting in the Lord’s mercy: he always awaits us, loves us, has pardoned us with his Blood and pardons us every time we go to him to ask his forgiveness. Let us trust in his mercy!
After the Regina Caeli:
I address a cordial greeting to the pilgrims who have taken part in Holy Mass at which the Cardinal Vicar of Rome presided in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, a centre of devotion to Divine Mercy. Dear brothers and sisters, may you be messengers and witnesses of God’s mercy!
I am glad to greet the many members of the movements and associations present at our moment of prayer, particularly the Neocatechumenal communities of Rome which today are beginning a special mission in the squares of the city. I invite everyone to spread the Good News in every walk of life “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pt 3:15)! Go out into the squares and proclaim Jesus Christ, Our Saviour!
I greet all the children and young people present and in particular the students of the Collège Saint-Jean de Passy in Paris and of the Giuseppe Mazzini School in Marsala, as well as the group of altar-servers from Taranto.
I greet the Choir of the Basilica of Collemaggio, Aquila, the faithful of Campoverde, Aprilia, Verolanuova and Valentano, and the Foulard Bianchi Scout community.
May the Lord bless you, and have a good lunch!
REGINA CÆLI St. Peter's Square
Third Sunday of Easter, 14 April 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
I would like to reflect briefly on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles that is read in the Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Easter. This text says that the Apostles’ first preaching in Jerusalem filled the city with the news that Jesus was truly risen in accordance with the Scriptures and was the Messiah foretold by the Prophets. The chief priests and elders of the city were endeavouring to crush the nascent community of believers in Christ and had the Apostles thrown into jail, ordering them to stop teaching in his name. But Peter and the other Eleven answered: “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus... exalted him at at his right hand as Leader and Saviour... And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:29-32). They therefore had the Apostles scourged and once again ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. And they went away, as Scripture says, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name” of Jesus (v. 41).
I ask myself: where did the first disciples find the strength to bear this witness? And that is not all: what was the source of their joy and of their courage to preach despite the obstacles and violence? Let us not forget that the Apostles were simple people; they were neither scribes nor doctors of the law, nor did they belong to the class of priests. With their limitations and with the authorities against them how did they manage to fill Jerusalem with their teaching (cf. Acts 5:28)?
It is clear that only the presence with them of the Risen Lord and the action of the Holy Spirit can explain this fact. The Lord who was with them and the Spirit who was impelling them to preach explain this extraordinary fact. Their faith was based on such a strong personal experience of the dead and Risen Christ that they feared nothing and no one, and even saw persecution as a cause of honour that enabled them to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to be like him, witnessing with their life.
This history of the first Christian community tells us something very important which applies to the Church in all times and also to us. When a person truly knows Jesus Christ and believes in him that person experiences his presence in life as well as the power of his Resurrection and cannot but communicate this experience. And if this person meets with misunderstanding or adversity, he behaves like Jesus in his Passion: he answers with love and with the power of the truth.
In praying the Regina Caeli together, let us ask for the help of Mary Most Holy so that the Church throughout the world may proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord with candour and courage and give credible witness to it with signs of brotherly love. Brotherly love is the closest testimony we can give that Jesus is alive with us, that Jesus is risen.
Let us pray in a special way for Christians who are suffering persecution; in our day there are so many Christians who are suffering persecution — so, so many, in a great many countries: let us pray for them, with love, from our heart. May they feel the living and comforting presence of the Risen Lord.
After the Regina Caeli:
Fr Luca Passi was beatified yesterday in Venice. He was a priest from Bergamo who lived in the 19th century and was the Founder of the Secular Institute of St Dorothy and of the Institute of the Teaching Sisters of St Dorothy. Let us give thanks to God for the witness borne by this Blessed!
Today the Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart is being celebrated in Italy on the theme: “The New Generations Beyond the Crisis”. This athenaeum, which was conceived of in the mind and heart of Fr Agostino Gemelli and with great popular support, has trained thousands and thousands of young people to be competent and responsible citizens, builders of the common good. I ask you always to support this athenaeum so that it may continue to offer the new generations an excellent training in order to face the challenges of the present time.
I greet with affection all the pilgrims who have come here from so many countries! The families, parish groups, movements and young people. In particular, I greet pilgrims from the Diocese of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino with Archbishop Buoncristiani. I also extend a special thought to the boys and girls preparing for Confirmation.
I wish you all a good Sunday and a good lunch!
REGINA CÃ†LI St. Peter's Square
Fourth Sunday of Easter, 21 April 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Fourth Sunday of the Season of Easter is characterized by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd â€” in chapter ten of St John â€” which is read every year. Todayâ€™s passage records these words of Jesus: â€œMy sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fatherâ€™s hand. I and the Father are oneâ€ (10:27-30). These four verses contain the whole of Jesusâ€™ message; it is the nucleus of his Gospel: he calls us to share in his relationship with the Father, and this is eternal life.
Jesus wants to establish with his friends a relationship which mirrors his own relationship with the Father: a relationship of reciprocal belonging in full trust, in intimate communion. To express this profound understanding, this relationship of friendship, Jesus uses the image of the shepherd with his sheep: he calls them and they recognize his voice, they respond to his call and follow him. This parable is very beautiful! The mystery of his voice is evocative: only think that from our motherâ€™s womb we learn to recognize her voice and that of our father; it is from the tone of a voice that we perceive love or contempt, affection or coldness. Jesusâ€™ voice is unique! If we learn to distinguish it, he guides us on the path of life, a path that goes beyond even the abyss of death.
However Jesus, at a certain point, said: â€œmy Father, who has given them to me...â€ (Jn 10:29), referring to his sheep. This is very important, it is a profound mystery, far from easy to understand. If I feel drawn to Jesus, if his voice warms my heart, it is thanks to God the Father who has sown within me the desire for love, for truth, for life, for beauty... and Jesus is all this in fullness! This helps us understand the mystery of vocation and especially of the call to a special consecration. Sometimes Jesus calls us, he invites us to follow him, but perhaps we do not realize that it is he who is calling, like what happened to the young Samuel. There are many young people today, here in the Square. There are large numbers of you arenâ€™t there? Itâ€™s clear.... Look! Here in the Square today there are so many of you! I would like to ask you: have you sometimes heard the Lordâ€™s voice, in a desire, in a worry, did he invite you to follow him more closely? Have you heard him? I canâ€™t hear you? There! Have you wanted to be apostles of Jesus? We must bet on youth for the great ideals. Do you think this? Do you agree? Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be brave! Be brave! Ask him this!
Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or to the consecrated life there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community.... This is why Jesus said: â€œPray therefore the Lord of the harvestâ€, that is, God the Father, â€œto send out labourers into his harvestâ€ (Mt 9:38). Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I am pleased to stress this today, which is the â€œWorld Day of Prayer for Vocationsâ€. Let us pray in particular for the new Priests of the Diocese of Rome whom I have had the joy to ordain this morning. And let us invoke the intercession of Mary. Today there were 10 young men who said â€œyesâ€ to Jesus and they have been ordained priests this morning. This is beautiful!
Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the Woman of the â€œyesâ€. Mary said â€œyesâ€ throughout her life! She learned to recognize Jesusâ€™ voice from the time when she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to know Jesusâ€™ voice better and better and to follow it, so as to walk on the path of life! Thank you.
Thank you so much for your greeting, but greet Jesus too. Shout â€œJesusâ€ very loudly.... Let us all pray together to Our Lady.
After the Regina Caeli:
I am following closely the events in Venezuela. I accompany them with deep concern, with intense prayer and with the hope that an effort will be made to seek and find the right and peaceful paths to surmount the moment of grave difficulty which the country is going through. I ask the beloved Venezuelan people, and in particular those in charge of institutions and the political leaders, to reject firmly every form of violence and to establish a dialogue based on truth and on mutual recognition, in the search of the common good and in love for the nation. I ask believers to pray and work for reconciliation and peace. Let us unite in a prayer full of hope for Venezuela, putting it in the hands of Our Lady of Coromoto.
A thought goes to those hit by the earthquake that struck a southwestern region in continental China. Let us pray for the victims and for all those who are suffering the effects of this violent quake.
Fr NicolÃ² Rusco will be beatified this afternoon in Sondrio [Italy]. He was a priest from the Valtellino who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries. For many years he served as an exemplary parish priest in Sondrio and he was killed in the political and religious unrest that was troubling Europe in that time. Let us praise the Lord for his witness!
I greet with affection all the pilgrims who have come from various countries: families, many parish groups, associations, candidates for confirmation and schools. I greet in particular the many young people from the Diocese of Venice, accompanied by the Patriarch; but remember, boys and girls: you must bet on life for the great ideals! I greet the catechists of the Diocese of Gubbio, led by their bishop; the community of the Seminary of Lecce with the diocesan altar servers; the representatives of the Lions Club of Italy. On this â€œWorld Day of Prayer for Vocationsâ€ which was born 50 years ago from an intuition of Pope Paul VI, I invite you all to say a special prayer so that the Lord will send numerous labourers into his harvest. St Hannibal Mary Di Francia, an apostle of prayer for vocations, reminds us of this important commitment. I wish you all a good Sunday!
Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!
REGINA CÆLI St. Peter's Square Fifth Sunday of Easter, 28 April 2013
Before closing this celebration, I would like to entrust to Our Lady the confirmands and all of you. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to accept the news of God in our life. She conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to accept the Word of God, to accept Jesus inside of us and then to bring him to everyone. Mary invoked the Holy Spirit with the Apostles in the Upper Room: we too, every time that we come together in prayer, are sustained by the spiritual presence of the Mother of Jesus, in order to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the strength to witness to Jesus Risen. I say this in a special way to you who have received Confirmation today: may Mary help you to be attentive to what the Lord asks of you, and to live and walk forever with the Holy Spirit!
I would like to extend my affectionate greeting to all the pilgrims present from so many countries. I greet in particular the children who are preparing for Confirmation, the large group led by the Sisters of Charity, the faithful of several Polish parishes and those from Bisignano, as well as theKatholische akademische Verbindung Capitolina.
At this moment, a special moment, I wish to raise a prayer for the many victims caused by the tragic collapse of a factory in Bangladesh. I express my solidarity with and deepest sympathies to the families who are mourning their loved ones, and I address a strong appeal from my heart that the dignity and safety of the worker always be protected.
Now, in the light of Easter, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we turn together to the Mother of the Lord.
REGINA CÆLI Saint Peter's Square Sixth Sunday of Easter, 5 May 2013
At this moment of profound communion with Christ, we also feel among us the living presence of the Virgin Mary. It is a motherly presence, a familial presence, especially for you who are part of the confraternity. Love for Our Lady is one of the characteristics of popular devotion that must be respected and well directed. For this reason, I invite you to meditate on the last chapter of the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which speaks of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. There it says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (n. 58).
Dear friends, in the Year of Faith I leave you this icon of Mary the pilgrim, who follows her Son Jesus and precedes us all in the journey of faith.
Today the Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar are celebrating Easter. I wish to send a special greeting to these brothers and sisters, uniting myself with all my heart to them in proclaiming the joyful news: Christ is Risen! Gathered in prayer around Mary, let us invoke from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, that he may console and comfort all Christians, especially those celebrating Easter amid trial and suffering, and guide them on the path of reconciliation and peace.
Yesterday in Brazil Francisca de Paula de Jesus, called “Nhá Chica”, was proclaimed Blessed. Her simple life was totally dedicated to God and to charity, so much so that she was called “mother of the poor”. I join in the joy of the Church in Brazil for this luminous disciple of the Lord.
I greet with affection all the confraternities present, having come from many Countries. Thank you for your witness to the faith! I greet too the parish groups and the families, as well as the great parade of musical bands and associations of the Schützen from Germany.
A special greeting goes today to the “Meter” Association on the National Day for Child Victims of Violence. And this offers me the occasion to turn my thoughts to those who have suffered and are suffering from abuse. I would like to assure them that they are present in my prayers, but I would like to strongly declare that we must all commit ourselves with clarity and courage so that every human person, especially children, who are among the most vulnerable, be always defended and protected.
I also encourage those suffering from pulmonary hypertension and their families.
REGINA CÆLI Saint Peter's Square Seventh Sunday of Easter, 12 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the end of this celebration I would like to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new saints and in particular the official delegations from Italy, Colombia and Mexico.
May the martyrs of Otranto help the beloved Italian people to look with hope to the future, trusting in the closeness of God who never abandons us, even in difficult moments.
Through the intercession of Mother Laura Montoya may the Lord grant the Church a new missionary and evangelizing impetus and, inspired by this new saint’s example of harmony and reconciliation may the beloved sons and daughters of Colombia continue to work for peace and for the just development of their homeland.
Let us place in the hands of St Guadalupe García Zavala all the poor, the sick and those who care for them. Let us also commend to her intercession the noble Mexican nation so that all violence and insecurity may be eradicated and that it may continue to advance on the path of solidarity and brotherly coexistence.
I am now glad to recall the beatification, yesterday, in Rome, of the priest Luigi Novarese, Founder of the International Confederation of the Volunteers of Suffering Centers and of the Silent Workers of the Cross. I join in the thanksgiving for this exemplary priest, who was able to renew the pastoral care of the sick by giving them an active role in the Church.
I greet the participants in the March for Life which took place this morning in Rome. I ask everyone to continue to pay special attention to this most important issue of respect for human life from the moment of conception. In this regard I would also like to remember the collection of signatures being made today in Italian parishes in support of the European project “One of Us”. The initiative aims to guarantee embryos legal protection, safeguarding every human being from the very first moment of his or her existence. Evangelium Vitae Day will be a special event for those who have at heart the defence of the sacred nature of human life. It will be held here in the Vatican, in the context of the Year of Faith, next 15 and 16 June.
I greet with affection all the parish groups, families, schools and young people present. Let us now turn with filial love to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Model of all Christians.
REGINA CÆLI Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This celebration of faith is drawing to a close. It began yesterday with the Vigil and culminated this morning with the Eucharist. It was a renewed Pentecost that transformed St Peter’s Square into an Upper Room beneath the open sky. We have relived the experience of the nascent Church, harmonized in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14). In the variety of charisms we too have experienced the beauty of unity, of being one. Moreover this is an action of the Holy Spirit who creates unity in the Church ever anew.
I would like to thank all the movements, associations, communities and ecclesial groups. You are a gift and a treasure in the Church! This is what you are! I thank in particular all of you who have come from Rome and from so many parts of the world. Always convey the power of the Gospel! Do not be afraid! Always feel joy and enthusiasm for communion in the Church! May the Risen Lord be with you constantly and may Our Lady protect you!
Let us remember in our prayers the populations of Emilia Romagna hit by the earthquake on 20 May last year. I also pray for the Federazione Italiana delle Associazioni di Volontariato in Oncologia [Italian Federation of Volunteer Associations in Oncology]
After the recitation of the Regina Caeli:
Brothers and sisters, thank you so much for your love for the Church! Have a good Sunday, a good feast day and a good lunch!