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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Regina Caeli for the Ascension

At noon today, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to recite the Regina Caeli with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the usual Sunday appointment.

Greetings of His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Regina Caeli

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, an event that took place forty days after Easter.  We contemplate the mystery of Jesus leaving our earthly space and entering into the fullness of the glory of God, taking our humanity with him.  That is to say that we, our humanity entered for the first time into heaven.  The gospel of Luke shows the reaction of the disciples as they witnessed the Lord who parted from them and was taken up to heaven (Lk 24:51).  Within them, there was no pain or sense of loss, but instead they paid him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Lk 24:52).  This is the return of those who no longer fear the city that had rejected the Master, who had witnessed the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter, who had seen the dispersion of the disciples and the violence of power that had felt threatened.

From that day on, it was possible for the apostles and for every one of Christ's disciples to live in Jerusalem and in every city throughout the world, even those that are most troubled by injustice and violence, because above every city there is the same sky and every inhabitant can look up to heaven with hope.  Jesus, God is truly man, with his human body, he is in heaven!  This is our hope, it is our anchor, and we are assured of this hope if we look toward heaven.

In heaven dwells the God who revealed himself so close to his people that he took on the face of a man.  Jesus of Nazareth.  He remains forever God-with-us - remember this point: Emmanuel, God with us - and he will never leave us alone!  We can look up in order to recognize our future, right in front of us.  In the Ascension of Jesus, the Crucified and Risen Lord, there is a promise of our participation in the fullness of life with God.

Before being separated from his friends, Jesus, referring to the events of his death and resurrection, said to them: You are witnesses of all this (Lk 24:48).  That is to say that the disciples, the apostles are witnesses of the death and resurrection of Christ, on that day, and also of the Ascension of Christ.  In effect, it was after having seen their Lord rise into the heavens that the disciples returned to the city as witnesses who joyfully proclaimed to everyone the new life that comes from the Crucified and Risen Christ, in whose name they preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations (Lk 24:47).  That is their testimony - given not only with words but also with their daily lives - the testimony that every Sunday should go out from our churches and throughout the week enter into our homes, our offices, our schools, the places where we seek entertainment, our hospitals, our prisons, homes for the elderly, places crowded with immigrants, the peripheries of our cities ... We must proclaim this testimony on a weekly basis: Christ is with us: Jesus has risen into heaven, and he is with us; Christ is alive!

Jesus has assured us that in this proclamation and by bearing witness, we will be clothed with power from on high (Lk 24:49), that is to say with the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the secret of our mission: the presence among us of the risen Lord, who with the gift of the Spirit continues to open our minds and our hearts so that we can proclaim his love and his mercy even in the most remote and distant areas of our cities.  The Holy Spirit is the real architect of the multifaceted witness that the Church and every baptized person proclaims in the world.  Therefore we can never neglect the gathering of God's people in prayer to praise Him and to invoke the gift of the Spirit.  During this week, which will lead us to the feast of Pentecost, let us remain spiritually in the Upper Room, together with the Virgin Mary in order to welcome the Holy Spirit.  We also do this now, in communion with the faithful who are gathered in the Shrine in Pompeii for the traditional Supplication.

Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, we celebrate the 50th World Day of Social Communications, instituted by the Second Vatican Council.  In fact, the Council Fathers, reflecting on the Church in the modern world, understood the crucial importance of communication, that can build bridges between people, families, social groups, people.  And this, both in the physical and the digital sphere (Message for World Day of Social Communications 2016).  I extend to all those involved in social communications a cordial greeting, and I hope that our means of communication in the Church will always portray a clear evangelical style, a style that combines truth and mercy.

I greet all of you, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and from other countries.  In particular, I greet the Polish faithful from Warsaw, Lowicz and Ostroda; the Vienna Philharmonic; the Irish group of Friends of Monsignor O'Flaherty; students from the Corderius College (Netherlands); and the Katholische Akademische Verbindung Capitolina.

I greet the participants taking part in the March for Life, friends of the Opera Don Folci and from the Saint Pius X minor seminary, the European Scouts from Western and Southern Rome, and the numerous young people from the Diocese of Genoa who have recently been Confirmed.  There are many of you here, young people!

In many countries, today is Mothers' Day; let us remember with gratitude and affection all our mothers - those who are today here in the Square, our mothers, those who are still living among us and those who have gone to heaven - let us confide them to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Together, let us pray for all our mothers: Hail Mary ...

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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