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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Regina Coeli for the Ascension

At noon today (Rome time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Regina Coeli with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

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

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.  The gospel account (cf Mt 28:16-20) which concludes the gospel of Matthew presents the moment of the Risen Jesus' definitive parting from his disciples.  The scene is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus first called them to follow him and began to assemble the small nucleus of his new community.  Now, those disciples have passed through the fire of the passion and the resurrection; at the sight of the risen Lord, they bow down, but some of them are still doubtful.  To this frightened community, Jesus left the immense task of evangelizing the world, and he makes the task concrete by commanding them to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf Mt 28:19).

Therefore, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven represents the end of the mission which the Son received from the Father and the beginning of the pursuant mission taken up by the Church.  In fact, from that moment, from the moment of the Ascension, the presence of Christ in the world is ensured through his disciples, those who believe in Him and proclaim him to others.  This mission will continue until the end of history and will benefit from daily assistance from the risen Lord, who assures us: I will be with you always, until the end of time (Mt 28:20).

And the presence of the risen Lord brings strength in times of persecution, comfort in tribulation, support in difficult situations that are encountered by the mission and the proclamation of the gospel.  The Ascension reminds us of this assistance that is provided by Jesus and the Spirit who helps us to trust and who gives security to our Christian witness in the world.  The Spirit reveals to us the reason why the Church exists: the Church exists in order to proclaim the gospel, this is her only reason for being!  The joy of the Church is the proclamation of the gospel.  All of us, the baptized: we are the Church.  Today we are invited to better understand the fact that God has given us great dignity and the responsibility to proclaim good news to the world, to make this good news more accessible to humanity.  This is our dignity, this is our greatest honour, all of us, the baptized!

On this feast of the Ascension, while we turn our gaze heavenward, to the place where Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we strengthen our steps here on earth by continuing our journey with enthusiasm and courage.  We continue our mission of bearing witness to and living the gospel in every place.  We are well aware that this mission does not depend first and foremost on our own strengths, our abilities for organization or any human resource.  Only with the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit can we effectively fulfill our mission of making Jesus' love and tenderness more and more known and experienced by others.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly gifts which the Lord promises us, and to become more and more credible witnesses of the Resurrection and of true Life.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

I want to renew my closeness to my beloved brother Pope Tawadros II and to the entire Egyptian nation who, two days ago suffered another act of ferocious violence.  The victims, among which were also some children, are the faithful who were on their way to a Shrine to pray, and they were killed after they had refused to deny their Christian faith.  May the Lord welcome these courageous witnesses - these martyrs - into his peace, and may He convert the hearts of the terrorists.

And let us pray also for the victims of the horrible attack that took place last Monday in Manchester, where many young lives were cruelly ended.  I am close to the family members and to all those who are mourning their loss.

Today, we celebrate the World Day of Social Communications, focused on the theme: Fear not for I am with you (Is 43:5).  Various social media offer the possibility to share and to spread news instantly; this news can be good or bad, true or false; let us pray that communications, in every form, may be effectively constructive in the service of truth by refuting prejudices and defending hope and trust in the world today.

I greet all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims: families, parish groups, associations and schools.

In particular, I greet the faithful who have come from Colorado; the Bavarian folklore group who have come to participate in the great parade celebrating the centenary of the feast of the Patron Saints of Bavaria; I greet the Polish faithful, with a blessing also for the participants taking part in the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Piekary.

I greet the Comboni Missionaries who are celebrating 150 years of their foundation; the pilgrimage of the Sisters Hospitaliers from Ascoli Piceno; the groups from Naples, Scandicci, Thiesi, Nonantola and the graduates from the Sacred Heart and Incarnated Word school in Palermo (Sicily).

I offer a special thought and encouragement to the representatives from the associations of volunteers who are promoting the donation of organs, a noble and meritorious act (Catechism, 2296).  I also greet the workers from Mediaset Roma, with the wish that their experience of working may be resolved, having as its ultimate end the true good of all, not limiting itself to merit, but rather respecting the rights of all those who are involved: the first of these is the right to work.

I wish to conclude with a warm greeting for the people of Genoa and sincere appreciation for the warm greetings they offered me yesterday.  May the Lord bless them abundantly and may Our Lady of the Guard take care of them.

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