Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter reflections from the window

At noon today (6:00am EDT), known as Angel Monday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Marian prayer entitled Regina Coeli with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.  The Regina Coeli replaces the Angelus during the Easter Season - until Pentecost.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Regina Coeli

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Monday that follows Easter day is called Angel Monday, according to a very beautiful tradition that corresponds to the biblical accounts of the Resurrection.  In fact, the gospels (cf Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-7; Lk 24:1-12) say that when the women went to the tomb, they found it open.  They had been worried that they wouldn't be able to enter the tomb because it had been closed with a large stone.  Instead, it was open; and from within, a voice told them that Jesus was not there, but that he had risen.

This was the first time that the words had been spoken: He is risen.  The gospel writers tell us that this first proclamation was spoken by the angels, messengers from God.  There is meaning in this angelic presence: just as an angel - Gabriel - had announced the Incarnation of the Word, so it was not enough that the Resurrection should be proclaimed for the first time in human words.   It took a superior being to communicate a reality that was so shocking, so incredible that no human being would ever have dared to speak it.  After this first proclamation, the disciples began to repeat it: Truly, the Lord is risen, and has appeared to Simon (Lk 24:34).  These words are beautiful.  We can all say them together now: Truly, the Lord is risen.  This first proclamation - Truly, the Lord is risen - required an intelligence that was superior to human understanding.

Today is a day of feasting and sharing that is usually experienced together with our families.  It is a day for families.  After having celebrated Easter, we feel the need to gather once again with our loved ones and with friends for a party, because fraternity is the fruit of Christ's Passover; through his death and resurrection, he defeated the sin that separated mankind from God, that separated mankind from himself, that separated mankind from his brothers (and sisters).  We know that sin always separates, always creates enemies.  Jesus has broken down the walls of division between mankind and has restored peace, by beginning to weave the network of a new fraternity.  It is very important in our times that we rediscover fraternity, as it once was experienced in the early Christian communities.  We need to rediscover how to make space for Jesus who never separates, who always unites us.  There can be no true sense of communion or even a commitment to the common good and to social justice without fraternity and sharing.  Without fraternal sharing we will never be able to create an ecclesial or even a civil community: there will always only be a gathering of individuals who are motivated or grouped according to their own interests.  But fraternity is a grace that Jesus creates.

Christ's resurrection has caused something else to explode in our world: the novelty of dialogue and of relationships, a novelty that for Christians has become a responsibility.  In fact, Jesus said: By this, all will know that you are my disciples - if you love one another (Jn 13:35).  This is the reason why we cannot close ourselves in among our own private interests, in our own groups, but why we are called to take care of the common good, to care for our brothers and sisters, especially those who are weak and marginalized.  Only fraternity can guarantee a lasting peace, only fraternity can overcome poverty, only fraternity can dissipate tensions and wars, only fraternity can eradicate corruption and crime.  May the angel who tells us: He is risen help us to experience fraternity and the novelty of dialogue and of living in relationship with others, to be concerned with the common good.

The Virgin Mary, who we invoke in this Easter season with the title of Queen of Heaven, supports us with her prayer, so that we can experience fraternity and communion during these Easter days, and so that these attitudes can become our way of living, the motivation for our relationships.

Queen of Heaven rejoice, Alleluia!
The son who you merited to bear, Alleluia!
Has risen as he said, Alleluia.
Pray to God for us, Alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad O Virgin Mary, Alleluia!
For the Lord has truly risen, Alleluia! 
Let us pray:
O God, who through the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
gave rejoicing to the world
grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary,
we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the atmosphere of Easter that characterizes today's feast, I cordially greet you all, families, parish groups, associations and individual pilgrims from Italy and from other parts of the world.

To each of you, I wish the joy of spending these days of the Easter Octave in serenity as we prolong the joy of Christ's resurrection.  Take every opportunity to bear witness to the peace of the risen Lord, especially in the case of people who are weak and disadvantaged.  In this regard, I wish to assure a special prayer for the World Day of Autism Awareness which is celebrated today.

Let us invoke the gift of peace for everyone, especially the people who are suffering most because of currently active conflicts.  In particular, I renew my call for those who have been kidnapped or unjustly deprived of freedom, that they may be released so that they can return home.

Happy Angel Monday!  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye, and Truly, the Lord is risen!

No comments: