Sunday, May 24, 2020

Regina Caeli for the Ascension of the Lord

At noon today local time in Rome (6:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis led the recitation of the Regina Caeli from the Library inside the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

Greetings of the Holy Father, 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 Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.  The gospel passage (cf Mt 28: 16-20) demonstrates the Apostles who are gathered in Galilee, on the mountain that Jesus had indicated to them (Mt 28: 16). Here the last meeting of the risen Lord with his disciples takes place, on the mountain. The mountain has a strong symbolic, evocative meaning. It was on a mountain that Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes (cf Mt 5: 1-12); in the mountains he would retire to pray (cf Mt 14: 23); there he welcomed the crowds and healed the sick (cf Mt 15: 29). But this time, on the mountain, it is no longer the Master who acts and teaches; it is the Risen One who asks the disciples to act and proclaim, entrusting them with the mandate to continue his work.

He invests them of the mission among all people. He says: Go therefore and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Mt 28: 19-20). The contents of the mission entrusted to the Apostles are these: announce, baptize, teach and walk on the path laid out by the Master, that is, the living Gospel. This message of salvation implies first of all the duty of giving testimony - without testimony it cannot be announced. We, today's disciples, are also called to account for our faith. Faced with such a demanding task, and thinking of our weaknesses, we feel inadequate, as the Apostles themselves certainly felt. But we must not be discouraged, remembering the words that Jesus addressed to them before ascending to Heaven: I am with you always until the end of the world (Mt 28: 20).

This promise ensures the constant and consoling presence of Jesus among us. But how is this presence realized? Through his Spirit, who leads the Church to walk in history as every man's companion on the road. That Spirit who, sent by Christ and the Father, brings about the forgiveness of sins and sanctifies all those who are repentant and trustingly open themselves to his gift. With the promise of staying with us until the end of time, Jesus inaugurates the style of his presence in the world as the Risen One. Jesus is present in the world but with another style, the style of the Risen One, that is, a presence that is revealed in the Word, in the Sacraments, in the constant and interior action of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Ascension tells us that Jesus, although he ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right hand of the Father, is still and always among us: from here, we draw our strength, our perseverance and our joy, precisely from the presence of Jesus who is present with us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

May the Virgin Mary accompany our journey with her maternal protection: from her, we learn the sweetness and the courage to be witnesses of the risen Lord in the world.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

Let us spiritually unite ourselves with our Catholic brothers and sisters in China, where today, they are celebrating with particular devotion, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and Patroness of China, venerated at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai.  Let us entrust the Pastors and faithful of the Catholic Church in that great country to the guidance and protection of our Heavenly Mother, so that they may be strong in faith and firm in fraternal union, joyful witnesses and promoters of charity and fraternal hope and good citizens.

Dear Catholic brothers and sisters in China, I wish to assure you that the universal Church, of which you are an integral part, shares your hopes and supports you in the trials of life. It accompanies you with prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that the light and beauty of the Gospel, the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, can shine in you. In expressing once again my great and sincere affection to all of you, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you. May Our Lady always protect you!

Finally, we entrust to the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians all the disciples of the Lord and all the people of good will who, in this difficult time, in every part of the world, are working with passion and commitment for peace, for dialogue between nations, for service to the poor, for the custody of creation and for the victory of humanity over every disease of the body, heart and soul.

Today is the World Day of Social Communications, dedicated this year to the theme of storytelling. May this event encourage us to tell and share constructive stories, which help us understand that we are all part of a bigger story than we are and we can look to the future with hope, if we really take care of each other as brothers and sisters.

Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I offer an affectionate and cordial greeting to the Salesians. I remember with gratitude the spiritual formation I received from the children of Don Bosco.

Today I should have gone to Acerra, to support the faith of those people and the commitment of those who are working to combat the drama of pollution in the so-called Land of fires. My visit has been postponed; however, I send my greeting, my blessing and my encouragement to the Bishop, the priests, the families and the entire diocesan community who are waiting to meet us as soon as possible. I'll go there soon, be sure of it!

And today also is the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si ', with which we have tried to draw attention to the cry of the Earth and the poor. Thanks to the initiative of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Laudato si' Week, which we have just celebrated, will blossom into a special anniversary year of Laudato si', a special year to reflect on the encyclical, from 24 May this year until 24 May next year. I invite all people of good will to join us, to take care of our common home and our most fragile brothers and sisters. The prayer dedicated to this year will be published on the Vatican website. It will be nice to pray it together.

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

Prayer for the Special Year
celebrating the anniversary of Laudato Si'

Loving God,
Creator of heaven, earth and all they contain.
Open our minds and touch our hearts,
so that we can be part of creation, your gift.

Be present to the needy in these difficult times,
especially the poor and most vulnerable.
Help us to show creative solidarity in facing
the consequences of this global pandemic
Make us courageous in embracing the changes made
in search of the common good.
Now more than ever, so that we can all feel that we are
interconnected and interdependent.

Make sure we can listen and respond
to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
So that the current sufferings can be the pains of childbirth
of a more fraternal and sustainable world.

Under the loving gaze of Mary Help of Christians,
we pray for Christ our Lord.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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