Sunday, May 3, 2020

Regina Caeli for Good Shepherd Sunday

At noon today (6:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis led the recitation of the Regina Caeli inside the Library at 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!

The fourth Sunday of Easter, which we are celebrating today, is dedicated to Jesus, the good Shepherd.  The gospel says: The sheep listen to his voice: he calls his sheep, each one of them, by name (Jn 10: 3).  The Lord calls us by name; he calls to us because he loves us.  However, the gospel also says that there are other voices that we should not follow: the voices of strangers, robbers and brigands who have evil thoughts about the sheep.

These different voices resonate within us. There is the voice of God, who kindly speaks to our conscience, and there is the tempting voice that leads to evil. How can we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd and distinguish it from that of the thief, how can we distinguish the inspiration of God from the suggestion of the evil one? You can learn to discern these two voices: in fact they speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking at our heart. They speak different languages. Just as we know how to distinguish one language from another, we can also distinguish the voice of God and the voice of the evil one. The voice of God never obliges: God proposes himself, he does not impose himself. On the other hand, the voice of the evil one seduces, assails, forces: it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting but passing emotions. At first it coaxes, makes us believe that we are omnipotent, but then it leaves us with emptiness inside and accuses us: You are worth nothing. On the other hand, the voice of God corrects us, with much patience, but He always encourages us, consoles us: God's voice always nourishes hope. The voice of God is a voice that has a horizon, whereas the voice of the evil one takes us to a wall, leads us into the corner.

There is another difference.  The voice of the evil one distracts us from the present and tries to make us focus on the fears of the future or on the sadness of the past - the enemy does not want the present -: he brings back bitterness, memories of the wrongs we have suffered, those who hurt us ..., many bad memories. On the other hand, the voice of God speaks in the present: Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can give up the regrets and remorse that hold your heart prisoner. God animates us, carries us forward, but He speaks to the present: now.

Again: the two voices raise different questions in us. What comes from God will be: What is good for me? Instead, the tempter will insist on another question: What am I going to do? What do I want: the tempting voice always revolves around the self, its drives, its needs, everything ... immediately. It's like children's whims: we want everything and now. The voice of God, however, never promises joy at low prices: God's voice invites us to go beyond our selves to find true good, peace. Remember: evil never gives peace, it puts frenzy before and leaves bitterness after. This is the style of evil.

Finally, the voice of God and that of the tempter speak in different environments: the enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, gossip; the Lord loves sunlight, truth, sincere transparency. The enemy will say to us: Close yourself, so nobody understands you and listens to you, don't trust! On the contrary, the Lord invites us to open up, to be clear and confident in God and in others. Dear brothers and sisters, in this time, many thoughts and concerns lead us to re-enter inside ourselves. We must pay attention to the voices that reach our hearts. Let us ask where they come from. Let us ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who brings us out of the enclosure of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom. May our Lady, Mother of Good Council, guide and accompany our discernment.

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  Christian existence is always and everywhere a response to the call of God, in all states of life.  This Day reminds us of something Jesus said one day: that the Kingdom of God requires a lot of work and that we must pray to the Lord, asking him to send labourers to work in his vineyard (cf Mt 9: 37-38).  Priesthood and consecrated life require courage and perseverance; and without prayer, no one can walk this path.  I invite you all to call upon the Lord: ask him to give us the gift of good labourers for his Kingdom, with hearts and hands that are willing and open to his love.

Once again I would like to express my closeness to all those who are suffering from COVID-19, those who dedicate themselves to their care and to all those who, in any way, are suffering from the pandemic. At the same time, I wish to support and encourage the international collaboration that is taking place with various initiatives to respond adequately and effectively to the serious crisis we are experiencing. It is important to bring together scientific skills, in a transparent and disinterested way, in order to find vaccines and treatments and to guarantee universal access to essential technologies that will allow every infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary health care.

I address a special thought to the Meter Association, the promoter of the National Day for children who are victims of violence, exploitation and indifference. I encourage managers and staff members to continue their preventive and awareness-raising actions alongside the various educational agencies. And I thank the children from the Association who sent me a collage with hundreds of daisies that were coloured by them. Thank you!

We have just started the month of May, the month of Mary par excellence, during which the faithful love to visit the Shrines dedicated to the Madonna. This year, due to the health situation, we can onlly go spiritually to these places of faith and devotion, to place our concerns, expectations and plans for the future in the heart of the Holy Virgin.

And since prayer is a universal value, I accepted the proposal of the High Commission for Human Brotherhood so that believers of all religions will join together spiritually on 14 May in a day of prayer and fasting and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Remember: on May 14, all believers together, believers of different traditions, pray, fast and do works of charity.

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

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