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Regina Caeli Address: Solemnity of the Ascension on the Seventh Sunday of Easter

‘The Feast of the Ascension Tells us that Jesus Is Still and Always Among Us’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace.

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Before the Regina Caeli:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Celebrated today, in Italy and in other countries, is the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension. The Gospel passage (Cf. Matthew 28:16-20) shows us the Apostles that gather in Galilee, and go “to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them” (v. 16). Here, on the mountain, the last meeting of the Risen Lord happens with His own. The “mountain” has a strong, thought-provoking symbolic charge. Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes on a mountain (Cf. Matthew 5:1-12); He withdrew on mountains to pray (Cf. Matthew 14:23); He received the crowds there and healed the sick (Cf. Matthew 15:29). However, this time, it’s no longer the Teacher who acts and teaches, but it is He who asks the disciples to act and proclaim, entrusting to them the mandate to continue His work. He invests them with the mission among all the people. He says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, 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” (vv. 19-20). The contents of the mission entrusted to the Apostles are these: proclaim, baptize, teach, and walk on the way traced by the Teacher, namely, the living Gospel.  This message of salvation implies first of all the duty of witness — without witness one cannot proclaim –, to which we too, today’s disciples, are called to give the reason for our faith. In the face of such a demanding task, and thinking of our weaknesses, we feel inadequate, as certainly the Apostles themselves also felt. However, there is no need to get discouraged, remembering the words that Jesus addressed to them before ascending to Heaven: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (v. 20). This promise assures the constant and consoling presence of Jesus among us. However, in what way is this presence realized? Through His Spirit, which leads the Church to walk in history as every man’s road companion. That Spirit which, sent by Christ and by the Father, works the remission of sins and sanctifies all those that, contrite, open themselves with trust to His gift.

With the promise of remaining with us until the end of time, Jesus inaugurates the style of His presence in the world as Risen. Jesus is present in the world but with another style, the style of the Risen One, namely, a presence that is revealed in the Word, in the Sacraments, and in the constant and interior action of the Holy Spirit. The feast of the Ascension tells us that Jesus, although having gone up to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right hand of the Father, is still and always among us: from here stems our strength, our perseverance and our joy, precisely from Jesus’ presence among us with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

May the Virgin Mary accompany us, with Her maternal protection, on our way. From Her we learn the sweetness and courage to be witnesses of the Risen Lord in the world.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


After the Regina Caeli:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

Dearest Catholic brothers and sisters in China, I want 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. She accompanies you with prayer for a new effusion of the Holy Spirit so that the light and beauty of the Gospel can shine in you, power of God for the salvation of anyone who believes.

In expressing to all of you once again my great and sincere affection, I impart to you a special Apostolic Blessing. May Our Lady protect you always!

Finally, we entrust to the intercession of Mary Help of Christians all the Lord’s disciples and all persons of goodwill that, in this difficult time, work in every part of the world with passion and commitment for peace, for dialogue between nations, for service to the poor and for the protection of Creation and humanity’s victory over any disease of body, of heart and of soul.

Observed today is the World Day of Social Communications, dedicated this year to the subject of narration. May this event be able to encourage us to recount and share constructive stories, which help us to understand that we are all part of a greater story than ourselves and that we can look to the future with hope if we really take care of one another as brothers.

Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, an affectionate and warm greeting goes to the Salesian men and women. I remember with gratitude the spiritual formation I received from the sons of Don Bosco.

Today I should have gone to Acerra, to support the faith of that population and the commitment of all those that do their utmost to oppose the drama of the pollution in the so-called Land of Fires. My visit has been postponed; however, I send the Bishop, the priests, and the families of the entire diocesan community my greeting, my Blessing and my encouragement, in the hope of meeting with you as soon as possible. I will go, for sure!

And today also is the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si’, with which <we> sought to call attention to the cry of the Earth and of the poor. Thanks to the initiative of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, the “Laudato Si’ Week, which we just celebrated, will blossom in a special anniversary Year of Laudato Si’, a special Year to reflect on the Encyclical, from May 24 of this year to May 24 of next year. I invite all persons of goodwill to adhere to it, to take care of our common home and our more fragile brothers and sisters. The prayer dedicated to this Year is published on the site. It will be good to pray it.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Prayer for the Special Year of the Anniversary of Laudato Si’

 Loving God,

Creator of Heaven, of earth and of all that 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 poorest and most vulnerable.

Help us to show creative solidarity in addressing

the consequences of this global pandemic.

Make us courageous in embracing the changes geared to the search for the common good.

Now more than ever, may we be able to feel that we are all

inter-connected and interdependent.

Make sure that we succeed in listening and responding

to the cry of the earth and to the cry of the poor.

May the present sufferings be the birth pangs of a

more fraternal and sustainable world.

We pray to You through Christ Our Lord,

under the loving gaze of Mary Help of Christians.


© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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Virginia Forrester

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