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Regina Caeli Address: On the Fourth Sunday of Easter Dedicated to the Good Shepherd

‘The Lord Calls Us by Name; He Calls Us because He Loves Us’

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!

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, which we celebrate today, is dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd. The Gospel says: “The sheep hear His voice: He calls His sheep, each one by name” (John 10:3). The Lord calls us by name; He calls us because He loves us. However, the Gospel also says, there are other voices, not to be followed: those of strangers, of robbers and brigands that wish evil for the sheep.

These different voices resound within us. There is God’s voice, which speaks gently to the conscience, and there is the tempting voice that induces to evil. How can we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the robber; how can we distinguish God’s inspiration from the suggestion of the Evil One? One 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. 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. God’s voice never obliges: God proposes, He doesn’t impose. Instead, the evil voice seduces, assails, constrains: it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting but passing emotions. At the beginning it flatters, it makes us believe that we are omnipotent, but then it leaves us empty inside and accuses us: “You are worthless.” Instead, God’s voice corrects us, with so much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us: always nourishes hope. God’s voice is a voice that has a horizon; instead, the voice of the Evil One leads one to a wall, leads one to a corner.

Another difference: the enemy’s voice distracts from the present and wants us to concentrate on fears of the future or on sadness of the past — the enemy doesn’t want the present –;  he reawakens bitterness, memories of wrongs suffered, of those that have done us harm . . . , so many bad memories. Instead, God’s voice speaks to the present: “Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can renounce regrets and remorse that keep your heart a prisoner.” He encourages us, leads us forward, but speaks to the present: now.

Again: the two voices arouse in us different questions. That which comes from God will be: “What does me good?” Instead, the tempter will insist on another question: “What should I do?” What suits me: the evil voice always rotates around the “I” — its impulses, its needs, everything and immediately. It’s like children’s whims: everything and now. Instead, God’s voice never promises joy at a low price: it invites us to go beyond our “I” to find our true good, peace. Let us remember: evil doesn’t give peace; it puts frenzy first and leaves bitterness after. This is evil’s style.

Finally, God’s voice and that of the tempter speak in different “environments”: the enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, gossip; the Lord loves the light of the sun, truth, sincere transparency. The enemy will say to you: “Shut yourself in yourself, so no one understands you and listens to you, don’t trust!” The good, on the contrary, invites to open oneself, to be limpid, and trusting in God and in others. Dear brothers and sisters, in this time many thoughts and worries lead us to re-enter ourselves. Let’s pay attention to voices that reach our heart. Let’s ask ourselves where they come from. Let’s ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who makes us come out of the enclosures of selfishness and leads us to pastures of true freedom. May Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, guide and accompany us in our discernment.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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

 

After the Regina Caeli

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Observed today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Christian existence is wholly and always a response to God’s call, in any state of life. This day reminds us of what Jesus said one day, namely, that the field of the Kingdom of God requires much work, and that it’s necessary to pray to the Father to send laborers to work in His field (Cf. Matthew 9:37-38). Priesthood and consecrate life call for courage and perseverance and, without prayer, one doesn’t go forward in this way. I invite all to invoke from the Lord the gift of good laborers for His Kingdom, with heart and hands available to His love.

Once again I would like to express my closeness to the COVID-19 sick, to all those that dedicate themselves to their care and to all those that are suffering in any way by the pandemic. At the same time, I wish to support and encourage the international collaboration that is being activated with various initiatives, to answer in an adequate and effective way the grave crisis we are living. It’s important, in fact, to put together the scientific capacities, in a transparent and selfless way, to find vaccines and treatments, and to guarantee universal access to the essential technologies that enable every infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary health care.

A special thought goes to the “Meter” Association, promoter of the National Day of Children Victims of Violence, of Exploitation and of Indifference. I encourage the responsible persons and the workers to continue their action of prevention and sensitization of consciences alongside the various educational agencies. And I thank the children of the Association who sent me a collage with hundreds of dandelions colored by them. Thank you!

We began May a short while ago, Marian month par excellence, during which the faithful love to visit Shrines dedicated to Our Lady. This year, because of the health situation, we go spiritually to these places of faith and devotion, to place in the Holy Virgin’s heart our worries, expectations, and plans for the future. And, as prayer is a universal value, I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity so that next May 14 believers of all religions unite spiritually in a Day of Prayer and Fasting and Works of Charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Remember: May 14, all believers together, believers of different traditions, to pray, fast, and do works of charity.

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]

About Virginia Forrester

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