16 May 2010

REGINA CAELI, Vatican City, 16 May A.D. 2010

The Holy Father gave such a wonderful message today before the Regina Caeli I decided to print it here in case any of my readership had not seen it or had time to take it all in. Pope Benedict XVI is the Great Unifier of Christians, and part of that work is to remind Christians the world over who they are in Christ and, indeed, just who is this Jesus of Nazareth who we own as God and Saviour...

Contrary to some of my friends, I have such overflowing joy in the Holy Ghost as I pray for Holy Church because some wild growth is being pruned from the Great Tree of Faith, limbs that had been torn off are being grafted back onto the one and only Tree which nourishes the Faithful ... One of the secrets of our Holy Father is his great love for St. Bernard of Clairvaux who so often figures in small talks and greetings the Holy Father gives both to the Faithful and to those apart from the Church. I am so hopeful for the immediate future of Holy Mother Church, and I pray the Lord will grant me a little more time to contribute as I can to the great work that is before all of us.

Please indulge me as I highlight and embolden certain phrases and sentences that I find overflowing with meaning and spiritual nourishment.

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On the Feast of the Ascension

"The Lord, Taking the Road to Heaven, Gives Us a Foretaste of Divine Life"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today in Italy and other countries, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is celebrated, which occurred 40 days after Easter. This Sunday is also the World Day for Social Communications, which has as its theme: "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word."

In the liturgy Jesus' final departure from his disciples is narrated (cf. Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:2, 9); but this is not an abandonment because he remains with them, with us, forever, in a new form.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux explains that Jesus' ascension into heaven is accomplished in three stages:

"The first is the glory of the Resurrection; the second is the power to judge; and the third is sitting at the Father's right hand"

("Sermo de Ascensione Domini," 60, 2: Sancti Bernardi Opera, t. VI, 1, 291, 20-21)

This event is preceded by the blessing of the disciples, whom he prepares to receive the Holy Spirit, so that salvation be preached everywhere. Jesus himself says to them:

"You are witnesses to this. And behold, I send upon you Him whom my Father has promised" (cf. Luke 24:47-49).

The Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles, our gaze, to show how we should travel the good road during life on earth. Nevertheless, he remains in the plot of human history, he is near to each of us and guides our Christian path: He is the companion of those who are persecuted because of their faith, he is in the heart of those who are marginalized, he is present in those to whom the right to life is denied.

We can hear, see and touch the Lord Jesus in the Church, especially through the Word and the sacraments. In this regard I exhort children and young people, who are receiving the sacrament of Confirmation in this Easter season, to remain faithful to the Word of God and the teaching that comes from it, and to assiduously approach Confession and the Eucharist as well, conscious of being chosen and constituted to witness the Truth.

I renew my special invitation to my brothers in the priesthood, that "in their life and actions they distinguish themselves by a powerful evangelical witness" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests") and know also how to use the means of communication wisely, to make the life of the Church known and help the men of today to find the face of Christ (cf. "Message for the 46th World Day of Social Communications," January 24, 2010).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Lord, taking the road to heaven, gives us a foretaste of divine life already on earth. A 19th century Russian author wrote in his spiritual testament: "Observe the stars more. When you have a burden in your soul, look at the stars or the azure of heaven. When you feel sad, when they offend you, ... think about ... heaven. Then your soul will find rest" (N. Valentini - L. Žák [a cura], Pavel A. Florenskij. "Non dimenticatemi. Le lettere dal gulag del grande matematico, filosofo e sacerdote russo," Milano 2000, p. 418).

I thank the Virgin Mary, whom I was able to venerate at the shrine in Fatima a short time ago, for her maternal protection during the intense pilgrimage in Portugal. With confidence we address our prayer to her who watches over the witnesses of her beloved Son.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet with joy the English-speaking visitors who have come here today, and I pray that your pilgrimage to Rome will strengthen your faith and your love for the Risen Lord.

In the course of this week we will pray with the whole Church for the coming of the Holy Spirit, asking him to pour out his gifts upon our families, our parishes, and all whom we love.

May God bless all of you!

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