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Easter - Pasqua - Pâques - Pascua 2019

Pope Francis's homily at the Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter
St Peter's Basilica, Holy Saturday 20 April 2019 - also in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Slovenian & Spanish

"1. The women bring spices to the tomb, but they fear that their journey is in vain, since a large stone bars the entrance to the sepulcher. The journey of those women is also our own journey; it resembles the journey of salvation that we have made this evening. At times, it seems that everything comes up against a stone: the beauty of creation against the tragedy of sin; liberation from slavery against infidelity to the covenant; the promises of the prophets against the listless indifference of the people. So too, in the history of the Church and in our own personal history. It seems that the steps we take never take us to the goal. We can be tempted to think that dashed hope is the bleak law of life.

Today however we see that our journey is not in vain; it does not come up against a tombstone. A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones? Why do you give into resignation or failure? Easter, brothers and sisters, is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness. Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the “living stone” (cf. 1 Pet 2:4), the risen Jesus. We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, to overturn our every disappointment. Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is the name of this stone?

Often what blocks hope is the stone of discouragement. Once we start thinking that everything is going badly and that things can’t get worse, we lose heart and come to believe that death is stronger than life. We become cynical, negative and despondent. Stone upon stone, we build within ourselves a monument to our own dissatisfaction: the sepulcher of hope. Life becomes a succession of complaints and we grow sick in spirit. A kind of tomb psychology takes over: everything ends there, with no hope of emerging alive. But at that moment, we hear once more the insistent question of Easter: Why do you seek the living among the dead? The Lord is not to be found in resignation. He is risen; he is not there. Don’t seek him where you will never find him: he is not the God of the dead but of the living (cf. Mk 22:32). Do not bury hope!

There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of sin. Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death. Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why not make up your mind to abandon that sin which, like a stone before the entrance to your heart, keeps God’s light from entering in? Why not prefer Jesus, the true light (cf. Jn 1:9), to the glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure? Why not tell the empty things of this world that you no longer live for them, but for the Lord of life?

2. Let us return to the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. They halted in amazement before the stone that was taken away. Seeing the angels, they stood there, the Gospel tells us, “frightened, and bowed their faces to the ground” (Lk 24:5). They did not have the courage to look up. And how often do we do the same thing? We prefer to remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears. It is odd, but why do we do this? Not infrequently because, glum and closed up within ourselves, we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord. Yet only he can raise us up. A poet once wrote: “We never know how high we are. Till we are called to rise” (E. Dickinson). The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death: Why do you seek the living among the dead?

God asks us to view life as he views it, for in each of us he never ceases to see an irrepressible kernel of beauty. In sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand. In Easter he shows you how much he loves that life: even to the point of living it completely, experiencing anguish, abandonment, death and hell, in order to emerge triumphant to tell you: “You are not alone; put your trust in me!” Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing (cf. Ps 30:11). With him, we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover – from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence. Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: his love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?

3. Why do you seek the living among the dead? The women hear the words of the angels, who go on to say: “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee” (Lk 24:6). Those woman had lost hope, because they could not recall the words of Jesus, his call that took place in Galilee. Having lost the living memory of Jesus, they kept looking at the tomb. Faith always needs to go back to Galilee, to reawaken its first love for Jesus and his call: to remember him, to turn back to him with all our mind and all our heart. To return to a lively love of the Lord is essential. Otherwise, ours is a “museum” faith, not an Easter faith. Jesus is not a personage from the past; he is a person living today. We do not know him from history books; we encounter him in life. Today, let us remember how Jesus first called us, how he overcame our darkness, our resistance, our sins, and how he touched our hearts with his word.

Brothers and sisters, let us return to Galilee.

The women, remembering Jesus, left the tomb. Easter teaches us that believers do not linger at graveyards, for they are called to go forth to meet the Living One. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I going? Sometimes we go only in the direction of our problems, of which there are plenty, and go to the Lord only for help. But then, it is our own needs, not Jesus, to guide our steps. We keep seeking the Living One among the dead. Or again, how many times, once we have encountered the Lord, do we return to the dead, digging up regrets, reproaches, hurts and dissatisfactions, without letting the Risen One change us? Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the centre of our lives. Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems; the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear. Let us seek him, let us allow ourselves to be sought out by him, let us seek him in all things and above all things. And with him, we will rise again."

Papa Francisco's Urbi et Orbi Message
Central loggia of St Peter's Basilica, Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019 - also in Arabic, Chinese (China), Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!
Today the Church renews the proclamation made by the first disciples: “Jesus is risen!” And from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart, there resounds a call to praise: “Alleluia, Alleluia!” On this morning of Easter, the perennial youth of the Church and of humanity as a whole, I would like to address each of you in the opening words of my recent Apostolic Exhortation devoted especially to young people:

“Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world. Everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope” (Christus Vivit, 1-2).

Dear brothers and sisters, this message is also addressed to every person in the world. The resurrection of Christ is the principle of new life for every man and every woman, for true renewal always begins from the heart, from the conscience. Yet Easter is also the beginning of the new world, set free from the slavery of sin and death: the world open at last to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity.

Christ is alive and he remains with us. Risen, he shows us the light of his face, and he does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain and sorrow. May he, the Living One, be hope for the beloved Syrian people, victims of an ongoing conflict to which we risk becoming ever more resigned and even indifferent. Now is instead the time for a renewed commitment for a political solution able to respond to people’s legitimate hopes for freedom, peace and justice, confront the humanitarian crisis and favour the secure re-entry of the homeless, along with all those who have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon and Jordan.

Easter makes us keep our eyes fixed on the Middle East, torn by continuing divisions and tensions. May the Christians of the region patiently persevere in their witness to the Risen Lord and to the victory of life over death. I think in particular of the people of Yemen, especially the children, exhausted by hunger and war. May the light of Easter illumine all government leaders and peoples in the Middle East, beginning with Israelis and Palestinians, and spur them to alleviate such great suffering and to pursue a future of peace and stability.

May conflict and bloodshed cease in Libya, where defenceless people are once more dying in recent weeks and many families have been forced to abandon their homes. I urge the parties involved to choose dialogue over force and to avoid reopening wounds left by a decade of conflicts and political instability.

May the Living Christ grant his peace to the entire beloved African continent, still rife with social tensions, conflicts and at times violent forms of extremism that leave in their wake insecurity, destruction and death, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon. I think too of Sudan, presently experiencing a moment of political uncertainty; it is my hope that all voices will be heard, and that everyone will work to enable the country to find the freedom, development and well-being to which it has long aspired.

May the Risen Lord accompany the efforts of the civil and religious authorities of South Sudan, sustained by the fruits of the spiritual retreat held several days ago here in the Vatican. May a new page open in the history of that country, in which all political, social and religious components actively commit themselves to the pursuit of the common good and the reconciliation of the nation.

May this Easter bring comfort to the people of the eastern regions of Ukraine, who suffer from the continuing conflict. May the Lord encourage initiatives of humanitarian aid and those aimed at pursuing a lasting peace.

May the joy of the resurrection fill the hearts of those who on the American continent are experiencing the effects of difficult political and economic situations. I think in particular of the Venezuelan people, of all those who lack the minimal conditions for leading a dignified and secure life due to a crisis that endures and worsens. May the Lord grant that all those with political responsibilities may work to end social injustices, abuses and acts of violence, and take the concrete steps needed to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need.

May the Risen Lord shed his light on the efforts made in Nicaragua to find as rapidly as possible a peaceful negotiated solution for the benefit of the entire Nicaraguan people.

Before the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent. May he make us builders of bridges, not walls. May the One who gives us his peace end the roar of arms, both in areas of conflict and in our cities, and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries. May the Risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is alive! He is hope and youth for each of us and for the entire world. May we let ourselves be renewed by him! Happy Easter!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is with sorrow and heartache that I received the news of the grave attacks that today, the very day of Easter, have brought grief and sorrow to several churches and other gathering places in Sri Lanka. I wish to show my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community, struck while gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence. I entrust to the Lord those who were tragically killed and I pray for the wounded and all those suffering from this tragic event.

I renew my Easter greetings to all of you, who come from Italy and from various countries, as well as those joining us through television, radio and other means of communication. On this subject, I would like to recall that 70 years ago, on Easter Sunday 1949, a Pope spoke for the first time on television. The Venerable Pius XII addressed French television viewers, emphasizing that the gaze of the Successor of Peter and of the faithful could also meet via a new means of communication. This anniversary provides me the opportunity to encourage Christian communities to use all the tools that technology makes available to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Christ, in order to communicate with each other rather than just contact each other.

Enlightened by the Light of Easter, let us bring the essence of the Risen Christ to the loneliness, the misery, the pain of so many of our brothers and sisters, overturning the stone of indifference. In this Square, the joy of the Resurrection is symbolized by the flowers which, this year too, come from the Netherlands, whereas those in Saint Peter’s Basilica are from Slovenia. A great, special thanks to the donors of these splendid floral gifts.

And do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your Easter lunch! Arrivederci!"

Papa Francesco's words at the Regina Coeli
St Peter's Square, Easter Monday, 22 April 2019 - also in Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today and throughout this entire week the paschal joy of Jesus’ Resurrection, the incredible event which we commemorated yesterday, continues in the liturgy and also in life. During the Easter Vigil the words spoken by the Angels beside Jesus’ empty tomb resonate. They asked the women who had gone to the sepulchre at the dawn of the first day after the Sabbath: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). Christ’s Resurrection is the most unsettling event in the history of mankind, which attests the victory of God’s love over sin and over death, and gives a rock solid foundation to our life’s hope. What was humanly unthinkable has happened: “Jesus of Nazareth ... God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death” (Acts 2:22-24).

On this “Monday of the Angel”, the liturgy, with the Gospel of Matthew (cf. 28:8-15), takes us back to Jesus’ empty tomb. It will do us good to go in thought to Jesus’ empty tomb. The women, filled with fear and joy, depart quickly to go and bring the news to the disciples that the tomb is empty; and at that moment Jesus appears before them. “They came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him” (v. 9). They touched him: it was not a ghost; it was Jesus, alive, in the flesh. It was him. Jesus drives fear from their hearts and encourages them even more to announce to the brethren what has happened. All the Gospels place emphasis on the role of women, Mary Magdalen and the others, as the first witnesses of the Resurrection. The men, fearful, were locked in the Upper Room. Peter and John, informed by Mary Magdalen, make only a quick remark in which they state that the tomb is open and empty. But it was the women who were first to encounter the Risen One and to bear the message that He is alive.

Today, dear brothers and sisters, the words Jesus addressed to the women resonate for us too: “Do not be afraid; go and tell...” (v. 10). After the rites of the Easter Triduum, which have allowed us to relive the mystery of the death and Resurrection of our Lord, with the eyes of faith we now contemplate him Risen and alive. We too are called to encounter him personally and to become his proclaimers and witnesses.

With the ancient liturgical Easter Sequence, in these days we repeat: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. And in Him, we too have risen, passing from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. Thus, let us allow ourselves to be touched by the consoling message of Easter and embraced by its glorious light, which dispels the darkness of fear and sorrow. The Risen Jesus walks beside us. He reveals himself to those who invoke him and love him. First in prayer, but also in the simple joys lived with faith and gratitude. We can also feel him present in moments of sharing warmth, welcome, friendship, and the contemplation of nature. May this day of celebration, in which it is customary to enjoy some leisure and gratuitousness, help us to experience Jesus’ presence.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary that our hands may be filled with the gifts of the peace and serenity of the Risen One, so as to share them with our brothers and sisters, especially those who have greater need of comfort and hope."

After the Regina Coeli

"Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to again express my spiritual and paternal closeness to the people of Sri Lanka. I am very close to my dear brother, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, and to the entire Church of the Archdiocese of Colombo. I pray for the countless victims and wounded, and I ask everyone not to hesitate to offer all the help necessary to this dear nation. I likewise hope that everyone will condemn these never justifiable terrorist acts, inhuman acts. Let us pray to Our Lady....

Hail Mary

In the paschal climate that characterizes this day, I affectionately greet all of you, families, parish groups, associations and individual pilgrims, from Italy and from different parts of the world.

I hope each one will spend with faith these days of the Octave of Easter, in which the memory of Christ’s Resurrection continues. May you seize every good opportunity to be witnesses to the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.

Happy and Holy Easter to all! Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!"