· Benedict XVI at the Regina Caeli in Castel Gandolfo ·
The Holy Father presented the witness of women in the Church’s journey to the faithful in Castel Gandolfo on Easter Monday, 9 April, before praying the Regina Caeli. The Pope went to the Papal Residence after the Urbi et Orbi Blessing on Easter Sunday. The following is a translation of his reflection, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In many countries Easter Monday is a holiday on which to take a stroll in natural surroundings or to visit relatives who live far away in order to gather as a family. However, I would like that the reason for this holiday, namely, the Resurrection of Jesus, the crucial mystery of our faith, to be ever present in the minds and hearts of Christians. Indeed, as St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Therefore on these days it is important to reinterpret the narratives of Christ’s Resurrection which we find in the four Gospels. They are accounts which present in different ways the meetings of the disciples with the Risen Jesus and thereby permit us to meditate on this wonderful event which has transformed history and gives meaning to the existence of every person.
The event of the Resurrection as such is not described by the Evangelists: it remains mysterious, not in the sense of being less real, but hidden, beyond the scope of our knowledge: like a light so bright that we cannot look at it or we should be blinded. The narratives begin instead when, towards dawn on the day after Saturday, the women went to the tomb and found it open and empty. St Matthew also speaks of an earthquake and a dazzling angel who rolled away the great stone sealing the tomb and sat on it (cf. Mt 28:2).
Having heard the angel’s announcement of the Resurrection, the women, with fear and great joy, hastened to take the news to the disciples and at that very moment encountered Jesus, prostrated themselves at his feet and worshipped him; and he said to them: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Mt 28:10). In all the Gospels, in the accounts of the appearances of the Risen Jesus, women are given ample room, as moreover also in the accounts of Jesus’ Passion and death. In those times, in Israel the testimony of women could not possess any official or juridical value, but the women had had an experience of a special bond with the Lord, which was fundamental for the practical life of the Christian community, and this is always the case in every epoch and not only when the Church was taking her first steps.
Mary, Mother of the Lord, of course, is the sublime and exemplary model of this relationship with Jesus, and in a special way in his Paschal Mystery. Precisely through the transforming experience of the Passover of her Son, the Virgin Mary also becomes Mother of the Church, that is, of each one of the believers and of their whole community. Let us now turn to her, invoking her as Regina Caeli, with the prayer that tradition has us recite instead of the Angelus throughout the Easter season. May Mary obtain for us that we experience the living presence of the Risen Lord, source of hope and peace.
After the Regina Caeli the Pope said:
I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present today for this Regina Caeli prayer. Today we continue our solemn Easter celebration, recalling with greater joy than ever our redemption from sin and death in Jesus Christ. May the Risen Lord pour out his grace upon us, and give us the courage to bring the Good News to others. I invoke Easter blessings upon all of you! I wish you all a serene day, in the light and peace of the Risen Lord.
St. Peter’s Square
Sept. 20, 2019
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