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Pope’s Easter message and blessing
April 20, 2014 - Pope Francis delivered his special Easter message and blessing on Sunday, assuring the world that the good news of the resurrection of Jesus can transform “every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death.” After Easter Sunday morning Mass he went up to the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica overlooking the vast square and delivered his Easter message and blessing, “Urbi et Orbi”, the Latin for 'to the city (i.e Rome) and to the world.” The Pope's “Urbi et Orbi” message is delivered twice a year – at Christmas and at Easter. Pope Francis delivered his Easter message entirely in Italian.
Pope Francis began his Urbi et Orbi picking out the greeting of the angel to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay.” The Pope said this is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.
The Pope said we invite all to come and see knowing that in every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.
Assured by this certainty, the Pope urged all to raise their hearts to the risen Lord in prayer. “Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you. Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.
The Pope recalled the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned, that we be able to protect them. The Pope also thought of those struck by the ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty, that we be bale to care for them.
Pope Francis prayer for comfort for those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped. He also invoked comfort on those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.
The Pope urged the Lord to end all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent, but especially pleaded for Syria – that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenceless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!
Pope Francis also prayed for the Lord's comfort on the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. He implored for and end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan. He also urged that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.
Turning his eyes to Europe, the Holy Father urged that the Lord by His resurrection, which both the Western and Eastern Churches observe the same day this year, enlighten and inspire the initiative that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, may make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future.
After his message, a cardinal announced that all those present in St. Peter’s Square and those around the world following the event on radio, television and the new communications media, could obtain a plenary or full indulgence according to rules established by the Church. The Catholic Churche teaches, that every sin entails a punishment even after it is forgiven in Confession. By means of a plenary indulgence one can obtain the full remission of the temporal punishment. The basic requirements set by the Church for all plenary indulgences are that within a reasonably short period of time, the person goes to confession, receives the Eucharist and prays for the intentions of the Pope, all in a spirit of total detachment from sin.
The Pope then imparted his blessing “Urbi et Orbi”.
After his blessing, Pope Francis wished those present in St. Peter’s Square as well as those following him via social communication media a Happy Easter. “Carry to your families and communities the joyful news that Christ our peace and our hope is risen,” he said. He thanked all for their presence, their prayers, and their witness to faith. The Pope particularly thanked the Netherlands for the beautiful flowers adorning St. Peter’s Square.
Saturday night, Pope Francis ushered in the Easter season for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics with a Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Christendom’s largest church was in the dark for the start of the service to symbolizing the darkness in Jesus' tomb before his resurrection following his passion and death by crucifixion. After the initial rite of the blessing of the fire and the Paschal candle, Pope Francis entered the cavernous basilica with the Easter candle lit, which he then shared with others transforming the packed church into a sea of flames. He walked up the main aisle, and then the basilica's lights were turned on. Celebrating his second Easter since his election as Pope on March 13, 2013, the 77-year-old Jesuit Pontiff, known for his humble and frugal ways, wore white vestments.
After a series of scripture readings the Pope delivered a homily urging Christians to remember the moment they first felt the love of God, saying that Jesus' resurrection is a time to relive this experience anew. Referring to narration of the Lord’s resurrection, the Pope drew attention to the angel’s greetings to the women at Jesus’ tomb: “Do not be afraid!” … He has been raised from the dead… go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” The Pope explained that call to "return to Galilee, the place of the first call, where it all began". He said "For each of us, too, there is a "Galilee" at the origin of our journey with Jesus. It means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee to return to that blazing light with which God's grace touched me at the start of the journey, the flame which can “bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters” today and every day. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy. This Galilee is also an experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which all began when he cast his merciful and loving gaze on me. The Pope thus urged all to ask themselves: “What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Did it go away or I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?”
After his homily the Pope observed an Easter vigil tradition, baptizing 10 persons. The 8 males and 2 females were from Italy, Belarus, Senegal, Lebanon, France and Vietnam. They also received the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.