Monday, April 6, 2020

Reflections on Easter Monday
by Pope Benedict XVI

Entry 0271: Reflections on Easter Monday by Pope Benedict XVI 

On seven occasions during his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI recited the Regina Caeli on Easter Monday from a balcony at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo accompanied by the people gathered in the courtyard, on 17 April 2006, 9 April 2007, 24 March 2008, 13 April 2009, 5 April 2010, 25 April 2011, and 9 April 2012. Here are the texts of the seven brief reflections delivered by the Holy Father on these occasions.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 17 April 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be with you again in the light of the Paschal Mystery, which we celebrate in the liturgy throughout this week, and to renew the most beautiful Christian proclamation: "Christ is risen, alleluia!"

The typical Marian character of our meeting leads us to live the spiritual joy of Easter in communion with Mary Most Holy, thinking of what her joy must have been at Jesus' Resurrection.

In the prayer of the Regina Caeli that we recite in place of the Angelus in this Easter Season, we address the Virgin, asking her to rejoice because the One whom she bore in her womb is risen: "Quia quem meruisti portare, resurrexit, sicut dixit".

Mary treasured in her heart the "Good News" of the Resurrection, the source and secret of the true joy and genuine peace that Christ who died and rose again won for us with his sacrifice on the Cross.

Let us ask Mary to continue to guide our steps in this period of spiritual joy, just as she accompanied us during the days of the Passion, so that we may grow more and more in the knowledge and love of the Lord and become witnesses and apostles of his peace.

In the context of Easter, I would also like to share with you today the joy of a very important anniversary: it is 500 years, precisely on 18 April 1506, since Pope Julius II laid the foundation stone of the new St Peter's Basilica, the powerful harmony of whose structure the whole world admires.

I would like to remember with gratitude the Supreme Pontiffs who desired this extraordinary edifice over the tomb of the Apostle Peter. I recall with admiration the artists who contributed with their genius to building and decorating it, and I am also grateful to the personnel of the Fabric of St Peter's, who see so well to the maintenance and preservation of such a singular masterpiece of art and faith.

May the happy occasion of the 500th anniversary reawaken in all Catholics the desire to be "living stones" (I Pt 2: 5) for the construction of the Holy Church, in which the "light of Christ" shines forth (cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 1) through love that is lived and witnessed to before the world (cf. Jn 13: 34-35).

May the Virgin Mary, whom the Litany of Loreto makes us invoke as "Causa nostrae laetitiae - Cause of our joy", obtain for us that we always experience the joy of being part of the spiritual edifice of the Church, a "community of love", born from the Heart of Christ.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 9 April 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are still filled with the spiritual joy that the solemn celebrations of Easter truly bring to believers' hearts. Christ is risen! The liturgy devotes to this immense mystery not only a day - it would be too little for such joy-, but at least 50 days, that is, the entire Easter Season, which ends with Pentecost.

Easter Sunday, moreover, is an absolutely special day which extends for the whole of this week until next Sunday and forms the Octave of Easter.

In the atmosphere of Paschal joy, today's liturgy takes us back to the sepulcher where, according to St Matthew's account, impelled by their love for him, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to "visit" Jesus' tomb. The Evangelist tells us that he comes to meet them and says: "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me" (Mt 28: 10).

The joy they felt at seeing their Lord was truly indescribable and, filled with enthusiasm, they ran to tell the disciples.

The Risen One also repeats to us today, as to these women who stayed by Jesus during the Passion, not to be afraid to become messengers of the proclamation of his Resurrection. Those who encounter the Risen Jesus and entrust themselves docilely to him have nothing to fear. This is the message that Christians are called to spread to the very ends of the earth.

The Christian faith, as we know, is not born from the acceptance of a doctrine but from an encounter with a Person, with Christ, dead and Risen.

In our daily lives, dear friends, there are so many opportunities to proclaim this faith of ours to others simply and with conviction, so that from our encounter their faith can grow.

And it is more urgent than ever that the men and women of our age know and encounter Jesus, and, also thanks to our example, allow themselves to be won over by him.

The Gospel says nothing about the Mother of the Lord, of Mary, but Christian tradition rightly likes to contemplate her while with joy greater than anyone else's she embraces her divine Son, whom she had held close when he was taken down from the Cross. Now, after the Resurrection, the Mother of the Redeemer rejoices with Jesus' "friends", who constitute the newborn Church.

As I renew my heartfelt Easter greetings to you all, I invoke her, the Regina Caeli [Queen of Heaven], so that she may keep alive in each one of us faith in the Resurrection and may make us messengers of the hope and love of Jesus Christ.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 24 March 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the solemn Easter Vigil after the days of Lent the singing of the "Alleluia", a Hebrew word known across the world that means "Praise the Lord", rings out once again. During the days of Eastertide this invitation spreads by word of mouth, from heart to heart. It re-echoes an absolutely new event: Christ's death and Resurrection. The "alleluia" welled up in the hearts of Jesus' first disciples, men and women, on that Easter morning in Jerusalem.... It almost seems as though we hear their voices: that of Mary of Magdala, who was the first to see the Risen Lord in the garden near Calvary; the voices of the women who met him as they ran, fearful but happy, to tell the disciples the news of the empty tomb; the voices of the two disciples who had set out for Emmaus with gloomy faces and returned to Jerusalem in the evening, filled with joy at having heard his words and recognized him "in the breaking of the bread"; the voices of the Eleven Apostles who on that same evening saw the Lord appearing in their midst in the Upper Room, showing them the wounds of the nails and spear and saying to them: "Peace be with you". This experience engraved the "alleluia" in the Church's heart once and for all!

From this experience too stems the Regina Caeli, the prayer that we recite instead of the Angelus today and every day in the Easter Season. The text that replaces the Angelus in these weeks is brief and has the direct form of an announcement: it is like a new "Annunciation" to Mary, this time not made by an Angel but by us Christians who invite the Mother to rejoice because her Son, whom she carried in her womb, is risen as he promised. Indeed, "rejoice" was the first word that the heavenly messenger addressed to the Virgin in Nazareth. And this is what it meant: Rejoice, Mary, because the Son of God is about to become man within you. Now, after the drama of the Passion, a new invitation to rejoice rings out: "Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia, quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia - "Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. Rejoice because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia!"

Dear brothers and sisters, let us allow the paschal "alleluia" to be deeply impressed within us too, so that it is not only a word in certain external circumstances but is expressed in our own lives, the lives of people who invite everyone to praise the Lord and do so with their behavior as "risen" ones. "Pray the Lord for us", we say to Mary, that the One who restored joy to the whole world by means of his Son's Resurrection may grant us to enjoy such gladness now and always, in our life and in the life without end.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 13 April 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days of Easter we shall often hear Jesus' words resound: "I am risen and I am with you always". Echoing this good news, the Church proclaims exultantly: "Yes, we are certain! The Lord is truly risen, alleluia! The power and the glory are his, now and forever". The whole Church rejoices, expressing her sentiments by singing: "This is the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ". In fact, in rising from the dead, Jesus inaugurated his eternal day and has opened the door to our joy, too. "I will not die", he says, "but will have everlasting life". The crucified Son of man, the stone rejected by the builders, has now become the solid foundation of the new spiritual edifice which is the Church, his mystical Body. The People of God, which has Christ as its invisible Head, is destined to grow in the course of the centuries until the complete fulfillment of the plan of salvation. Then the whole of humanity will be incorporated into him and every existing reality will be penetrated with his total victory. Then, as St Paul writes, he will be "the fullness of him who fills all in all" (cf. Eph 1: 23), and "God may be everything to every one" (1 Cor 15: 28).

Thus it is right for the Christian community to rejoice all of us because the Resurrection of the Lord assures us that the divine plan of salvation, despite all the obscurity of history, will certainly be brought about. This is why his Passover truly is our hope. And we, risen with Christ through Baptism, must now follow him faithfully in holiness of life, advancing towards the eternal Passover, sustained by the knowledge that the difficulties, struggles and trials of human life, including death, henceforth can no longer separate us from Him and his love. His Resurrection has formed a bridge between the world and eternal life over which every man and every woman can cross to reach the true goal of our earthly pilgrimage.

"I am risen and I am with you always". This assurance of Jesus is realized above all in the Eucharist; it is in every Eucharistic Celebration that the Church and every one of her members experience his living presence and benefit from the full richness of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the risen Lord is present and mercifully purifies us from our sins; he nourishes us spiritually and infuses us with strength to withstand the harsh trials of life and the fight against sin and evil. He is the sturdy support in our pilgrimage towards the eternal dwelling place in Heaven. May the Virgin Mary, who experienced beside her divine Son every phase of his mission on earth, help us to welcome with faith the gift of Easter and make us faithful and joyful witnesses of the risen Lord.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 5 April 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the light of Easter that we are celebrating throughout this week I renew my most cordial greetings of peace and joy. As you know, the Monday after the Sunday of the Resurrection is traditionally known as "Lunedì del Angelo". It is very interesting to reflect on this reference to the "Angel". Of course, we think straight away of the Gospel narratives of Jesus' Resurrection, in which a messenger of the Lord appears. St Matthew writes: "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Mt 28: 2-3). All the Evangelists, then, explain that when the women went to the tomb and found it open and empty, it was an Angel who told them that Jesus had risen. In Matthew, this messenger of the Lord says to them: "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said". (Mt 28: 5-6); he then shows them the empty tomb and charges them to take the message to the disciples. In Mark, the Angel is described as "a young man... dressed in a white robe", who gives the women the same message (cf. 16: 5-6). Luke speaks if "two men ... in dazzling apparel", who remind the women that Jesus had told them long before of his death and Resurrection (cf. Lk 24: 4-7). John also speaks of "two Angels in white"; it is Mary Magdalene who sees them as she weeps by the tomb and they ask her: "Woman, why are you weeping?" (Jn 20: 11-13).

However the Angel of the Resurrection also calls to mind another meaning. Indeed, we must remember that as well as describing Angels, spiritual creatures endowed with intelligence and a will, servants and messengers of God, the term "Angel" is also one of the most ancient titles attributed to Jesus himself. We read, for example, in Tertullian: "He", that is, Christ, "was also the "Angel of counsel', that is, a herald, a term that denotes an office rather than a nature. Effectively he was to proclaim to the world the Father's great plan for the restoration of man" (cf. De Carne Christi, 14). This is what the ancient Christian writer said. Jesus Christ, the Son of God was therefore also called the "Angel of God the Father": he is the Messenger par excellence of God's love. Dear friends, let us now consider what the Risen Jesus said to the Apostles: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20: 21); and he communicated his Holy Spirit to them. This means that just as Jesus was the herald of God the Father's love, we too must be heralds of Christ's charity: let us be messengers of his Resurrection, of his victory over evil and death, heralds of his divine love.

By our nature, of course, we remain men and women, but we have received the mission of "Angels", messengers of Christ: it is given to all in Baptism and in Confirmation. Through the sacrament of Orders, priests, ministers of Christ, receive it in a special way. I wish to emphasize this in this Year for Priests.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us now turn to the Virgin Mary, invoking her as Regina Caeli, Queen of Heaven. May she help you to accept to the full the grace of the Paschal Mystery and to become courageous and joyful messengers of Christ's Resurrection.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 25 April 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Surrexit Dominus vere! Alleluia! The Lord’s Resurrection marks the renewal of our human condition. Christ triumphed over death, caused by our sin, and restores us to immortal life. This event gave rise to the whole of the Church’s life and to the very existence of Christians.

On this day, Easter Monday, we read in the first missionary discourse of the nascent Church: “This Jesus”, the Apostle Peter proclaimed, “God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33).

One of the characteristic signs of faith in the Resurrection is the greeting among Christians during Eastertide, inspired by the ancient liturgical hymn: “Christ is risen! / He is truly risen!” It is a profession of faith and a commitment of life, as it was for the women described in Matthew’s Gospel: “And behold, Jesus met them and said: ‘Hail!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me’” (28: 9-10).

“The whole Church”, the Servant of God Paul VI wrote, “receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole…. She remains as a sign — simultaneously obscure and luminous — of a new presence of Jesus, of his departure and of his permanent presence. She prolongs and continues him” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 8 December 1975, no. 15.

How can we encounter the Lord and increasingly become his authentic witnesses? St Maximus of Turin stated: “Anyone who wishes to reach the Savior must first, in his own faith, seat him at the right hand of the Divinity, and place him with heartfelt conviction in Heaven” (Sermon 39 a, 3: CCL 23, 157), in other words one must learn to focus the gaze of one’s mind and heart constantly on the heights of God, where the Risen Christ is. In this way God encounters man in prayer and adoration.

The theologian Romano Guardini noted that “adoration is not something additional, something secondary… it is a matter of the utmost importance, of feeling and of being. In adoration man recognizes what is valid in the pure, simple and holy sense” (cf. La Pasqua, Meditazioni, Brescia 1995, 62). Only if we are able to turn to God, to pray him, do we discover the deepest meaning of our life and the daily routine is illumined by the light of the Risen One.

Dear friends, today the Church in both the East and the West is celebrating St Mark the Evangelist, a wise herald of the Word and a writer of Christ’s teaching — as he was described in ancient times. He is also Patron of the city of Venice, where, please God, I shall make a Pastoral Visit on 7 and 8 of May. Let us now invoke the Virgin Mary, so that she may help us faithfully and joyfully carry out the mission which the Risen Lord entrusts to each one.



Castel Gandolfo, Easter Monday, 9 April 2012

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. 

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