The Dispatch

Apocalypse How?

May 6, 2022 Carl E. Olson 20

Readings: • Acts 13:14, 43-52 • Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5 • Rev 7:9, 14b-17 • Jn 10:27-30 Pop quiz: which book of the Bible describes black helicopters, high-tech warfare involving Russia and China, and computer […]

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Easter Vigil 2022: Full text of Pope Francis’ homily

April 16, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis at the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 16, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Here is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for Easter Vigil 2022, which was celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 16, 2022.

Many writers have evoked the beauty of starlit nights. The nights of war, however, are riven by streams of light that portend death. On this night, brothers and sisters, let us allow the women of the Gospel to lead us by the hand, so that, with them, we may glimpse the first rays of the dawn of God’s life rising in the darkness of our world. As the shadows of night were dispelled before the quiet coming of the light, the women set out for the tomb, to anoint the body of Jesus. There they had a disconcerting experience. First, they discovered that the tomb was empty; then they saw two figures in dazzling garments who told them that Jesus was risen. Immediately they ran back to proclaim the news to the other disciples (cf. Lk 24:1-10). They saw, they heard, they proclaimed. With these three verbs, may we too enter into the passover of the Lord from death to life.

The women saw. The first proclamation of the resurrection was not a statement to be unpacked, but a sign to be contemplated. In a burial ground, near a grave, in a place where everything should be orderly and peaceful, the women “found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they went in, they did not find the body” (vv. 2-3). Easter begins by upsetting our expectations. It comes with the gift of a hope that surprises and amazes us. Yet it is not easy to welcome that gift. At times – we must admit – this hope does not find a place in our hearts. Like the women in the Gospel, we are overtaken by questions and doubts, and our first reaction before the unexpected sign is one of fear: “They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground” (v. 5).

All too often we look at life and reality with downcast eyes; we fix our gaze only on this passing day, disenchanted by the future, concerned only with ourselves and our needs, settled into the prison of our apathy, even as we keep complaining that things will never change. In this way, we halt before the tomb of resignation and fatalism, and we bury the joy of living. Yet tonight the Lord wants to give us different eyes, alive with hope that fear, pain and death will not have the last word over us. Thanks to Jesus’ paschal mystery, we can make the leap from nothingness to life. “Death will no longer be able to rob our life” (K. RAHNER), for that life is now completely and eternally embraced by the boundless love of God. True, death can fill us with dread; it can paralyze us. But the Lord is risen! Let us lift up our gaze, remove the veil of sadness and sorrow from our eyes, and open our hearts to the hope that God brings!

In the second place, the women heard. After they had seen the empty tomb, the two men in dazzling garments said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (vv. 5-6). We do well to listen to those words and to repeat them: He is not here! Whenever we think we have understood everything there is to know about God, and can pigeonhole him in our own ideas and categories, let us repeat to ourselves: He is not here! Whenever we seek him only in times of emotion, so often passing, and moments of need, only to set him aside and forget about him in the rest of our daily life and decisions, let us repeat: He is not here! And whenever we think we can imprison him in our words, in our formulas, and in our customary ways of thinking and acting, and neglect to seek him in the darkest corners of life, where there are people who weep, who struggle, suffer and hope, let us repeat: He is not here!

May we too hear the question asked of the women: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” We cannot celebrate Easter if we continue to be dead; if we remain prisoners of the past; if in our lives we lack the courage to let ourselves be forgiven by God who forgives everything, the courage to change, to break with the works of evil, to decide for Jesus and his love. If we continue to reduce faith to a talisman, making God a lovely memory from times past, instead of encountering him today as the living God who desires to change us and to change our world. A Christianity that seeks the Lord among the ruins of the past and encloses him in the tomb of habit is a Christianity without Easter. Yet the Lord is risen! Let us not tarry among the tombs, but run to find him, the Living One! Nor may we be afraid to seek him also in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the stories of those who hope and dream, in the pain of those who we suffer: God is there!

Finally, the women proclaimed. What did they proclaim? The joy of the resurrection. Easter did not occur simply to console those who mourned the death of Jesus, but to open hearts to the extraordinary message of God’s triumph over evil and death. The light of the resurrection was not meant to let the women bask in a transport of joy, but to generate missionary disciples who “return from the tomb” (v. 9) in order to bring to all the Gospel of the risen Christ. That is why, after seeing and hearing, the women ran to proclaim to the disciples the joy of the resurrection. They knew that the others might think they were mad; indeed, the Gospel says that the women’s words “seemed to them an idle tale” (v. 11). Yet those women were not concerned for their reputation, for preserving their image; they did not contain their emotions or measure their words. They had only the fire in their hearts with which to bear the news, the proclamation: “The Lord is risen!”

And how beautiful is a Church that can run this way through the streets of our world! Without fear, without schemes and stratagems, but solely with the desire to lead everyone to the joy of the Gospel. That is what we are called to do: to experience the risen Christ and to share the experience with others; to roll away the stone from the tomb where we may have enclosed the Lord, in order to spread his joy in the world. Let us make Jesus, the Living One, rise again from all those tombs in which we have sealed him. Let us set him free from the narrow cells in which we have so often imprisoned him. Let us awaken from our peaceful slumber and let him disturb and inconvenience us. Let us bring him into our everyday lives: through gestures of peace in these days marked by the horrors of war, through acts of reconciliation amid broken relationships, acts of compassion towards those in need, acts of justice amid situations of inequality and of truth in the midst of lies. And above all, through works of love and fraternity.

Brothers and sisters our hope has a name: the name of Jesus. He entered the tomb of our sin; he descended to those depths where we feel most lost; he wove his way through the tangles of our fears, bore the weight of our burdens and from the dark abyss of death restored us to life and turned our mourning into joy. Let us celebrate Easter with Christ! He is alive! Today, too, he walks in our midst, changes us and sets us free. Thanks to him, evil has been robbed of its power; failure can no longer hold us back from starting anew; and death has become a passage to the stirrings of new life. For with Jesus, the Risen Lord, no night will last forever; and even in the darkest night, in that darkness, the morning star continues to shine.

In this darkness that you are living, Mr. Mayor, Parliamentarians, the thick darkness of war, of cruelty, we are all praying, praying with you and for you this night. We are praying for all the suffering. We can only give you our company, our prayer and say to you: “Courage! We are accompanying you!” And also to say to you the greatest thing we are celebrating today: Christòs voskrés! Christ is risen!

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Pope Francis at Easter Vigil: The Risen Lord has robbed evil of its power

April 16, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis prays at the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 16, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2022 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

At the Vatican’s Easter Vigil Mass, Pope Francis said that Jesus has “entered the tomb of our sin” and restored us to life.

“Let us celebrate Easter with Christ! He is alive! Today, too, he walks in our midst, changes us and sets us free,” Pope Francis said in his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 16.

“Thanks to him, evil has been robbed of its power; failure can no longer hold us back from starting anew; and death has become a passage to the stirrings of new life.”

“For with Jesus, the Risen Lord, no night will last forever; and even in the darkest night … the morning star continues to shine,” the pope said.

Pope Francis did not preside over the Easter Vigil Mass or participate in the Paschal candle procession, but sat in the front of the congregation in a white chair.

The pope has suffered from acute knee pain recently which has made it difficult to walk and has led him to cancel some public appearances.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals, served as the main celebrant of the Mass. The pope participated in the Easter Vigil by delivering the homily and baptizing seven catechumens.

In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of bringing Christ’s light into days “marked by the horrors of war” through gestures of peace and acts of compassion.

“Let us make Jesus, the Living One, rise again from all those tombs in which we have sealed him,” Francis said.

“Let us bring him into our everyday lives: through gestures of peace in these days marked by the horrors of war, through acts of reconciliation amid broken relationships, acts of compassion towards those in need, acts of justice amid situations of inequality … and of truth in the midst of lies,” he added.

A Vatican spokesman said that the pope also met briefly with a delegation of local government officials from Ukraine ahead of the Mass.

The Easter Vigil, which takes place on Holy Saturday night, “is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities,” according to the Roman Missal.

The liturgy began in darkness with the blessing of the new fire and the preparation of the Paschal Candle. The candle symbolizes the light of Christ, which “shines in the darkness” and “has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Re and the concelebrating cardinals, bishops, and about 200 priests processed through the dark church carrying lit candles to signify the light of Christ coming to dispel the darkness.

“Many writers … have evoked the beauty of starlit nights. The nights of war, however, are riven by streams of light that portend death,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

“On this night, brothers and sisters, let us allow the women of the Gospel to lead us by the hand, so that, with them, we may glimpse the first rays of the dawn of God’s life rising in the darkness of our world.”

Pope Francis baptized seven people in St. Peter’s Basilica during the Easter Vigil Mass, including an American, Taylor Pescante.

The congregation prayed the Litany of the Saints and renewed their baptismal promises as Pescante prepared to be received fully into the Catholic Church, alongside four Italians, one Albanian, and one Cuban.

“Brothers and sisters our hope has a name: the name of Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

“He entered the tomb of our sin; he descended to those depths where we feel most lost; he wove his way through the tangles of our fears, bore the weight of our burdens and from the dark abyss of death restored us to life and turned our mourning into joy.”

At the beginning of the liturgy, a cantor sang the Exsultet Easter Proclamation, which tells the story of salvation from the creation, the testing and fall of Adam, the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and culminates in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and leads us to salvation.

The basilica was lit up gradually until it was fully illuminated at the Gloria, when the bells of St. Peter’s tolled.

About 5,500 people were present inside the basilica for the Vigil Mass, according to the Holy See Press Office.

The pope is also scheduled to celebrate Mass on Easter Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square, followed by the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

“How beautiful is a Church that can run … through the streets of our world. Without fear, without schemes and stratagems, but solely with the desire to lead everyone to the joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.

“That is what we are called to do: to experience the risen Christ and to share the experience with others; to roll away the stone from the tomb where we may have enclosed the Lord, in order to spread his joy in the world.”

[…]