PENTECOST: THE CHURCH, RECONCILED AND READY FOR MISSION

Pope Francis had an unusually busy weekend with two events on the Saturday May 30 vigil of Pentecost and three more on Pentecost Sunday.

The Saturday highlight was the rosary at the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens, transmitted throughout the world and in linkup with 50 Marian shrines. The Pope also sent a video message to CHARIS (Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service) on the eve of Pentecost. Francis warned that life after the pandemic will not be the same so we must take advantage of this opportunity to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. CHARIS was created by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in 2018 to foster unity and communication between the different Catholic charismatic realities. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-05/pope-francis-vide-message-charism-eve-of-pentecost.html

May 31, Pentecost Sunday and the feast of the Visitation, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair with a small number of faithful mpreent, shared a video message with “The Kingdom Come,” and recited the Regina Coeli for the first time from his study window with faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “Thy Kingdom Come” is an annual global ecumenical prayer movement promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that started in 2016. The Pope’s message contrasted God “infecting” the world with life at Pentecost with the “deadly virus” that has ravaged the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-05/pope-thy-kingdom-come-pentecost-archbishop-canterbury-welby.html

PENTECOST: THE CHURCH, RECONCILED AND READY FOR MISSION

It was a thrill today to be in a warm and sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square with perhaps 200 people for Pope Francis’ noon recitation of the Regina Coeli. After months of addressing the faithful via television and live streaming from the library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father seemed delighted to be back at his study window that overlooks the square. And the faithful were overjoyed, too, and showed their enthusiasm with sustained applause.

Pentecost seemed like the ideal feast day to resume this more personal sharing of faith, reflections and prayer. Pentecost is considered the birth of the Church and today we were once again, in person, with the Successor to Peter. Many churches throughout the world were having their own kind of re-birth as doors opened, many for the first time in three months, to the faithful for Mass.

I posted a video on Facebook at the Regina Coeli and here are a few photos I took while in the square.

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In his remarks before the Marian prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the missionary nature of the Church, recalling that Pentecost marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. He said, “By forgiving and gathering His disciples around Him, Jesus makes them His Church: a community reconciled and ready for mission.” When Jesus said “Peace be with you,” he was forgiving those who had abandoned Him in his Passion.

After praying the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis noted that seven months ago concluded the Amazon Synod, and he invited the faithful to pray in silence for a moment that “the Holy Spirit might give light and strength to the Church and to society in the Amazon region, sorely tried by the [COVID-19] pandemic.”

The Pope prayed for the “the poorest and most defenseless” in the Amazon and other areas of the globe, saying, “I plead that they may not lack health care.” Then, in off the cuff remarks, Francis said that saving money by not providing health care is wrong: “Persons are more important than the economy. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. The economy is not!”

Those words generated great applause among the faithful in the square, including many nuns.