Pope Francis greets the faithful in St. Peter's Square Pope Francis greets the faithful in St. Peter's Square 

Pope at Regina Coeli: Love means serving others, not controlling them

At the Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on what it means to abide in Jesus’ love, saying it is best expressed in self-giving service to others.

By Devin Watkins

Taking his cue from the day’s Gospel (Jn 15:9-17), Pope Francis explored the fruit that can be seen when a Christian abides in Jesus’ love.

Jesus, said the Pope, “invites us to abide in His love so that His joy may be in us and our joy may be full.”

Knowing the Father’s love

He said this love has its origin in God the Father, who is love, and flows like a river through Jesus, His Son, to us.

“The love Jesus gives us is the same with which the Father loves Him: pure, unconditional, freely given love,” said the Pope. “By giving it to us, Jesus treats us like friends, making us know the Father, and He involves us in His same mission for the life of the world.”

We remain in Jesus’ love, he added, by keeping His commandments.

Loving one another

In the same passage, Jesus summarized His commandments with the words: “that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Pope Francis said loving like Christ means going beyond our own selves and opening up to those in greater need.

“To love as Christ means to put yourself at the service of your brothers and sisters, as He did in washing the feet of the disciples,” said the Pope. “It means making ourselves available, as we are and with what we have. This means to love not in word but in deed.”

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Service, not violence or control

Pope Francis noted that loving like Christ requires us to put aside other loves offered by the world, like the love of money, success, or power.

“These deceptive paths distance us from the Lord’s love and lead us to become more and more selfish, narcissistic and overbearing,” he said. “And being overbearing leads to a degeneration of love, to the abuse others, to making our loved ones suffer.”

The Pope added that he was thinking about the many women who suffer “unhealthy love that becomes violence.” He said this “is not love.”

“To love as the Lord loves us means to appreciate the people beside us and to respect their freedom, to love them as they are, gratuitously.”

It also means overcoming the ambition to control others, and instead giving ourselves to others.

Witnesses to joy

Finally, Pope Francis invited Christians to abide in Jesus’ love so that our joy may be full.

“The joy of knowing we are loved by God despite our infidelities enables us to face the trials of life confidently, makes us to live through crises so as to emerge from them better,” he said. “Our being true witnesses consists in living this joy, because joy is the distinctive sign of a true Christian.”

And he concluded the Regina Coeli address praying that the Blessed Virgin Mary might help us abide in Jesus’ love and “grow in love for everyone, witnessing to the joy of the Risen Lord.”

09 May 2021, 12:07

What is the Regina Coeli?

The antiphon Regina Coeli (“Queen of Heaven”) is one of four traditional Marian antiphons, the others being Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Coelorum, and Salve Regina.

It was Pope Benedict XIV who, in 1742, enjoined the recitation of the Regina Coeli in place of the Angelus during Eastertide, that is, from Easter Sunday to the end of Pentecost. It is recited standing as a sign of Christ’s victory over death.

Like the Angelus, the Regina Coeli is said three times a day, at dawn, at noon, and at dusk, in order to consecrate the day to God and the Virgin Mary.

This ancient antiphon arose, according to a pious tradition, in the 6th century; it is attested in documentary sources from the first half of the 13th century, when it was inserted in the Franciscan breviary. It is composed of four short verses, each ending with an “alleluia.” With the Regina Coeli, the faithful turn to Mary, the Queen of Heaven, to rejoice with her at the Resurrection of Christ.

At the Regina Coeli on Easter Monday of 2015, Pope Francis spoke about the spiritual dispositions that should animate the faithful as they recite this Marian prayer:

“In this prayer, expressed by the Alleluia, we turn to Mary inviting her to rejoice, because the One whom she carried in her womb is Risen as He promised, and we entrust ourselves to her intercession. In fact, our joy is a reflection of Mary’s joy, for it is she who guarded and guards with faith the events of Jesus. Let us therefore recite this prayer with the emotion of children who are happy because their mother is happy.”

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