Pope at Regina Coeli: Holy Spirit corrects and defends us

At the Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on the consoling work of the Holy Spirit, saying that God’s Spirit gently corrects our missteps like a faithful friend while defending us from false accusations.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis prayed the traditional Eastertide Marian prayer of the Regina Coeli on Sunday with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

In his reflections on the Gospel for the 6th Sunday of Easter, the Pope noted that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Paraclete”, which means both “consoler and advocate at the same time.”

“This means that the Holy Spirit does not leave us alone,” said the Holy Father. “He is near to us, like an advocate who assists the accused person, standing by his or her side.”

Gentle guidance from our companion for life

Focusing first on the Spirit’s “closeness” to us, Pope Francis said the Paraclete never abandons us, and is instead our “companion for life, a stable presence.”

The Spirit, he added, remains with us because “he truly loves us, rather than merely pretending to love us.”

And because God’s Spirit loves us, He acts as a true and faithful friend, who brings us God’s pardon and strength while also correcting us when we make mistakes.

“When He places our errors before us and corrects us, He does so gently – in His voice that speaks to the heart, there is always the timbre of tenderness and the warmth of love,” said the Pope.

The Spirit’s corrections, he added, never come in such a way as to humiliate us or instill distrust. “Rather, He conveys the certainty that we can always succeed with God.”

Defense against detractors

The Pope went on to reflect on the second aspect of the Holy Spirit: His action as our “advocate”.

The Paraclete defends us from those who accuse us, and even “from ourselves when we do not appreciate and forgive ourselves”.

The Spirit also stands by our side when the world seeks to push us aside or when the devil—the “accuser par excellence”—tries to make us feel useless and unhappy.

Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit teaches us how to respond to such accusations by “reminding us of everything Jesus told us.”

“He reminds us, above all, that Jesus always spoke of the Father who is in heaven,” said the Pope. “He made the Father known to us, and revealed the Father’s love for us, His children.”

Prayer to the Holy Spirit within us

In conclusion, Pope Francis invited Christians to call upon the Holy Spirit and to pray to Him often, especially since He is always within us.

“May Mary make us docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit and sensitive to His presence.”

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14 May 2023, 12:09

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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