Pope at Regina Coeli encourages growing in friendship with the Lord

In his reflections on the Sunday Gospel during the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis recalls Jesus' words to the Apostles, “I do not call you servants any longer, but friends." He encourages us to grow in friendship with the Lord and share it with others. At the same time, he prays for flood victims in Brazil and for dialogue and peace in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel.

By Thaddeus Jones

In his customary address before leading the recitation of Sunday's Regina Coeli prayer, Pope Francis reflected on Sunday's Gospel theme, recalling Jesus telling the Apostles, “I do not call you servants any longer, but friends." Saying how servants of God are special people in whom God places His treasures - recalling Moses, King David, the prophet Elijah, and the Virgin Mary - the Pope explained how Jesus wishes more for us, something greater, that we be in friendship with Him.

The beauty of friendship

The experience of friendship begins in childhood when perhaps we share our toys or most precious gifts with our friends, the Pope said, then as teenagers when we confide with friends and offer loyalty, and as adults when we share each other's burdens, memories, and life stories. The Pope encouraged us to remember our friends and to thank the Lord for them.

Friendship weathers the storms

Real friendship recognizes our common humanity and is not the result of calculation or compulsion, the Pope said, and when authentic, does not fail even in the face of betrayal. Quoting the Book of Proverbs, "a friend loves at all time," the Pope said a true friend does not abandon you despite your mistakes but rather corrects you, or even reproaches you, but also forgives you.

Beyond all expectations

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel how we are His friends, dearly loved "beyond all merit and expectation, to whom He extends His hand and offers His love, His Grace, His Word; with whom He shares what is dearest to Him, all that He has heard from the Father." The Lord even becomes fragile for us, the Pope pointed out, "placing Himself in our hands without defence or pretence, because He loves us, He wants our good and He wants us to share in his."

The Pope suggested we think about how we see the Lord in our own lives, whether as a friend or a stranger; and whether we accept His boundless love for us and share it in our own lives with our brothers and sisters, especially those who make mistakes and need forgiveness. He prayed that the Blessed Mother might help us grow in friendship with her Son.

Easter Greetings

Following the Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered best wishes to Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches that celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar. 

“May the Risen Lord fill all the communities with joy and peace, and comfort those who are facing adversity.”

Prayers for suffering and world peace

Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli and the apostolic blessing, Pope Francis assured the people of Rio Grande do Sul of his prayers. Brazil's southernmost state is recovering from massive flooding that has struck the region. The Pope prayed for the repose of the souls of those who have died and for the Lord's consolation for their families and those forced to leave their homes.

The Pope then asked everyone to continue praying for peace in our world, in particular for "tormented Ukraine" that is suffering so much, as well as Palestine and Israel. He prayed that there may be peace and that dialogue may be strengthened and bear good fruit, stressing a "no to war, yes to dialogue!"

Addressing the many groups in Saint Peter's Square present for the Regina Coeli, the Pope greeted in particular the Pontifical Swiss Guard and their families present for tomorrow's annual celebration with the swearing-in of new recruits. He thanked them for their generous service and asked everyone in the square to give them their applause.

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05 May 2024, 12:32

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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