Pope at Regina Coeli: The Spirit frees us from fears and opens doors

On the Solemnity of Pentecost Pope Francis invites Christians to cast out fears and revive the flame of God’s love.

By Linda Bordoni

“Today, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Gospel takes us to the upper room, where the apostles had taken refuge after the death of Jesus,” said Pope Francis greeting pilgrims and faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

He recalled how on the evening of Passover the Risen One presented himself to the disciples who were in a situation of fear and anguish.

“Breathing on them,” the Pope added, Jesus says: “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

The gift of the Spirit

With the gift of the Spirit, the Holy Father explained, Jesus wished to free the disciples from fear so they were able “to go out and become witnesses and proclaimers of the Gospel.”

Referring to the reading from the Gospel according to John, he explained that the disciples had closed the doors “for fear”. They were shocked by Jesus’ death and their hopes had vanished. Thus, the Pope continued, “they closed themselves inside.”

“How often do we too shut ourselves in?” he asked, because of a difficult situation, or personal problem, or because of “a suffering that marks us or the evil we breathe around us,” we risk slipping into hopelessness and lack the courage to go on.

“Like the apostles, we shut ourselves in, barricading ourselves in the labyrinth of worries.”

This “shutting ourselves in” the Pope said, happens when, in the most difficult situations, we allow fear to take the upper hand.

As a reaction, “the doors of the heart close, as when an alarm goes off inside a building,” he noted.

Reflecting on how fear of not being able to cope, of having to face difficulties alone, of undergoing disappointments and of making the wrong decisions blocks and paralyses us, Pope Francis said it also isolates us.

“Think of the fear of others, of those who are foreign, who are different, who think in another way. And there can even be the fear of God: that he will punish me, that he will be angry with me… If we give space to these false fears, the doors close: those of the heart, of society, and even the doors of the Church!” he said.

“Where there is fear, there is closure. And this will not do.”

The remedy of the Risen One

But then he reassured those present saying that “the Gospel offers us the remedy of the Risen One: The Holy Spirit.”

“He frees us from the prisons of fear,” the Pope said, explaining that the feast of Pentecost that we celebrate today shows how, “When they receive the Spirit, the apostles come out of the upper room and go out into the world to forgive sins and to proclaim the good news.”

“Thanks to him, fears are overcome and doors open.”

The Spirit makes us feel God’s proximity

It is the Spirit, the Pope continued, who makes us feel God’s proximity.

“His love casts out fear, illuminates the way, consoles, sustains in adversity,” he said.

The Pope concluded asking those present to invoke the Holy Spirit “for us, for the Church and for the whole world: let a new Pentecost cast out the fears that assail us and revive the flame of God’s love.”

“Let a new Pentecost cast out the fears that assail us and revive the flame of God’s love.”

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28 May 2023, 12:05

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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