On the solemnity of the Ascension, Pope Francis explains that on this day Jesus "invests [the disciples] with mission among all peoples". "This message of salvation implies first of all the duty of witness". On the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, united spiritually to Chinese Catholics, pastors and faithful, "so that they may be strong in faith and firm in fraternal union, joyful witnesses and promoters of charity and hope". Today is also the World Social Communications Day.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The mystery of Jesus' Ascension into heaven - in which he "asks the disciples to act and announce, entrusting them with the mandate to continue his work" - and a message to the Chinese Catholics on the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, characterized the moment of Regina Caeli, presided over by Pope Francis from the Library of the apostolic palace.
Explaining the solemnity of the Ascension, which is celebrated on the seventh Easter Sunday in Italy and in other countries - in the Vatican it is celebrated on the previous Thursday - the pontiff stressed that before going up to heaven, "the last meeting of the risen Lord takes place with his disciples", in which He "invests them the mission among all peoples".
“The contents of the mission entrusted to the Apostles - he said - are these: to announce, baptize, teach to walk on the path traced by the Master, that is, the Gospel. This message of salvation implies first of all the duty of witness, to which we, disciples of today, are also called to account for our faith. Faced with such a demanding task, and thinking of our weaknesses, we feel inadequate, as the Apostles themselves certainly felt. But we must not be discouraged, remembering the words that Jesus addressed to them before ascending to Heaven: "I am with you every day until the end of the world" (v. 20). This promise ensures the constant and consoling presence of Jesus among us ... With the promise to stay with us until the end of time, Jesus inaugurates the style of his presence in the world as the Risen One: a presence that is revealed in the Word, in the Sacraments, in the constant and interior action of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Ascension tells us that Jesus, although he ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously on the right hand of the Father, is still and always among us: from here we derive our strength, our perseverance and our joy ".
After the Marian prayer, Francis invited everyone to "unite ourselves spiritually to all of the Catholic faithful in China who today celebrate, with particular devotion, the Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, Patroness of China who is venerated in the Sheshan sanctuary in Shanghai. Let us entrust the pastors and faithful of the Catholic Church in that great nation to the guidance and protection of our Heavenly Mother, so they may be strong in the faith and firm in fraternal union, joyous witness and promoters of hope and charity."
Then addressing the Catholic faithful directly he said: "My dear Catholic brothers and sisters in China, I would like to assure you that the Universal Church, of which you are an integral part, shares in your hopes and supports you in your trials. She accompanies you in prayer for a new effusion of the Holy Spirit, you that the light and beauty of the Gospel, God’s power for the salvation of those who would believe, may shine in you. While once again expressing my profound and sincere affection for you all, I impart upon you a special Apostolic Blessing. And may Our Lady always keep you ".
The pontiff then recalled that today the World Day of Social Communications, dedicated this year to the theme of narration, is also celebrated: “May this event encourage us to tell and share constructive stories, which help us understand that we are all part of a story bigger than ourselves and we can look to the future with hope, if we really take care of each other as brothers and sisters”.
After a greeting to the Salesians, "sons of Don Bosco", for the feast of Mary Help of Christians, Francis thanked all those who celebrated the "Laudato si 'week", dedicated to his encyclical and inaugurated a whole year studying it and how to take care of the "common home" and the poor.
After a few minutes he went to his study window to greet the meagre crowd that had appeared on St. Peter's square. Because of the pandemic emergency, in fact, numerous "gatherings" are still not recommended.