Easter hope breaks routine, unleashes creativity, Pope Francis says

A new member of the church holds a candle as Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 26. The pope baptized 12 people at the vigil. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)A new member of the church holds a candle as Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 26. The pope baptized 12 people at the vigil. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Truly celebrating Easter means allowing Jesus to triumph over personal fears and give life to hope, creativity and care for others, Pope Francis said.

Easter is "an invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence," the pope said during the Easter Vigil March 31 in St. Peter's Basilica. 

Advertisement

"Do we want to share in this message of life," he asked in his homily, "or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?"

During the liturgy, Pope Francis baptized eight adults, who were between the ages of 28 and 52. The Vatican said Nathan Potter, who was born in 1988 and comes from the United States, was one of the eight. Four of the other catechumens were from Italy and one each came from Albania, Peru and Nigeria.

Pope Francis also confirmed the eight and give them their first Communion during the Mass.

"Do we want to share in this message of life," he asked in his homily, "or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?"

The Mass, on a very rainy night, began in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica with the blessing of the fire and of the Easter candle. With most of the lights in the basilica turned off, Pope Francis and the concelebrating cardinals, bishops and priests processed in darkness toward the altar, stopping first to light the pope's candle and then those of the concelebrants and faithful.

"We began this celebration outside, plunged in the darkness of the night and the cold," the pope said in his homily. "We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross."

Transitioning from the Good Friday commemoration of Jesus' death and commenting on the silence of Holy Saturday, the pope spoke of the hours when Jesus' followers are left speechless in pain at his death, but also speechless at the injustice of his condemnation and at their own cowardice in the face of the lies and false testimony he endure.

"It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations," the pope said. "It is also that of today's disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh."

But in the midst of silence, he said, the stone is rolled away from Jesus' tomb and there comes "the greatest message that history has ever heard: 'He is not here, for he has been raised.'"

Jesus' empty tomb should fill Christians with trust in God and should assure them that God's light "can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives."

"'He is not here ... he is risen!' This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity," the pope said. It is a call to revive faith, broaden one's horizons and know that no one walks alone.

"To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our conventions, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us," he said.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

The tête-à-tête between Paul Krugman and Nancy Pelosi in Manhattan was like a documentary about a once-popular rock band. (Rod Morata/Michael Priest Photography)
Speaking in a deep blue stronghold, the Democratic leader of the House calls for “civility” and cautiously hopes that she will again wield the speaker’s gavel in January.
Brandon SanchezOctober 16, 2018
The lecture provoked no hostile reaction from the students who heard it. But a media firestorm erupted.
John J. ConleyOctober 16, 2018
Though the current synod appears to lack the sort of drama and high-stakes debates of the previous two, the role of conscience appears to be a common thread.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 16, 2018
When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the Olympic podium, their act drew widespread criticism. Now Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike.
Michael McKinleyOctober 16, 2018