April 11, 1999

Divine Mercy Sunday

Regina Caeli

"Silence the arms and return to dialogue" L’Osservatore Romano, April 14, 1999

On Sunday, 11 April, the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, the Holy Father led the recitation of the Regina Caeli, which he introduced with a reflection on God’s merciful love, drawing attention to the glaring contrast between the suffering caused by the war in the Balkans and the risen Christ’s gift of mercy and peace. The Pope asked the faithful to intensify their prayers for an end to the war and for peaceful coexistence among all the peoples of that region.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1.   At the end of the Octave of Easter with a special thought for our Orthodox brothers and sisters who are celebrating this solemnity today I make my own the words of the Apostle Peter, proclaimed in the liturgy: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pt 1:3). On their way to the Jubilee, the entire People of God raise a hymn of thanksgiving to God the Father who, in Christ’s paschal mystery, revealed to the world His face and, so to speak, His heart "rich in mercy" (Eph 2:4).

This Sunday is also called Divine Mercy Sunday: in this year dedicated to God the Father, it is an excellent occasion to enter into the authentic Jubilee spirit as individuals and as the Church, in accordance with Jesus’ own words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has sent me ... to announce a year of favor from the Lord" (Lk 4: 18-19). I am very pleased that many priests and faithful have gathered this morning in St. Peter’s Square for a solemn Eucharist celebrated by Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, whom I cordially greet, and with him everyone present, as I express my pleasure with your devotion to the merciful Jesus.

I warmly encourage you to be apostles of divine mercy, like Bl. Faustina Kowalska, wherever you live and work.

2.   How could we not note the glaring contrast between the invitation to mercy and forgiveness echoing in today’s liturgy and the violence of the tragic conflicts which are soaking the Balkan region in blood? May peace prevail at last! Here I renew the appeal dictated not only by faith but first of all by reason: may people be able to live together in harmony in their lands; may weapons be silenced and dialogue resumed!

My thoughts turn constantly to those who are suffering the harsh consequences of the war and I pray the risen Lord, the Prince of Peace, to give us the gift of his peace.

3.   I would like to invite all believers to intensify their prayer for peace, because God offers what sometimes seems almost humanly impossible to those who request it as a gift of His mercy.

For this reason, let us invoke the intercession of Blessed Mary, mother of Mercy, we pray to you to help us set out courageously on the way of love and peace.