Pope Francis walks past flowers as he leaves after celebrating Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
By Cindy Wooden
Trusting that people took his Lenten advice and either downloaded a Bible app or bought a pocket-sized edition of the Gospels, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to re-read the accounts of the Resurrection during Easter week.
"Remember this week to pick up the Gospels, find the chapters about the Resurrection and read them -- a passage from those chapters each day. This would do us good," the pope said April 21, Easter Monday. At midday on the Italian holiday, the pope led the recitation of the "Regina Coeli," the Marian prayer used from Easter to Pentecost.
With thousands of visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis stood in the window of the papal apartment he chose not to live in and urged those in the square to let their Easter joy be evident in the way they think and interact with others.
"Let us allow the joyful awe of Easter Sunday radiate in our thoughts, gazes, attitudes, gestures and words," he said before leading the prayer.
Telling the crowd that they could wish each other Happy Easter all week long, "as if it were just one day, the great day the Lord has made," he said Christians can learn Easter joy from Mary and the other women who mourned Jesus' death and were transformed with joy at his rising from the dead.
"Think of the joy of Mary, the mother of Jesus," he said. "Just as her pain was intimate -- so much that her soul was pierced -- so, too, her joy was intimate and profound and the disciples could draw from it" like drawing water from a spring.
From Good Friday to Easter morning, Pope Francis said, "she never lost hope. We have contemplated the suffering mother, but at the same time, the mother full of hope. That is why she is the mother of all disciples, the mother of the church and the mother of hope."
Easter joy is not something fake, he said. "It comes from inside, from a heart immersed in the source of joy."
Recognizing that with the resurrection, Jesus conquered death and promises eternal life to those who believe, the pope said, Christians are able to shine "a ray of the light of the Risen One on different human situations: on happy occasions, making them more beautiful and preserving them from selfishness; and on sad situations, bringing serenity and hope."
Pope sends Easter eggs to hospitalized children, gift to the homeless
Ensuring small patients at a Vatican-owned hospital could keep an Italian Easter tradition, Pope Francis donated 150 brightly wrapped chocolate Easter eggs to children, including those undergoing cancer treatment, at the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital near the Vatican.
Shortly before Christmas, Pope Francis had toured the hospital, which was founded in 1869 and has been owned by the Vatican since 1924. Romans call it "the pope's hospital."
The pope also had 200 food packets -- containing milk, olive oil, pasta, fruit, jam and salt -- delivered to poor families in Rome's Tor Bella Monaca suburb.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, and Msgr. Diego Ravelli, from the office of papal charities, offered 100 homeless people in the city an Easter card signed by Pope Francis in an envelope that included an undisclosed gift of financial aid, reportedly of 40 euros ($55) or 50 euros ($69).
A similar card and money also were given to 30 women living at the Casa Dono di Maria in the Vatican, a shelter run by the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.
Archbishop Krajewski told an Italian reporter that some of the homeless men he had met April 18 while distributing the papal gifts were already preparing cardboard beds for the night outdoors. On opening the envelopes, "They began to dance with joy and to thank the Lord," he related.
At Christmas, the pope had given homeless people in Rome phone cards and bus and subway tickets.
Two years ago, an Italian chocolate maker had donated a gigantic, 550-pound chocolate Easter egg to Pope Benedict XVI, which he in turn donated to a juvenile detention center in Rome.
Catholic News Service - April 21, 2014