“Remember that powerful experience of the Holy Spirit; that great joy of forgiveness experienced after that one confession; that intense and unforgettable moment of prayer; that light that was kindled within you and changed your life; that encounter, that pilgrimage,” he said.
“Each of us knows the place of his or her interior resurrection, that beginning and foundation, the place where things changed. We cannot leave this in the past; the Risen Lord invites us to return there to celebrate Easter.”
St. Peter's Basilica was decorated with many colorful flowers for the Easter Vigil Mass on April 8, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
During the Easter Vigil Mass, Pope Francis baptized eight people from the United States of America, Nigeria, Albania, Italy, and Venezuela.
The congregation prayed the Litany of the Saints and renewed their baptismal promises as the candidates prepared to be received fully into the Catholic Church.
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Pope Francis recalled the sorrow that the disciples must have experienced when Jesus’ tomb was sealed with a stone. He noted that there are also “sealed tombs” in the present, like the “tombs of disappointment, bitterness and distrust, of the dismay of thinking that ‘nothing more can be done,’ ‘things will never change,’ ‘better to live for today,’ since ‘there is no certainty about tomorrow.’”
Pope Francis at the Easter Vigil Mass at the Vatican on April 8, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
“At times, we may simply feel weary about our daily routine, tired of taking risks in a cold, hard world where only the clever and the strong seem to get ahead,” he said.
“At other times, we may feel helpless and discouraged before the power of evil, the conflicts that tear relationships apart, the attitudes of calculation and indifference that seem to prevail in society, the cancer of corruption-- there's a lot --the spread of injustice, the icy winds of war.”
In these moments of discouragement, Christ’s resurrection “motivates us to move forward,” he said, “and to leave behind our sense of defeat, to roll away the stone of the tombs in which we often imprison our hope.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us follow Jesus to Galilee, encounter him and worship him there, where he is waiting for each of us. Let us revive the beauty of that moment when we realized that he is alive and we made him the Lord of our lives. … Let us rise to new life!” the pope said.
Pope Francis is also scheduled to preside over Mass on Easter Sunday morning in St. Peter's Square, after which he will give the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.