Easter season is time to seek the risen Lord, experience joy, pope says

Pope Francis delivers his Easter blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) after celebrating Easter Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 4, 2021. (CNS photo/Filippo Monteforte, Reuters pool)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Easter season, which lasts until Pentecost, is a time for rejoicing and for always seeking out the risen Christ, Pope Francis said.

"To find Christ means to discover peace of heart," he said April 5 as he led the recitation of the "Regina Coeli" prayer from the library of the Apostolic Palace.

With Italy in another COVID-19 lockdown, the midday recitation was livestreamed.

But Pope Francis reminded viewers how the women who went to Jesus' tomb and found it empty, "after initially being shaken, experience great joy in discovering the master alive.”

"In this Easter Season," he said, "my wish is that everyone might have the same spiritual experience, welcoming in our hearts, in our homes and in our families the joyful proclamation of Easter: 'Christ, having risen from the dead dies now no more; death will no longer have dominion over him.'”

From Easter to Pentecost, Catholics pray the "Regina Coeli" in place of the Angelus prayer as an affirmation of the joy of the Resurrection they should experience throughout the Easter season, he said. The prayer begins, "Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia," because "now Mary's joy is complete: Jesus lives, love has conquered. May this be our joy as well!”

After Jesus was buried, the authorities ordered a stone rolled in front of the tomb to keep the disciples from stealing Jesus' body. The stone, the pope said, "was supposed to be the seal of the victory of evil and death.”

But the Gospel of Matthew says, "There was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.”

"All of the plans and defenses of Jesus' enemies and persecutors were in vain," he said. "The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is the concrete, visible manifestation of God's victory over evil, of Christ's victory over the prince of this world, of light over darkness.”