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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

0346: Reflections on the Solemnity of All Saints
by Pope Benedict XVI



Entry 0346: Reflections on the Solemnity of All Saints 
by 
Pope Benedict XVI  during His Pontificate 




On eight occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on 1 November, the solemnity of All Saints, in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Here are the texts of eight brief addresses before the recitation of the Angelus and one homily delivered on these occasions.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Tuesday, 1st November 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, allowing us to experience the joy of being part of the large family of God’s friends or, as St Paul writes, to “share the lot of the saints in light” (Col 1: 12).

The Liturgy re-proposes the expression, full of wonder, of the Apostle John: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are” (I Jn 3: 1).

Yes, to become saints means to completely fulfill what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children, in Christ Jesus (see Eph 1: 5; Rom 8: 14-17). With the Incarnation of the Son and his death and Resurrection, God wanted to reconcile humanity to himself and open it up to sharing in his own life.

Whoever believes in Christ, Son of God, is reborn “from above”, regenerated through the work of the Holy Spirit (see Jn 3: 1-8). This mystery is accomplished in the Sacrament of Baptism, through which Mother Church gives birth to “saints”.

New life, received in Baptism, is not subject to corruption and the power of death. For those who live in Christ, death is the passage from the earthly pilgrimage to the Heavenly Homeland, where the Father welcomes all of his children “from every nation and race, people and tongue”, as we read today in the Book of Revelation (7: 9).

For this reason, it is very significant and appropriate that after the Solemnity of All Saints, the Liturgy tomorrow has us celebrate the Commemoration of all of the Faithful Departed. The “communion of saints”, which we profess in the Creed, is a reality that is constructed here below, but is fully made manifest when we will see God “as he is” (I Jn 3: 2).

It is the reality of a family bound together by deep bonds of spiritual solidarity that unites the faithful departed to those who are pilgrims in the world. It is a mysterious but real bond, nourished by prayer and participation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

In the Mystical Body of Christ the souls of the faithful meet, overcoming the obstacle of death; they pray for one another, carrying out in charity an intimate exchange of gifts.

In this dimension of faith one understands the practice of offering prayers of suffrage for the dead, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, memorial of Christ’s Pasch which opened to believers the passage to eternal life.

Uniting myself spiritually to those who are visiting cemeteries to pray for their deceased, tomorrow afternoon I too will prayerfully visit the tombs of the Popes in the Vatican Grottoes, which surround the tomb of the Apostle Peter. I will have a special prayer for the beloved John Paul II.

Dear friends, may the traditional visit of these days to the tombs of our dear departed be an occasion to fearlessly consider the mystery of death and to cultivate that constant vigilance which prepares us to meet it serenely. The Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, to whom we now turn with filial trust, will help us.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, and tomorrow we will be commemorating the faithful departed. These two deeply felt liturgical celebrations offer us a special opportunity to meditate upon eternal life.

Is modern man still waiting for this eternal life, or does he consider it part of a mythology now obsolete?

In our time more than in the past, people are so absorbed by earthly things that at times they find it difficult to think about God as the protagonist of history and of our own existence.

By its nature, however, human life reaches out for something greater which transcends it; the human yearning for justice, truth and full happiness is irrepressible.

In the face of the enigma of death, the desire for and hope of meeting their loved ones again in Heaven is alive in many, just as there is a strong conviction that a Last Judgment will re-establish justice, and the expectation of a definitive encounter in which each person will be given his reward.

For us as Christians, however, “eternal life” does not merely mean a life that lasts for ever but rather a new quality of existence, fully immersed in God’s love, which frees us from evil and death and places us in never-ending communion with all our brothers and sisters who share in the same Love.

Thus, eternity can already be present at the heart of earthly and temporal life when the soul is united through grace with God, its ultimate foundation.

Everything passes, God alone never changes. A Psalm says: “Though my flesh and my heart waste away, God is the rock of my heart and my portion for ever” (Ps 73[72]: 26). All Christians, called to holiness, are men and women who live firmly anchored to this “Rock”, their feet on the ground but their hearts already in Heaven, the final dwelling-place of friends of God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us meditate on these realities with our souls turned toward our final and definitive destiny, which gives meaning to the circumstances of our daily lives. Let us enliven the joyous sentiment of the communion of Saints and allow ourselves to be drawn by them towards the goal of our existence:  the face-to-face encounter with God.

Let us pray that this may be the inheritance of all the faithful departed, not only our own loved ones but also of all souls, especially those most forgotten and most in need of divine mercy.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of all the Saints, guide us to choose the world of eternal life at every moment, “and life everlasting”, as we say in the Creed; a world already inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ, whose coming we can hasten with our sincere conversion and charitable acts.


HOLY MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Vatican Basilica, Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our Eucharistic celebration began with the exhortation: “Let us all rejoice in the Lord”. The liturgy invites us to share in the heavenly jubilation of the Saints, to taste their joy. The Saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized Saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly. We are unacquainted with the faces and even the names of many of them, but with the eyes of faith we see them shine in God’s firmament like glorious stars.

Today, the Church is celebrating her dignity as “Mother of the Saints, an image of the Eternal City” (A. Manzoni), and displays her beauty as the immaculate Bride of Christ, source and model of all holiness. She certainly does not lack contentious or even rebellious children, but it is in the Saints that she recognizes her characteristic features and precisely in them savors her deepest joy.

In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation describes them as “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rv 7: 9).

This people includes the Saints of the Old Testament, starting with the righteous Abel and the faithful Patriarch, Abraham, those of the New Testament, the numerous early Christian Martyrs and the Blesseds and Saints of later centuries, to the witnesses of Christ in this epoch of ours.

They are all brought together by the common desire to incarnate the Gospel in their lives under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, the life-giving spirit of the People of God.

But “why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this Solemnity, mean anything to the Saints?” A famous homily of St Bernard for All Saints’ Day begins with this question. It could equally well be asked today. And the response the Saint offers us is also timely: “The Saints”, he says, “have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.... But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning” (Disc. 2, Opera Omnia Cisterc. 5, 364ff.).

This, then, is the meaning of today’s Solemnity: looking at the shining example of the Saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God’s friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. And this is the vocation of us all, vigorously reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council and solemnly proposed today for our attention.

But how can we become holy, friends of God? We can first give a negative answer to this question: to be a Saint requires neither extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms. Then comes the positive reply: it is necessary first of all to listen to Jesus and then to follow him without losing heart when faced by difficulties. “If anyone serves me”, he warns us, “he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him” (Jn 12: 26).

Like the grain of wheat buried in the earth, those who trust him and love him sincerely accept dying to themselves. Indeed, he knows that whoever seeks to keep his life for himself loses it, and whoever gives himself, loses himself, and in this very way finds life (see Jn 12: 24-25).

The Church’s experience shows that every form of holiness, even if it follows different paths, always passes through the Way of the Cross, the way of self-denial. The Saints’ biographies describe men and women who, docile to the divine plan, sometimes faced unspeakable trials and suffering, persecution and martyrdom. They persevered in their commitment: “they... have come out of the great tribulation”, one reads in Revelation, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rv 7: 14). Their names are written in the book of life (see Rv 20: 12) and Heaven is their eternal dwelling-place.

The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him.

Holiness demands a constant effort, but it is possible for everyone because, rather than a human effort, it is first and foremost a gift of God, thrice Holy (see Is 6: 3). In the second reading, the Apostle John remarks: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (I Jn 3: 1).

It is God, therefore, who loved us first and made us his adoptive sons in Jesus. Everything in our lives is a gift of his love: how can we be indifferent before such a great mystery? How can we not respond to the Heavenly Father’s love by living as grateful children? In Christ, he gave us the gift of his entire self and calls us to a personal and profound relationship with him.

Consequently, the more we imitate Jesus and remain united to him the more we enter into the mystery of his divine holiness. We discover that he loves us infinitely, and this prompts us in turn to love our brethren. Loving always entails an act of self-denial, “losing ourselves”, and it is precisely this that makes us happy.

Thus, we have come to the Gospel of this feast, the proclamation of the Beatitudes which we have just heard resound in this Basilica.

Jesus says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed those who mourn, the meek; blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful; blessed the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of justice (see Mt 5: 3-10).

In truth, the blessed par excellence is only Jesus. He is, in fact, the true poor in spirit, the one afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker. He is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.

The Beatitudes show us the spiritual features of Jesus and thus express his mystery, the mystery of his death and Resurrection, of his passion and of the joy of his Resurrection. This mystery, which is the mystery of true blessedness, invites us to follow Jesus and thus to walk toward it.

To the extent that we accept his proposal and set out to follow him - each one in his own circumstances - we too can participate in his blessedness. With him, the impossible becomes possible and even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle (see Mk 10: 25); with his help, only with his help, can we become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect (see Mt 5: 48).

Dear brothers and sisters, we are now entering the heart of the Eucharistic celebration that encourages and nourishes holiness. In a little while, Christ will make himself present in the most exalted way, Christ the true Vine to whom the faithful on earth and the Saints in Heaven are united like branches.

Thus, the communion of the pilgrim Church in the world with the Church triumphant in glory will increase.

In the Preface we will proclaim that the Saints are friends and models of life for us. Let us invoke them so that they may help us to imitate them and strive to respond generously, as they did, to the divine call.

In particular, let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord and mirror of all holiness. May she, the All Holy, make us faithful disciples of her Son Jesus Christ! Amen.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Thursday, 1 November 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On today’s Solemnity of All Saints, our hearts are dilated to the dimensions of Heaven, exceeding the limits of time and space. At the beginning of Christianity, the members of the Church were also called “saints”. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul addresses “those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor 1: 2). Indeed, Christians are already saints because Baptism unites them to Jesus and to his Paschal Mystery, but at the same time they must become so by conforming themselves every more closely to him. Sometimes, people think that holiness is a privileged condition reserved for the few elect. Actually, becoming holy is every Christian’s task, indeed, we could say, every person’s! The Apostle writes that God has always blessed us and has chosen us in Christ “that we should be holy and blameless before him... in love” (Eph 1: 3-5). All human beings are therefore called to holiness, which ultimately consists in living as children of God, in that “likeness” with him in accordance with which they were created. All human beings are children of God and all must become what they are by means of the demanding process of freedom. God invites everyone to belong to his holy people. The “Way” is Christ, the Son, the Holy One of God: “no one comes to the Father but by me [Jesus]” (see Jn 14: 6).

The Church has wisely placed in close succession the Feast of All Saints and All Souls’ Day. Our prayer of praise to God and veneration of the blessed spirits which today’s liturgy presents to us as “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rv 7: 9), is united with prayers of suffrage for all who have preceded us in passing from this world to eternal life. Tomorrow, we shall be dedicating our prayers to them in a special way and we will celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice for them. To tell the truth, the Church invites us to pray for them every day, also offering our daily sufferings and efforts so that, completely purified, they may be admitted to the eternal joy of light and peace in the Lord.

The Virgin Mary is resplendent at the centre of the Assembly of Saints, “created beings all in lowliness surpassing, as in height, above them all” (Dante, Paradise, Canto XXXIII, 2).

By putting our hand in hers, we feel encouraged to walk more enthusiastically on the path of holiness. Let us entrust to her our daily work and pray to her today for our dear departed, in the intimate hope of meeting one another all together one day in the glorious Communion of Saints.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Squar, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are celebrating with great joy the feast of All Saints. Visiting a botanical nursery garden, one is amazed by the variety of plants and flowers, and often one is drawn to think of the imagination of the Creator who has given the earth a wonderful garden. A similar feeling of wonder strikes us when we consider the spectacle of sainthood: the world appears to us as a “garden”, where the Spirit of God has given life with admirable imagination to a multitude of men and women Saints, of every age and social condition, of every language, people and culture. Every one is different from the other, each unique in his/her own personality and spiritual charism. All of them, however, were impressed with the “seal” of Jesus (see Rv 7: 3) or the imprint of his love witnessed through the Cross. They are all in joy, in a festival without end, but, like Jesus, they achieved this goal passing through difficulties and trials (see Rv 7: 14), each of them shouldering their own share of sacrifice in order to participate in the glory of the Resurrection.

The Solemnity of All Saints came to be affirmed in the course of the first Christian millennium as a collective celebration of martyrs. Already in 609, in Rome, Pope Boniface IV had consecrated the Pantheon, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and to all the martyrs. Moreover, we can understand this martyrdom in a broad sense, in other words, as love for Christ without reserve, love that expresses itself in the total gift of self to God and to the brethren. This spiritual destination, toward which all the baptized strive, is reached by following the way of the Gospel “beatitudes”, as the liturgy of today’s Solemnity indicates (see Mt 5: 1-12a). It is the same path Jesus indicated that men and women Saints have striven to follow, while at the same time being aware of their human limitations. In their earthly lives, in fact, they were poor in spirit, suffering for sins, meek, hungering and thirsting for justice, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of justice. And God let them partake in his very own happiness: they tasted it already in this world and in the next, they enjoy it in its fullness. They are now consoled, inheritors of the earth, satisfied, forgiven, seeing God whose children they are. In a word: “the reign of God is theirs” (Mt 5: 3, 10).

On this day we feel revive within us our attraction to Heaven, which impels us to quicken the steps of our earthly pilgrimage. We feel enkindled in our hearts the desire to unite ourselves forever to the family of Saints, in which already now we have the grace to partake. As a famous spiritual song says: “Oh when the Saints, come marching in, oh how I want to be in that number!” May this beautiful aspiration burn within all Christians, and help them to overcome every difficulty, every fear, every tribulation! Let us place, dear friends, our hand in Mary’s maternal hand, may the Queen of All Saints lead us towards our heavenly homeland, in the company of the blessed spirits “from every nation, people and language” (see Rv 7: 9). And already now we unite in prayer in remembering our dear deceased, who we will commemorate tomorrow.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 November 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday coincides with the Solemnity of All Saints, which invites the pilgrim Church on earth to a foretaste of the everlasting feast in the community of Heaven, and to revive our hope in eternal life. This year marks 14 centuries since the Pantheon one of the oldest and most famous of the Roman monuments was dedicated to Christian worship and named after the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs: Sancta Maria ad Martyres. The temple of all the pagan divinities was thus converted to commemorate all those who, as the Book of Revelation says, “have come out of the great tribulations; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7: 14).

Subsequently, the celebration of all the martyrs was extended to all the saints: “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7: 9) according to St John. In this Year for Priests, I would like to remember with special veneration all the priest saints those whom the Church has canonized upholding them as examples of spiritual and pastoral virtue, and those much more numerous who are known to the Lord. Each one of us treasures a grateful memory of some of them who have helped us to grow in faith and made us feel the goodness and closeness of God.

Tomorrow, then, is the annual commemoration of All Souls’ Day, of all the faithful departed. I would like to invite you to live this occasion in an authentic Christian spirit, that is, in the light that comes from the Paschal Mystery. Christ died and rose again, and has opened for us the way to the house of the Father, the Kingdom of life and peace. Whoever follows Jesus in this life is welcome where he has preceded us. Therefore, as we visit the cemeteries, let us remember that resting in those tombs are merely the mortal remains of our dear ones who await the final resurrection. Their souls, as Scripture tells us, are already “in the hand of God” (Wis 3: 1). Thus, the most proper and effective way to honor them is to pray for them, offering acts of faith, hope and charity. In union with the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we can intercede for their eternal salvation, and experience the most profound communion in the expectation of being together, enjoying forever the Love which created and redeemed us.

Dear friends, how beautiful and comforting is the communion of Saints! It is a reality that instills a different dimension into our whole life. We are never alone! We are part of a spiritual “company” where profound solidarity reigns: the good of each one is for the benefit of everyone, and vice versa, common happiness shines on every individual. It is a mystery which, in some measure, we can already experience in this world, in the family, in friendship, and especially in the spiritual community of the Church. May Mary Most Holy help us to walk quickly on the way to holiness, and may she be the Mother of mercy for the souls of the departed.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Monday, 1st November 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of All Saints, which we celebrate today, invites us to raise our gaze to Heaven and to meditate on the fullness of the divine life which awaits us. “We are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be” (1 Jn 3:2): with these words the Apostle John assures us of the reality of our profound relation to God, as too, of the certainty of our destiny.

Like beloved children, therefore, we also receive the grace to support the trials of this earthly existence — the hunger and the thirst for justice, the misunderstandings, the persecutions (see Mt 5:3-11) — and, at the same time, we inherit what is promised in the Gospel Beatitudes: “promises resplendent with the new image of the world and of man inaugurated by Jesus” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Milan 2007, p. 72). The holiness, imprinted in us by Christ himself, is the goal of Christian life. Blessed Antonio Rosmini wrote: “The Word impressed himself in the souls of his disciples with his physical presence... with his words... he had given to his own this grace... with which the soul immediately perceives the Word” (Supernatural Anthropology, Rome, 1983, pp. 265-266). And we have a foretaste of the gift and the beauty of sanctity every time that we participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy, the communion with the “great multitude” of holy souls, which in Heaven eternally acclaim the salvation of God and of the Lamb (see Rev 7:9-10). “The lives of the Saints are not limited to their earthly biographies but also include their being and working in God after death. In the Saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them” (Deus Caritas Est, no. 42).

Consoled by this communion of the great family of Saints, tomorrow we shall commemorate all the faithful departed. The Liturgy of 2 November and the pious exercise of visiting cemeteries reminds us that Christian death is part of the journey toward becoming like God and it will vanish when God will be all in all to everyone. The separation from earthly affection is certainly painful, but we should not fear it, because it, accompanied by the prayer and suffrage of the Church, it cannot break the profound bond that unites us to Christ. As was previously said, St Gregory of Nyssa affirms: “He who has created every thing in wisdom, has given this painful disposition as an instrument of liberation from evil and the possibility to participate in separated goods” (De Mortuis Oratio, IX, Leiden, 1967, p. 68).

Dear Friends, Eternity is not an “unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality” (Spe Salvi, no. 12). To the Virgin Mary, the sure guide to sanctity, we entrust our pilgrimage to our heavenly home, while invoking her motherly intercession for the eternal repose of all our brothers and sisters who have been laid to rest in the hope of resurrection.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of All Saints is a favorable occasion to raise our gaze from earthly realities, marked by time, to God’s dimension, the dimension of eternity and holiness.

Today’s Liturgy reminds us that holiness is the original vocation of every baptized person (see Lumen Gentium, no. 40). In fact, Christ, who with the Father and with the Spirit alone is all holy (see Rev 15:4), loved the Church as his Bride and gave himself up for her, in order to sanctify her (see Eph 5:25-26). For this reason all members of the People of God are called to become holy, according to the Apostle Paul’s affirmation: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). We are therefore invited to see the Church not only in her temporal and human aspect, marked by fragility, but as Christ wanted her to be, that is, in “the communion of saints” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 946). In the Creed we profess that the Church is “holy”, holy since she is the Body of Christ, an instrument of sharing in the sacred Mysteries — primarily in the Eucharist — and the family of Saints, to whose protection we are entrusted on the day of our Baptism.

Today we venerate this innumerable community of All Saints, who, through their different paths of life, show us the various ways to holiness, united by a common denominator: to follow Christ and conform ourselves to him, the ultimate goal of our alternating human events. All the stages of life, in fact, can become ways of sanctification with the action of grace and with the commitment and perseverance of each one.

Tomorrow, 2 November, is dedicated to the Commemoration of the faithful departed, it helps us to remember our dear ones who have left us and all the souls on the journey to the fullness of life, on the heavenly horizon of the Church, to which today’s Solemnity has elevated us.

Since the early days of the Christian faith, the earthly Church, recognizing the communion of the whole mystical body of Jesus Christ, has honored with deep respect the memory of the dead, she offers suffrage for them. Our prayer for the dead is therefore not only useful but necessary, as it can not only help them, but also make their intercession for us effective (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 958). Also visiting cemeteries, while preserving the ties of affection with those who loved us in this life, reminds us that we are all going towards another life, beyond death. May the tears, due to earthly departure, not prevail over the certainty of the resurrection, over the hope of reaching eternal beatitude, “the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality” (Spe Salvi, no. 12).

The object of our hope is to rejoice in the presence of God in eternity. Jesus promised this to his disciples, saying: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22).

Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, our pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland, as we invoke her maternal intercession for our departed brothers and sisters.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Thursday, 1 November 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we have the joy of meeting on the Solemnity of All Saints. This feast day helps us to reflect on the double horizon of humanity, which we symbolically express with the words “earth” and “heaven”: the earth represents the journey of history, heaven eternity, the fullness of life in God. And so this feast day helps us to think about the Church in its dual dimension: the Church journeying in time and the Church that celebrates the never-ending feast, the heavenly Jerusalem. These two dimensions are united by the reality of the “Communion of Saints”: a reality that begins here on earth and that reaches its fulfillment in heaven.

On earth, the Church is the beginning of this mystery of communion that unites humanity, a mystery totally centered on Jesus Christ: it is he who introduced this new dynamic to mankind, a movement that leads towards God and at the same time towards unity, towards peace in its deepest sense. Jesus Christ — says the Gospel of John (11:52) — died “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”, and his work continues in the Church which is inseparably “one”, “holy” and “catholic”. Being a Christian, being part of the Church means being open to this communion, like a seed that dies in the ground, germinates and sprouts upwards, toward heaven.

The Saints — those proclaimed by the Church and whom we celebrate today and also those known only to God — have lived this dynamic intensely. In each of them, in a very personal way, Christ made himself present, thanks to his Spirit which acts through Scripture and the Sacraments. In fact, being united to Christ, in the Church, does not negate one’s personality, but opens it, transforms it with the power of love, and confers on it, already here on earth, an eternal dimension.

In essence, it means being conformed to the image of the Son of God (see Rom 8:29), fulfilling the plan of God who created man in his own image and likeness. But this insertion in Christ also opens us — as I said — to communion with all the other members of his Mystical Body which is the Church, a communion that is perfect in “Heaven”, where there is no isolation, no competition or separation. In today’s feast, we have a foretaste of the beauty of this life fully open to the gaze of love of God and neighbour, in which we are sure to reach God in each other and each other in God. With this faith-filled hope we honor all the Saints, and we prepare to commemorate the faithful departed tomorrow. In the Saints we see the victory of love over selfishness and death: we see that following Christ leads to life, eternal life, and gives meaning to the present, every moment that passes, because it is filled with love and hope. Only faith in eternal life makes us truly love history and the present, but without attachment, with the freedom of the pilgrim, who loves the earth because his heart is set on Heaven.

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to believe firmly in eternal life and feel ourselves in true communion with our deceased loved ones. 



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