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Saturday, October 31, 2015

0431: Reflections on the Solemnity
of All Saints by Pope Francis



Entry 0431: Reflections on the Solemnity of All Saints by Pope Francis 





On two occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on 1 November, the solemnity of All Saints, in 2013 and 2014. Here are the texts of two brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus and two homilies delivered on these occasions.



SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square
Friday, 1st November 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Feast of All Saints that we are celebrating today reminds us that the goal of our existence is not death, it is Paradise! The Apostle John writes: “it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). The Saints — who are the friends of God — assure us of this promise which does not disappoint. During their earthly existence they lived in profound communion with God. In the faces of the humblest and least of our brothers, the smallest and most despised brothers, they saw the face of God, and now they contemplate him face to face in his glorious beauty.

The Saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect. They are like us, like each one of us. They are people who, before reaching the glory of heaven, lived normal lives with joys and sorrows, struggles and hopes. What changed their lives? When they recognized God’s love, they followed it with all their heart without reserve or hypocrisy. They spent their lives serving others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace. This is the life of a Saint. Saints are people who for love of God did not put conditions on him in their life; they were not hypocrites; they spent their lives at the service of others. They suffered much adversity but without hate. The Saints never hated. Understand this well: love is of God, then from whom does hatred come? Hatred does not come from God but from the devil! And the Saints removed themselves from the devil; the Saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and they spread it to others. Never hate but serve others, the most needy; pray and live in joy. This is the way of holiness!

Being holy is not a privilege for the few, as if someone had a large inheritance; in Baptism we all have an inheritance to be able to become saints. Holiness is a vocation for everyone. Thus we are all called to walk on the path of holiness, and this path has a name and a face: the face of Jesus Christ. He teaches us to become saints. In the Gospel he shows us the way, the way of the Beatitudes (see Mt 5:1-12). In fact, the Kingdom of Heaven is for those who do not place their security in material things but in love for God, for those who have a simple, humble heart that does not presume to be just and does not judge others, for those who know how to suffer with those who suffer and how to rejoice when others rejoice. They are not violent but merciful and strive to be instruments for reconciliation and peace. Saints, whether men or women, are instruments for reconciliation and peace; they are always helping people to become reconciled and helping to bring about peace. Thus holiness is beautiful, it is a beautiful path!

Today, through this feast, the Saints give us a message. They tell us: trust in the Lord because the Lord does not disappoint! He never disappoints, he is a good friend always at our side. Through their witness the Saints encourage us to not be afraid of going against the tide or of being misunderstood and mocked when we speak about him and the Gospel; by their life they show us that he who stays faithful to God and to his Word experiences the comfort of his love on this earth and then a “hundredfold” in eternity. This is what we hope for and ask of the Lord, for our deceased brothers and sisters. With her wisdom the Church has placed the Feast of All Saints and All Souls’ Day near each other. May our prayer of praise to God and veneration of the blessed spirits join with the prayer of suffrage for the souls of those who have preceded us in the passage from this world to eternal life.

Let us entrust our prayers to the intercession of Mary, Queen of All Saints.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Cemetery of Verano
Friday, 1st November 2013

At this hour before sunset, we gather in this cemetery and think about our future, we think of all those who have departed, preceded us in life and are in the Lord.

The vision of Heaven we just have heard described in the First Reading is very beautiful: the Lord God, beauty, goodness, truth, tenderness, love in its fullness. All of this awaits us. Those who have gone before us and who have died in the Lord are there. They proclaim that they have been saved not through their own works, though good works they surely did, but that they have been saved by the Lord: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7:10). It is he who save us, it is he who at the end of our lives takes us by the hand like a father, precisely to that Heaven where our ancestors are. One of the elders asks: “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” (v. 13). Who are these righteous ones, these saints who are in Heaven? The reply is: “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14).

We can enter heaven only thanks to the blood of the Lamb, thanks to the blood of Christ. Christ’s own blood has justified us, which has opened for us the gates of heaven. And if today we remember our brothers and sisters who have gone before us in life and are in Heaven, it is because they have been washed in the blood of Christ. This is our hope: the hope of Christ’s blood! It is a hope that does not disappoint. If we walk with the Lord in life, he will never disappoint us!

In the Second Reading, we heard what the Apostle John said to his disciples: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason the world does not know us.... We are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:1-2). To see God, to be like God: this is our hope. And today, on All Saints’ Day and the first day that we commemorate the faithful departed, we need to think a little about this hope: this hope that accompanies us in life. The first Christians depicted hope with an anchor, as though life were an anchor cast on Heaven’s shores and all of us journeying to that shore, clinging to the anchor’s rope. This is a beautiful image of hope: to have our hearts anchored there, where our beloved predecessors are, where the Saints are, where Jesus is, where God is. This is the hope that does not disappoint; today and tomorrow are days of hope.

Hope is a little like leaven that expands our souls. There are difficult moments in life, but with hope the soul goes forward and looks ahead to what awaits us. Today is a day of hope. Our brothers and sisters are in the presence of God and we shall also be there, through the pure grace of the Lord, if we walk along the way of Jesus. The Apostle John concludes: “every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (v. 3). Hope also purifies us, it lightens us; this purification in hope in Jesus Christ makes us go in haste, readily. Today before evening falls each one of us can think of the twilight of life: “What will my passing away be like?” All of us will experience sundown, all of us! Do we look at it with hope? Do we look with that joy at being welcomed by the Lord? This is a Christian thought that gives us hope. Today is a day of joy; however it is serene and tranquil joy, a peaceful joy. Let us think about the passing away of so many of our brothers and sisters who have preceded us, let us think about the evening of our life, when it will come. And let us think about our hearts and ask ourselves: “Where is my heart anchored?” If it is not firmly anchored, let us anchor it beyond, on that shore, knowing that hope does not disappoint because the Lord Jesus does not disappoint.


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square
Saturday, 1 November 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The first two days of the month of November constitute for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the “last things” of life. In fact in celebrating all the Saints and in commemorating all the faithful departed, in the Liturgy, the pilgrim Church on earth lives and expresses the spiritual bond which unites her to the Church in heaven. Today we praise God for the countless host of saints from all ages: simple and ordinary men and women, who were at times “last” for the world, but “first” for God. At the same time we remember our departed loved ones by visiting the cemeteries: it is a source of great consolation to think that they are in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and all the saints of Heaven!

Today’s Solemnity thus helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the “Creed:” the communion of saints. What does this mean: the communion of saints? It is the communion born from faith which unites all those who belong to Christ through Baptism. It is a spiritual union — we are all united! — that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life. Indeed, there is an unbreakable bond between us living in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of death. We, here on earth, along with those who have entered into eternity, form one great family. This familiarity endures.

This wonderful communion, this wondrous union between heaven and earth takes place in the highest and most intense way in the Liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, which expresses and fulfills the most profound union between the members of the Church. In the Eucharist, we in fact encounter the living Jesus and His strength, and through Him we enter into communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith: those who live with us here on earth and those who have gone before us into the next life, the unending life. This reality fills us with joy: it is beautiful to have so many brothers and sisters in the faith who walk beside us, supporting us with their help, and together we travel the same road toward heaven. And it is comforting to know that there are other brothers and sisters who have already reached heaven, who await us and pray for us, so that together in eternity we can contemplate the glorious and merciful face of the Father.

In the great assembly of saints, God wanted to reserve the first place for the Mother of Jesus. Mary is at the centre of the communion of saints, as the singular custodian of the bond between the universal Church and Christ, of the bond of the family. She is Mother, She is our Mother, our Mother. For those who want to follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel, she is a trusted guide because she is the first disciple. She is an attentive and caring Mother, to whom we can entrust every desire and difficulty.

Let us pray together the Queen of All Saints, that she may help us to respond with generosity and faithfulness to God, who calls us to be holy as He is Holy (see Lev 19:2; Mt 5:48).


SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Cemetery of Verano
Saturday, 1st November 2014

When in the First Reading we heard this voice of the Angel crying a loud to the four Angels who were given power to damage the earth and the sea, “Do not harm earth or sea or the trees” (Rev 7:3), this brought to mind a phrase that is not here but in everyone’s heart: “men are far more capable of doing this better than you.” We are capable of destroying the earth far better than the Angels. And this is exactly what we are doing, this is what we do: destroy creation, destroy lives, destroy cultures, destroy values, destroy hope. How greatly we need the Lord’s strength to seal us with his love and his power to stop this mad race of destruction! Destroying what He has given us, the most beautiful things that He has done for us, so that we may carry them forward, nurture them to bear fruit. When I looked at the pictures in the sacristy from 71 years ago [of the bombing of the Verano on 19 July 1943], I thought, “This was so grave, so painful. That is nothing in comparison to what is happening today.” Man takes control of everything, he believes he is God, he believes he is king. And wars, the wars that continue, they do not exactly help to sow the seed of life but to destroy. It is an industry of destruction. It is also a system, also of life, that when things cannot be fixed they are discarded: we discard children, we discard the old, we discard unemployed youth. This devastation has created the culture of waste. We discard people.... This is the first image that came to my mind as I listened to this Reading.

The second image, from the same Reading: “A great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (7:9). The nations, the tribes.... Now it’s starting to get cold: those poor people, who have to flee for their lives, from their homes, from their people, from their villages, in the desert ... and they live in tents, they feel the cold, without medicine, hungry ... because the “man-god” has taken control of Creation, of all that good that God has done for us. But who pays for this feast? They do! The young, the poor, those people who are discarded. And this is not ancient history: it is happening today. “But Father, it is far away ...” It is here too, everywhere. It is happening today. I will continue: it seems that these people, these children who are hungry, sick, do not seem to count, it’s as if they were of a different species, as if they were not even human. And this multitude is before God and asks, “Salvation, please! Peace, please! Bread, please! Work, please! Children and grandparents, please! Young people with the dignity of being able to work, please!” Among these are also those who are persecuted for their faith; there “then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘who are these, clothed in white, and when have they come?’ ... ‘These are they who have come out of great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (7:13-14). And today, without exaggeration, today on the Feast of All Saints I would like us to think of all these, the unknown saints. Sinners like us, worse off than us, destroyed. Of this multitude of people who are in great distress: most of the world is in tribulation. Most of the world is in tribulation. And the Lord sanctifies this people, sinners like us, but He sanctifies these people in tribulation.

Finally, there is a third image: God. First was the devastation; second was the victims; the third is God. In the Second Reading we heard: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what shall be” (1 Jn 3:2), that is, hope. And this is the Lord’s blessing that we still have: hope. Hope that He will have mercy on His people, pity on those who are in great tribulation and compassion for the destroyers so that they will convert. And so, the holiness of the Church goes on: with these people, with us, that we will see God as He is. What should our attitude be if we want to be part of this multitude journeying to the Father, in this world of devastation, in this world of war, in this world of tribulation? Our attitude, as we heard in the Gospel, is the attitude of the Beatitudes. That path alone will lead us to the encounter with God. That path alone will save us from destruction, from destroying the earth, Creation, morality, history, family, everything. That path alone. But it too will bring us through bad things! It will bring us problems, persecution. But that path alone will take us forward. And so, these people who are suffering so much today because of the selfishness of destroyers, of our brothers destroyers, these people struggle onwards with the Beatitudes, with the hope of finding God, of coming face-to-face with the Lord in the hope of becoming saints, at the moment of our final encounter with Him.

May the Lord help us and give us the grace of this hope, but also the grace of courage to emerge from all this destruction, devastation, the relativism of life, the exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us: the exclusion of peace. May he deliver us from this, and give us the grace to walk in the hope of finding ourselves one day face-to-face with Him. And this hope, brothers and sisters, does not disappoint! 



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For 
reflections on the Solemnity of All Saints 
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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