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Sunday, November 1, 2015

0432: Reflections on the Commemoration
of All Souls by Pope Francis

Entry 0432: Reflections on the Commemoration 

of All Souls by Pope Francis 

On two occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on 2 November (or close to this date) for the commemoration of All Souls, in 2013 and 2014. Here are two homilies and a brief addresses prior the recitation of the Angelus delivered on these occasions.



Vatican Basilica, Altar of the Chair
Monday, 4 November 2013

In the spiritual atmosphere of the month of November, which is marked by the remembrance of the faithful departed, we remember our brother Cardinals and Bishops from around the world who have returned to the Father’s house during this last year. As we offer this Holy Eucharist for each one of them, let us ask the Lord to grant them the heavenly reward promised to his good and faithful servants.

We have listened to the words of St Paul: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

The Apostle presents the love of God as the deepest and most compelling reason for Christian trust and hope. He lists the opposing and mysterious forces that can threaten the journey of faith. But immediately he states with confidence that even if our entire life is surrounded by threats, nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love which Christ himself has obtained for us by his total self-gift. Even the demonic powers, which are hostile to man, stand powerless before the intimate union of love that exists between Jesus and whoever receives him in faith. This reality of the faithful love that God has for each one of us helps us to face life’s daily journey, which sometimes passes quickly and at other times is slow and laborious, with serenity and strength.

Only man’s sin can break this bond, and yet even in this case God will always seek man, he will run after him in order to reestablish a union with him that endures even after death; indeed, a union that reaches its culmination in the final encounter with the Father. This certitude gives new and full meaning to earthly life and opens us to hope for life beyond death.

In fact, every time we are faced with the death of a loved one or of someone whom we knew well, the question arises within us: “What will become of his life, his work, his service in the Church?” The Book of Wisdom tells us: they are in the hands of God! The hand is a sign of welcome and protection, it is a sign of a personal relationship of respect and faithfulness: to give a hand, to shake someone’s hand. Now, these zealous pastors who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and their brothers, are in the hands of God. All that concerns them is well cared for and will not be corroded by death. All of their days, interwoven as they were with joy and suffering, hope and struggle, faithfulness to the Gospel and passion for the spiritual and material salvation of the flock entrusted to them, are in the hands of God.

Even their sins, our sins, are in the hands of God; those merciful hands, those hands “wounded” by love. It was not by chance that Jesus willed to preserve the wounds in his hands to enable us to know and feel his mercy. And this is our strength, our hope.

This reality, full of hope, is the prospect of the final resurrection, of eternal life to which the “just,” those who receive the Word of God and are docile to his Spirit, are destined.

This is how we want to remember our deceased brother Cardinals and Bishops. As men devoted to their vocation and to their service to the Church, who have loved as one loves a bride. In prayer let us entrust them to the Lord’s mercy, through the intercession of Our Lady and St Joseph, that he may receive them into his Kingdom of light and peace, there where the just and those who were faithful witnesses of the Gospel live eternally. And let us also pray for ourselves, that the Lord may prepare us for this encounter. We do not know the date, but we do know that the encounter will come.




Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 2 November 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today the liturgy invites us to commemorate the faithful departed. These two recurrences are intimately linked to each other, just as joy and tears find a synthesis in Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of our faith and our hope. On the one hand, in fact, the Church, a pilgrim in history, rejoices through the intercession of the Saints and the Blessed who support her in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel; on the other, she, like Jesus, shares the tears of those who suffer separation from loved ones, and like Him and through Him echoes the thanksgiving to the Father who has delivered us from the dominion of sin and death.

Yesterday and today, many have been visiting cemeteries, which, as the word itself implies, is the “place of rest,” as we wait for the final awakening. It is lovely to think that it will be Jesus himself to awaken us. Jesus himself revealed that the death of the body is like a sleep from which He awakens us. With this faith we pause — even spiritually — at the graves of our loved ones, of those who loved us and did us good. But today we are called to remember everyone, even those who no one remembers. We remember the victims of war and violence; the many “little ones” of the world, crushed by hunger and poverty; we remember the anonymous who rest in the communal ossuary. We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they were Christian; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left us during the past year.

Church Tradition has always urged prayer for the deceased, in particular by offering the Eucharistic Celebration for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to those who are the most forsaken. The foundation of prayer in suffrage lies in the communion of the Mystical Body.

As the Second Vatican Council repeats, “fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead” (Lumen Gentium, no. 50).

Remembering the dead, caring for their graves and prayers of suffrage, are the testimony of confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death does not have the last word on human existence, for man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfillment in God. Let us raise this prayer to God: “God of infinite mercy, we entrust to your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you wait for all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ your Son, who died as a ransom for our sins. Look not, O Lord, on our poverty, our suffering, our human weakness, when we appear before you to be judged for joy or for condemnation. Look upon us with mercy, born of the tenderness of your heart, and help us to walk in the ways of complete purification. Let none of your children be lost in the eternal fire, where there can be no repentance. We entrust to you, O Lord, the souls of our beloved dead, of those who have died without the comfort of the sacraments, or who have not had an opportunity to repent, even at the end of their lives. May none of them be afraid to meet You, after their earthly pilgrimage, but may they always hope to be welcomed in the embrace of your infinite mercy. May our Sister, corporal death find us always vigilant in prayer and filled with the goodness done in the course of our short or long lives. Lord, may no earthly thing ever separate us from You, but may everyone and everything support us with a burning desire to rest peacefully and eternally in You. Amen” (Fr Antonio Rungi, Passionist, Prayer for the Dead).

With this faith in man’s supreme destiny, we now turn to Our Lady, who suffered the tragedy of Christ’s death beneath the Cross and took part in the joy of his Resurrection. May She, the Gate of Heaven, help us to understand more and more the value of prayer in suffrage for the souls of the dead. They are close to us! May She support us on our daily pilgrimage on earth and help us to never lose sight of life’s ultimate goal which is Heaven. And may we go forth with this hope that never disappoints!



Vatican Basilica, Altar of the Chair
Monday, 3 November 2014

This celebration, thanks to the Word of God, is totally illumined by faith in the Resurrection. It is a truth that had a long arduous journey through the Old Testament, and which emerges in an explicit way in the episode we have just heard, the Collect for the expiatory sacrifice for the deceased (2 Mac 12:43-46).

All Divine Revelation is the fruit of the dialogue between God and his people, and even faith in the Resurrection is tied to this dialogue, which accompanies the journey of the People of God in history. It is not surprising that a mystery so great, so decisive, so superhuman as that of the Resurrection required the whole journey, all the time necessary, up to Jesus Christ. He can say: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25), because in Him this mystery is not only revealed in its fullness, but takes place, happens and becomes, for the first time and forever, reality. The Gospel we have heard, linking — according to Mark’s version — the account of the death of Jesus and that of the empty tomb, represents the culmination of that entire journey. The event of the Resurrection answers the long search of the People of God, the search of every man and of the whole of humanity.

Every one of us is invited to enter into this event. We are called first to stand before Jesus’ Cross, like Mary, like the women, like the centurion; to hear Jesus’ cry, and his last breath, and finally the silence — that silence that lasts throughout Holy Saturday. And then we are called to go to the tomb, to see the great stone rolled away, to hear the proclamation: “He has risen, he is not here” (Mk 16:6). The answer is there. The foundation, the rock, is there. Not in “persuasive discourses of wisdom,” but in the living Word of the Cross and of the Resurrection of Jesus.

This is what the Apostle Paul preaches: Jesus Christ crucified and risen. If He has not risen, our faith is empty and inconsistent. But because he has risen indeed, He is the Resurrection, so our faith is full of the truth and eternal life.

Renewing the tradition, today we offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for our Brother Cardinals and Bishops who have passed away in the last 12 months. And our prayer is enhanced by emotions, memories, by gratitude for the witness of the people we knew, with whom we shared service in the Church. Many of their faces are present to us; but all, each one of them is looked upon by the Father with his merciful love. And together with the gaze of our Heavenly Father there is that of the Mother, who intercedes for her children whom she loves so much. Together with the faithful whom they served here on earth they are able to enjoy the joy of the new Jerusalem. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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reflections on the Commemoration of All Souls 
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

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