On All Saints' Day

«We Feel the Attraction for Heaven Rekindle in Us»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday, All Saints’ Day, before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we celebrate with great joy the feast of All Saints.

When one visits a botanical garden, he is impressed by the variety of plants and flowers, and spontaneously thinks of the fancy of a Creator who has made on earth a marvelous garden. An analogous sentiment washes over us when we consider the spectacle of sanctity: The world seems to be a «garden» where the Spirit of God has called forth with admirable imagination a multitude of men and women saints, of every age and social condition, of every language, people and culture. Each one is distinct from the others, with the uniqueness proper of the human person and of a particular spiritual charism. All of them have, though, the «seal» of Jesus (cf. Revelation 7:3), that is, the imprint of his love, witnessed by way of the cross. All are in a state of joy, in endless celebration, but, like Jesus, they have reached this goal by passing through fatigue and testing (cf. Revelation 7:14), each one confronting his own part in sacrifice so as to participate in the glory of the Resurrection.

The solemnity of All Saints was gradually affirmed over the course of the first Christian millennium as a collective celebration of the martyrs. Already in 609, in Rome, Pope Boniface IV had consecrated the Pantheon, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. This martyrdom, on the other hand, can be understood in a broad sense, that is, as love for Christ without reserves, love that is expressed in the total gift of oneself to God and to neighbor.

This spiritual goal, to which all the baptized are called, is reached by following the path of the Gospel beatitudes, which the liturgy proposes for us in the feast of today (cf. Matthew 5:1-12a). It is the same path traveled by Jesus, and which the saints have made an effort to travel, though aware of their human limitations. During their earthly lives, in fact, they have been poor of spirit, sorrowful for sin, humble, hungry and thirsty for justice, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for justice. And God has made them participants in his own happiness: They have foretasted it in this world, and in the world beyond, they enjoy it in plenitude. Now they are consoled, inheritors of the earth, satisfied, forgiven, they see God of whom they are children. In a word, «theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven» (cf. Matthew 5:3-10).

On this day we feel the attraction for heaven rekindle in us. [It] moves us to quicken our step on this earthly pilgrimage. We feel burst into flame in our hearts the desire to unite ourselves forever with the family of the saints, of which already now we have the grace to form a part. As a popular spiritual hymn says: «When the saints come marching in, oh how I want to be in their number.»

May this beautiful aspiration burn in all Christians and help them to overcome every difficulty, every fear, every tribulation. Let us place, dear friends, our hand in the maternal hand of Mary, Queen of the saints, and allow ourselves to be guided by her toward the heavenly homeland, in the company of the blessed spirits «of every nation, people and tongue» (Revelation 7:9). And let us unite ourselves already in prayer, remembering our dearly departed, who tomorrow we commemorate.

[Translation by ZENIT] [After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints invites us to rejoice in our communion with the Saints in heaven, to implore their intercession for the Church on earth, and to follow their footsteps in the way of holiness. May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints strengthen us in faith and fervent hope in the fulfillment of Christ’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings!

© Copyright 2008 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation