Pope Francis has called on the faithful to praise God for those saints who have, whether known or unknown, set an example for all Christians to aspire to.
Speaking to the thousands gathered for the midday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square this Saturday for the Feast of All Saints Day, the Pope said, “Today, we praise God for the countless host of holy men and women of all ages: simple men and women, who sometimes were the ‘last’ for the world, but ‘first’ for God.”
Francis began his remarks by reminding the pilgrims gathered that the first two days of November are for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the last things of life.
In fact, he explained, by celebrating all the saints and 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.”
In addition to celebrating all saints, he reminded the pilgrims that in these days we remember our departed loved ones by visiting 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,” the Holy Father explained, “helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the ‘Creed’: the Communion of saints.”
This same Communion, he stressed, is a spiritual union that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life.
He said, “It 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.”
Explaining how this is demonstrated through the Church, Francis continued, “This beautiful Communion 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 deepest union between the members of the Church.”
In the Eucharist, he noted, “We 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, life without end.”
“For this reason, this reality of communion fills us with joy,” he said.
“It is nice to have so many brothers and sisters in the faith who walk alongside us, supporting us with their help and together we travel the same road toward heaven.”
Moreover, he added, “It is comforting to know that we have other brothers and sisters who have already reached heaven ahead of us and who pray for us, so that together in eternity we can contemplate the glorious and merciful face of the Father.”
In the great assembly of the saints, he said, “God wanted to reserve the first place for the Mother of Jesus. Mary is at the center of the Communion of saints, “she is a safe guide because she is the first disciple, an attentive and caring Mother, to whom we can entrust every desire and difficulty.”
Following the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father noted, “Today, in Vitoria (Spain), martyr Pedro Asúa Mendía is beatified.
“A humble and austere priest, he preached the Gospel with the sanctity of his life, catechesis and devotion to the poor and needy. Arrested, tortured and killed for having expressed his desire to remain faithful to the Lord and to the Church, he is a wonderful example of strength in the faith and witness of charity for us.”
After greeting various other pilgrims and associations, he noted that that afternoon he would go to the Verano cemetery and celebrate Mass for the souls of the dead.
“In visiting Rome’s main cemetery, I am united in spirit with those who in these days visit the graves of their dead in cemeteries around the world,” Pope Francis concluded.
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