St. Peter's Square
Friday, 1 November 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's solemnity of All Saints reminds us that we are all called to holiness. The saints and saints of all times, which we all celebrate together today, are not simply symbols, distant human beings, unreachable. On the contrary, they are people who have lived with their feet on the ground; they have experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and its failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue the journey. From this we understand that holiness is a goal that cannot be achieved only with one's own strength, but is the fruit of the grace of God and of our free response to it. Therefore holiness is gift and call.
As God's grace, that is his gift, it is something that we cannot buy or barter, but welcome, thus participating in the same divine life through the Holy Spirit who lives in us from the day of our Baptism. The seed of holiness is precisely Baptism. It is a question of becoming more and more aware that we are grafted into Christ, how the branch is united to the vine, and therefore we can and must live with Him and in Him as children of God. Then holiness is living in full communion with God, already now, during this earthly pilgrimage.
But holiness, besides being a gift, is also called, is a common vocation of all of us Christians, of the disciples of Christ; it is the path of fullness that every Christian is called to follow in the faith, proceeding towards the final goal: the definitive communion with God in eternal life. Holiness thus becomes a response to the gift of God, because it manifests itself as an assumption of responsibility. In this perspective, it is important to take on a daily commitment of sanctification in the conditions, duties and circumstances of our life, trying to live everything with love, with charity.
The saints we celebrate today in the liturgy are brothers and sisters who have admitted in their lives that they need this divine light, abandoning themselves to it with confidence. And now, before the throne of God (see Rev 7:15), he sings his glory forever. They constitute the "holy city", to which we look with hope, as to our definitive goal, while we are pilgrims in this "earthly city". We walk towards that "holy city", where these holy brothers and sisters await us. It is true, we are fatigued by the harshness of the journey, but hope gives us the strength to go on. Looking at their lives, we are encouraged to imitate them. Among them there are so many witnesses of a holiness "next door, of those who live near us and are a reflection of the presence of God" (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 7).
Brothers and sisters, the memory of the Saints leads us to raise our eyes to Heaven: not to forget the realities of the earth, but to face them with more courage, with more hope. May Mary, our most holy Mother, a sign of consolation and sure hope, accompany us with her maternal intercession.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I affectionately greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from various countries; in particular the children of Catholic Action; they came with their educators from many Italian dioceses, on the 50th anniversary of the ACR. One, two, three ... [the boys in the square sing a song] I greet the young men of the Deanery of Mauges, France; and the boys of Carugate (Milan).
I greet the athletes who took part in the Corsa dei Santi, organized by the "Missioni Don Bosco" Foundation to emphasize, even in a dimension of popular celebration, the religious value of the recurrence of All Saints. I thank you and all those, in the parishes and communities, these days promote prayer initiatives to celebrate All Saints and commemorate the dead. These two Christian holidays remind us of the bond that exists between the Church of the earth - we are - and that of heaven, between us and our loved ones who have moved on to another life.
Tomorrow afternoon I will go to celebrate the Eucharist in the Catacombs of Priscilla, one of the burial places of the first Christians of Rome. These days, when, unfortunately, there are also messages of negative culture about death and the dead, an invitation not to neglect, if possible, a visit and a prayer at the cemetery. It will be an act of faith.
And I wish everyone a good holiday in the spiritual company of the Saints. Please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!