POPE FRANCIS ON ALL SAINTS’ DAY (Nov. 1)
POPE FRANCIS’ REFLECTION
ON ALL SAINTS’ DAY:
TRUE HAPPINESS IS TO BE WITH THE LORD AND TO LIVE FOR LOVE.
“Saints are not perfect models, but people marked by God. We can compare them to church stained-glass windows, which bring light into different shades of color.…
“Saints are our brothers and sisters who have received the light of God in their hearts and have transmitted it to the world, each according to their own “tonality”. This is the purpose of life, continued Pope Francis, to pass on the light of God; and also the purpose of our lives….
“Whoever is with Jesus is blessed, he is happy… the real happiness is to be with the Lord and to live for love, Pope Francis, 1st of November 2017
Saint Peter’s Square
All Saints day, 1st November 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, happy feast day, buongiorno!
Today, we celebrate all the saints, and we might have a misleading impression: we might think we are celebrating those sisters and brothers who in life were perfect, always straight, precise, or rather “starched”. Instead, today’s Gospel belies this stereotypical view, this “picture-perfect holiness”. In fact, the Beatitudes of Jesus (cf. Mt 5:1-12), which are the identity card of saints, show the complete opposite: they speak of a countercultural life, a revolutionary life! The saints are the true revolutionaries.
Let us take, for example, a very topical beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9), and we see how the peace of Jesus is very different from that we imagine. We all long for peace, but often what we want is not really peace, it is to be at peace, to be left in peace, to have no problems but to have tranquility. Jesus, instead, does not call blessed the calm, those who are in peace, but those who make peace and strive to make peace, the constructors, the peacemakers. Indeed, peace must be built, and like any construction it requires effort, collaboration, patience. We would like peace to rain down from above, but instead the Bible speaks of a “sowing of peace” (Zech 8:12), because it germinates from the soil of life, from the seed of our heart; it grows in silence, day after day, through works of justice and works of mercy, as the luminous witnesses we are celebrating today show us. Again, we are led to believe that peace comes by force and power: for Jesus it is the opposite. His life and that of the saints tell us that the seed of peace, in order to grow and bear fruit, must first die. Peace is not achieved by conquering or defeating someone, it is never violent, it is never armed. I was watching the television programme “A Sua Immagine” (“In His Image”) – many saints who have fought, have made peace but through work, giving their own lives, offering their lives.
How then does one become a peacemaker? First of all, one must disarm the heart. Yes, because we are all equipped with aggressive thoughts against each other, and cutting words, and we think to defend ourselves with the barbed wire of lamentation and the concrete walls of indifference, and between lamentation and indifference we complain, and this is not peace, it is war. The seed of peace calls for the demilitarization of the field of the heart. How is your heart? Is it already demilitarized or is it like that, with those things, with complaint and indifference, with aggression? And how does one demilitarize the heart. By opening ourselves to Jesus, who is “our peace” (Eph 2:14); by standing before his Cross, which is the cathedra of peace; by receiving from him, in Confession, “forgiveness and peace”. This is where we begin, because being peacemakers, being saints, is not our ability, they are gifts, it is one of his gifts, it is grace.
Brothers and sisters, let us look within and ask ourselves: are we peacemakers? In the places where we live, study and work, do we bring tension, words that hurt, chatter that poisons, controversy that divides? Or do we open up the way to peace, forgiving those who have offended us; do we care for those who are at the margins, do we redress some injustice by helping those who have less? This is called building peace.
A final question may arise, however, which applies to every beatitude: is it worth living this way? Isn’t it losing out? It is Jesus who gives us the answer: the peacemakers “will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9): in the world they seem out of place, because they do not yield to the logic of power and prevailing, in Heaven they will be the closest to God, the most like him. But, in reality, even here those who prevail remain empty-handed, while those who love everyone and hurt no one win: as the Psalm says, “there is a future for a man of peace” (cf. Ps 37:37).
May the Virgin Mary, Queen of all saints, help us to be peacemakers in our daily lives.
Saint Peter’s Square
All Saints Day, Monday, 1st November 2021
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
Today we are celebrating All Saints, and in the Liturgy the “programmatic” message of Jesus resounds: namely, the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1-12a). They show us the path that leads to the Kingdom of God and to happiness: the path of humility, compassion, meekness, justice and peace. To be a saint is to walk on this road. Let us now focus on two aspects of this way of life. Two aspects that are proper to this saintly way of life: joy and prophecy.
Joy. Jesus begins with the word “Blessed” (Mt 5:3). It is the main proclamation, that of an unprecedented happiness. Beatitude, holiness, is not a life plan made up only of effort and renunciation, but is above all the joyful discovery of being God’s beloved children. And this fills you with joy. It is not a human achievement, it is a gift we receive: we are holy because God, who is the Holy One, comes to dwell in our lives. It is he who gives holiness to us. This is why we are blessed! The joy of the Christian, then, is not a fleeting emotion or a simple human optimism, but the certainty of being able to face every situation under God’s loving gaze, with the courage and strength that come from him. Even in the midst of many tribulations, the saints experienced this joy and bore witness to it. Without joy, faith becomes a rigorous and oppressive exercise, and runs the risk of ailing with sadness. Let us consider this word: ailing with sadness. A desert Father said that sadness is “a worm that burrows into the heart”, which corrodes life (cf. Evagrius Ponticus, The Eight Spirits of Evil, XI). Let us ask ourselves this: are we joyful Christians? Am I a joyful Christian or not? Do we spread joy or are we dull, sad people, with a funeral face? Remember that there is no holiness without joy!
The second aspect: prophecy. The Beatitudes are addressed to the poor, the afflicted, those who hunger for justice. It is a message that goes against the grain. Indeed, the world says that in order to have happiness you must be rich, powerful, always young and strong, and enjoy fame and success. Jesus overturns these criteria and makes a prophetic proclamation — and this is the prophetic dimension of holiness — the true fullness of life is achieved by following Jesus, by putting his Word into practice. And this means another poverty, that is, being poor within, hollowing oneself to make room for God. Those who believe themselves to be rich, successful and secure base everything on themselves and close themselves off from God and their brothers and sisters, whereas those who know that they are poor and not self-sufficient remain open to God and to their neighbour. And they find joy. The Beatitudes, then, are the prophecy of a new humanity, of a new way of living: making oneself small and entrusting oneself to God, instead of prevailing over others; being meek, instead of seeking to impose oneself; practising mercy, instead of thinking only of oneself; committing oneself to justice and peace, instead of promoting injustice and inequality, even by connivance. Holiness is accepting and putting into practice, with God’s help, this prophecy that revolutionises the world. So, we can ask ourselves: do I bear witness to the prophecy of Jesus? Do I express the prophetic spirit I received in Baptism? Or do I conform to the comforts of life and to my own laziness, assuming that everything is fine if it is fine with me? Do I bring to the world the joyful newness of Jesus’ prophecy or the usual complaints about what is wrong? Questions that are good for us to ask ourselves.
May the Holy Virgin give us something of her soul, that blessed soul that joyfully magnified the Lord, who “has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (cf. Lk 1:52).
Sunday, 1st November 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On this solemn Feast of All Saints, the Church invites us to reflect on the great hope, the great hope that is based on Christ’s resurrection: Christ is risen and we will also be with Him, we will be with Him. The Saints and Blesseds are the most authoritative witnesses of Christian hope, because they lived it fully in their lives, amidst joys and sufferings, putting into practice the Beatitudes that Jesus preached and which resound in the Liturgy (see Mt 5:1-12a). The evangelical Beatitudes, in fact, are the path to holiness. I will reflect now on two Beatitudes, the second and the third.
The second one is this: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (v. 4). These words seem contradictory because mourning is not a sign of joy and happiness. Reasons for mourning come from suffering and death, illness, moral adversity, sin and mistakes: simply from everyday life with marked by fragility, weakness and difficulties, a life at times wounded and pained by ingratitude and misunderstanding. Jesus proclaims blessed those who mourn over this reality, who trust in the Lord despite everything and put themselves under His shadow. They are not indifferent, nor do they harden their hearts when they are in pain, but they patiently hope for God’s comfort. And they experience this comfort even in this life.
In the third Beatitude, Jesus states: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (v. 5). Brothers and sisters, meekness! Meekness is characteristic of Jesus, who said of Himself: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29). The meek are those who know how to control themselves, who leave space for the other, they listen to the other, respect the other’s way of living, his or her needs and requests. They do not intend to overwhelm or diminish the other, they do not want to be on top of or dominate everything, nor do they impose their ideas or their own interests to the detriment of others. These people, not appreciated by the world and its mentality, are, instead, precious in God’s eyes. God gives them the promised land as an inheritance, that is, life eternal. This beatitude also begins here below and is fulfilled in Christ. But meekness… At this moment in life, even in the world, there is so much aggressivity, in everyday life as well, the first thing that comes out of us is aggression, defensiveness. We need meekness to progress on the path of holiness. To listen, to respect, not to attack: meekness.
Dear brothers and sisters, choosing purity, meekness and mercy; choosing to entrust oneself to the Lord in poverty of spirit and in affliction; dedicating oneself to justice and peace – all this means going against the current in respect to this world’s mentality, in respect to the culture of possessing, of meaningless fun, of arrogance against the weakest. This evangelical path was trodden by the Saints and Blesseds. Today’s solemnity that honours All Saints reminds us of the personal and universal vocation to holiness, and proposes sure models for this journey that each person walks in a unique way, an unrepeatable way. It is enough to think of the inexhaustible variety of gifts and real life stories there are among the saints: they are not equal, each one has their own personality and developed their own life of holiness according to their own personality, and each one of us can do it, taking this path: meekness, meekness, please, and we will head toward holiness.
This immense family of faithful disciples of Christ has a Mother, the Virgin Mary. We venerate her under the title Queen of All Saints; but she is first of all the Mother who teaches everyone how to welcome and follow her children. May she help us nourish the desire for holiness, walking the way of the Beatitudes.
November 1, 2017
Good morning and happy Feast Day!
First of all — the first Beatitude says — they are “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). What does this mean? That they do not live for success, power and money; they know that those who set aside treasure for themselves are not rich toward God (cf. Lk 12:21). Rather, they believe that the Lord is life’s treasure, and love for neighbour the only true source of gain. At times we are dissatisfied due to something we lack, or worried if we are not considered as we would like; let us remember that our Beatitude is not here but in the Lord and in love: only with him, only by loving do we live as blessed.
1 November 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and happy feast!
In today’s celebration, the Feast of All Saints, we experience in a special way the reality of the communion of saints, our great family that consists of all members of the Church, both those of us who are still pilgrims on earth, and the immense multitude of those who have already left and gone to Heaven. We are all united, and this is called the “communion of saints”, meaning the community of all baptized people.
In today’s Liturgy, the Book of Revelation refers to an essential characteristic of saints, saying: they are people who belong totally to God. They are presented as an immense multitude of “chosen ones”, dressed in white and marked with the “seal of God” (cf. 7:2-4, 9-14). Through this last detail, with allegorical language, it is emphasized that the saints belong to God fully and exclusively, and that they are his property. What does it means to bear the seal of God in one’s very life and person? The Apostle John again tells us: it means that in Jesus Christ we have truly become children of God (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-3).
Are we conscious of this great gift? We are all children of God! Do we remember that in Baptism we received the “seal” of our Heavenly Father, and that we became his children? To put it simply: we bear God’s surname, our surname is God, because we are the children of God. Here lies the root of the vocation to holiness! The saints whom we remember today are those who lived in the grace of their Baptism, those who kept the “seal” intact, behaving as children of God, seeking to emulate Jesus; and now they have reached the goal, because they finally “see God as he is”.
A second characteristic of the saints is that they are examples to emulate. Let us note: not only those who are canonized, but the saints “next door”, so to speak, those who, by the grace of God, strive to practice the Gospel in their everyday lives. Among these saints we also find ourselves; perhaps someone in our family or among friends and acquaintances. We must be grateful for them, and above all we must be grateful to God who has given them to us, putting them close to us as living and contagious examples of the way to live and die in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel. How many good people have we met and do we know, about whom we say: “This person is a saint!”. We say it, it comes to spontaneously. These are the saints next door, those who are not canonized but who live with us.
Imitating their gestures of love and mercy is a bit like perpetuating their presence in this world. These evangelical gestures are indeed the only ones that can withstand the destruction of death: an act of tenderness, generous aid, time spent listening, a visit, a kind word, a smile…. In our eyes these gestures might seem insignificant, but in the eyes of God they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death.
May the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, help us to trust more in the grace of God, and to walk with enthusiasm along the path of holiness. Let us offer our daily efforts to Our Mother, and let us also pray to her for our dear departed, in the intimate hope of finding each other one day, all together, in the glorious communion of heaven.
1 November 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The first two days of the 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 (cf. Lev 19:2; Mt 5:48).
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