Holy Father celebrates mass at a Roman cemetery on November 1
Pope Francis offered Mass on All Saints’ Day at a Roman cemetery, preaching on the importance of hope in Christian life and death.
“To see God, to be similar to God: this is our hope. And today, precisely on the day of the Saints and before the day for the dead, it is necessary to think a little about hope: this hope that accompanies us in life,” he said Nov. 1 at the Verano Cemetery in Rome.
“The first Christians depicted hope like an anchor, as if life had cast the anchor into the river of Heaven and all of us journeying towards this river were clinging to the anchor’s rope,” explained Pope Francis.
“This is a beautiful image of hope: to have the heart anchored there where our ancestors are, where the Saints are, where Jesus is, where God is. This is the hope that does not disappoint,” he said.
He said the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls, celebrated Nov. 2, are “days of hope.”
“There are moments of difficulty in life, but with hope the soul moves forward and looks toward that which awaits us,” he added.
The Pope went on to consider the means of entrance to heaven, saying that we can enter “only thanks to the blood of the Lamb, thanks to the blood of Christ. It is truly the blood of Christ that has justified us, that has opened the door of Heaven.”
The saints are our “brothers and sisters” who “are in the presence of God.” We can hope to join them there, encouraged the Pope, “through the pure grace of God, if we walk along the path of Jesus.”
It is hope that “purifies us, that unburdens us; this purification in hope in Jesus Christ makes us go in haste, quickly.”
But each of us has a “sunset” at the end of our path, advised Pope Francis, who preached as the sun sank low in the Roman sky. “In this pre-sunset of today, each of us can think of the sunset of our own life: ‘How will my sunset be?’”
“Do we regard it with hope?” the pontiff asked.
“Do we regard it with that joy of being welcomed by the Lord? This is a Christian thought, that gives us peace,” he reassured the congregation.
“Today is a day of joy,” he said. “We think of the sunset of many brothers and sisters who have preceded us, we think of our own sunset, which will come. And we think of our heart, and ask ourselves, ‘Where is my heart anchored?’
“If it has not been anchored well, anchor it there, in that river, knowing that hope does not disappoint because the Lord Jesus does not disappoint,” urged Pope Francis.
The Pope concluded Mass by blessing the Roman cemetery’s tombs.
He then took a moment to pray “in a special way” for immigrants who had died in recent tragedies both in the desert and at sea. He said they died “during their search for freedom, for a more suitable life.”
“We have seen the photographs, the cruelty of the desert, we have seen the sea where many drowned. We pray for them,” he said. “And we pray for those who were saved, and in this moment are in many places of shelter, crowded, hoping that the legal practices move quickly so that they can go somewhere else, more comfortable, in other reception centers.”
Originally published at Catholic News Agency on 3 November 2013. Used with permission. All other rights reserved.