Aleteia

Pope Francis: Celebrating the Saints in Heaven and the Saints Next Door

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At the Sunday Angelus the pope also calls for peace in the Central African Republic ahead of his scheduled visit to the country

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday said we live among everyday saints who may never be canonized, but who show us “how to live and die in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel.”

At the Sunday Angelus on the November 1 Feast of all Saints, the pope reminded pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that the holiness of the saints is essentially rooted in the grace of baptism. The saints in heaven, he said—not only the canonized, but also those “next door”—truly believed they were God’s children and “strove by the grace of God to practice the Gospel in the ordinariness of their lives.”

The lives of the saints are ours to imitate, he added. And although their ordinary acts of love of may seem insignificant in our eyes, “in the eyes of God they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death.”

Following the Angelus address, Pope Francis made a special appeal for peace in the Central African Republic ahead of his scheduled visit to the nation later this month. The pope announced his intention to open the Holy Door of the Cathedral in the nation’s capital of Bangui, as a sign of solidarity amid continued instability and violence, and a call to its citizens to work for reconciliation and peace, during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis’s November 25–30 apostolic journey to Africa will also take him to Kenya and Uganda.

Here below we publish an English translation of the pope’s Angelus address and appeal.

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

Good morning and happy feast day.

In today’s celebration, the Feast of All Saints, we feel keenly the reality of the Communion of Saints, our big family made up of all of the members of the Church, those who are still pilgrims on earth, and those—immensely more numerous—who already have departed and gone to heaven. We are all united, and this is called “Communion of Saints”; that is, the community of all the baptized.

In the liturgy, the book of Revelation recalls an essential feature of the saints. It says they are people who belong totally to God. There they are presented as an immense multitude of the “elect,” dressed in white and marked with “God’s seal” (cf. 7:2–4,9–14). The latter detail emphasizes that the saints belong to God fully and exclusively; they are his property. And what does it mean to bear God’s seal in one’s life and in one’s very person? The apostle John tells us: it means that in Jesus Christ we truly have become children of God (cf. 1 Jn 3:1–3).

Are we aware of this great gift? We are all children of God. Do we remember that in baptism we have received the “seal” of our heavenly Father and have become his children? To put it simply: we bear the surname of God. Our family name is God, because we are God’s children. Herein lies the root of the vocation to holiness. And the saints we remember today are those who have lived in the grace of their baptism. They have preserved the “seal” intact by acting as children of God, by seeking to imitate Jesus. And now they have reached the goal because finally, “they see God as he is.”

A second characteristic is that the saints are examples to imitate. Let us pay attention: not only those who are canonized but, so to say, the saints “next door” who by the grace of God strove to practice the Gospel in the ordinariness of their lives. We have all met some of these saints. Perhaps we have had someone in our family or among our friends and acquaintances. We should be grateful to them, and above all we should be grateful to God who has given them to us, who has placed them close to us as living and contagious examples of how to live and die in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel. How many good people have we known and do we know now? We say: “This person is a saint,” and we say it spontaneously. These are the saints next door, non-canonized but who live with us.

Imitating their gestures of love and mercy is somewhat like perpetuating their presence in this world. And indeed those Gospel gestures are the only ones that withstand the destruction of death: an act of tenderness, of generosity, time spent listening, a visit, a kind word, a smile … in our eyes these gestures may 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 the Saints, help us to trust more deeply in God’s grace, to journey with momentum on the way of holiness. To our Mother let us entrust our daily commitment, and let us pray also for our deceased loved ones in the intimate hope of meeting again one day, all together, in the glorious communion of heaven.

Appeal

Dear brothers and sisters,

The painful events that in recent days have exacerbated the fragile situation in the Central African Republic aroused great concern in my mind. I appeal to the parties involved to put an end to this cycle of violence. I am spiritually close to the Comboni Fathers of the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Bangui who are welcoming large numbers of refugees. I express my solidarity with the Church, with other religious denominations and with the entire Central African nation, so sorely tried as they make every effort to overcome divisions and return to the path of peace. To express the closeness of the entire Church in praying for this nation so afflicted and tormented, and to urge all Central Africans increasingly to be witnesses of compassion and reconciliation, on Sunday, November 29, I intend to open the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Bangui during that apostolic journey I hope to be able to make to that nation.

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

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