The Solemnity of All Saints, which we celebrate today, invites us to raise our gaze to heaven and to meditate on the fullness of divine life that awaits us. "We are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed" (1 John 3:2): With these words the Apostle John assures us of the reality of our future relationship with God, as well as the certainty of our future destiny. Since we are his beloved children, we receive the grace to endure the trials of this earthly existence, hunger and thirst for justice, misunderstandings, persecutions (cf. Matthew 5:3-11), and at the same time we inherit already what is promised in the evangelical beatitudes, "in which the new image of the world and of man shines that Jesus inaugurates" (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Milan, 2007, 95).
Sanctity, to imprint Christ in oneself, is the objective of a Christian's life. Blessed Anthony Rosmini writes: "The Word imprinted itself in the souls of his disciples with a sensible aspect ... and with his words ... he had given his own that grace ... with which the soul perceives the Word immediately" (Antropologia soprannaturale, Rome, 1983, 265-166). And we experience in advance the gift of the beauty of sanctity every time we take part in the Eucharistic liturgy, in communion with the "immense multitude" of the blessed, who in heaven eternally acclaim the salvation of God and of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 7:9-10). "The life of Saints does not only comprise their earthly biography, but also their life and action in God after death. Evident in the saints is that, whoever goes to God, does not separate himself from men, but becomes really close to them" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 42).
Consoled by this communion of the great family of the saints, tomorrow we will commemorate all the faithful deceased. The liturgy of Nov. 2 and the pious exercise of visiting cemeteries remind us that Christian death is part of the journey of assimilation to God, which will disappear when God is everything in all. Although separation from earthly affection is certainly painful, we must not be afraid of it, because when it is accompanied by the prayer of suffrage of the Church, it cannot break the profound bonds that unite us to Christ. In this connection, St. Gregory of Niza said: "He who has created everything with wisdom, has given this painful disposition as instrument of deliverance from evil and possibility to participate in hoped for goods" ("De mortuis oratio," IX, Leyden, 1967, 68).
Dear friends, eternity is not "an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace [the] totality" ("Spe Salvi," No. 12) of being, of truth, of love. We entrust to the Virgin Mary, sure guide to sanctity, our pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland, while we invoke her maternal intercession for the eternal rest of our brothers and sisters, who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection.
[After praying the Angelus, the Pope added in Italian;]
Yesterday afternoon, in a very grave attack on the Syro-Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, dozens of people died and were wounded, among them two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday's Holy Mass. I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, which is even more ferocious as it has hit defenseless persons, gathered in the house of God, which is house of love and reconciliation. I express, moreover, my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, which has been hit again, and I encourage all pastors and faithful to persevere in fortitude and in the firmness of hope. Lastly, in face of the cruel episodes of violence that continue to destroy the populations of the Middle East, I would like to renew my urgent appeal for peace: it is a gift of God, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions. May all join their efforts to end all violence!
[Translation by ZENIT]
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer, in particular those from the United States. Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, recalling the example of all those who now live for ever in the presence of God. Nor let us forget to pray tomorrow for the eternal repose of all the faithful departed, those who sleep in the Lord. May the merciful God of grace and peace bless you all!
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