November 01, 2018. “Today Is a Family Feast, the Saints Are Close to Us, They Are Our Truest Brothers and Sisters”
Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and happy feast!
Today’s First Reading, from the Book of Revelation, speaks to us of Heaven and puts before us “a great multitude,” incalculable, “from every nation, tribe, peoples and tongues” (Revelation 7:9). They are the Saints. What do they do “up there”? They sing together; praise God with joy. It would be lovely to hear their song . . . but we can imagine it. Do you know when? During the Mass, when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of the universe . . . “ The Bible says it’s a hymn that comes from Heaven, that is sung there (Cf. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8), a hymn of praise. Then, singing “Holy,” not only do we think of the Saints but we do what they do. In that moment of the Mass, we are united to them more than ever. And we are united to all the Saints — not only to those most noted in the calendar, but also to those “from next door,” to our relatives and acquaintances, who now form part of that great multitude.
Today, then, is a family feast. The Saints are close to us, rather, they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, they love us, they know what our true good is; they help us and wait for us. They are happy and want us to be happy with them in Paradise. Therefore, they invite us to <follow> the way of happiness, indicated in today’s Gospel, so beautiful and known: “Blessed are the poor in spirit [. . . ]Blessed are the meek [. . . ]Blessed are the pure in heart . . . “ (Cf. Matthew 5:3-8).
But, how come? The Gospel says blessed are the poor, whereas the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, whereas the world says blesses are the arrogant. The Gospel says blessed are the pure, whereas the world says blessed are the clever and the revellers. This way of blessedness, of holiness, seems to lead to defeat. Yet — the first Reading reminds us again — the Saints have “palm branches in their hands” (v. 9), namely, the symbols of victory. They have won, not the world. And they exhort us to choose their side, that of God who is Holy.
Let us ask ourselves what side we are on: that of Heaven or that of earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some contentment now? Let us ask ourselves: do we truly want holiness or are we content to be Christians without infamy and without praise, who believe in God and esteem their neighbor but without exaggerating? The Lord “asks all, and what He offers is true life, — He offers all –, the happiness for which we were created” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete ed Exsultate, 1).
In short, either holiness or nothing! It does us good to let the Saints challenge us, who here didn’t have half measures and “cheer” for us because we choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity, because we are passionate about Heaven rather than the earth.
Today our brothers and sisters don’t ask us to hear again a beautiful Gospel, but to put it into practice, to undertake the way of the Beatitudes. It’s not about doing extraordinary things, but about following every day this way that leads us to Heaven, that leads us as a family, that leads us home. Therefore, today we glimpse our future and celebrate that for which we were born: we were born never to die again; we were born to enjoy the happiness of God! The Lord encourages us and to one who enters the way of the Beatitudes, He says: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven” (Matthew 5:12).
May the Mother of God, Queen of Saints, help us to follow the way of holiness with determination; may She, who is the Gate of Heaven, introduce our dear deceased ones into the celestial family.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you all affectionately, pilgrims from Italy and from various countries, families, parish groups, Associations and schoolchildren.
A special greeting goes to the participants in the Race of Saints, promoted by the “Don Bosco Missions” Foundation, to live in a popular celebratory dimension the feast of All Saints.
Thank you for your beautiful initiative and for your presence!
Tomorrow afternoon I will go to the Laurentino Cemetery of Rome: I invite you to accompany me with prayer on this day of suffrage for all those that have preceded us in the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace.
I wish you all a happy feast in the spiritual company of the Saints. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!