ROME — Pope Francis said Mass for All Saints’ Day at a Roman cemetery Nov. 1, teaching that saints lived out their baptism and include many everyday people who have not been officially recognized by the Church.
“God remembers each of them, one by one, each by name,” Pope Francis preached during the afternoon Mass at the entrance of Rome’s Verano Cemetery.
“The saints, who stand before the face of the Lord, pray for us, for this, our city, and for the whole world: that everywhere the peace of Christ may shine brightly. He is our peace and eternal life.”
While at the cemetery, Pope Francis also prayed for the dead and said a blessing for the tombs there, in anticipation of All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2.
The Pope’s homily at Mass spoke of both canonized saints and the “everyday saints” who “lived the Gospel in the ordinary circumstances of their lives.”
These everyday saints also include “the countless men and women,” unknown to us, whose names are “written in the Book of Life.”
“I think that, certainly, we have all met one of these. Perhaps we have had one in our family or maybe among our friends or those whom we have known. We ought to be grateful to them; and above all, grateful to God, who has given them to us, who has placed them in our midst as contagious and living examples of a way of life and death which is faithful to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel.”
He said imitating these saints’ love and mercy helps “to perpetuate their presence.”
“These acts are the only thing that resists the destruction of death: It is the glass of water which we offer, the time spent listening, the visit, a kind word, a smile.”
While these actions may seem “insignificant,” they are “eternal” in the eyes of God.
“Yes, love is always stronger than death!”
'Icons of Christ’
Pope Francis explained that saints are “people who belong entirely to God.” Citing the Mass’ reading from the Book of Revelation, he noted that the saints are signed with “the seal of God.” This means that, “in Jesus Christ, we have truly become children of God.”
“Are we aware of this great gift? Do we remember that, in baptism, we have received the ‘seal’ of our heavenly Father and that we have become his children?”
“Here is the root of the vocation to holiness!”
The Holy Father said the saints lived “in a way consistent with their baptism” and kept intact its seal by “acting as children of God, seeking to imitate Jesus.”
The saints are an “icon of God” and “an icon of Christ himself.”
“Saints are those who imitated him, taking him as the model for their lives. There were men and women who, in hidden ways, lived the ideal of the beatitudes.”
The saints are humble and “felt oppressed by their own sin and by that of others.” They built peace and harmony, starting in their own circumstances, the Pope taught, adding that they practiced mercy and charity and maintained purity of heart.
“In order to remain faithful to the Gospel and consistent with their identity as children of God, they made courageous choices, at the cost of being derided, misunderstood, marginalized,” he said.
“To live in such a way requires courage. Do we have such courage?”