Pope Benedict XVI said on today’s feast of All Saints that everyone is called by Jesus to holiness in their own path toward sainthood.
“The liturgy reminds us today that the original vocation of every baptized person is holiness,” the Pope said in his Nov. 1 Angelus address from the window of his apartment that overlooks St. Peter’s Square.
Jesus Christ, “with the Father and the Holy Spirit, has loved the Church as his bride and gave himself for it in order to make her holy,” he emphasized.
He also reminded Catholics to see the Church as more than just a human institution.
Today, he said, “we are thus invited to look at the Church, not in its temporal aspects marked by human weakness, but as Christ willed it, as ‘the communion of saints.’”
He told them that today’s feast day was “a favorable opportunity” to raise our eyes “from the realities of this world marked by time” up to “the dimensions of God, the dimensions of eternity and holiness.”
The Pope also reflected on how today’s emphasis on the “communion of saints” continues into tomorrow’s commemoration of All Souls, which occurs every Nov. 2. This is the day when the Church prays for the souls in Purgatory.
All Souls Day, the Pope said, “helps us to remember our loved ones who have left us, and all the souls on their way to the fullness of life, just on the horizon of the heavenly Church.”
He noted how the custom of praying for the dead has existed since “the early days of the Christian faith,” and that these prayers are “not only useful but necessary,” since they “not only can help them” but also make their prayers for those on earth effective.
In many Catholic parts of the world, All Souls Day is marked by visiting the graves of loved ones. In several Spanish speaking countries – particularly Mexico – this custom is referred to as the “Day of the Dead.”
“Although a visit to the cemeteries, maintains the bonds of affection with those who loved us in this life,” said the Pope, it also “reminds us that we are all tending towards another life beyond death.”
This means that our “crying due to earthly detachment does not prevail,” he said. Rather, it is overcome by our “certainty of the resurrection” and our “hope of reaching the bliss of eternity”—that “supreme moment of satisfaction, in which all embraces us and we embrace all.”
Pope Benedict concluded by entrusting both “our pilgrimage to the homeland of Heaven,” as well as that of our “dead brothers and sisters,” to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints.