To the faithful gathered on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI presented the communion of saints, a “beautiful and comforting” reality that says “we are never alone.” In particular he held up the ancient cult of martyrs in the early Church, and in this Year for Priests, “the saintly priests, both those canonized…and those many more that are known to the Lord.”
Pope Benedict also spoke of Monday’s commemoration of the faithful departed, also known as All Souls Day. "I would ask,” he said, “that this liturgical memory be lived in a genuine Christian spirit, that is, in light of the Paschal Mystery.”
Benedict XVI explained that Christ died and rose again and opened the door to the house of the Father, the kingdom of life and peace: “Those who follow Jesus in this life are welcomed where He came before us. So as we visit cemeteries, let us remember that there, in the tombs, are only the mortal remains of our loved ones awaiting the final resurrection.”
Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by teaching that the most proper and effective way to honor and pray for the faithful departed is by offering acts of faith, hope and charity: “In union with the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we can intercede for their eternal salvation, and experience the deepest communion, as we wait to find ourselves together again, to enjoy forever the Love that created and redeemed us."
After the Angelus prayer, the Pope recalled the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration between the World Lutheran Federation and the Catholic Church. "That document,” he said, “attests to an agreement between Lutherans and Catholics on the fundamental truth of the doctrine of justification, a truth that brings us to the very heart of the Gospel and the essential issues of our lives.”
The Holy Father expounded on the acceptance and redemption of man by God, saying, “Our existence is part of the horizon of grace. It is led by a merciful God who forgives our sin and calls us to a new life following in the footsteps of his Son. We live by the grace of God and are called to respond to his gift. This frees us from fear and gives us hope and courage in a world full of uncertainty, anxiety, suffering."
This anniversary, the Pontiff explained, is an occasion to remember the truth about the justification of man, witnessed together, to unite Catholics and Lutherans in ecumenical celebrations and to further investigate this issue and others that are the subject of ecumenical dialogue.
“I sincerely hope that this important anniversary will help bring forward the path towards the full visible unity of all the disciples of Christ.”