Vatican City, Nov 1, 2015 / 05:48 am
On the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis said the mark of true holiness is living each day as a child of God, imitating both Jesus and the saintly individuals we encounter in the ordinary moments of life.
In his Nov. 1 Angelus address, the Pope said that a key characteristic of the saints is that they "are examples to imitate."
Francis said he wasn't just referring to those who have been canonized, but also "the saints, so to speak, 'of next door,' who, with the grace of God, strove to practice the Gospel in the ordinariness of their lives."
These people could be family members, friends or someone we've met, and we must be grateful for having them in our lives, he said.
"Above all we must be grateful to God who has given them to us, who has placed them close, as living and contagious examples of the way to live and die in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel."
The Pope spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus Nov. 1, the day the Church traditionally dedicates to honoring the saints in heaven.
Saints are people "who belong totally to God," he said, noting how in the day's first reading from Revelation, the saints in heaven are depicted as the "elect," dressed in white and marked by the "seal of God."
This mark shows that the saints belong to God "in a complete and exclusive way, they are his property." Living and carrying God's seal with us every day is proof that we have truly become sons of God through Jesus Christ, he said.
"Are we aware of this great gift? Does it remind us that in Baptism we have received the 'seal' of our heavenly Father and we have become his children?" Francis asked, explaining that this seal "is the root of the vocation to holiness."
The saints the Church remembers today are people who have fully lived the grace of their Baptism, keeping this seal "intact," and truly acting like children of God in seeking to imitate Jesus, he continued.
Pope Francis then encouraged those present to imitate the loving and merciful actions of both the saints in heaven, and the holy individuals we meet in everyday life.
In the end, these gestures "are the only ones that resist the destruction of death: an act of tenderness, a generous assistance, a moment spent listening, a visit, a good word, a smile."
While such simple acts can seem insignificant in our eyes, "to the eyes of God they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death," the Pope explained.
He closed his address by asking Mary to intercede in helping us become more firm in the grace of God, and to "rush" forward on the path of holiness. He also asked that she intercede for our departed loved ones, with the hope that one day we will reunite with them "in the glorious communion of heaven."