If a Christian wants to reach heaven, he or she should ask themselves if they are living for the pleasures of the world, or if they are striving after holiness with all their strength, Pope Francis said on the feast of All Saints.
“Let us ask ourselves what side we are on: that of heaven or that of the earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some fulfillment now?” the pope said Nov. 1.
“Let us ask ourselves: do we really want holiness?” he continued. “Or do we content ourselves with being Christians without disgrace and without praise, who believe in God and esteem others but without going too far?”
“In short, either holiness or nothing!” he said.
The pope led the Angelus from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square in honor of the feast day. In his message before the prayer, he said it is good for Catholics to let themselves be encouraged by the saints, who did not live their lives by “half measures.”
In heaven, the saints “cheer” for those on earth when they see them “choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity,” he said. The saints “understand us, they love us, they know what our true good is, they help us, and they wait for us. They are happy, and they want us to be happy with them in paradise.”
He noted that among the saints are also those who may not be known to us, or who are not on the Church’s liturgical calendar, but are nevertheless with God in heaven. And they are all one’s brothers and sisters – making the feast of All Saints, “a family party,” he said.
Pope Francis recalled a significant point in the Mass, when the “Sanctus,” or “Holy, Holy, Holy,” is recited or sung. “It is a hymn – that the Bible says – comes from heaven,” he said.
When singing the “Sanctus” at Mass, Catholics “not only think of the saints, but we do what they do [in heaven]: at that moment, in the Mass, we are united with them more than ever.”
The saints encourage people to follow the Beatitudes, which are “the path of happiness,” he said. He acknowledged that this is not always easy, especially because the world says, blessed are the rich and the arrogant, not “blessed are the poor in spirit” or “blessed are the meek.”
But as the day’s first reading from the book of Revelation says, the saints have “palm branches in their hands,” which is a symbol of victory, the pope said, adding that the saints “have won them, not the world, and they exhort us to choose their part, that of God who is holy.”
Today Christians are called to hear and to put the Beatitudes into practice, Francis said. Winning the victory of heaven is not always about doing extraordinary things but is “about following this path every day… in the family, at home.”
“Today we glimpse our future and celebrate what we were born for: we were born to never die again, we were born to enjoy the happiness of God!” he said. “May the Holy Mother of God, Queen of the saints, help us to firmly walk the path of holiness.”