By Hannah Brockhaus
The saints were real people whose strength to face daily challenges came from the grace of Jesus Christ, showing that everyone can be holy, Pope Francis said Friday, on the Feast of All Saints Day.
“The saints of all times, which we all celebrate together today, are not simply symbols, distant human beings, unreachable,” he said Nov. 1.
“On the contrary, they are people who have lived with their feet on the ground,” he said.
“They have experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and its failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue the journey.”
The saints demonstrate that holiness is not achieved alone, he said, but “is the fruit of the grace of God and of our free response to it.”
Pope Francis spoke about holiness in a message before the Angelus, which he led in honor of the Solemnity of All Saints. He stated that holiness is not only a gift from God, it is the “common vocation of the disciples of Christ.”
He explained that responding to God’s call to be holy, and accepting the gift of his grace, means taking “a serious and daily commitment to sanctification in the conditions, duties and circumstances of our life, trying to live everything with love and with charity.”
The Church, he said, has many examples of how to live with charity, both in the canonized saints in heaven as well as those who live in one’s community and are witnesses of holiness “next door.”
Holiness, the pope said, “is the path of fullness that every Christian is called to follow in the faith, proceeding towards the final goal: the definitive communion with God in eternal life.”
He said part of holiness is becoming more and more aware of being “grafted onto Christ” and the union of vine and branches. “Then, holiness is living in full communion with God, already now, during this earthly pilgrimage.”
Pope Francis also thanked parishes and communities for promoting special prayer initiatives on the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls, which is Nov. 2.
“These two Christian holidays remind us of the bond that exists between the Church of the earth (us), and that of heaven, between us and our loved ones who have passed on to the other life,” he said.
According to Francis, “The memory of the saints leads us to raise our eyes to Heaven, not to forget the realities of the earth, but to face them with more courage and with more hope.”
Noting that he will celebrate Mass in Rome’s Catacombs of Priscilla Nov. 2, the pope added that in the midst of negative cultural messages about death and the dead, he invites Catholics to, if possible, visit and pray at a cemetery as “an act of faith.”
“May Mary, our most holy Mother, a sign of consolation and sure hope, accompany us with her maternal intercession,” he prayed.