Monday, November 12, 2007

God Invites Everyone to Form Part of His Holy People

Pope Benedict XVI
Address at the Angelus
November 1, 2007

On this solemnity of All Saints' Day, our hearts surpass the limits of time and space and open up to the vastness of heaven. In the early days of Christianity, the members of the Church were also called "saints." In the first Letter to the Corinthians, for example, St. Paul addresses "you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2). In fact, the Christian is already holy, because baptism unites him to Jesus and the paschal mystery, but at the same time he has to become holy, conforming himself to Jesus ever more intimately.

Sometimes it is thought that sainthood is a privilege reserved only for the chosen few. Actually, to become a saint is the task of every Christian, and what's more, we could even say it's the task of everyone! The Apostle wrote that God has blessed us from all eternity and has chosen us in Christ "to be holy and without blemish before him" (Ephesians 1:3-4). All human beings are therefore called to sainthood, which ultimately consists in living as children of God, in that "likeness" to him according to which humanity was created.

All human beings are children of God, and they all should become what they are through the demanding path of freedom. God invites everyone to form part of his holy people. The "way" is Christ, the son, the Holy One of God: No one reaches the Father if not through him (cf. John 14:6).

The Church has wisely placed in close succession the feast of All Saints' Day with the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. May our prayers of praise to God and veneration of the beatific souls, whom today's liturgy presents to us as "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue" (Revelation 7:9), be united to our intercessory prayers for those who have preceded us in the passage from this world to eternal life. To them we will dedicate our prayers tomorrow in a special manner, and celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice. In fact, the Church invites us to pray for them every day, offering our daily sufferings and weariness so that, completely purified, they may enjoy forever the light and peace of the Lord.

In the center of the assembly of saints shines the Virgin Mary, "humble and more exalted than any creature" (Dante, Paradise, XXXIII, 2). Placing our hand in hers, we feel ready to walk with more energy along the way of sainthood. To her we entrust our daily tasks, and we pray to her today for our dearly departed with the profound hope of one day finding ourselves together again with them in the glorious community of saints.

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