Pope Francis on Thursday urged Christians to seek holiness not by accomplishing extraordinary things but by following the path of the Beatitudes without half measures in everyday life.
The Holy Father offered the exhortation before the midday “Angelus” prayer on All Saints Day, a holiday in Italy and the Vatican.
Speaking from his studio window to a crowd gathered in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, the Pope reflected on the First Reading of the day’s Mass from the Book of Revelations that speaks about “a vision of a great multitude” singing God’s praise. The Pope said this praise is most apt at Mass when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy…”. “We not only think of the saints, but we do what they do.”
The Pope said we are united not only with the saints of the calendar but also with our “next door” saints – our relativesand acquaintances who are now part of that immense multitude. Hence, the Pope said, All Saints Day is a family feast, because the saints, our truest brothers and sisters, love us, know what is our true good, help us, await us and want us to be happy with them in heaven.
Path of the Beatitudes
And this path to happiness as indicated by the day’s Gospel, the Pope said are the Beatitudes which is contrary to the way of the world.
The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the proud . The Gospel says blessed are the pure , while the world says blessed are the sly and pleasure seekers.
It may seem that the way of the beatitudes and holiness needs to lead to defeat, yet the First Reading depicts the saints holding “palm branches in their hands”, symbols of victory. It is the saints who are victorious, not the world, and they exhort us to choose their side, that of God who is Holy.
Belonging to heaven or earth?
In this regard, the Pope urged for an examination of conscience, whether we are on the side of heaven or of earth, whether we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some gratification now.
The Pope said, “It is good for us to let ourselves be provoked by the saints, who never had half measures here on earth and who from there above “cheer” us, so that we choose God, humility, meekness, mercy and purity, because we are impassioned about heaven rather than earth.
The Pope said these brother and sister saints today are not asking us to listen to the Gospel one more time but rather to “put it into practice, to set out on the way of the Beatitudes.” “It is not a question of doing extraordinary things, but of following this path every day that takes us to heaven, to our families, to our homes,” the Pope concluded.
After reciting the “Angelus”, Pope Francis greeted participants in the Race of Saints, an annual November 1 event sponsored by the Don Bosco Missions foundation that supports Salesian missionaries worldwide. “Thank you for your beautiful initiative and for your presence,” the Pope said.
The Pope also reminded his listeners that on Friday, November 2, All Souls Day, he would be visiting the Laurentino Cemetery, some 13 km south of Rome. “I invite you to accompany me with prayers on this day of supplication for those who have preceded us in the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace,” the Pope urged.