Pope Francis on All Souls’ Day: Do you desire heaven above everything else?

Pope Francis on All Souls’ Day: Do you desire heaven above everything else?
Pope Francis blessing graves at the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, 2022. VATICAN MEDIA

By Courtney Mares

Catholic News Agency

November 3, 2022

ROME— On All Souls’ Day, Pope Francis urged Christians not to “compromise with the Gospel” but to take Jesus’ words seriously when he says we will be judged by how we treat the poor.

“Often, out of convenience or comfort, we tend to tone down Jesus’ message, to water down his words. Let’s face it, we have gotten pretty good at compromising with the Gospel,” the pope said in St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 2.

“From simple disciples of the Master we become masters of complexity, who argue a lot and do little, who seek answers more in front of the computer than in front of the Crucifix, on the internet rather than in the eyes of our brothers and sisters; Christians who comment, debate, and expound theories but do not know even a poor person by name, have not visited a sick person for months, have never fed or dressed someone, have never made friends with someone in need,’” he said.

Pope Francis offered Mass on All Souls’ Day for the repose of the souls of more than 150 deceased bishops and cardinals who died in the past year.

In his homily, the pope reflected on Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

The pope said that these words in the Gospel help prepare for death and the final judgment. He said God is “waiting for us among the poor and wounded of the world.” Pope Francis warned that there is a continual risk to “put the expectations of the world before the expectation of God” and to end up “losing sight of what matters.”

“The best careers, the greatest achievements, the most prestigious titles and awards, the accumulated wealth and earthly gains, all will vanish in an instant, everything,” he said.

The pope said that All Souls’ Day is a good occasion to ask “if our desires have anything to do with heaven.”

The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was offered for the 9 cardinals and 148 bishops and archbishops who died between Oct. 30, 2021, and Oct. 17, 2022.

Among the deceased cardinals listed in a booklet accompanying the Mass were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the former archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil, who had a significant role in the 2019 Amazon Synod; and Cardinal Antonios Naguib, the former patriarch of Alexandria and head of the Coptic Catholic Church.

Bishops who died in the past year included Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Anthony Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Texas; Archbishop Emeritus Stanislaw Nowak of Czestochowa, Poland; Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Cheng Tsai-Fa of Taipei, Taiwan; and Bishop Emeritus Lawrence Donald Soens of Sioux City, Iowa.

After the Mass, Pope Francis made a private visit to a cemetery inside Vatican City. The Teutonic Cemetery, located next to St. Peter’s Basilica, is the burial place of people of German, Austrian, and Swiss descent, as well as for people from other German-speaking nations, particularly members of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady.

The cemetery is built on the historic site of Nero’s Circus, where early Christians in Rome were martyred, including St. Peter.

On All Souls’ Day and throughout the month of November, the Church makes a special effort to remember, honor, and pray for the dead. There are many different cultural traditions around this period, but one of the most consistently honored is the practice of visiting cemeteries.

Last year, Pope Francis visited a military cemetery in Rome on All Souls’ Day. In 2018, Pope Francis offered Mass in a cemetery for deceased children and unborn babies called the Garden of Angels, located in the Laurentino Cemetery on the outskirts of Rome.


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