All Souls - Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Pope Francis          

All Souls  -  Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Wisdom 3: 1-9,        Psalm 23: 1-6,       

Romans 5: 5-11,        John 6: 37-40 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today the liturgy invites us to commemorate the faithful departed. These two recurrences are intimately linked to each other, just as joy and tears find a synthesis in Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of our faith and our hope. On the one hand, in fact, the Church, a pilgrim in history, rejoices through the intercession of the Saints and the Blessed who support her in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel; on the other, she, like Jesus, shares the tears of those who suffer separation from loved ones, and like Him and through Him echoes the thanksgiving to the Father who has delivered us from the dominion of sin and death.

Yesterday and today, many have been visiting cemeteries, which, as the word itself implies, is the “place of rest”, as we wait for the final awakening. It is lovely to think that it will be Jesus himself to awaken us. Jesus himself revealed that the death of the body is like a sleep from which He awakens us. With this faith we pause — even spiritually — at the graves of our loved ones, of those who loved us and did us good. But today we are called to remember everyone, even those who no one remembers. We remember the victims of war and violence; the many “little ones” of the world, crushed by hunger and poverty; we remember the anonymous who rest in the communal ossuary. We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they were Christian; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left us during the past year.

Church Tradition has always urged prayer for the deceased, in particular by offering the Eucharistic Celebration for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to those who are the most forsaken. The foundation of prayer in suffrage lies in the communion of the Mystical Body.

As the Second Vatican Council repeats, “fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead” (Lumen Gentium, n. 50).

Remembering the dead, caring for their graves and prayers of suffrage, are the testimony of confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death does not have the last word on human existence, for man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfilment in God. Let us raise this prayer to God: “God of infinite mercy, we entrust to your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you wait for all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ your Son, who died as a ransom for our sins. Look not, O Lord, on our poverty, our suffering, our human weakness, when we appear before you to be judged for joy or for condemnation. Look upon us with mercy, born of the tenderness of your heart, and help us to walk in the ways of complete purification. Let none of your children be lost in the eternal fire, where there can be no repentance. We entrust to you, O Lord, the souls of our beloved dead, of those who have died without the comfort of the sacraments, or who have not had an opportunity to repent, even at the end of their lives. May none of them be afraid to meet You, after their earthly pilgrimage, but may they always hope to be welcomed in the embrace of your infinite mercy. May our Sister, corporal death find us always vigilant in prayer and filled with the goodness done in the course of our short or long lives. Lord, may no earthly thing ever separate us from You, but may everyone and everything support us with a burning desire to rest peacefully and eternally in You. Amen” (Fr Antonio Rungi, Passionist, Prayer for the Dead).

With this faith in man’s supreme destiny, we now turn to Our Lady, who suffered the tragedy of Christ’s death beneath the Cross and took part in the joy of his Resurrection. May She, the Gate of Heaven, help us to understand more and more the value of prayer in suffrage for the souls of the dead. They are close to us! May She support us on our daily pilgrimage on earth and help us to never lose sight of life’s ultimate goal which is Heaven. And may we go forth with this hope that never disappoints! 


Pope Francis          

02.11.17  Holy Mass, American Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy

Commemoration of the Fallen         

All Souls - Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed 

Job 19: 25          

Romans 5: 5-11   

We have all gathered here today in hope. Each one of us, in his or her heart, can repeat Job’s words that we heard in the first Reading: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth”(Job 19:25). The hope of re-encountering God, of all of us meeting again, as brothers and sisters: and this hope does not disappoint. Paul’s expression in the second Reading was powerful: “Hope does not disappoint”.

But so often hope is born and sets its roots in many human wounds, in so much human affliction. That moment of pain, of grief, of suffering makes us look to Heaven and say: “I believe that my Redeemer lives. But stop, Lord”. This is the prayer that perhaps rises from us all, when we look at this cemetery. “I am certain, Lord, that these brothers and sisters of ours are with you. I am certain”. We say this. “But please, Lord, stop. No more. No more war. No more of this ‘senseless slaughter’”, as Benedict xv said. Better to hope without this destruction: young people ... thousands, thousands, thousands, thousands ... shattered hopes. “No more, Lord”. We must say this today, as we pray for all the departed, but in this place let us pray in a special way for these young people; today as the world is once more at war and is preparing to engage more aggressively in war. “No more, Lord. No more”. With war all is lost.

What comes to mind is that elderly woman who — looking at the ruins of Hiroshima, with wise but very painful resignation, with that mournful resignation that women are able to experience, because it is their charism — said: “Men do everything possible to declare and wage war, and in the end they destroy themselves”.

02.11.17  a (a-c)

This is war: our own self-destruction. Surely that woman, that elderly woman, had lost children and grandchildren there; all she had left was heartache and tears. And if today is a day of hope, today is also a day of tears. Tears as those felt and wept by women when the mail arrived: “Madame, you have the honour to have had a husband who was a hero for the Homeland; that your sons are heroes for the Homeland”. They are tears that today humanity must not forget. This pride of this humankind that has not learned its lesson and that seems unwilling to learn it!

02.11.17 b

When so many times in history men think of waging a war, they are convinced they are bringing about a new world; they are convinced they are creating a “springtime”. And it ends in a dreadful, cruel winter, with the reign of terror and death. Today let us pray for all the departed, all of them, but in a special way for these young people, at a moment in which so many die in the daily battles of this piecemeal war. Let us also pray for today’s dead, the victims of war, also children, innocents. This is the result of war: death. May the Lord grant us the grace to weep.  

02.11.17 c

Pope Francis          

02.11.19  Catacombs of Priscilla, Via Salaria  

All Souls - Commemoration of all the faithful departed 

Wisdom 3: 1-9,     Revelation 21: 1-7,     

Matthew 5: 1-12  

The celebration of the feast of All Souls in the catacombs – for me it is the first time in my life that I entered a catacomb, it is a surprise – they tells us many things. We can think of the lives of these people who had to hide, who had this culture of burying the dead and celebrating the Eucharist in here... It is a bad moment in history, but one that has not been overcome: even today there are. There are many. So many catacombs in other countries, where they even have to pretend to have a party or a birthday to celebrate the Eucharist, because in that place it is forbidden to do so. Even today there are persecuted Christians, more than in the first centuries, more. This – the catacombs, the persecution, the Christians – and these Readings, make me think of three words: identity, place and hope.

The identity of these people who gathered here to celebrate the Eucharist and to praise the Lord, is the same as our brothers and sisters today in so many, many countries where being a Christian is a crime, it is forbidden, they have no right. It's the same. Their identity is what we heard: it's the Beatitudes. The identity of a Christian is this: the Beatitudes. There's no other. If you do this, if you live like this, you're a Christian. "No, but look, I belong to that association, to that other..., I am of this movement...". Yes, yes, all beautiful things; but these are fantasy before this reality. Your ID card is this "it indicates the Gospel", and if you don't have this, you don't need movements or other affiliations. Either you live like this, or you're not a Christian. Simply. The Lord said so. "Yes, but it's not easy, I don't know how to live like this...". There is another passage of the gospel that helps us better understand this, and that passage of the Gospel will also be the "great protocol" according to which we will be judged. It's Matthew 25. With these two passages of the Gospel, the Beatitudes and the great protocol, we will show, living this, our identity as Christians. Without this there is no identity. There is the pretence of being Christian, but we don't have an identity.

This is the identity of the Christian. The second word: the place. Those people who came here to hide, to be safe, even to bury the dead; and people who celebrate the Eucharist today secretly, in those countries where it is forbidden... I think of that nun in Albania who was in a re-education camp, at the time of the communists, and it was forbidden for priests to give the sacraments, and this nun, there, she baptized in secret. The people, the Christians knew that this nun would baptized and the mothers went to her with their babies; but she didn't even have a glass, something to put water in... So she did it with her shoes: she took the water from the river and baptized with her shoes. The place of the Christian is a bit everywhere, we have no privileged place in life. Some want to have it, they are "qualified" Christians. But they run the risk of remaining with the "qualified" and the "Christian" part falls away. Christians, what is their place? "The souls of the just are in God's hands"(Wis 3:1): the Christian's place is in God's hands, where he wants. The hands of God, which are wounded, which are the hands of his Son who wanted to bear the wounds to show them to his Father and intercede for us. The Christian's place is in the intercession of Jesus before the Father. In God's hands. And there we are safe, let happen what happens, even the cross. Our identity indicates the gospel says that we will be blessed if they persecute us, if they say anything against us; but if we are in God's hands wounded by love, we are safe. This is our place. And today we can ask ourselves: but me, where do I feel most secure? In the hands of God or with other things, with other security that we trust ourselves to but that will eventually fall, that are not substantial?

These Christians, with this identity card, who lived and live in god's hands, are men and women of hope. And this is the third word that comes to me today: hope. We heard it in the second Reading: that final vision where everything was re-made, where everything was re-created, that homeland where we all will go. And to get in there you don't need strange things, you don't need a little sophisticated attitudes: you only need to show your ID card: "It's fine, go ahead". Our hope is in Heaven, our hope is anchored there and we, with the rope in hand, we support ourselves looking at that other shore that river that we have to cross.

Identity: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. Place: the safest place, in God's hands, wounded by love. Hope, future: the anchor, there, on the other shore, but I well cling to the rope. This is important, always clinging to the rope! So often we can only look at the rope, not even the anchor, not even the other shore; but as long as you are clinging to the rope you will get their securely. 


Pope Francis       

02.11.20  Holy Mass, Chapel in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery 

All Souls - Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed 

Job 19: 23-27,       Romans 5: 5-11,      

John 6: 37-40 

Job is defeated, indeed his life is ended, by illness, with his skin torn away, almost on the verge of dying, almost without flesh, Job is certain of one thing and says: "I know that my Redeemer lives and that, in the end, He will stand on Earth(Job 19:25). When Job is sunk, at his worst, there is a embrace of light and warmth that assures him : I will see the Redeemer. With these eyes I will see him. "I will see him myself, my eyes will gaze on him and not another"(Job 19:27).

This certainty, very near to the final moment of life, is Christian hope. A hope that is a gift: we cannot have it ourselves. It is a gift that we must ask for: "Lord, give me hope". There are so many bad things that lead us to despair, to believe that everything is over, that there will be a final defeat, that after death there is nothing... And Job's voice returns, it returns: "I know that my Redeemer is alive and that he ,the last, will take his stand on earth! I will see him, myself, " with my eyes.

"Hope does not disappoint"(Rm 5:5), Paul told us. Hope attracts us and makes sense of our lives. I cannot see the afterlife, but hope is God's gift that draws us to life, to eternal joy. Hope is an anchor that we have on the other side, and we, clinging to the rope, are sustained (cf. Heb 6:18-20). "I know my Redeemer lives and I will see him." We need to repeat this in moments of joy and bad moments, in moments of death, let's put it that way.

This certainty is a gift from God, because we can never have hope with our own strength. We have to ask for it. Hope is a free gift that we never deserve: it is given, it is given. It's grace.

And then the Lord confirms this, this hope that does not disappoint: "Everything that the Father gives me, will come to me"(Jn 6:37). This is the purpose of hope: to go to Jesus. And "he who comes to me, I will not turn him away because I have descended from heaven not to do my will, but the will of the one who sent me"(Jn 6:37-38). The Lord receives us there, where the anchor is. Life in hope is living like this: clinging, with the rope in your hand, strongly, knowing that the anchor is up there. And this anchor does not disappoint, it does not disappoint.

Today, thinking of so many brothers and sisters who have passed away, it will be good for us to visit cemeteries and look up. And repeat, as Job: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and I will see him, myself, my eyes will gaze upon him and not another." And this is the strength that gives us hope, this free gift that is the virtue of hope. May the Lord give it to each one of us. 


Pope Francis       

02.11.21 Holy Mass, French Military Cemetery in Rome

Commemoration of all the faithful departed  - All Souls Day

Job 19: 1, 23-27,  

Romans 5: 5-11

John 6: 37-40

I am reminded of a writing, at the door of a small cemetery, in the north: "You who pass, think of your steps, and of your steps think of the last step".

You who pass. Life is a journey, all of us are on a journey. All of us, if we want to do something in life, are on a journey. That is not a walk, not even a labyrinth, no, it is a journey. On the way, we pass so many historical moments, before so many difficult situations. And also in front of cemeteries. The advice of this cemetery is: "You who pass, stop and think, of your steps, at the last step". We will all have one last step. Someone can say to me: "Father, do not be so mournful, do not be tragic." But it is the truth. The important thing is that that last step finds us on the journey, not turning on the journey; but on the journey of life and not in an endless labyrinth. To be on the road so that the last step will find us on the journey. This is the first thought that I would like to say and that comes from my heart.

The second thought is the tombs. These people – good people – died in war, they died because they were called to defend their country, to defend values, to defend ideals and, many other times, to defend sad and lamentable political situations. And they are the victims, the victims of war, who consume the children of the homeland. And I think of Anzio, of Redipuglia; I think of the Piave in 1914 – so many have died there –; I think of the beach of Normandy: forty thousand, in that landing! But it doesn't matter, they fell...

I stopped in front of a tomb, there: "Unknown. Died for France. 1944". Not even the name. In God's heart is the name of all of us, but this is the tragedy of war. I am sure that all those who have gone in good will, called from the homeland to defend it, are with the Lord. But do we, who are on the journey, fight enough so that there are no wars? Why are the economies of countries fortified by the arms industry? Today the sermon should be to look at the graves: "Died for France"; some have the name, a few others do not. But these tombs are a message of peace: "Stop, brothers and sisters, stop! Stop, weapons makers, stop!"

These two thoughts I leave you. "You who pass, think, of your steps, at the last step": may it be in peace, in peace of your heart, all in peace. The second thought: these tombs speak, shout, cry out to us, cry out: "Peace!".

May the Lord help us to sow and keep these two thoughts in our hearts.


Pope Francis       

02.11.23 Holy Mass, Commonwealth War Graves, Rome

Commemoration of all the faithful departed  - All Souls Day

The celebration of a day like today leads us to two thoughts: memory and hope.

Memory of those who have gone before us, who have lived their lives, who have ended this life; We remember so many people who have done much good: their families, their friends... And we remember also those who did not manage to do so much good, but in the memory of God and in God's mercy they have been received. It is the mystery of the Lord's great mercy.

And then hope. This is a memory that looks forward, it looks at our journey, our path. We are journeying towards an encounter with the Lord and with everyone. And we must ask the Lord for this grace of hope: the hope that never disappoints; Hope, which is the everyday virtue that carries us forward, helps us to solve problems and to look for ways out. But always forward, forward. That fruitful hope, that theological virtue of every day, of every moment: I will call it the theological virtue "of the kitchen", because it is easy-going and always comes to our aid. The hope that does not disappoint: we live in this tension between memory and hope.

I would like to dwell on something that happened to me at the entrance. I looked at the age of these fallen. The majority are between 20 and 30 years old. Lives cut short, lives without a future. And I thought of the parents, the mothers who received that letter: "Madam, I have the honour of telling you that you have a heroic son." "Yes, a hero, but you took my son away from me!" So many tears in those lives cut short. And I couldn't help but think of today's wars. The same thing happens today: many young and not so young people... In the wars of the world, even in those closest to us, in Europe and beyond: how many deaths! Life is destroyed without being aware of it.

Today, thinking of the dead, guarding the memory of the dead and guarding hope, let us ask the Lord for peace, so that people may no longer kill each other in wars. So many innocent dead, so many soldiers who give their lives there. But why? Wars are always a defeat, always. There is no total victory, no. Yes, one wins over the other, but behind it there is always the defeat of the price paid. Let us pray to the Lord for our dead, for everyone, for everyone: may the Lord receive them all. And let us also pray that the Lord will have mercy on us and give us hope: the hope of going forward and being able to find them all together with Him, when He calls us. Amen.