In his Angelus address delivered for the Feast of All Souls, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for forgotten souls, as well as Christians who have died for their faith and in the service of others over the past year.
“We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they are Christians,” he said, and the many “who have sacrificed their lives to serve others.”
Addressing the crowds gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Nov. 2 beneath an Autumn sun, the Holy Father also stressed the importance of praying for victims of war and violence, and for the “many 'little ones' crushed by hunger and misery.”
Praying for the departed is part of the tradition of the Church, Pope Francis said, especially through the Eucharistic Celebration, which is “the best spiritual help we can give to their souls, especially those who are most abandoned.”
“The foundation of prayer for the intercession of souls is found in the communion of the Mystical Body,” he added, quoting Lumen Gentium: “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.”
The practice of remembering the dead, caring for their graves, and offering intercessory prayers, Pope Francis said, gives testimony of the “certain hope” which has “take root in the certainty that death is not the last word.”
“Man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and fulfillment in God.”
Pope Francis recalled how the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, coming one after the other, are “intimately linked,” in the same way that “joy and tears find a synthesis in Jesus which is fundamental to our faith.”
“The Church, a pilgrim in history, rejoices in the intercession of the Saints and Blesseds who sustain it in Her Mission of proclaiming the Gospel,” he said. On the other hand, the Church, “like Jesus, shares the tears of those who suffer the separation of beloved persons, and like him and thanks to him echo the gratitude toward the Father who has liberated us from the dominion of sin and death.”
The Pope noted the custom on these two feasts of visiting a cemetery — a “place of rest” in anticipation of “the final awakening.”
“Jesus himself revealed that death of the body is a dream from which He awakens us. With this faith we pause — even spiritually — by the tombs of our dear ones, those who loved” and treated us well.
Before leading the faithful in praying the Angelus, Pope Francis first offered a prayer for the departed.
He asked God to not look upon “our poverty and miseries, and human weaknesses” when we come before His court to be tried either “in happiness or condemned.”
“Help us to walk on the path of complete purification,” he said, adding: “May none of your children be lost in the eternal fire of Hell, where there is no more repentance.”
Pope Francis also entrusted to God those who have died without the consolation of the Sacraments, as well as those “who did not have the opportunity to repent” before their death.
“May no one fear meeting you, after this earthly pilgrimage,” he said. “May sister death find us vigilant in prayer, and full of the good we have accomplished in our brief or long existence.”
Pope Francis turned his reflection to Mary, who “suffered the drama of Christ's death” from the foot of the Cross, as well as the “joy of the Resurrection”. He invoked her intercession in “supporting us in our daily pilgrimage.”
Following the recitation of the Angelus prayer in Latin, the Holy Father greeting the many pilgrims who had gathered in Saint Peter's Square. He made special mention of the volunteers of Oppeano and Granzette, who minister to those in hospitals with “clown-therapy.”
He concluded his address by wishing everyone a good Sunday, in memory of the departed, and reminding the faithful to not forget to pray for him.