(Vatican Radio) On the Feast of All Souls, Pope Francis has asked people to pray for the world’s forgotten dead, “those who no one remembers”, the “victims of war and violence; the many “little ones” of the world crushed by hunger and poverty” and “the anonymous who rest in common graves”.
Above all he has asked people to offer prays of suffrage and the celebration of the Eucharist for those “our brothers and sisters killed because they are Christians; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left over the last year”.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus address:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good day!
Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today the liturgy invites us to commemorate the faithful departed. These two occurrences are intimately linked to each other, just as joy and tears find a synthesis in Jesus Christ, that 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 blessed who support her in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel; on the other, she, like Jesus, shares the tears of those who suffer the separation from loved ones, and like Him and through Him echoes thanks to the Father who has delivered us from the dominion of sin and death.
Yesterday and today many people visit the cemetery, 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 who will awaken us. Jesus himself revealed that the death of the body is like a sleep from which he awakens us. With this faith we stop – even spiritually – at the graves of our loved ones, those who have loved us and have done good deeds for us. But today we are called to remember everyone, 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 common graves. We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they are Christians; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left over the last year.
Church tradition has always urged prayer for the dead, in particular by offering the celebration of the Eucharist for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to the most abandoned ones. The foundation of prayers in suffrage of souls is in the communion of the Mystical Body. As the Second Vatican Council reiterates, “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, 50 ).
Remembering the dead, caring for their graves and prayers of suffrage, are witness of confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death is not the last word on human fate, death is not the last word, because man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfillment 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 await all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died to save us from our sins.
Look not Lord, at our poverty, misery and human weaknesses when we present ourselves before You to be judged in happiness or condemned.
Gaze upon us with pity, born of Your tender heart and help us to walk the path of purification.
May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.
We entrust to You Lord, the souls of our beloved departed, of those who died without the comfort of the Sacraments or who did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life.
May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy. May sister death find us in prayerful vigilance, and full of all the good we have done during our existence, be it long or short.
Lord, may nothing distance us from you on this earth, may everything and everyone support us in our ardent hope to serenely and eternally rest in You.
With this faith in man’s supreme destiny, we now turn to the Virgin Mary, who suffered the drama of Christ’s death under the Cross and participated in the joy of His resurrection. May she, Gate of Heaven, help us to understand more and more the value of prayers for the dead. They are close to us. May she support us in our daily pilgrimage on earth and help us not to lose sight of the ultimate goal of life which is Heaven. And we with this hope that never disappoints we move forward!