On All Saints’ Day, Pope Francis said true happiness does not come from being young, rich, or successful, as the world thinks, but from the counter-cultural idea to follow Jesus Christ.
“The world says that in order to have happiness you must be rich, powerful, always young and strong, and enjoy fame and success. Jesus overturns these criteria and makes a prophetic proclamation – and this is the prophetic dimension of holiness – true fullness of life is achieved by following him, by putting his Word into practice,” the pope said Nov. 1.
Pope Francis gave a special Angelus address for the Solemnity of All Saints, celebrated by the Catholic Church on Nov. 1. This year, the holy day, which has the obligation to attend Mass, was transferred to Sunday in the United States.
In his message before the traditional Marian prayer on Monday, Pope Francis spoke about the road we should walk to become saints: The Beatitudes.
The Beatitudes, he said, “show us the path that leads to the Kingdom of God and to happiness: the path of humility, compassion, meekness, justice and peace.”
He also noted that the Beatitudes are addressed “to the poor, the afflicted, those who hunger for justice.”
“And this means being poor inside, hollowing oneself to make room for God,” he advised. “Those who believe themselves to be rich, successful and secure base everything on themselves and close themselves off from God and their brothers and sisters, while those who know that they are poor and not self-sufficient remain open to God and to their neighbor.”
The poor in spirit find joy, he said, explaining what Christian joy is and is not.
“The joy of the Christian,” Francis said, “is not a fleeting emotion or a simple human optimism, but the certainty of being able to face every situation under God’s loving gaze, with the courage and strength that come from him.”
He said this is the joy the saints give witness to, a joy experienced even in the midst of trials and suffering.
The pope also emphasized the importance of joy for the Church, because without it the faith becomes “a rigorous and oppressive exercise.”
“A desert Father said that sadness is ‘a worm that burrows into the heart,’ which corrodes life,” Pope Francis said, encouraging everyone to ask themselves if they are a joyful Christian or if they are “dull, sad people, with a funeral face?”
“Let us remember: there is no holiness without joy,” he underlined.
Francis also explained that holiness is not “a life plan” which people can create themselves based only on effort and renunciation, but that it consists “above all in the joyful discovery of being God’s beloved sons and daughters.”
“It is not a human achievement, it is a gift we receive: we are holy because God, who is the Holy One, comes to dwell in our lives,” he said. “For this we are blessed.”
After the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted the participants of Rome’s annual “Saints’ Run,” a 10km race which starts and ends on the road in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
He also noted that on Nov. 2 he will celebrate Mass for the Feast of All Souls’ Day at the French Military Cemetery in Rome.
“I wish you all a happy feast of the saints, in the spiritual company of all the saints,” he said.
By Hannah Brockhaus