ROME – After delivering the traditional noontime Angelus prayer on the feast of All Saints, Pope Francis expressed his closeness and sadness for recent terrorist attacks in Somalia, Afghanistan and New York.
“I am deeply grieved by the terrorist attacks of the past few days,” the pope told faithful gathered in St. Peter’s square. “While deploring these acts of violence, I pray for the dead, the wounded and their families.”
The pope condemned the “homicidal folly” of those who abuse the name of God to disseminate death and asked that the Lord convert the hearts of terrorists.
On October 14, more than 300 people were killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in the deadliest attack in the country’s history. In Afghanistan, a surge in Taliban attacks has claimed the lives of dozens in the past month, and a truck attack in New York City on Oct. 31 killed eight people and wounded 11 more.
For All Saints’ Day, when Catholics pray for all those who have died and gone to Heaven, Francis spoke of the example given by the saints, whom he compared to the colored glass windows in churches, which allow the light to come in with different tones.
“The saints are our brothers and sisters who have welcomed the light of God into their hearts and transmitted it to the world, each according to his own ‘tone’,” the pope said.
The goal that saints inspire people to achieve is to eliminate the “stains and darkness of sin,” so as to allow “God’s gentle light” to shine though, Francis continued. Quoting the day’s reading on the Beatitudes, the pope underlined how happiness can only be achieved by being with God and living for love.
The beatitudes, the pope added, are “the ingredients to a happy life.” The humble and meek are blessed because they are merciful and keep their hearts pure by answering evil with good, he said.
“These are the beatitudes. They don’t require sensational acts, they are not for superheroes, but for those who live the trials and challenges of every day,” Francis said. “So are the saints: like everyone, they breathe the air polluted by the evil in this world, but on the way, they never lose sight of the path laid by Jesus, the one indicated in the Beatitudes, which are like a map of Christian life.”
On this feast day, the pope said, we celebrate those who reached the goal pointed to by that map. He added that the saints are not only those we see in the calendar, but also the many brothers and sisters “next door.”
“It’s a family holiday, of many simple and hidden people who in reality help God to bring the world forward. And there are many today!” Francis said and asked for applause from the crowd for all the hidden saints.
The pope underlined the importance of the first beatitude, for the ‘poor in spirit,’ who do not live for self-aggrandizement or money but believe that the “Lord is the richness of life, love for our neighbor the only real source of income.”
He also pointed to another beatitude, one not in the Gospel but in the Bible, that says: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,” whom the Church will remember tomorrow on All Souls’ Day.
Francis will be spending tomorrow at the Ardeatine Caves and the Italian-American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno near Rome, two important Italian sites honoring soldiers and Jews who died during World War II, for the feast of All Souls.