ROME – Pope Francis Monday marked the Catholic feast of All Souls Day by celebrating a private livestreamed Mass in the Vatican’s German cemetery, telling viewers that hope gives life greater meaning.
Speaking to the handful of attendees spaced out inside the chapel of the Vatican cemetery, the pope focused his brief, off-the-cuff homily on the day’s reading from Chapter 19 of Job, who insists despite the tragedies that have befallen him that “I know that my redeemer lives.”
“At last he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another,” the passage continues.
In reference to Job, Francis noted that while Job knows he is “finished” after lamenting all the tragedies he has faced, “he has a certainty: I know that my redeemer lives. I will see the redeemer. I will see him with my eyes.”
“This certainty at the final moment of life is Christian hope, which is a gift, we cannot have it, we must ask the Lord for it,” the pope said, noting that there are many things in life that cause people to despair or to believe in “a final defeat.”
Francis urged believers to recall Job’s words in these moments, and to repeat with confidence the assertion that “I know that my redeemer lives. And I will see him.”
Hope, he said, “does not disappoint, as Paul said. Hope attracts us and gives meaning to life, but hope is a gift from God which draws us toward eternal joy. It’s an anchor that we have on the other side, and we support ourselves on the rope.”
“We must repeat this in joy and in hard times,” Francis said, saying hope is a gift from God and “we can never have it with our own strength. Hope is a free gift that we cannot earn, it is given to us. It is grace.”
The goal of hope is to “go to Jesus,” he said, insisting that God welcomes each person so that they live in hope and are able to “stay attached to the anchor that does not disappoint.”
Referring to all those who have died, Pope Francis said it would do believers well to contemplate the tombstones in the cemetery and to repeat the words of Job: “I know that my redeemer lives. This is the strength which gives us hope, a free gift. May the Lord give it to all of us.”
In the past, the pope each year on All Souls Day visits a Roman cemetery, where he celebrates Mass with the public to pray for the deceased. However, this year due to restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus, he opted to celebrate the Mass in the Vatican’s small Teutonic, or German, cemetery, also called the Campo Teutonico.
At the end of Monday’s ceremony, Francis paused briefly to pray at the tombs of the dead. After leaving the cemetery, he paid a visit to the Vatican grottoes where deceased popes are buried, as he usually does, to pray for his predecessors.
Pope Francis did not wear a face mask during the celebration, nor did he don one while visiting the tombs of the cemetery. Some of the officials present for the ceremony wore masks, but Monsignor Hans-Peter Fischer, rector of the Campo Teutonico, who closely escorted the pope through his visit to the tombstones, did not.
On Nov. 5 Pope Francis will offer Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the cardinals and bishops who have died over the past year, some of whom have died as a result of COVID-19, with a limited number of people present due to social distancing requirements.
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