ROME — Christian joy is neither a passing emotion nor an optimistic worldview but a sign of holiness that bears witness to God’s love, even in the direst circumstances, Pope Francis said on the feast of All Saints.

“The saints, even amid many tribulations, have experienced this joy and have borne witness to it. Without joy, faith becomes a rigorous and oppressive exercise, and risks falling ill with sadness,” the pope said.

Before reciting the Angelus Nov. 1 with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope reflected on the Eight Beatitudes, which are the path of “humility, compassion, meekness, justice and peace” laid out by Jesus to show all men and women a way “that leads to the kingdom of God and to happiness.”

The church’s saints, he continued, walked along the path of “joy and prophecy,” which are “two aspects that are proper to this saintly way of life.”

Focusing on joy, Pope Francis explained that achieving holiness is not solely a matter of “effort and renunciation” but instead it is found when people discover that they are “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,” the pope said. “It is he who gives holiness to us. For this we are blessed!”