Pope calls for focus on holy vocation of church

First slide

VATICAN CITY - The feast of All Saints calls on Catholics to see the church as the communion of saints - as Christ meant it to be - and not to focus on it as an earthly institution with members who sometimes sin, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"We are called to see the church, not in its temporal and human aspect, marked by fragility, but as Christ wanted it, that is, as the communion of saints," the pope said Nov. 1 before reciting the Angelus for the feast of All Saints.

The holy men and women who lived throughout history - whether or not they were canonized - demonstrate there are different paths to holiness, but they all have one thing in common: "following Christ and conforming oneself to him," the pope said.

The feasts of All Saints and All Souls Nov. 1 and 2 are annual reminders to Christians that God calls them to be holy and to be with him in heaven along with their loved ones who have died, he said.

The practice of visiting cemeteries Nov. 2 and bringing flowers to the graves of loved ones "preserves our bonds of affection with those who have loved us in this life," but also is a reminder that earthly life leads to life beyond the grave, he said.

While it is natural to mourn loved ones who have died or to be sad at the thought of dying and leaving loved ones behind, the pope said, "the object of our hope, in fact, is to rejoice in the presence of God for eternity."

Before the Angelus, hundreds of Romans participated in the annual 10-kilometer Race of the Saints. The pope told the runners, "St. Paul would say that life is a race toward holiness; you have given us a good example."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970