All Souls feast is a hopeful reminder of the resurrection, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Visiting a cemetery on the feast of
All Souls can evoke feelings of loss and sadness, but for Christians marking
the feast, it also is an affirmation of hope in the resurrection, Pope Francis

Through his death on the cross, Jesus “opened for us
the door of hope where we will contemplate God,” the pope said Nov. 2 at
an evening Mass amid the tombs of Rome’s Prima Porta cemetery.

“The hope of the resurrection never fails us,” the
pope said. “The first one who walked this path was Jesus. We will walk the
path he has walked.”

As the sun set among scattered gray clouds, hundreds of people attending the Mass
were seated along the cemetery walkway, surrounded by the burial plots of countless
loved ones. Just before beginning the Mass, Pope Francis, dressed in a purple
chasuble, laid roses in front of a tomb within the walls of the cemetery’s

Reflecting on the feast day’s first reading from the Book of
Job, the pope noted that in the midst of suffering and darkness, “Job
proclaims hope.”

“As for me, I know that my vindicator lives and that he
will at last stand forth upon the dust. I will see for myself; my own eyes, not
another’s, will behold him,” Job says.

Although visiting the tombs of loved ones who have passed
away and realizing that death will come for each person can bring feelings of
sadness, the pope said that the act of bringing flowers to a cemetery is also a
sign of joyful hope in the afterlife.

The feast of All Souls takes on a “dual meaning”
where “sadness is mixed with hope,” he said.

“We return home today with this dual memory: the memory
of the past, of our loved ones who have gone and the memory of the future, the
path we will go on with the certainty and with the assurance that came from
Jesus’ lips: ‘I will raise him up on the last day,'” the pope said.

Italians, taking advantage of the Nov. 1 public holiday
celebrating All Saints, traditionally visit the graves of their loved ones,
often tidying up their graves and laying fresh flowers on the eve of the feast
of All Souls.

Before concluding the Mass, Pope Francis blessed the tombs,
while reciting a prayer to God that he would “comfort those in the pain of
separation” and that those who have died will “one day participate in
the paschal victory of your son.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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