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On All Saints’ Day, Pope Francis says holiness is ‘a gift and a journey’

Pope Francis on Wednesday told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that holiness is both a “gift” from God and a “journey” to which we must “commit” ourselves after we’ve received it. 

The Holy Father delivered the remarks from the Apostolic Palace prior to a special recitation of the Angelus for the Nov. 1 solemnity of All Saints. The pope asked attendees to consider holiness in light of the feast day.

Holiness is “a gift, you can’t buy it,” Francis said. “And at the same time, it’s a journey. A gift and a journey.”

“Holiness is a gift of God, which we’ve received at baptism. And if we let it grow, it can completely change our lives,” he said.

The saints, the pope noted, “are not heroes who are unreachable or distant. They’re people like us, our friends, whose starting point is the same gift that we’ve received: baptism.”

“Holiness is a gift offered to everyone for a happy life,” the pope said. “After all, when we receive a gift, what’s our first reaction? It’s precisely that we’re happy, because it means that someone loves us. A gift of holiness makes us happy. It shows us how God loves us.”

But “every gift must be accepted, welcomed,” the pope said. And a gift “carries with it the responsibility of a response.” Holiness is “an invitation to commit ourselves,” Francis said, so that we do not squander the gift from God. 

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Holiness, the pope argued, is also “a journey. A journey to be made together, helping each other, united with those great companions, who are the saints.” 

“They’re our elder brothers and sisters on whom we can always count,” he said. “The saints support us, and when we take a wrong turn along the way, with their silent presence, they never fail to correct us.”

The pope urged visitors to ask themselves several questions regarding receiving the gift of holiness: “Do I remember having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who calls me to holiness and helps me to arrive there? Do I thank the Holy Spirit for this gift? Do I feel that the saints are close to me? Do I turn to them? Do I know the history of some of them?”

“May Mary, Queen of All Saints, help us feel the joy of the gift received and increase in us the desire for our eternal destination,” he said. 

After the recitation of the Angelus, the pope noted that on Thursday he would be celebrating Mass at the nearby commonwealth war cemetery in Rome, in which are buried numerous soldiers who died in World War II.  

“Let’s continue to pray for all those suffering from the wars of today,” Francis said. “We remember suffering Ukraine, suffering Palestine, suffering Israel. Let’s remember all the other parts of the world where war is happening.”

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