During the Angelus, Pope Francis urged everyone to visit a cemetery tomorrow and pray for the dead, an act of faith that contrasts with today’s "negative culture about death and the dead”. Tomorrow the pontiff will celebrate Mass at the Catacomb of Priscilla, "one of the burial places of the first Christians of Rome". Holiness "is a gift [. . .] something that we cannot buy or barter, but can welcome" from God. It is "a calling", an "assumption of responsibility” so that we can try “to live everything with love, with charity.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has criticised Halloween, a festival of Celtic origin that has become a sort of ghoulish carnival, mixing spiritism and fear.
In his address to the pilgrims who gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer, the pontiff after the Marian prayer urged the faithful to visit a cemetery to pray for the faithful departed, especially tomorrow, liturgical day dedicated to their commemoration.
This is important precisely at a time “when, unfortunately, there are also messages of negative culture about death and the dead". Although not specifically cited, the reference to Halloween is rather clear.
Halloween, a celebration of Celtic origin marking the end of the warm season, was Christianised as All Hallows' Eve, linked to All Saints' Day (1st November) and All Souls' Day (November 2).
With the secularisation and commercialisation of the celebration, starting in the United States, Halloween has become a major marketing operation centred on fear, violent spirits, witchcraft, satanism, etc., turning upside down the devout remembrance of the dead and the celebration of the communion of Saints, making them into evil spirits, and trying to exorcise death through fear and ridicule.
For Francis, the two celebration, All Saints’ and All Souls', “remind us of the bond that exists between the earthly and heavenly Church, between us and our loved ones who passed on to the next life.”
In order to correct such a "negative culture about death and the dead", the Pope will go tomorrow to “to celebrate the Eucharist in the Catacomb of Priscilla, one of the burial places of the first Christians of Rome”.
Before the Marian prayer, the pontiff highlighted the feast of All Saints’, which "reminds us that we are all called to holiness". The Saints, he said, "are people who have lived with their feet on the ground; they experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue on the journey.”
Holiness "is a gift,” Francis explained. It is "something that we cannot buy or barter, but can welcome, so that we can participate in the same divine life through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us from the day of our Baptism . . . Hence, holiness is living in full communion with God, even now, during the earthly pilgrimage.”
Holiness is also "a calling", a "response to God’s gift for it manifests itself as an assumption of responsibility. In this perspective, it is important to make a serious and daily commitment to sanctification of the conditions, duties and circumstances of our life, trying to live everything with love, with charity.”
Finally, "Remembering the Saints leads us to raise our eyes to Heaven: not to forget the realities of the earth, but to face them with greater courage and hope. May Mary, our holiest Mother, a sign of consolation and sure hope, accompany us with her maternal intercession.”