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Saints encourage Catholics to follow in their footsteps, pope says on All Saints' Day

By Carol Glatz
November 2nd, 2012
Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) The saints of the Catholic Church are a source of inspiration, encouraging the faithful to follow in their footsteps and experience true happiness found with God's love, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Saints are for us friends and role models of life," the pope said Nov. 1, All Saints' Day.

Together with Christ, they point people toward God and his divine plan, showing them how to "experience the joy of someone who trusts in God because the one real cause of sadness and unhappiness for humanity is to live apart from him," the pope said.

During a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope said God wants all his children to strive for holiness and that "it is possible for everyone because (holiness) is above all a gift of God more than an accomplishment of mankind."

The community of saints, the pope said, is "not a small elite caste, but an infinite multitude" of people including anonymous, unknown Christians who "tried with love and fidelity to carry out God's will."

To be holy does not mean having to perform superhuman feats or "possess exceptional charisms"; one simply must serve Jesus by listening to and following him "without losing heart when faced with difficulties," the pope said.

All the saints had their own "way of the cross" to surmount, and holiness always necessitates overcoming some kind of difficulty, the pope said. But nothing "can block the path of the Christian who follows the footsteps of Christ," he said.

Pope Benedict said God never abandons the faithful to "the hostile and unknown forces" of the world; "he takes care of us despite our sins and our ingratitude," and "lovingly always guides and helps us with his heavenly mercy," he said.

Anticipating All Souls' Day Nov. 2, Pope Benedict focused on the Christian concept of eternal life during his Nov. 1 noonday Angelus to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The eternal life experienced in heaven is "not only a life that lasts forever, but (indicates) a new quality of existence" where one is "fully immersed in God's love" and is freed from evil and death together with all of God's friends, he said.

Perhaps for some, the pope said, eternal life represents an old mythology that no longer has any use in a modern world, but people yearn and reach for "something greater that transcends" themselves.

Confronted with the great mystery of death, many people still hope and wish to find their loved ones in the afterlife, he said.

During these days of offering prayers for departed loved ones, the pope asked that people also pray for all departed souls, "especially for the most forgotten and needy."

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