Mary the center of heavenly host, pope says on All Saints Day

In his Angelus address for the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis said that it is a joy to have a spiritual family living in eternity, and stressed that Mary is the first of the saints who guides us to her son.
“In the great assembly of saints, God has wanted to reserve the first place for the Mother of Jesus,” the pontiff said before his Nov. 1 weekly recitation of the traditional Marian prayer.Mary, he said, “is the center of the communion of saints, as the singular guardian of the bond of the universal Church with Christ.”
Whoever wants to follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel can find a secure guide in Mary, the Pope explained, saying that she is an attentive and caring mother with whom we can entrust every desire or difficulty.
Pope Francis referred to how the first two days of the month of November are dedicated to the saints in heaven and to all of the faithfully departed, saying that because of this the whole month constitutes “an intense moment of faith, of prayer and of reflection on the ‘last things’ of life.”
By celebrating the saints and commemorating the departed, the Church on earth, through her liturgy, expresses the spiritual bond that unites it to the heavenly Church, the Pope observed.
On the feast of All Saints, he said, we praise God and give thanks for the holy men and women of all time, who were “ordinary, simple and sometimes ‘the least’ of this world, but ‘first’ for God.”
The bishop of Rome noted how we commemorate our own loved ones who have departed this life by visiting them in the cemetery, saying that a great source of consolation lies in the fact that they are now resting in the company of Mary, the Apostles, the martyrs, and all holy men and women in heaven.
A fundamental truth that the solemnity reminds us of is expressed when we profess “the communion of saints” in the recitation of the Creed, he noted.
“It’s the communion which is born of faith and unites all of those who belong to Christ by reason of their baptism. It is a spiritual union which is not broken by death, but continues in the next life,” the Roman pontiff continued, saying that there is an “indestructible bond” between the living and those who have experienced death.
Together with those in heaven, we form “one big family” of faith, the pope continued, saying that the communion between heaven and earth is brought to fruition is the celebration of the eucharistic liturgy, which expresses the profound union between members of the church.
When we celebrate the Eucharist “we encounter the living Jesus and his strength, and through him we enter into communion with our brothers and sisters in the other life, the life without end,” he said, explaining that this communion should fill us with joy.
“It’s beautiful to have so many brothers and sisters in the faith who walk at our side” and sustain us with their help, and who walk with us along the same road to heaven, the pontiff observed.
A great consolation for us on our journey to eternal life is knowing that we have brothers and sisters who have already attained heaven, and who pray for us and wait for us to join them in adoring “the glorious and merciful face of the Father.”
Mary, he said, is the greatest of the saints, and the one around whom all the others are gathered. He concluded by offering prayers to “the Queen of all the saints, because she helps us respond with generosity and fidelity to God, who calls us to be holy as he is holy.”
After reciting the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis drew attention to the reference the day’s liturgy makes to the heavenly Jerusalem.
He prayed for all Jews, Christians and Muslims living in the Holy City, “which in recent days has witnessed diverse tensions, (to) always be a sign and foretaste of the peace which God desires for the whole human family.”
The pope also pointed to how martyr Pedro Asúa Mendía was beatified in Spain, saying that as a “humble and austere” priest who was tortured and killed for his faith, he provides a great example of a strong faith and witness to charity.
Pope Francis offered personal greetings to various pilgrims present form Italy and other countries, and wished all a good feast day “in the joy of being part of the great family of the saints. Do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!”

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