Holy Mass presided over by Pope Francis in suffrage of Benedict XVI and the Cardinals and Bishops who died over the past year Holy Mass presided over by Pope Francis in suffrage of Benedict XVI and the Cardinals and Bishops who died over the past year  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope offers Mass for souls of Benedict XVI, deceased prelates

Pope Francis on Friday offered the Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of Pope Benedict XVI and of Cardinals and Bishops who have died over the course of the past year.

By Christopher Wells

One day after the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, Pope Francis presided at Holy Mass in suffrage for the souls of Benedict XVI and more than 150 Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops who have died in the course of the past year.

In his homily, Pope Francis recalled his predecessor’s teaching that “faith is not primarily an idea to be understood or a moral precept, but a person to be encountered. That person is Jesus Christ, whose heart beats with love for us, whose eyes look with pity on our suffering.”

Jesus’ compassion

Pope Francis highlighted Jesus’ compassion, seen in his encounter with the widow of Nain, whose only son had died. The Lord showed his compassion for the grieving mother by restoring her son to life: “The raising of that young man, the gift of life that overcomes death, has its source precisely in the compassion of the Lord, who is moved by death, the greatest cause of our sufferings.”

The Pope emphasized that Jesus' compassion is concrete, making Him reach out to those who suffer, like the widow in the Gospel. “He has made our tears His own,” the Pope said, “in order to take them away.”

Humility, the path that leads to heaven

Pope Francis then moved on to a consideration of humility, noting that “the orphan and the widow are ‘the humble’ par excellence” precisely because they have placed “all their hope in the Lord and not in themselves.” The humble, he said, “reveal to us the ‘littleness’ that is so pleasing to the Lord, the path that leads to heaven.”

He explained that “God loves humility because it permits Him to interact with us,” and, even more, “because He Himself is humble.”

Called to be humble labourers

Pope Francis continued: “I like to recall the very first words with which Pope Benedict described himself following his election: ‘a humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord’.” He emphasized that “Christians, especially the Pope, the Cardinals and the Bishops, are called to be humble labourers: to serve, not to be served, and to put the fruits of the Lord’s vineyard before their own advantage.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by encouraging us to ask God “to grant us a compassionate gaze and a humble heart… for it is on the path of compassion and humility that the Lord gives us His life, which triumphs over death.”

And he invited the faithful “to pray for our beloved deceased brethren,” adding, “In Him may they find eternal peace.”

Watch the liturgy

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03 November 2023, 10:19