Pope Francis Tells Christians to Take Time to Reflect on Death

People gather in St.Peter’s Square at the Vatican as Pope Francis recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio, top right, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

For many, Halloween is mostly a fun opportunity to slip into a spooky costume, indulge in sugary delights or let their party animal run wild. But Pope Francis on Friday invited the faithful to bring it back to basics, or rather, to cemeteries.

“In these days, when, unfortunately, messages of negative culture on death and dead people are circulating, I invite you not to neglect, if possible, a visit and prayer to the cemetery,” the pontiff said Friday (Nov. 1), after the Angelus at St. Peter’s Square.

“It will be an act of faith,” he added.

His remarks took place on All Saints’ Day, when Christians celebrate their entire pantheon of saints the day after Halloween. On Saturday (Nov. 2), Francis will say Mass in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome, where the first Christians avoided persecution by huddling in damp underground tunnels, to pay homage to the many Christians who gave their life for their beliefs.

The pope’s invitation to celebrate these days “in the spiritual company of the Saints” has been coherent with his recent theme of encouraging faithful, and especially young, people to reflect on those who have passed and on the “three deaths”: the death of every instant, the death of the ego and the death of one world that gives way to a new one.

“In a world that worships autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-realization, there seems to be no place for the other. Our world of plans and infinite acceleration — always speeding up — does not allow for interruptions. So, the worldly culture that enslaves us, also tries to put us to sleep so we forget what it means to stop at last,” Francis said on Halloween (Oct. 31).

“A culture that forgets death begins to die within,” he said. “He who forgets death has already begun to die.”

These comments were relayed in a video message Francis sent to the young participants of the IV World Youth Meeting (Oct. 28-31), organized by World ORT, a Jewish education network present in over 30 countries, and by Scholas Occorrentes, the brain-child of the Argentine pontiff to promote a culture of encounter and dialogue between people in all walks of life.

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Source: Religion News Service