(CNA) Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to pray for the dead and remember Christ’s promise of the resurrection at a Mass offered Thursday for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died in the past year.
“Prayers for the faithful departed, offered in confident trust that they now live with God, also greatly benefit us on this, our earthly pilgrimage. They instil in us a true vision of life; they reveal to us the meaning of the trials we must endure to enter the kingdom of God; they open our hearts to true freedom and inspire us unceasingly to seek eternal riches,” Pope Francis said Nov. 5.
“The eyes of faith, transcending things visible, see in a certain way – invisible realities. Everything that happens is then assessed in the light of another dimension, the dimension of eternity,” the pope said in his homily for the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Mass, celebrated at the Altar of the Chair, was offered for the repose of the souls of six cardinals and 163 bishops who died between Oct. 2019 and Oct. 2020.
Among them are at least 13 bishops who died after contracting COVID-19 between March 25 and Oct. 31, including Archbishop Oscar Cruz in the Philippines, Bishop Vincent Malone in England, and Bishop Emilio Allue, an auxiliary bishop of Boston. Two additional bishops who died in China and Bangladesh had recovered from the coronavirus before their deaths.
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, a former prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, also died this year, as did Malaysia’s first cardinal, Cardinal Anthony Soter Fernandez, and former US bishops’ conference president and archbishop emeritus of Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk. There were 16 American bishops among the dead.
“As we pray for the cardinals and bishops deceased in the course of this last year, we ask the Lord to help us consider aright the parable of their lives. We ask Him to dispel that unholy grief which we occasionally feel, thinking that death is the end of everything. A feeling far from faith, yet part of that human fear of death felt by everyone,” Pope Francis said.
“For this reason, before the riddle of death, believers too must be constantly converted. We are called daily to leave behind our instinctive image of death as the total destruction of a person. We are called to leave behind the visible world we take for granted, our usual, commonplace ways of thinking, and to entrust ourselves entirely to the Lord who tells us: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’”
Throughout the month of November, the Church makes a special effort to remember, honor and pray for the dead. This year, the Vatican has decreed that the Church’s traditional plenary indulgences for the souls in Purgatory on All Soul’s Day on Nov. 2 have been extended until the end of the month.
At Thursday’s Mass, the pope said that Christ’s resurrection was not a “distant mirage,” but an event already present and now at work mysteriously in our lives.
“And so, we remember with gratitude the witness of the deceased cardinals and bishops, given in fidelity to God’s will. We pray for them and we strive to follow their example. May the Lord continue to pour forth upon us his Spirit of wisdom, especially during these times of trial, especially when the journey becomes more difficult,” Pope Francis said.