VATICAN CITY -- At the end of the feast of All Saints, just before the sun set, Pope Francis celebrated an outdoor Mass at Rome's Verano cemetery and urged Christians to hang on to hope as they reflect on the promise that earthly life ends with eternal life in heaven.
In his homily at the evening Mass Nov. 1, Pope Francis set aside his prepared text, looked out at the thousands of people gathered between long lines of tombs and told them, "We reflect and think about our own future and about all those who have gone before us and are now with the Lord."
A small procession of parishioners carrying materials for Mass wound out of St. Mary of Perpetual Help Church in Villa Ridge. Led by a cross, the group crossed the quiet two-lane Highway Am into the cemetery, where they gathered around a large stone altar to celebrate Mass on All Souls' Day.
About 40 people attended the Mass, celebrated by the parish pastor, Father Mark Bozada. It was part of the culmination of a 100-day novena for the poor souls in purgatory. The novena began July 26 on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Ann.
Oppression and fear weighed heavily on the new homeowner who encountered a lost soul.
Walking into a room, the homeowner noticed in the middle of the floor a folder full of documents pertaining to a stranger's military career. The new inhabitant asked the neighbors about the person mentioned in the documents. The neighbors said they were about the home's previous occupant, who died in the war in Afghanistan.
The extraordinary support by St. Justin parishioners of a family dealing with a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) has been replicated in the past with other parishioners and among Catholics of the archdiocese.
Parishioners at Holy Infant in Ballwin and Queen of All Saints in Oakville are just two of the examples of outreach in recent years. Other parishes have had similar efforts for people who have dealt with similar struggles, including victims of accidents. Employees and residents of Holy Angels Apartments in Bridgeton rallied around a resident who was coping with ALS.