Best of 2013. November: Focus on the family and the Year of Faith
The first day of November, Pope Francis resumed one of the traditions John Paul II had to leave aside due to old age. The Pope visited the graveyards at a Roman cemetery to celebrate Mass for All Saints Day. He offered a special prayer not just for the dead at this cemetery, but also for those that cannot be buried.
November 1, 2013
"I would like to pray especially for our brothers and sisters who have died seeking freedom, a more deserving life. We have seen the photographs depicting the cruelty of the desert; we have seen the sea where many have drowned. Let us pray for them.â?
When he returned to the Vatican, the Pope visited the Vatican Grottoes to pray for all of the deceased pontiffs.
A few days later, the Vatican released a questionnaire that will be sent to bishops across the world. The 38 questions will help analyze the Church's pastoral approach in topics like marriage, family and sexuality. The answers will be used to prepare the Synod on the family Pope Francis convened.
The topic of the family came up again days later when Pope Francis addressed the Vatican's highest court. Speaking about marriage annulments, he asked the judges to seek justice and the pastoral good when considering annulments.
Midway through the month, Pope Francis made a reciprocal visit to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, at the Quirinal Palace. During his remarks before the Italian president, the Pope once again spoke up on defense of the family and the need to protect it now more than ever.
"With renewed conviction, the Church continues to promote the work of everyone, individuals and institutions, to uphold the family; which is the primary place where the human being grows. Where we learn the values and examples that make us credible.â?
The Pope also met with employees of the presidential palace and their families. He thank them for their work and greeted many of the children in the audience.
As the month ended, so did the celebrations for the Year of Faith. The Pope began with a visit to a cloistered monastery in Rome. He prayed the Vespers and spoke to the Benedictine nuns about following God's will, citing Our Lady as the finest example.
"We owe quite a lot to Our Lady. She is constantly present throughout the history of Salvation. In Her we see a powerful testimony of hope. She is the Mother of a hope that lifts us in moments of darkness.â?
After praying the Vespers, he joined the nuns in Eucharistic Adoration, before heading back to Vatican.
Two days later, on November 23, the Pope presided over the Rite of Acceptance with over 500 catachumens at St. Peter's Basilica. As he spoke to them about their upcoming Baptism, he explained that God created people precisely to encounter each other.
"God did not create us to be alone, or closed off in ourselves. He created us so we could encounter Him, and through Him, He lead us towards others. God first comes to us. This is incredible! He comes to us!â?
Near the end, the Pope asked the catechumens to live their faith with joy and to never forget the example of Jesus.
Celebrations for the Year of Faith ended with an outdoor Mass with thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis co-celebrated with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as with more than 200 other bishops, priests and cardinals.
But there was another special guest. The very first Pope made his debut appearance at the Square. At several points throughout the Mass Pope Francis held the relics of St. Peter, as he prayed.
His main message during Mass was about asking God for forgiveness.
"Tell our Lord, 'Jesus remember me. I want to be good, but I don't have the strength. I can't because I'm a sinner, but Jesus please remember me. You can remember me because You are the center of it all.'â?
Pope Francis also thanked Benedict XVI during the ceremony. The Year of Faith began in October 2012, under the Pope emeritus.