November 2, today Pope Francis will be the first pope to celebrate Mass for the commemoration of the dead at the “Prima Porta” cemetery, the largest in Italy with about three million graves. Three millions of people, not only from Rome, who “sleep” and that during the day receive the visits of their loved ones, a river of people of all ages, they will bring a flower, they will linger in silence, they will leave scratch the face by a tear, and those who have the gift of faith, they will recite a prayer. Neither more nor less than what it will happen in the Christian cemeteries around the world, theater of an intimate and solemn rite, even the Holy Father will make it in his celebration.
Similar acts of piety, before Jorge Mario Bergoglio have been made by other popes, with the recitation of prayers for the souls of the dead, with the deposition of flowers, homilies on the authentic meaning of death from the Christian point of view, but always in Verano, the other big graveyard in the capital. This year the scenario has changed, but the substance remains the same. it is an indisputable and highly significant fact that is the Pope himself to keep alive the tradition of the pious commemoration of loved ones who have gone before us in “other life”. A fact that will have to count for something, beyond the liturgical aspects of the prayers and personal memories to which it abandons any person thinking about a relative (a father, a mother, a friend …) that there is no more. Especially for the billion and three hundred million Catholics who have their spiritual guide in the Pope of Rome, Vicar of Christ and the father of the universal Church. But it is impossible that the day of “November 2” leave someone indifferent, any man and woman of good will feel intensity, emotions, memories, beyond political and religious choices, social positions, nationalities.
It may seem an apparent paradox, but November 2nd is a truly universal feast, perhaps the real truly democratic “celebration” that is able to give the gift of memory without distinction to all those who are gone. A memory celebration that does not exclude anyone, from the most well-known personalities, from famous of the earth passed to a better life, to many, too many migrants still lose their lives in the Mediterranean sea to run away from war and oppression, to the most anonymous people , the simplest, even those who interrupt their way frozen under a bridge, along the cold sidewalks or squares.The memory of the deceased knows no boundaries, is a tribute, secular and religious, destined for all those who are gone, with no difference, and it is natural to recall one of the most beautiful poems composed by the great Totò, “A livella” in which Prince Antonio de Curtis (the first name of the famous Neapolitan actor) reminds us with profound words that death is “like a level which makes all equal” and that when you go “in the afterlife” there are no differences between princes and beggars, nobles and disadvantaged people, politicians and ordinary citizens.
Christian through his faith in Jesus Christ who has conquered death and from the Cross of Golgotha said to the Good Thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”, he knows that death is only a moment of transition, although extremely painful for those who it remains, a proof many times incomprehensible, considered unjust and cruel for the loss of a loved one when a member of our family, a friend or someone you know is leaving us.Death, for Christians, said with crude words, is a kind of “duty” that you must pay in order to be placed in ideal conditions awaiting the “resurrection of the body” and the eternal life to which we are as children of God intended. Today’s commemoration of the dead without this perspective of eternal life becomes an intimate moment end in itself, without hope and love for life lived in its entirety, from beginning to end.
Although it is certainly beautiful moments, certainly exciting and moving for the office of feelings that one feels in the presence of tombstone reminds us of the dear departed or by going back to the moments of life spent with him. But Pope Francis today at the Prima Porta cemetery reminds us that the eschatological perspective of man and woman is not death – defeat from the Cross of Christ – but the “Eternal Light that is God. A prospect of eternal life that St. Francis sums in the admirable phrase of the Song “Laudato yes, my Lord, through Sister Death …”. Words and Franciscan poetry that would be good to remember always, not only in the day of commemoration of the dead of November 2nd.