Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica.
In his homily he highlighted the fact that "saints are not an exclusive caste of the chosen few, but a countless multitude towards whom today's liturgy encourages us to direct our gaze. That multitude contains not only officially-recognized saints, but the baptized from every age and nation who have sought to enact divine will with love and faithfulness."
"Contemplating the shining example of the saints," said the Holy Father, "awakens within us the great desire to be like them: happy to live near God, in His light, in the great family of the friends of God. ... This is the vocation of us all, clearly reiterated by Vatican Council II, and today solemnly brought to our attention once again."
"In order to be saints," he continued, "it is not necessary to accomplish extraordinary actions and works, nor to possess exceptional charisms. ... What is above all necessary is to listen to Jesus and then to follow Him without losing heart in the face of difficulties."
"The experience of the Church shows that all forms of sanctity, though following different paths, always pass along the way of the cross, the way of self-renouncement. The biographies of the saints describe men and women who, compliant to the divine plan, at times faced indescribable trials and suffering, persecutions and martyrdom."
"For us, the example of the saints is an encouragement to follow the same footsteps and experience the joy of those who entrust themselves to God; because the only true cause of sadness and unhappiness for mankind is to remain distant from Him."
Sanctity, said the Holy Father, "requires a constant effort, but it is a possibility for everyone because, more than being the work of man it is, primarily, a gift of God, thrice Holy."
"In Christ," he concluded, "God gave us all of Himself, and He calls us to a personal and profound relationship with Him. Thus, the greater our intimacy with Jesus, and the more united to Him we are, the more we enter into the mystery of divine sanctity. We discover that we are loved by Him with an infinite love, and this encourages us in turn to love our brothers and sisters. Loving always involves an act of self-renouncement, the 'loss of self', and it is precisely for this reason that it makes us happy."
Zenit has translated the full text of the Holy Father's homily. I will post the official translation as soon as it is released.