VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - At his Angelus address on the Feast of All Saints Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the universal call to holiness. He tied his catechesis into the Feast of All Souls which follows on the next day. Pope Benedict XVI is profoundly aware of the challenges facing the Church at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium. He regularly calls the Christian faithful, in every state in life and vocation, to live lives of holiness. He is serious about sanctity and calls us to be serious as well.

In this call to holiness of life, Benedict XVI does not hesitate to even address the possibility of martyrdom in our age. In 2010, on the Feast of St Clare of Assisi, he spoke of martyrdom as a response to the example of Jesus Christ. He asked, "Where is martyrdom founded? The answer is simple: the death of Jesus, in his supreme sacrifice of love, consumed on the Cross so that we might have life (cf. Jn 10:10).

"Christ is the suffering servant of whom the prophet Isaiah speaks (cf. Is 52.13 to 15), who gifted himself for the salvation of many (cf. Mt 20:28). He urges his disciples, each of us, to take up his cross daily and follow his path of total love of God the Father and mankind: " whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me - he tells us - is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Mt 10.38-39).

"It is the logic of the grain of wheat that dies to take seed and bring life (cf. Jn 12:24). Jesus himself is the grain of wheat come from God, the divine grain of wheat, which is dropped on the ground, which allow itself to be broken, broken in death and, through this, it opens and can thus bear fruit in the vastness of the world "(Benedict XVI Visit to the Lutheran Church of Rome [March 14, 2010]). The martyr follows the Lord to the very end, by accepting freely to die for the salvation of the world, a supreme test of faith and love (cf. Lumen Gentium, 42).

"Again, where is the strength to face martyrdom born? From a deep and intimate union with Christ, because martyrdom and the vocation to martyrdom are not the result of human effort, but the response to God's initiative and call, they are a gift of His grace, which enables them to offer their lives for the love of Christ and the Church, and thus the world.

"If we read the lives of martyrs, we are amazed by their serenity and courage in suffering and death: God's power is fully manifest in the weakness, the poverty of those who entrust themselves to Him and place their hope in Him alone ( cf 2 Cor 12:9).

"But it is important to note that the grace of God does not suppress or stifle the freedom of those facing martyrdom, but rather enriches and enhances it: the martyr is a supremely free person, free from the power of the world; a free person who in one final act gifts his entire life to God, and in a supreme act of faith, hope and charity, abandons himself in the hands of his Creator and Redeemer, sacrifices his life to totally become part of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. In a word, martyrdom is a great act of love in response to God's immense love"

On the Feast of All Saints Pope Benedict XVI continued this invitation to sanctity to all of the faithful noting, " perhaps we are not called to martyrdom, but none of us are excluded from the divine call to holiness, to live the high standard of Christian life and that means taking the cross upon ourselves every day.

"Everyone, especially in our time when individualism and selfishness seem to prevail, must make our first and fundamental commitment that of growing every day in a greater love for God and for mankind, to transform our lives and in doing so transform our world. Through the intercession of the saints and martyrs we ask God to ignite our hearts to be capable of loving as He loved each of us".

"The solemnity of All Saints is a favorable opportunity to lift our gaze from earthly realities, marked by time, to the dimension of God, the dimension of eternity and holiness. Today's liturgy reminds us that holiness is the original vocation of every baptized person.

"For Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit is the Holy one, loved the Church as his bride and gave himself for her, to sanctify her. For this reason all members of the People of God are called to become saints, according to the words of the Apostle Paul: "This is the will of God, your sanctification."

"We are thus invited to look at the Church, not in its temporal and human aspect, marked by weakness, but as Christ willed it, that is, as 'a communion of saints". In the Creed we profess her as "holy", as is the Body of Christ, an instrument for participation in the sacred mysteries, primarily the Eucharist, and of the Holy Family, to whose protection we are entrusted on the day of our Baptism. "

"Today we venerate this countless community of All Saints, who, through their different walks of life, show us different paths to holiness, united by a common denominator: to follow Christ and adhere to Him, the ultimate goal of our human life. In fact, all states of life may become, by the action of grace and with the commitment and perseverance of each one of us, a path to sanctification. "

"The Commemoration of All Souls, tomorrow, November 2nd, helps us to remember our loved ones who have left us, and all the souls on their way to the fullness of life, on the horizon of the Heavenly Church, which today's solemnity holds on high.

"From the early days of the Christian faith, the Church on earth, recognizing the communion of the whole mystical body of Jesus Christ, has honored the memory of the dead with great respect and paid suffrage to them. Our prayer for the dead is not only useful but necessary, because it not only can help them, but at the same time renders effective their intercession on our behalf.

"Even a visit to the cemetery, which represents bonds of affection with those who loved us in this life, reminds us that we all tend to another life beyond death. Tears, the result of earthy detachment, will not prevail on the certainty of the resurrection, the hope of reaching the bliss of eternity, "supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality" (Spe Salvi, 12) . The object of our hope is rejoicing in the presence of God in eternity."