Remembering our dear departed on Nov. 1
THERE is the tradition among our Christians and Catholics to remember the dead on Nov. 1, which is really All Saints Day. It is on Nov. 2, All Souls Day, when our dear departed are remembered in the liturgy.
Our custom here of going to the cemeteries on Nov. 1 is not really that “bad.” When I celebrate Masses in cemeteries, I stress that the day is All Saints Day, but honoring our dead on this day is a positive and loving, perhaps subconscious, affirmation that they are among the saints. Really, what is wrong with that? Perhaps that was what the missionaries taught us. Nov. 1 is, after all, the celebration of all saints, and there have been so many people who have been good to us: our parents, teachers, friends, etc.
Besides, Nov. 2 is not always a non-working holiday. Doesn’t Pope Francis remind us not to be too preoccupied with minor matters? But then we know that the difference between a terrorist and liturgist is that with a terrorist we can negotiate.
Through this seeming confusion, we reveal our being a positive people, and a certain dimension of our resiliency: Regardless of what the dead had been or had gone through in life—good or bad, enemies or friends—they are now with God. And that is what being a saint is after all: to be with God forever. Which is what we also desire one day for ourselves, unless we would prefer a warmer climate(?).
The official recognition of the Church with regard to our beloved dead is not important for us. They are now with God, and that is all that matters.
So after praying a little, we bring out the sandwiches and drinks and recall the good times with the dead we are honoring, shed a few tears for the sweet memories, and end the “gathering” by blowing kisses to them, kisses that will surely reach them. If we believe they are with God and God is everywhere, then heaven is everywhere.
Nov. 1 and 2 are days for celebrating life, the one with God forever. And by the way, we receive blessings for remembering the dead: a plenary indulgence until Nov. 8 and a partial indulgence the rest of the month, applicable to the holy souls. So may they rest in peace as we pray for them and they for us, who need the prayers perhaps more than they do.
—ANTONIO-MARIA ROSALES, OFM, [email protected]
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