Commemoration of All Souls' Day
All Souls' Day in the Philippines
All Souls' Day
In my own culture, I mean the Filipino culture, November 1 and 2 have always been very important days to us (as in other cultures, I suppose). But, why is that? Because while we celebrate November 1st as Halloween here in the US (“All Saints’ Day” in the Catholic liturgical calendar), in the Philippines we go to the cemetery and share a meal together as we gather. Weird isn’t it? (Of course, they've been cleaned up the day before). But let me explain further. It is not special because it is weird. It is special because as we go to the cemetery on “All Saints’ Day” (November 1st), we anticipate November 2nd, “All Souls’ Day” with greatest affection for our beloved dead. By going to the cemetery on Nov. 1st, we also honor our faithful departed considering them as “saints” in their own way (with a small “s”). Interesting, isn’t it? It is, therefore, significant that we give special attention and respect for these days in the liturgical calendar:
1. On this day, let us remember our beloved dead. Most often, we remember our beloved dead by what they’ve accomplished while they were living. The trophies that they brought home that gave honor to the family, the money they brought in to the family especially if a beloved has made our family rich.
But what about remembering them as a child of God? Someone who was created by God in order that our lives may find meaning and purpose? To remember them not only because of their accomplishments and what they brought in to the family, but because of their inner goodness which inspired us to move on with our lives.
And so today, let us remember them by thanking God for sending someone who has inspired us to become the best of us and to be able to bring out our inner goodness.
2. This day reminds us to be good to our fellow men while we live. When I do funerals, I listen to the eulogies made about the faithful departed and most of those eulogies are very moving. But I often wonder, has these words been heard by this loved one whom they talk about in the eulogy when they were alive? Oftentimes, no or none at all! That’s why at times, we regret not loving the person when we had all the chances to show it when he/she was still alive. Should we wait for that time of their death before we could say those nice words? Should we wait for that time before we could be good to our brothers/sisters? Always remember, each day is an opportunity to care, to love and to give comforting words to our fellow men. This day, All Souls’ Day, reminds us to be good to our fellow men while we still live and to grab every opportunity to give it to them.
3. To pray not only for the dead but for the living as well. Our Catholic Faith teaches us the “Communion of Saints.” In fact, this is in one of the articles of our faith expressed in the creed. This doctrine teaches us that we belong to the ONE BODY of CHRIST:
"The doctrine of the communion of saints is one of the most consoling dogmas of the Church. When our loved ones die, they are not separated from us forever. Whether in heaven or purgatory, they still love us and pray for us." – As a community of the one Body of Christ, our connection to each other do not cease at the time of death. We can always pray for each other: we, praying for them and for ourselves and they, praying for us.
"This doctrine tells us that we should pray not only for the dead, but to ourselves as well as our brothers and sisters. Moreover, we should be happy to call saints and angels our brothers. We should implore their intercession, not only for ourselves, but also for our other brothers, the poor souls in purgatory." – We can always acknowledge their presence by simple gestures of kindness saying, “I offer this for the holy souls in purgatory.”
"We pray to the saints and angels that they may intercede for us before God, Whom they see face to face. "Rendering thanks to God the Father, who has made us worthy to share the lot of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12)."
And so today, let us pause for a moment to remember our beloved dead; to ask for the grace of God to be also good to our fellow men while they still live; and also, to recognize our communion with all those that are part of the ONE BODY OF CHRIST!
God bless us all!