Commemorating our deceased loved ones is very much a part of our lives and the life of the whole world, for that matter!
I was once visiting Guam and happened to be there on November 2nd of that year. We were invited by our hosts to go with them to the cemetery to keep vigil and to pray and to celebrate the lives of relatives and friends who had gone before us in the sleep of peace. What an experience! People were there as early as the crack of dawn, praying and chanting, along with processions and song. I shall never forget that experience.
Go to any of the five continents throughout the world and you will find a wide variety of faith symbols that will leave you with much reverence and heartfelt prayer for those who have gone before us into eternity.
I remember my paternal grandfather making a trip to the cemetery every year on Palm Sunday to visit the graves of my grandmother and uncle, and bringing palm branches, flowers and a votive candle to recall their lives and to pray for them in a special way of remembrance aside from his daily prayers for their repose.
Each culture has their customs, tributes and vigils to offer that are deeply ingrained in their hearts as they recall the blessings and virtues these souls have lived during their lives.
I think that All Souls’ Day is closely linked to All Saints’ Day to remind us that there are souls, even today, who have lived heroic lives in the face of their everyday trials and tribulations and left us examples of fortitude, patience, and constancy in the face of the same difficulties that we too may have. Our ancestors are worthy of our veneration and lasting remembrance.
I hope this generation will have the opportunity I had of experiencing this deep devotion, of venerating loved ones and acquaintances who have passed from this life to the next in holy peace, of remembering the dead for happy times experienced together and for the virtues they lived.
by Sr Barbara Gerace, FSP
Read more: Purgatory, Candy, and All Saints by Jeannette de Beauvoir