Much of the attention given to these days before November 1 and 2 focus on the sense of horror often associated with the remembrance of the dead.
Just look around at the mall or store designs or notice the children parading in costumes around villages, in imitation of the foreign tradition of Halloween. But there is also popular culture where people pay a few hundred pesos to get themselves scared to death in horror films that make much money today. Even books on vampires, demons and the paranormal are becoming the trendy reading materials.
It is interesting that in a world that prides itself with scientific and technological advances, even people who ignore the religious side of their lives are fascinated with the mystery of ghosts and spirits that they believe prowl around the world to frighten human beings.
As we prepare for the Feasts of All Saints and of all the Souls in Purgatory, it is good to be guided not by superstitions or pop culture, but by faith. Yes, we enter into these celebrations because we believe that God has a message for us.
And faith tells us that our feasts celebrate not evil spirits or ghastly demons but an all-loving and merciful God. It is God’s love that makes it possible for us to remember those who have gone before us.
The reading from Wisdom calls God, “Lord and lover of souls”. It is he who has mercy on sinners, giving them the chance to repent. He loves all of creation and does not want to see their destruction. His Spirit is in all things he has created.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all visit the cemeteries in the coming days thinking of how much God loves these relatives and friends of ours who are now in his eternal peace and joy? Then we will go there in gratitude to the God who keeps his promises to his children. Then we will visit in peace knowing that what we cannot provide for the ones we love, the Father lavishes on them day and night.
But it is not only God’s love we celebrate as we visit our dear departed. We also celebrate our great capacity to love and to hope for and with them. We remember the dead because God has given us the power to love. And love goes beyond every division and obstacle imaginable, including the barrier of death.
In remembering the departed we continue to express our love for them through prayers, reflection and symbolic gestures like offering prayers, candles and even food (for some). In our eyes they seem to be dead, but in fact, they are alive in our hearts. In some mysterious way, if we are sincere and sensitive, we also feel their love for us once again, knowing that in eternal rest, they continue to pray for us and guide us for they are even more powerful now with the Lord in heaven. God’s love and our love make these days truly meaningful signs of our communion with each other. Have a blessed celebration ahead!