Remembering all the departed souls
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila () - November 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Today we celebrate All Saints’ Day, which is an official holiday in our Catholic Church calendar. We call it “Kalag-Kalag”; in Mexico it is dubbed “Dias de los Muertos” or Day of the Dead. We got this tradition from Mexico because the Philippines was once part of the Archdiocese of Mexico. Here we call it “Todos Los Santos” which many Filipinos use as an annual family reunion as a way of remembering those who have gone to the great beyond, our Lolos and Lola’s, relatives and departed friends.

Unfortunately, a great number of Catholics commemorate All Saints and All Souls’ Day because it has always been a family tradition. Few bothered to look into the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on the doctrines behind the commemoration of the day of the dead. Hence, tonight we bring you a very interesting discussion on the Doctrines of the Catholic Church regarding Life after Death, something that many religions also believe in.

With us tonight is my dear friend and fellow Apologist who was our mainstay priest in the Sons of David, Fr. Lucas Inoc who is now the parish priest of the San Antonio de Padua Parish in Tuburan. Fr. Inoc will give us the background on why Catholics pray for All the Saints and the Dead. So watch this very interesting discussion on SkyCable’s channel 15 at 8:00pm tonight.

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Today, Filipinos all over the country will troop to cemeteries bringing flowers and candles and hopefully their prayers in order to remember their loved ones that have gone to life eternal. Tomorrow is All Souls’ Day. These two days have always been a family tradition as far as I could think back to my youth.

But somehow, decades later, coming to the cemeteries have gotten a somewhat “Festive” atmosphere. Of course traditionalists like me would rather have a more solemn commemoration of our dead because after all, the ground that our dead are buried in is considered sacred ground. Hopefully we haven’t forgotten that today is still All Saints’ Day, which means we remember the Holy Saints and martyrs of Christendom. Of course, all of them are souls who have departed from this earth.

However, let me say that there was a time to mourn, when our loved ones suddenly passed on without being given the chance to say goodbye. But then time is the greatest healer and we do shift from mourning to reminiscing of the good times we had with our loved ones when they were still with us on earth. While their remains are still with us in the cemetery, we know in our hearts that the dead continues to live in the after life. Death after all is the separation of the body and the soul. The body we bury (or cremate) but the soul continues to exist.

The resurrection of the dead is central to our Christian faith, which is why early Christians celebrated Easter Sunday, rather than now where many Christians (and even non-Christians) embrace Christmas as the most important Christian holiday. One thing that we Catholics ought to embrace is that, we are all pilgrims here on earth We are merely “passing through” for earth is not our final destination, but Paradise in eternity.

So the question we need to ask and know is, where did the souls of our loved ones go? In Cempark, you will see a lot of graves and tombs. Simple ones and elegant mansion-like tombs or mausoleums, which separates the very rich from the poor. It would be a disaster for a rich family to spend a fortune on the tombs of their loved ones, whose souls are languishing in hell. I would rather have a simple grave for as long as I know that the soul of that person is with God in heaven.

Of course it is not easy to find out if the souls of our dearly departed ones are in heaven or in purgatory or in hell. So it’s best not to be presumptuous and believe that the souls of our dead are in purgatory because from there, through our prayers, they can enter heaven. But if they are in hell, no amount of prayers can help their souls. Hopefully, the souls of our dearly departed relatives and friends are all in heaven in the embrace of God, seeing them face-to-face.

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Last Saturday evening, our good friend Mr. Pacquito Unchuan played host to the Green Team in White Sands Beach Resort, as his guest was former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. and his lovely wife Nikki. It was the first time Gibo returned to Cebu since the May elections. Gibo told me that he always wanted to return to Cebu to thank his supporters, but after the rigorous campaign, he had some medical problems and needed an operation on his back. He’s OK now and was happy to greet his friends. He didn’t make any speech and true to form, he did not even want to reply to queries about the current administration and how it bungled many incidents. It was a happy time.

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