Sensing the sacred
(The Freeman) - November 9, 2018 - 12:00am

It has been rather alarming that in recent years there seems to be unhealthy practices connected to the solemnity of All Saints’ and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.

 

In the cemetery my relatives rest there are some families who have been accustomed to stay in their family mausoleums all throughout the day -some would even go as far as spending a night or two there. This is not a problem. The problem is when those two holy days and those holy places we call cemeteries are used for social activities - when mausoleums become places for picnics, idle talk, boisterous laughter, and for some, drunkenness.

To some, these activities seem commonplace and are not disturbing. It is, however, important to remember two important phrases: Sacred Time and Sacred Place.

Sacred time. The Solemnity of All Saints’ and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed are times of prayer. Turning these into times of social gatherings does not help in creating an atmosphere of prayer. I believe the saints who want us to join them and the souls in purgatory who want us to pray for them are pleased to find us acquiring virtues of silence, fasting, and temperance and I’m sure they would be disappointed to find us wallowing in vice and things that do not contribute to the spiritual life. These times are also times to sober up and meditate on death and realign our lives to the path of salvation.

Sacred Place. In the rites of the Church, there is a distinction between a mere blessing and a consecration. Houses are blessed; churches are consecrated. Rosaries are blessed; chalices are consecrated. One of the places that is so important it deserves a consecration is a cemetery. They are not sanctified by just any priest but always by a bishop or his delegate. The Church has high regard for the place where the bodies of the faithful departed rest. Knowing this should bring to mind the sacredness of cemeteries. These are not places where we can have barbecues, set up an inflatable pool, gossip and talk idly, or drink with friends. We do not do profane things, social gatherings, get-togethers, and picnics on holy ground. Keep sacred places holy.

True enough, family, the meeting of relatives is important. Drinking plays a significant role in our culture as much as picnics, get-togethers, and family reunions. This, however, is a matter of ordering our values. Do we consider picnics, excursions, get-togethers, reunions more important than God? Do we consider these more important than the very reason we celebrate the saints and remember the dead? God, the sacredness of times and places are of greater value, of greater importance compared to our get-togethers – these are no doubt important for us Filipinos but should not be more important than the observance of sacred times and places. Our time for bonding and socializing should not dim the primacy and centrality of God.

Lance Patrick Enad

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