UNHEALTHY acts related to the celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are being practiced nowadays. And it is alarming.
I noticed, at least in the cemetery where my relatives are buried, that some families stay in the mausoleums all day (some would even spend a night or two there). That is not a problem. The problem is when during that time the cemetery is used for social activities, or when mausoleums become venues for picnics, idle talk and gossip, boisterous laughter and even for drunkenness (“tagay”).
On this, it is important to remember two phrases: sacred time and sacred place.
Sacred time. All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (or the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed) are times for prayer and to offer suffrages for the souls in purgatory.
Social gatherings, picnics, boisterous laughter and drunkenness do not create an atmosphere of prayer. Rather, saints who want us to join them and the souls in purgatory who want us to pray for them would prefer silence, fasting and temperance. I’m sure they would be disappointed to find us wallowing in vice and things that do not contribute to a spiritual life.
These are also times to sober up, meditate on death and realign our lives to the path of salvation if we are already in the path of perdition.
Sacred Place. In the rites of the Church, there is a distinction between mere blessing and consecration. Houses are blessed, churches are consecrated. Rosaries are blessed, chalices are consecrated. One of the places that is so important it deserves consecration is a cemetery.
Cemeteries are not sanctified by just any priest but by a bishop or his delegate. The Church has high regard for places where the bodies of the faithful departed rest as they await resurrection on the last day.
Knowing this should bring to mind the sacredness of cemeteries. These places are not yards where we can have barbecue or set up an inflatable pool, or where we can gossip and talk idly, or where we can have a drinking session. We do not do profane things in holy grounds. We do not do picnics in holy grounds. We do not hold social gatherings or parties on holy grounds. We keep sacred places holy.
True enough, meeting relatives who are far from each other for the rest of the year is important. Drinking, too, plays a significant role in our culture as much as picnics and family reunions do. This, however, is a matter of ordering our values.
Do we consider picnics, excursions and reunions more important than paying homage to God? Do we consider these more important than the reason we venerate saints and remember the dead?
As far as I am concerned God and the sacredness of times and places are of greater value, are of greater importance than picnics, etc. These are no doubt important for us Filipinos but these 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 y Caballero, San Carlos Seminary College, Archdiocese of Cebu