It is always phenomenal to behold how practically all roads lead to the cemeteries, how people flock to the burial grounds in order to be with their dear departed. Neither much rain nor real storms can stop them. Come November 1, “All Saints’ Day”, cemeteries and other burial sites are filled with people who are much alive, much spirited and much decided to be there - - notwithstanding any inconvenience, despite all arguments to the contrary. But come November 2, “All Souls’ Day” and most of them are elsewhere, preoccupied with many things and worried about many facts of life - - but their “dear departed” are then out of their minds and hearts. It might be worth asking: “Why?”
Why are those left behind by their loved ones, exert all effort to be with these on “All Saints’ Day” - - but definitely not on “All Souls’ Day”? Do these not have souls that precisely fit the finality, the significance and implications of this one-day after commemoration? Who taught the living that they remember their dead on the one-day before memorial? No matter how such a particular - - if not peculiar – observance is closely considered and assiduously explained, there seems to be one over-riding rationale behind it.
This: The living want to sincerely believe and thus they accordingly act, that their dear departed are in fact counted among the “Saints” - - not simply among the “Souls” who are one notch lower, so to speak, compared to the spiritual status held the former. Taking into account the maxim that only good things may be thought of and spoken about the dead, it is definitely good and even great for both the dead and the living, for the latter to consider the former as “Saints”: Sanctified and sanctifying figures! That is to neither say, nor mere “souls” who are neither officially held as “sanctified” nor formally looked upon as “sanctifying”.
Strictly speaking, such a way of looking at the souls departed is not really devoid of doctrinal premise and without practical basis. In simple language, it is said that there are in fact two categories of said departed individuals: One are those with a capital “S” as in “Saints” - - and all the others with but a small “s” as in “saints”. It goes this way: Those with a capital “S” are individuals who are with God and who are thus categorically considered “Saints” and therefore venerated as such in the Church. And those with a small “s” are individuals who are also with God but who are not specifically canonized. Considering that the “Saints” are relatively very few in number compared to those who passed away, it is both cruel and unjust to conclude as a matter of course, that all these departed are damned.
Conclude: Let the cemeteries and other burial places are frequented by the living to honor their dear departed on “All Saints’ Day”. Such a practice is not only understandable but also reasonable.
01 NOVEMBER 2010