“Pray for the faithful departed not just today but everyday. Pray that by the mercy and love of the Lord God, they may enter heaven and gain eternal life.”
Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos stressed this on the eve of All Saints’ Day.
“We can offer them flowers, not only on the first or second day of November, but also on other days. Candles can also be lit in our homes. The significant thing about this is that everything we do, even if it’s not done on November 1, is a sign of our appreciation and love for them,” said Santos in a Diocesan Pastoral Letter.
As a safety measure against the further spread of COVID-19, the government ordered the closure of all cemeteries and columbaries from October 29 to November 4. The public is instead advised to visit another time or to just remember and pray for the departed loved ones at home.
In the Diocese of Balanga, novena masses for the departed are offered every day since October 23. The masses are streamed live from all the parishes at 5:30 p.m. Bishop Santos likewise issued a Family Prayer Service for the dead.
Santos reminded the faithful to honor the memory of the departed.
“What are we supposed to do to those who have departed this life? The answer is, let us always honor them. Even though they are not with us anymore, they are rightfully to be respected. Let us honor the memory of our departed loved ones by not wasting their hard work and everything else that they had invested in us and for us. Let us not ruin the respect that we accord them by not tarnishing their names. They will not have peace if we quarrel over what they have left behind. They will not be peaceful in the afterlife if we, their loved ones here on earth, live in animosity, discord, or take advantage of each other,” the Church leader said.
“Let us commemorate the beauty of the lives of those who have gone home to be with our heavenly Father. Let us recall their good words, lessons, and examples. These are the things we must remember and live by,” Santos stressed.
The bishop urged the faithful to live with dignity and holiness in memory of their departed loved ones.
“Even if we do not go to the cemetery on All Saints Day or All Souls Day, it does not mean that we have forgotten our departed loved ones or they do not matter to us anymore. We will not congregate in the cemeteries as we traditionally have done in the past, because of the danger posed by COVID-19. Nonetheless, it is our ardent and profound desire to celebrate the first day of November and remember them, that while we are on earth, we will live with dignity and holiness. Be honorable, be holy, so that you and I can enter heaven, be reunited with them, in the presence of God the Father,” Santos said.
Originally known as the Feast of All Martyrs in memory of the martyrs of the early Church who died for their faith in Christ, All Saints’ Day has since evolved into a solemn observance during which the Church remembers all who have died in the faith. Pope Gregory (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, Italy to all the saints and fixed the observance to Nov. 1. Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration to the Universal Church in 837.