November is the time to pray for the souls of the departed to join the saints in the heavenly kingdom
Catholics pray and place incense sticks on their loved ones’ graves at a cemetery in Nha Trang diocese in 2021. (Photo: UCA News)
The Church devotes November to inviting its children to commemorate and pray, especially for relatives who have passed away.
The month is full of flowers as all people and families are reminded to pray for and give indulgences to souls to join the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
This month is also the time to approach the end of the year that is highly reminiscent of the end of people’s lives and reminds us of earthly travelers’ pilgrimage toward the eternal homeland.
Whenever I attend Mass at a cemetery, I usually arrive early and quietly watch crowds of people who come back from various places inside and outside the country but have the same purpose of attending Masses, praying for and offering incense to their dead relatives.
“Praying for our beloved relatives’ souls is also praying for ourselves”
Cemeteries are thick with incense smoke like early morning mist, even though it is a late afternoon in early November. After the Mass, people gather around the graves of their loved ones saying prayers for them before leaving the cemetery in the dark night. Praying for our beloved relatives’ souls is also praying for ourselves, and remembering our departed ones is also reminding ourselves of our obligations toward the living.
Whenever I stand in front of the graves of my loved ones, I always say to myself that it is too fast as years ago there was only my maternal grandfather’s grave, but now there is my father’s grave, and maybe next year there will be new ones.
Even though we know that our relatives will eventually depart this life as leaves fall in autumn, we are still stricken with grief. Sometimes we get a terrible shock when someone who is young and healthy suddenly passes as their future is still full of promise. We are full of unutterable sadness about the absence of our parents after many years of working hard to bring us up.
When we lose a pen or money, we can easily get it back, but when we lose our loved ones, we lose them forever. That is the reason why after many years have passed, the image and feelings of those losses are still a very strong part of us. Contemplating the graves of our loved ones is a chance for us to commemorate their giving birth, sacrifices, labors and affection to us.
And every time I attend a funeral, I remind myself that my time is coming and I will have to die like them. Every day is a step I take toward death.
Dawn light reminds me of my last day and thinking about the frailty of human life and the moral obligation to pray for the souls of the dead.
“My prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death”
Even today, I need to prepare myself to return to God through sacrifices, alms-giving and good deeds as we will be given judgment on love at the grand old age.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI said in the Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi that the lives of other people continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So, my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death.
O Lord, every time we stand in front of the graves of our departed brothers and sisters, please make us more aware that everyone must die because of the frailty of human life, so we must be ready and awake to make our departure from this world meaningful.
May God also have mercy on the souls still in purgatory. We pray in unison that “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”
*This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published by www.dongten.net here. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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