The days of November are dedicated to prayer for our departed brothers and sisters. Traditionally, we Filipinos go to the cemeteries to offer prayers, flowers and candles for our beloved dead. The Catechism teaches that, “From the beginning, the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. (CCC # 1032)”
This year, the restrictions due to community quarantine prevented us from going to the cemeteries. However these did not prevent us from commemorating the dead. We experienced a different way of remembering them. In the seminary, aside from the “tumba” or box that contains the “Book for the Dead” – a registry of the souls we pray for and blessed during the Mass, an altar in memory of the departed was also put up outside the chapel. On this altar, all members of the community were encouraged to write the names of their beloved dead and put them under the candle designated for each family.
The Catholic tradition of giving reverence and remembering our beloved brothers and sisters continues amidst the pandemic. In his homily last November 2, Fr. Roy Rexelle Decena, our seminary rector, pointed out that on All Soul’s Day, we are reminded of the certainty of dying and the certainty of the resurrection. I remember, our Archbishop Florentino Lavarias, asking us during our stay with him, “What memories are you going to leave with the people when you die?” The certainty of death challenges me to do good and serve other people while I live. As Fr. Roy said, “If we truly want to prepare for our death and resurrection, let us decide to be instruments of God’s love and compassion in the world each day.”
Sem. Renz Marion C. Cunanan is from the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga. Sem. Renz is already in his third year of formation (first year theology) and was a College Instructor prior to his entrance to the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary.