Remembering Dear and Near Ones on ‘All Souls Day’
Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world; In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you; In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you; In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctified you. May your rest be in peace and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.
Mangaluru: Catholic families across Mangaluru parishes gathered last evening (1 Nov ) and also this morning (2 Nov) at area cemeteries to pay tribute to loved ones who have died. Catholic Church celebrations for All Saints’ Day fall on or around the actual day. The observance honors both official Saints and others who have lived good lives. Today is “All Souls’ Day, when believers pray that souls in purgatory make it to heaven. Though its origins lie with the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations mark the holiday by reading the names of congregation members who have died over the past year.Catholic families across Mangaluru parishes gathered last evening (1 Nov ) and also this morning (2 Nov) at area cemeteries to pay tribute to loved ones who have died. Catholic Church celebrations for All Saints’ Day fall on or around the actual day. The observance honors both official Saints and others who have lived good lives. Today, is “All Souls’ Day, when believers pray that souls in purgatory make it to heaven. Though its origins lie with the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations mark the holiday by reading the names of congregation members who have died over the past year.
In the Mass that precedes the blessings, the pastoral staff will urge parishioners to pray not only for the good who have died but those who may not have lived a good life. Death is such a difficult thing for us to deal with. It seems like it robs us of life. (The celebration) helps people who suffer from the grief of loss to be reminded that death is not the end. There is hope for us beyond the grave. The most distinctive feature of the “All Saints’ Day” Mass is the nature of the prayer. The prayers talk about through Christ we have victory over death and hope beyond the grave.
Preceding ‘All Saints Day’ ( November 1), ‘All Souls Day’ observed on November 2 is a solemn feast in the Roman Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and now are in Purgatory, being cleansed of their venial sins and the temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had confessed and atoning before entering fully into Heaven. The importance of ‘All Souls Day’ was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (1914-22), when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one, for the faithful departed; one for the priest’s intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. Only on a handful of other very important feast days are priests allowed to celebrate more than two Masses.
On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery. (The plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained every day from November 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence, on any day of the year.) While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory.
Praying for the dead is a Christian obligation. In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church’s teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of ‘All Souls Day’ is a good way to begin the month. The Christian tradition dates back to the ancient practice in Rome, which honors all saints and martyrs who died for the faith. ‘All Souls’ Day’, the day after, is often when those wanting to avoid the crowds of All Saints’ Day visit the cemeteries to pay their respects.
Family members and close friends visited the cemeteries this past week, some to clean the tombs in preparation for the celebrations. Tombs at the Catholic church cemeteries were adorned with new silk flowers/fresh flowers, bouquets and candles. Susan belonging to Bejai Parish cleans the graves of her family members once every two months. She says “We honour the saints that are in heaven. We remember the dead and we pray for them. We also need to keep the tombs of our beloved ones clean too . I feel sad when I see the dilapidated conditions of some of the tombs”. This morning Susan was out at St Francis Xavier Church-Bejai Cemetery freshening up the flowers by the grave of her sister, Shanti. Susan said she remembers her sister every day, especially her “bubbly” personality. “Whenever you see her, she would laugh and always have something good to say. She wasn’t going to die, she was going to go on forever and ever,” Susan said.
On Saturday evening, the mass for the departed souls held at St Francis Xavier Church- Bejai was celebrated by Fr Walter D’ Mello- a resident priest at the Church, along with Fr Wilson D’Souza- Parish priest, Fr Stany Pinto- Asst. Parish Priest, and Fr Robert D’Souza- Principal, Lourdes Central School. After the mass, the faithful along with the clergy visited the graveyard, and the tombs were blessed by the priests, with the family members of the deceased joining in the prayers.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Audrey Pinto, had come to pay respect to her parents, Jerome Pinto (expired on 6/9/1976, due to cancer) and Iris Pinto (expired on 26/6/99) said, “Even though my parents had died many years ago, I still remember them, and they will always be in my heart. I come twice a year to visit their graves, once on their birthday, and another time on All Soul’s Day. I was very close to my parents, and they both loved me very dearly. Sadly missed”. Audrey is the sister of Dr Errol, Lyold, Oscar, Diony, Dr Allan and Trevor.
Merlyn, wife of Agnel Rodrigues, aged 55 (Coastal Times) who passed away recently on 26/6/2016 said, “I feel like dead, and at the same time, alive. He was my soul mate, and he left me his shadow behind- and sooner or later this shadow will follow him to join him again in Heaven. At the rising of the sun and at its going down, I will remember him. At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, I will remember him. At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, I will remember him. At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, I will remember my beloved husband”. Agnel also leaves behind his two sons, Sanjay and Sanjeeth.
Vinod D’Souza, who had come along with wife and brother to pay respect to his parents, James D’Souza, died at the age of 77, and Dorothy, died at the age of 87 said, “Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus – a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you., had said Mother Teresa. I am sure that my parents are in the safe hands in Heaven, watching over us and showering their blessings on us. Our parents were our first protectors, advocates, and friends. No matter what age we are now, we still remember our parents for their love and care towards us”. Vinod is the brother of Marian, Sanjay, Jeevan, Fiona and Manohar D’Souza.
Allan Fernandes had come along with his wife, Rita to offer prayers and floral tributes to his dad, Dr Bonaventure Mathias, his mother Hilda Mathias, and his brother, Dr Marian Mathias. Speaking to Mangalorean.com, he said, “When I close my eyes I see them; When I open my eyes I miss them. I keep myself busy with the things I do but every time I pause, I still think of our loved ones whom we miss a lot. Have you ever missed someone so much that even the thought of them made you burst into tears? I miss them. A little too much, a little too often and a little more every day, my dear loved ones”.
Divya D’Souza speaking about her aunt, Sybil D’Silva, aged 57 who died recently on 16 October said, “Sometimes, it’s not just about missing someone, it’s wondering if they’re missing you too. Missing someone is your heart’s way of reminding you that you love them. If you can’t get someone off of your mind; It’s because your mind always knows what your heart is thinking. It’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember. I miss our conversations; I miss how we used to talk every minute of every day and how I was about to everything that was on my mind. I miss my aunt Sybil a lot”.
Everest Rodrigues, accompanied by his wife, after searching around the graveyard, finally found the tombs of Santiago Rodrigues (grandfather), Casmir (Father), Monthi Mary (mother) and Louis (brother). Working in Assam and West Bengal managing Tea estates, Everest had recently moved back to Mangaluru and looking at the dilapidated condition of the graveyard said, “In Assam and Bengal during the time of All Souls Day, church volunteers along with the clergy clean the graveyard area, pulling the weeds out and doing the cleaning. But sadly, cleanliness around here is very much lacking, which needs to be addressed by the church committee members, so ensure that the graveyard is also part of the church to be kept clean”.
In the meantime, Joe D’souza speaking to Mangalorean.com said, “A few years ago, I took the initiative of cleaning most of the graveyard area, hiring labourers and bearing the expenses. Prior to this, the graveyard was a mess, and we tried to give it a better look by getting rid of the grass, cleaning dirt off the tombs etc – and also made the pathway free of any debris. For the last few years, I have also been cleaning the area, pulling out the weed etc. But presently there are some areas which need some urgent cleaning, which seems like they have been ignored. Church committee members and volunteers should come forward, and help in maintaining to have a clean graveyard, and make an example to others”.
Last time, I had met Marsha D’Mello, a teenager from Bejai parish who had come along with her aunt Clarida Pais, to pay her respect to her beloved dad Marian D’Mello who had passed away at a very young age of 39, due to lung cancer. “I loved my dad very much. I was his very favorite daughter, he always cared for me, loved me and gave me whatever I wanted. Losing him was the greatest tragedy in my life. My arms may not be able to reach him, but he is holding my heart. My dad was the most encouraging, inspiring, and positive person. His words will live on in my heart. He lives on in my heart. I love him so much more than any limitations that our human vocabulary puts on emotions. I miss my dad, I love him” said Marsha with tears in her eyes.
I too this morning, along with my brother Joe, and cousin Sr Matilda (Headmistress of St Angela School-Bejai) visited and paid respect to the tomb of my dad and mom, George and Magdelene D’Souza, who both share the same tomb at Bejai Church. Since they both passed away while I was in the USA, and I feel sorry to say that due to my work schedule and short time leave provision, I wasn’t able to attend their funeral. I know that they have forgiven me, and are looking at me from heaven, showering their love and blessings on me. For their love, care and dedication towards me, I dedicate the following thought-provoking poem to my parents who died a few years ago. I miss them very much. If I had a chance to relive my years with them again, I would have thought of their needs more and made time to visit them more often than I did –
A day does not go by without thinking of you.
I think of the past and I feel happy and sad.
You both worked hard to take care of us.
My two brothers (Joe and Rudy) and I had fun growing up.
Before I knew it you were both very old.
I wished I had spent more time with you.
You gave all your time, love and care to us.
But I was too busy to even visit you two.
Now that both of you are dead and buried,
I visit your grave and think of the past.
What I would not give to see you again.
I wish I could go back to the past.
I would spend every day with you two.
I would give you my time and my care.
To make sure that you were happy and well.
Just like you did with my brothers and me.