MANILA, Oct. 30, 2011—A priest reminded people going to cemeteries to light candles and pray for their beloved dead on All Saints and All Souls Day to express their Christian faith meaningfully.
La Loma Cemetery chaplain Fr. Leo Gilbero said he is proud of this unique Filipino tradition of gathering the whole family during this time of the year to pray for their loved ones, but he also stressed the importance of keeping the faith within character.
“We should also set boundaries to keep with our faith, like for example the bringing of food [and partaking of meals] in the cemeteries. What is that for?” he asked.
Filipino families traditionally gather in cemeteries every All Saints and All Souls Day to light candles and pray for their deceased family and friends.
But the gathering involves not just about lighting a candle, it also serves as a kind of small family reunion among family members and friends, where they not only pray but also eat together.
“All Saints’ Day is a family tradition. In a sense, it helps the family,” Gilbero said. “Even though it is because of a death of [a] loved one, [but] it helps bring the family together.”
“According to Church teachings, every time we visit the tomb or grave, and every time we pray for the dead, we gain a partial indulgence,” Fr. Gilbero pointed out.
“For us, there is a meaning to each visit that gives us indulgence. Maybe there is significance for the family — the reunion that happens around the tomb — but the Church teaches us that when we visit the dead we can gain partial indulgence with the conditions that we visit the grave or pray for the dead,” he explained.
The priest said efforts had been done to address the practice of bringing food in the cemetery but to no avail so far.
“Maybe it is due to the culture and the influence of other cultures,” he pondered. (Ana Valenzuela)