Yesterday and today a lot of people all over the country went to the cemetery to remember their beloved dead. As usual they brought along with them flowers, food and candles. I am one of the few who didn't go to the cemetery. My parents and sister are buried in Iligan - that's almost 500 kilometers from Davao. So I didn't buy any flowers and candles but I went out for dinner alone in a Japanese restaurant to celebrate All Souls' Day. As I ate alone, I remember my loved ones who have gone ahead of me - my sister Nilda who drowned in 1967, my close friend Magno who drowned in 1979, my mother Nichol who was killed by military men in 1985, and my father Antonio who died of heart attack in 1993.
As we celebrate the feast of All Souls' there are some questions that people ask:
Why bring flowers to the grave? Can the dead smell their fragrance?
Why bring food? Can the dead eat?
Why light candles? Can the dead see these?
Flowers, food, candles on the grave - what do they signify?
Bringing flowers is an expresion of our love and affection for our dear departed. Death has not diminished our love for them.
Sharing food is an expression of the bond of fellowship, intimacy, and unity which death has not cut off. There is a continuing connection between the dead and we the living. That is why we pray for them and they pray for us.
The lighted candle symbolizes the risen Lord - Jesus Christ- who shines in the darkness of our grief. He is the source of our hope. He assures us that someday, we will be reunited with our loved ones in the home of our heavenly father - in the life to come.
Celebrating the Feast of All Souls therefore signifies that we have not forgotten our beloved ones who have gone ahead of us, we continue to love them, we affirm our continuing link with them and we express our faith and hope that the Risen Lord who is the light of the world will someday reunite all of us.