Sensing the Sacred PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 November 2018 12:01

By L.P. Enad

It has been rather alarming that in recent years, if I'm not mistaken, there seems to be unhealthy practices connected to the solemnity of all Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.

I have noticed, at least in the cemetery where my relatives rest, that there are some families who have been accustomed to stay in their family mausoleums all throughout the day -some would even go as far as spending a night or two in there. That does not seem to be a problem. The problem comes when those two holy days and those holy places we call cemeteries are used for social activities - when mausoleums become places for picnics, for idle talk and gossip, for boisterous laughter, and for some, used for drunkenness -'tagay'.

To some, these activities seem commonplace and not at all disturbing. It is, however, important to remember two important phrases: Sacred Time and Sacred Place.

Sacred time. It is rather important to insist that the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed are times of prayer, times to offer suffrages for the souls in purgatory. Turning these times into times of social gatherings, picnics, boisterous laughter, levity, and drunkenness does not help in creating an atmosphere of prayer. I believe the saints who want us to join them and the souls in purgatory who want us to pray for them are pleased to find us acquiring virtues of silence, fasting, and temperance during these times and I’m sure they would be disappointed to find us wallowing in vice and all sorts of things that do not contribute to the spiritual life. These times are also times to sober up and meditate on death and realign our lives to the path of salvation if we find ourselves in the path of perdition or to persevere in the way of perfection if we find ourselves in this path already.

Sacred Place. In the rites of the Church, there is a distinction between a mere blessing and a consecration. Houses are blessed; churches are consecrated. Rosaries are blessed; Chalices are consecrated. One of the places that is so important it deserves a consecration is a cemetery. They are not sanctified by just any priest but always by a bishop or his delegate. The Church has high regard for the place where the bodies of the faithful departed rest as they await the resurrection on the last day. Knowing this should bring to mind the sacredness of cemeteries. These are not just yards where we can have a barbecue, where we can set up an inflatable pool, where we can gossip and talk idly, or where we can have a drinking session that would probably end with each one getting a hangover or vomiting all over the place. We do not do profane things in holy ground. We do not do picnics in holy ground. We do not do social gatherings, get-togethers, or parties on holy ground. Keep sacred places holy.

True enough, family and the meeting of relatives who are far away from each other for the rest of the year is important. Drinking too plays a significant role in our culture as much as picnics, get-togethers, and family reunions do. This, however, is a matter of ordering our values. Do we consider picnics, excursions, get-togethers, reunions more important than God? Do we consider these more important than the very reason we celebrate all saints and remember the dead? As far as I’m concerned God, the sacredness of times and places are of greater value, of greater importance compared to our get-togethers, picnics, et cetera –these are no doubt important for us Filipinos but should not be more important than the observance of sacred times and places. Our time for bonding and socializing should not dim the primacy and centrality of God.