Monday, November 02, 2015

Praying for the dead

Today is the feast of All Souls, the Catholic day to remember all those who have died.

The commemoration here in Honduras is subdued. People go to the cemetery, clean the grave of their loved ones, and put flowers on the graves.

In the neighboring village of Candelaria there is a cemetery which serves both Candelaria and Plan Grande. The cemetery is on the top and the side of a hill. We celebrated Mass there this morning.

I had only been there once before – for the burial of Nicolas Sánchez which I wrote about in April 2014 here.

When I arrived there was a small area at the base of the hill prepared for Mass but there were many people walking among the graves. I joined then, praying and talking with them.

I met a woman whose sixteen year old son had died of malnutrition – twenty years ago, but the pain remains.

I talked with a woman whose son was killed by a falling tree about a year ago.

A young man spoke with me about his father who had died when he was eleven years old.

There were all sorts of tombs – small and large above ground tombs, simple slabs of concrete, some which look like drawers. 

Walking among the tombs, I saw several young girls from Plan Grande with baskets of flowers, spreading them over the tombs. They were not honoring any particular person but wanted to bring a bit of beauty.

Mass began with a hymn and then several people read the names of the dead. Gloria broke down after she read her husband’s name but she recovered and read a later part of the  long list.

During the Eucharistic Prayer Padre German asked me to read the list of the dead again, at the point where we remember those who have died. Five long pages.

I also thought of several friends who had died this year – in particular, Mary Sawyer and Father Pat Geary – though I did not mention their names. I also remembered the mother of a friend who had died this year.

After Mass, Jerry whom I will sponsor at his confirmation in a few weeks, invited me to go up to the tomb of his father who had been a policeman and was killed in February 2011. I was moved that he asked to be there to pray with him and to see what he and other family members had brought for the tomb.

Being at the Mass and walking amid the tombs with the people I live among is a great privilege.

Accompanying those who are mourning is part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus who became one of us and listened to the cries and tears of the people.

It is also, I believe, an important part of the ministry of a deacon – if God calls me to be ordained to the permanent diaconate next year.


More photos here.

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