The day after the Solemnity of All Saints, the Church celebrates the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, inviting all Catholics to pray for those who have passed away. The community of Redemptorists of the General House in Rome also spent the day reflecting and praying for the deceased confreres from different Units and countries who had ministered for many years in St Alphonsus church and the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the General Curia or the Alphonsian Academy.
Fr. Marek Kordecki CSSR, vice-rector of the community, presided at the Eucharist celebrated for the deceased confreres, attended by the community members and guests present on the day.
The Latin American confreres proposed an original way of commemorating the Redemptorists who died. On the wall of the corridor of the monastery, they placed a decoration modelled on Mexican culture, where, among the popular symbols of death and life, they placed photographs of our deceased confreres.
Here is how Fr Agustin Drauaillet CSSR, secretary of the Alphonsian Academy and member of the Province of Mexico, explains the local tradition of commemorating the dead:
In Mexico, there is a deep-rooted relationship with the dead. Before Christianity arrived in our land, it was already believed that when human beings died, they began a pilgrimage to another place—a path full of challenges, but with an eye on the horizon to come.
With the arrival of Christianity, this belief did not die out. On the contrary, the Christian faith took it and gave it a language from Christ (from Him, I live it and write it in these lines).
Still today, on the night of All Saints’ Day, many Mexicans continue to wait for those who ended their earthly existence but who are still being. That night, between the first and second of November, we unite the earthly Church with the purgative Church, which walks towards heaven but knows it is linked to its loved ones who remain on earth. With the aroma of copal smoke, we give them a wink of love and purify an earthly space to enter into a relationship. We earthly people carry our deceased in our hearts; we love them. We make an altar, and through photos, we make sensitive the presence of those who have departed. We cannot deny the sadness of knowing that they are not with us, but we know that in Christ, there is life and that in Christ, there is hope. For our departed loved ones, we place on the altar things they loved: food, drink, objects. We perfume their way with cempasúchil, whose aroma, together with the candlelight, will make it easier for them to reach the place that still longs for them and, at the same time, will allow them to return to their pilgrimage in view of the eternal place.
Our dead… yes, our dead remind us that in this world, there is life. They lived it themselves. But this world is not our ultimate destination. It is only a moment when we can materialize love. From love we come, through love we live, to love we are invited to return. Our deceased go only a little ahead; we, in the meantime, live and in this life we love. Destiny is and always will be God.