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Faithful reminded: ‘Undas’ meant for praying, not gambling, drinking

Faithful reminded: ‘Undas’ meant for praying, not gambling, drinking

Fr. Charles Belmonte during his ordination headed by then Pope, St. John Paul II in 1984

By Fr. Mickey Cardenas

Oct. 29, 2018


Filipino families traditionally observe “Undas” on Nov. 1 and 2 with visits to the graves of loved ones.

But what the Catholic Church celebrates as a solemn commemoration of prayer and remembering departed loved ones and the saints has turned into occasions of rather inappropriate practices such as gambling, excessive drinking, and the littering of cemeteries and other holy places.

Need of atmosphere of prayer

“The vast crowds that flock to the cemeteries on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day show that people in the Philippines are openly pious, but there is a need for a greater understanding for the Christian reverence for the dead as well as of the meaning of Christian death in the light of the promise of a future resurrection,” said Fr. Charles Belmonte, a theologian with more than 30 years of pastoral work experience in the Philippines.

“Tombs are cleaned and repainted, flowers are offered and candles are lit, but many might have forgotten the significance of these commemorations as seen in the general lack of atmosphere of prayer in the cemeteries or during wakes,” the Catholic author added.

To support the Church’s new evangelization efforts during popular occasions such as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Belmonte wrote a handy booklet to help strengthen the faithful in the face of death and to guide them in offering prayers for their departed loved ones.

Why we pray for the dead

The author of “Prayers for the Dead” pointed out the relevance of such a devotional, even in these modern times.

According to the priest, the Church calls on the faithful to pray and “to console one another and to meditate about the meaning of God being with us whether in life and or in death.” He, however, noted that the doctrine behind this remembrance of the dead is not fully understood by the faithful.

“The booklet will help deepen our faith and enhance our piety for the dead, providing us with proper prayers and rites. It presents the Church’s genuine teaching on the commemoration of the dead that will free the faithful from traces of superstition that unfortunately have found their way into some practices through the years,” assured the author.

“‘Prayers for the Dead’ is a material highly recommended for priests and lay persons when visiting wakes or cemeteries and in celebrating funerals, death anniversaries, or ‘Undas’,” added Belmonte.

Author of best-selling Catholic books

Belmonte is the author of other best-selling Catholic books such as “Understanding the Mass”, “Do You Want to be Great? (On Humility)”, “Aba Ginoong Maria”, and “The Echo of the Gospel”. He is editor of “Faith Seeking Understanding” and co-editor of the “Daily Roman Missal” and of “Handbook of Prayers”.

Interested parties may learn more about “Prayers for the Dead” by contacting Sinag-Tala Publishers, Inc. at telephone number (02) 861-7084, or email

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