Pastoral Instruction: One with Our Beloved Dead
My dear people of God in the Archdiocese of Manila,
A few weeks ago, the mayors of Metro Manila came out with a resolution to close the public cemeteries from October 31 to November 3 this year to avoid large crowds congregating and thus spread the Corona 19 virus. I commend our local executives for their care to prevent any upsurge of the disease. This was extended nation-wide by the IATF resolution 72 which came out on September 15. It states: “All public and private cemeteries, and memorial parks, including columbariums and the like throughout the country shall be closed to visitors from October 29 to November 4, 2020.” I enjoin everyone to cooperate.
We hold on to our faith in the Communion of Saints and to our oneness with our beloved dead. We believe that death does not totally separate our loved ones from us. In physical death life is changed, not ended. Our relationship with our beloved dead, however, is no longer material but spiritual. In fact, we go to the cemetery during the UNDAS to remember and pray for them. Remembrance and prayers are spiritual activities. We can still do these. We can go to visit them in the cemeteries on other days, not just in the first two days of November. So we can schedule our family visit to the cemetery on any day before October 29 and on any day after November 4. What is to be avoided is that we congregate together and form large crowds only on certain days.
On November 1 and 2, all are encouraged to go to Church and offer Mass for our beloved dead. The Holy Eucharist is the best prayer that we can offer. All of us, living and dead, are united in the offering of Jesus in the Holy Mass. Our parishes will celebrate more Masses on those days to accommodate more church goers with proper physical distancing. Lighting of candles for the dead can also be done in areas provided by the parishes during the month of November. The lighting of candles is an external manifestation of our prayer.
Instead of going to the cemeteries on November 1 and 2, we can also set aside time together as a family in our homes and pray for those who have gone ahead of us. It is a good and holy thought to pray for the dead. It would also be good if we can share with the family members our recollections about our beloved dead so that their memory can bind us closer to each other.
During these past six months, many have experienced death in the family, and for hygienic reasons many of our dead were cremated. I would like to remind everyone that it is not allowed for us to keep the urns containing the ashes in our homes permanently. There is great danger of desecration in the future, especially when we are no longer around to look after and care for these ashes. So the ashes should be laid to rest in columbaria in the cemeteries or in churches. In this way too, other people outside of our families who would like to visit and pray for them can freely do so any time.
We give due respect to the remains of the dead because we believe that “just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life” (1 Cor. 15:22). So we all await our coming together into God’s house at the resurrection of the dead. We believe in the words of our Lord Jesus: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (Jn. 14:2-3). Our regular visits to cemeteries and our remembrance and prayers for the dead are deep signs of our longing to be with them forever in our Father’s house.Yours truly in Christ Jesus,
Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo
Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila
September 21, 2020
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