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What is All Souls’ Day?
All Souls’ Day is a Catholic celebration that focuses on remembering the dead. It is a time to remember them, celebrate them, and more specifically pray for them! The importance of this stems from the belief in purgatory, a kind of waiting room outside of heaven. Catholicism teaches that souls who are not yet prepared to go to heaven, likely because of venial sins, go to purgatory to prepare before being in full communion with God. This is why we must pray for the souls of our loved ones, so that they may be freed from sin and allowed to go to the Lord.
While you should pray for the departed often, All Souls’ Day allows us to celebrate them as well! This can mean different things for different people, so if you are lost I wanted to help provide a little bit of guidance for you. First, I want to show you a beautiful celebration that comes from Mexico, called El Día de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), for inspiration. Then, I will give you a few ideas for celebrating your loved ones that you can do right now!
Día de los Muertos
Día de los Muertos comes from an Aztec tradition. Over time it has come to be associated with All Souls’ Day. It is celebrated in Mexico, largely in the southern and central regions, and has since spread internationally. There are two parts to the celebration, November 1st which is día de los inocentes and remembers children, and November 2nd día de los muertos which remembers adults. Though there are many deep and beautiful pieces to this celebration, one that I want to highlight for you is the altars.
In order to remember loved ones, people will set up altars in their homes to remember them. This often includes pictures, flowers, trinkets, and foods that the deceased family member loved. The idea is that their soul is reunited with the family for that day, so they should provide them with food and things that they would enjoy! Often times there are beautiful altars lined with candles and decorations. Then, there is also some bread and coffee next to them! What is especially beautiful and special about this tradition is that it celebrates the lives of our loved ones, rather than focusing on the sadness of them being gone.
Ideas for Celebrating Your Loved Ones Today!
1. Pray for them. The simplest and often times most important thing to do for your loved ones is to pray for them. Pray for their souls to pass into heaven, for them to be joyful and in harmony with God, and anything else that is on your heart.
2. Host a dinner with your family members dedicated to remembering them. Eat their favorite meal, share stories, ask family members to bring pictures, etc. Make this all about celebrating their life and the impact it had on you!
3. Build your own altar. If you want to remember your loved one while also learning about a different culture, build your own altar. Look for some candles, beautiful flowers, and goodies for them! Maybe even do some of your own research on día de los muertos and look for other traditions that you connect with.
4. Commemorate them. In our social media days this is easier than ever! Posting a photo and story remembering your loved one is a great way to share with others. This may help others to remember them or remember to pray for them. Also, often times others will share stories that they have, which is always heart-warming.
Pray, Pray, Pray!
You can remember your loved ones now and every day by praying for their souls. Ask God to help them, be with them, and bring them into His light. Also, especially if their death is recent, ask God for healing and comfort for yourself and others who are grieving their loss. Death is a hard thing, but always remember to celebrate life and not to be afraid. Jesus conquered death, and He will be there for your loved ones.