Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Praying for All Souls

Villagers scrubbed and decorated graves with loving care.
On All Soul's Day, Holy Family faithful and their neighbors cleaned and decorated loved ones' graves, lit candles and incense, and gathered for a three hour Mass and commemoration of faithful departed.

It was a historic event, says Fr. Varghese. He had tried four years to commemorate All Soul's Day in the cemetery at Yeleswaram, but something always prevented it, such as peoples' fears, deaths in the community,  objections from locals or monsoon rains.

But this year, after Holy Family Mission's beautiful lamp-lit Mass on All Saints' Day, people were open to honoring departed loved ones and praying for their souls in a new and solemn way.

After early morning Mass at Holy Family Mission, Fr. Varghese headed to Eluru Diocese to give a talk to 23 seminarians.
Honoring and praying for loved ones is a family
and community affair.

"God is great," he later wrote. "God's people, wherever they go, they will be assigned by some work. So after the talk I was asked by the rector to hear confessions. Then I left for All Soul's Day…Mass in the cemetery."

The practice of celebrating Mass near and even on loved one's tombs, dates back to ancient times, when Mass was celebrated on the graves of holy martyrs. 

Two visiting priests from Tamil Nadu concelebrated with Fr. Varghese, who spoke for more than an hour about the significance of the Feast and about resurrection after death, a concept new to those raised outside the Christian tradition.

That night, many "gave witness" to a belief in the Resurrection," said Fr. Varghese. 

"God is great."

Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary images
adorn many tombs.

The most solemn moment at Mass, the Consecration
 of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


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