Thou shall not make “picnics” out of cemeteries.
The Catholic Church reminded the faithful not to get lost in the family reunions that usually follow in visiting the graves of departed loved ones.
Instead of indulging in picnics, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Fr. Francis Lucas advised Filipino families to organize group prayers in remembering the dead on All Souls’ Day.
“The family should pray in the Catholic or public cemeteries and tombs. In fact, it would be better if the whole family attend a general mass this Undas,” Lucas said.
“This is the best way to observe All Souls’ Day because it is only during mass that the living and the dead share in the communion of eternal life,” he explained.
Lucas, executive secretary of CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media, said praying as a family is a Nov 1 tradition more important than buying flowers and candles.
The Catholic priest recommended families to get free copies or prayer leaflets from the local parish, the recital of which is more important than having priests bless “already hallowed grounds.”
“It should be the family who should pray for their dead loved ones. They should not be passing this responsibility to priests,” Lucas said.
Lucas, who served as a parish priest, noted that tombs or graves in Catholic cemeteries are already blessed during funerals and no longer need separate blessings on All Souls’ Day.
“You don’t ask a priest to bless an already hallowed ground. That’s why Catholic priests no longer make rounds in Catholic cemeteries. Prayers are enough,” he said.
But for families who are not sure whether the resting place of their loved ones in public cemeteries are blessed or not, Lucas advised them to personally request blessings from parish priests.
He however warns of fake priests who shamefully ask for donations or charge extra in exchange of blessings of tombs and graves especially in public cemeteries.
The Catholic official said families should look for celebret, which serves as an identification card that contain information about under which diocese the priest is serving.
“Holy blessing cannot be sold. It’s priceless. A real priest would know it’s a grave sin to accept donation that does not come sincerely from the heart or faith of believers,” he said.
Reelectionist Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV became the last senator-elect to have his arms raised by poll officials after the May 13 elections.