The Days of the Dead

(What do the dead want?  Part II)

I must give credit to the Catholic Church for at least recognizing the human need to address the matter of death and those who have died.  It was not by chance that Hallow ‘en, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day migrated comfortably to follow and impinge on Samhain.

But is the Church’s solution adequate or scriptural? Can we answer the challenge of the Celts by  devoting All Hallow’s Eve into mocking the powers of evil? What about entreating saints to advocate for us on All Saints Day? Can we enter into the collect of the day
[That the prayers of all the saints will bring us forgiveness for our sin]

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
today we rejoice in the holy men and women
of every time and place.
May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love.

Should All Souls Day be spent praying the departed out of Purgatory?

Can we put our spiritual weight behind the Benedictine Collect for All Souls Day

We suppliants, O Lord,
pour forth our prayers
for the souls of Thy servants and handmaids,
that Thou wouldst mercifully pardon
whatsoever they have committed
through human frailty
and graciously bring their sufferings to an end.
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

If we abandon the teachings of our ancestors  and substitute those which feed into some bizarre extensions, are we any better off?

I found one site  supporting the “Lady of Medjugorje”  which gave a message purportedly from the “Queen of Heaven” saying,

“Concerning Purgatory: “There are many souls in Purgatory. There are also persons who have been consecrated to God – some priests, some Religious. Pray for their intentions, at least the “Lord’s Prayer”, the “Hail Mary”, and the “Glory Be” seven times each, and the Creed. I recommend it to you. There is a large number of souls who have been in Purgatory for a long time because no one prays for them.”

Humm? Would you mind quoting Biblical chapter and verse support for this?

If , in addition, pagan  practices are white-washed and assimilated as part of church tradition- doesn’t havoc result?  Consider for instance, “The Days of the Dead” as celebrated in Mexico.  There, ancient Celtic traditions, minimally Christianized met Mayan customs and the goddess Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead) who presided over Aztec harvest rituals.  The resulting mish-mash is fascinating to an anthropologist but hardly endorses New Testament teachings.

As we seek for answers that engage  and do not destroy cultures, that speak Christ’s peace to fear, and bring light to darkness, it is worth considering Christ’s account of the Rich Man and the beggar Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31

A righteous and an unrighteous man both die.  Both have an after-life  existence.  Lazarus rests in peace with his godly ancestors as he “reclines on Abraham’s bosom”.  The Rich man is isolated in Hades, a place of torment. He is divided from Lazarus by an impassible void. He cannot help himself or contact his remaining brothers.  Lazarus is also prevented from taking a message back to the living- Abraham says that a messenger from beyond the grave would accomplish nothing. They already have the Scriptures to guide them.

Based on choices made in life, and irrevocable in death Lazarus and the Rich Man fare differently.  Their status can no longer be amended.  Neither of them seem to  have a further role in the world they have left.

Lazarus has reached a place of content and rest. There is nothing necessary for family members to add to it.   The Rich man is in torment but has passed beyond the ability of even Abraham  to help. In addition, he cannot return to warn, much less to harm, those left behind.

We need to weigh these words of Christ  in relation to those we mourn, and in relation to our journey to the end of this life.

Part III to come- It’s time to turn to the positives.


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