Fr. Leo Pabayo .
ALL Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are a good occasion to give some thoughts to the beautiful teachings of the Church Catholic about the faithful departed. The feasts are about faith, hope and love. We believe that our beloved dead who persevered in their effort to live good lives in spite of many failures are now in heaven or on the way there to reap the reward a good life. We hope also that by living, after our short life, which, in the words of the Psalmist is full of trials and tribulations will also win such reward. “Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over small things I will put you in charge of greater things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25: 14-23)
Belief in the next life has some similarities among the different religions of the world. The belief is the result of reason and or experience and revelation.
Something in us tells us that death cannot be the end of life. It is not in our nature to believe that everything ends at death. We desire eternal life and many of us believe that it will ultimately be a glorious one. It does not make sense to have this universal desire only to be frustrated. It goes against the grain of a common belief that somehow God has a way of fixing up the mess that we have caused due to our sin or of being hardhearted. But the goodness and beauty of creation attest that He is not only the Almighty but also the All Good and all Loving Father. Reason is very much for eternal life for us. But whether all of us will inherit this and how we can inherit this continue to be a heated topic among the different religions. For the Christian this has already been settled by Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This conclusion from reason that a person’s life goes on after his death has been confirmed by many from their experiences. People’s experiences of the dead manifesting themselves are too many to disbelieve. These experiences are definitely not about those that are portrayed in spooky movies that get mixed up with our celebration and remembering of the dead in what we call “Halloween.”
The feasts of All Souls and All Saints were established by the Church to provide us with the occasion to remember our beloved departed. One way of celebrating these feasts is to recall stories on how the departed have made their presence felt to us. We share these with one another. There have been many stories on this that have the signs of being authentic experiences. It is true that the mind sometimes imagine things vividly as if they actually happened when they actually did not. It has been proven that some people’s memories sometimes play a trick on them. What they thought actually happened were proven to be merely the figment of their imagination. But many stories of the dead making themselves present to people were told by people of very sound mind. The most authentic of all are the experiences of the apostles, the early disciples as witnessed to and written about in the New Testament and the experiences of many Christians after, particularly those that have been related by the saints that have been authenticated by the Magisterium or the official teachings of the Church.
Why is it that some persons particularly family members who have experience the presence of the dead whom they knew while others do not is a question that has bugged many.
Experiences of so-called manifestations of the dead vary. Some claim that they had actually seen the souls of relatives or friends who have died. Others claim that they have seen the ghosts of people whom they do not know. These seers are called clairvoyants. They are able to see beings in this world that we ordinary mortals do not see. Parapsychologists say that clairvoyant stories are true.
Most stories of the dead making their presence felt to others have been traditionally regarded as signs that someone who died is not yet totally at peace and may be asking for help or prayers from the living.
The phrase “Rest In Peace” (RIP) that we engrave on the tombs of our beloved departed might have started as a prayer for peace for them. One very possible explanation why a dead person is not yet at peace is that he had some unfinished obligations which he is trying to tell his relatives and friends to help meet. The more common belief is that they are in need of prayers and the grace to help them cross over to a state of peace and happiness in the next life.
It is said that those who died suddenly and were not prepared for death do not right away know that they are dead. They linger on and try to connect with their loved ones through some signs. I and some of my relatives have actually experienced what we thought could only be signs from the presence of a beloved departed relative who died suddenly. We know for a fact that our relationship with living friends and relatives sometimes make itself felt due to some extraordinary happenings to these relatives and friends.
It is a frequent experience of priests and relatives of the dead that when prayers are offered, especially when Mass is offered for a beloved dead that the troubling manifestations from him or her cease. Praying for the dead, whether they make some manifestations or not, is a continuing practice of Catholics. It is a wonderful occasion to read passages in the bible and other religious articles and to meditate on how it is in the next life.