All Saints' and All Souls' Days opportunities to honor those who came before us

Above: Our Lady of Guadalupe Cemetery, Newton Grove, NC

All Saints Day on November 1st is a Catholic Holy Day, but that does not mean that you should only honor our deceased and pray for them on that one day. This time of the year is an opportunity for remembrance and preparation to honor the souls of the departed. 

This time of year is also an opportunity to remember that “we are all invited to become and obligated to become saints, since in our baptism God gave us holiness,” concludes Father Javier Castrejon Flores of San Juan Diego Mission in Robbins.

In Latin America, Día de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a popular celebration. Despite its name implying a single day, the celebration is a series of commemorative days dedicated to those who have died and coincides with the Catholic Holy Days of All Saints on November 1 and All Souls on November 2. Due to the current pandemic restrictions, funeral planning can be especially difficult for families and loved ones. As a result, All Souls’ Day has additional meaning for many this year.

“In the book of Maccabees in the Old Testament, it mentions it is necessary to pray for our deceased because they have had a dignified life,” says Father Castrejon.

In Mexico, Day of the Dead is actually divided into two distinct holidays, the first being Dia de los Inocentes, which is dedicated to children on Nov. 1, and Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, on Nov. 2. Both days taken together are collectively referred to as the Day of the Dead.

Father Castrejon believes that the importance of family for Mexicans makes the celebration even more relevant. “For Mexicans, the love for the family is very important, and the Day of the Dead is an opportunity to remember their loved ones that are gone before us.”