ALL SAINTS DAY
By Rudy A. Arizala
01 November 2008
Today, 01 November is "All Saints Day" and tomorrow, 02 November is "All Souls Day".
Today,on All Saints Day we remember our departed beloved, and pray for them. As is the custom in the Philippines as well as in other countries like Chile, people visit the resting places of their dead, bring flowers, light candles and pray for them.. Incidentally, the cemetery, (sementerio, libingan or campo santo) we knew before is now called « Memorial Parks » .
In Catholic cemeteries, we see beautiful graves or resting places for the dead with stone or marble statues of angels and saints. In Memorial Parks, we generally see no cement or marble box resting places and statues of saints and angels but green wide lawn with a piece of stone or marble slab markers containing the names of the departed, their date of birth and day when they joined their Creator. On these flat stone or marble slabs people place bouquet of flowers.
Speaking of stone resting places, statues and other infrastructures in cemeteries honoring the dead, they remind me of the following lines / stanza in Thomas Gray's poem « Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard «
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to the mansion call the fleeting breath ?
Can Homer's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death ?
Although the storied urns or animated busts (statues) and words of flattery uttered by the living for the departed could not bring back to life the dead, there is a comforting thought uttered by Thomas Gray in the above-mentioned poem that :
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray ;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
And finally, the unknown departed, the humble and the poor, merit the following Epitaph according to Thomas Gray :
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melacholy marked him for her own.. . .
Incidentally, speaking of love and tribute to friends and beloved, Ka Gloria, the wife of a former colleague of mine in the foreign service, would not wait for memorial services to say something good or pay tribute to her friends. She would rather say what is in her heart and mind right now. In her own words sent to friends via email on 30 October 2008 under the subject : « Let's seize the day ? », she stated : « So, I whisper to the wind : I love you all ! GOD bless you. . . »
Thomas Gray expressed love and prayers (tribute) for the departed in 32 stanzas ; Ka Gloria in 13 words only. Pardon my comparison and this is not to disparage or belittle the impact and meaning of Thomas Gray's « Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard ». I admire Thomas Gray's poetry as I admire Ka Gloria's brief but equally meaningful expression of love and tribute to her friends. To me, Ka Gloria's « tilamsik ng diwa » has the same impact and meaning as Gray's « buhos ng diwa. »
May our beloved departed rest in peace at the bosom of our Lord. And taking a cue from Ka Gloria's message, let us express our love, pay our tribute and honor our beloved and friends now and do not wait for their respective memorial services to express them. Because as Gray himself said in his poem : « Can Homer's voice provoke the silent dust, / Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death ?