FLOWERS IS SELLING BRISKLY NOW A DAYS that All Souls and All Saints Day are being celebrated. People are flocking to the cemeteries to visit the graves of their loved ones. I am amused to note and see why there is a preoccupation for flowers as if the souls of the dead need flowers. I think that far from needing them, the souls have no need for these flowers and offering them flowers would not
even benefit them in the least possible ways. But why do people offer flowers for the dead? Well not really to comfort the dead but to comfort ourselves. To offer ourselves the reassurance that we remember the souls of our departed loved one's. I for one do not bring flowers to the tomb of my loved ones. I only lit a simple candle and I offer a sincere prayer for the peace and repose of the dead. The only way I can help and comfort the my departed loved one is to offer for them constant prayers. Our prayers for their repose are like droplets of cold waters. I remember one very popular passage in the Maccabees 12: 38-46 which says:
"Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the week was ending, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there. On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs.
But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.
Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice.
In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin."
This is a beautiful passage from the Scriptures.
Here in this passage we could glean that even the ancient Jews the forbears of Christianity prayed for the souls of the dead and they have spouse the belief that somehow our prayers are propitiatory. In the Christian era we believe that our prayers for the dead when united completely with the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ on Calvary if effective in carrying out its objective.
Some people who do not share our faith may object to the idea that forgiveness is impossible after death. But we anchor our beliefs on the teachings of the Scriptures and in the way it was handed down to us by Sacred Tradition. If we would read the scripture further in Matthew 12:32 which runs this way and I quote: "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." Thus reading in between the lines and following simple logic, our Lord speaks of a forgiveness in the world to come. In this passage He was saying that the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in this life and in the life to come. Therefore Our Lord implied that there are sins that can be forgiven even in the after life except for the sin against the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore this idea is supported by many passages in the scripture like 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 where St. Paul tells us that in the afterlife the worth of our actions and works shall be proven.
It is but short-sighted to say that the dead don't need our prayers. We have to remember the many passages in the Scriptures that sometimes even the most wisest cannot comprehend, speaks of things beyond our understanding.
Thus it is a pious act to remember our dead, not only during All Souls day but also everyday as we pray. I found it comforting each time I visit the Church or in my personal prayers I always utter the short pious ejaculations I have learned since childhood which says "Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord, and let Thy perpetual light shine upon, them. May they rest in Peace. Amen."
As we visit the graves and tombs of the dead, let us remember to say a prayer for them. Not only for our relatives but it is also a pious thing to pray for the most needy soul in purgatory, even if we do not know them personally.
ETERNAL REST grant unto them O Lord and Let Thy perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in Peace. Amen.