That is my father's grave marker after we decorated it for All Souls' Day. We were keeping the Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos (my father was Mexican-American... Mexican born, naturalized American) in which add some of the person's favorite things, when they were living, to the grave. All foods and candles were strictly forbidden by the cemetery so we couldn't decorate it any more. Since we couldn't put a coffee cup, his favorite thing in the world after his cars, we added pinwheels which he thought were fun (he was a kid at heart.) One of them has the Mexican flag on it in honor of our Mexican heritage.
The day itself was a pretty deal for us, especially since this is the first time we really celebrate it. As soon as we found out that all the Catholic cemeteries in the Los Angeles Archdiocese were going to have Mass at 10 a.m., mom and I decided to go in honor of dad's memory. It also helps that dad is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery so we would be able to visit him after the Mass without any problems. Of course, that meant that I'd have to miss my Philosophy course but I didn't care. I was going to go to that Mass and my love of arguing with my professor wasn't going to stop me. I am so happy that I made that decision because it was only one of most beautiful experiences I've ever had.
The Mass was... beautiful, and bilingual. I was able to pray and sing hymns in both English and Spanish. There were many priests, representing the parishes around the San Fernando Valley, including Fr. Stan (who was my spiritual adviser until he was assigned to a different parish) and Fr. James (who is the new Irish-American priest at our parish). The sat in the sun, while the rest of us were in the shade. They said the reason for that was that they were doing penance for us. God bless them; it was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun burned. The hymns that were sung were lovely and appropriate. "Ave Maria" was sung in Italian and I teared up a bit because the woman put so much emotion into the song. I loved that they really focused on what the feast day was all about. The presiding priest, Fr. Steven Guitron (of Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima), gave a beautiful homily in which he talked about souls, purgatory, and trying to lead saintly lives so that we can, one day, enter Heaven and be with the Lord. He added things in both English and Spanish that I wish everyone there understood because it was a lovely message. Mom and I both received the Eucharist at the Mass and it all just felt... so right. Before the Mass ended, they thanked us for going to Mass and praying for the deceased. They concluded with Psalm 55:6, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest." As soon as that was said, they let about a dozen doves fly, surprising everyone in attendance. Many of us, both men and women, shed tears at how beautiful it was. (btw, I'm well aware that I'm using the word "beautiful" a lot but I honestly can't think of a better word for this experience.)
After Mass was over, we went back to visit dad's grave (where we first stopped before Mass). On our way there, we passed Ritchie Valens' grave. My mom is a big fan of the song "Donna" so it was interesting for her to see where the composer/singer of one of her favorite songs was buried. After passing by his grave, and praying for his soul, we went to daddy's grave to decorate it. As you saw in the picture, we really decorated it and would've probably added more things if we were able to. We didn't add marigolds, which is the tradition in Mexican cemeteries because my mother didn't want to do. I did but I was vetoed for once. lol. As we were decorating it his grave, I thought about how much I was like... what I'd learned from him... how much I missed him... how much he would always be a part of my life even though he's no longer physically here. All in all, it was a great experience and I look forward to doing it every year.
Whatever you did for All Soul's Day, I hope you remembered all the loved ones you've lost and remember that they'll always be with you. As Fr. Steven reminded us at the Mass, we may not see them, but they're looking out for us... helping us (through intercession) as much as they are able to, much like saints and blesseds.
That's all for now. I hope everyone had a great weekend. :D As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.