Circular 2012-31: Rituals in Commemoration of the Faithful Departed
October 1, 2012
Re: Rituals in Commemoration of the Faithful Departed
My dear brother priests:
In our pastoral desire to make the celebration of the sacraments and the sacramentals of the Church become true pathways to growth in Christian piety, I am pleased to present to you the rituals for the commemoration of the faithful departed for strict observance by the ordained ministers and for faithful obedience among the lay faithful in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan.
These prescribed rituals are premised on three important pastoral principles:
1. That all impressions of commercialism in the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals must be absolutely avoided. The sacraments are not to be celebrated in exchange for money. The trafficking for money in spiritual things is simony. It is a sin.
2. That these prescribed uniform rituals are not for the convenience of priests but in order to make the spiritual goods of the Church more available to more people without undue difficulties or discomfort on the parishioners. The spirit of sacrifice must accompany all our pious acts. The sacramentals must be made available to the people of God but within the bounds and parameters of liturgical theology.
3. That there should be no prejudiced distinctions between the materially affluent and the materially deprived or between those “close” to the priests and those who are not.
Please observe the following:
1. The sacrament of the Eucharist must be celebrated in all our Catholic cemeteries, and when pastorally possible in memorial parks and public cemeteries, within October 31 until November 2 at the time when most of the people can participate.
2. The prayers for blessing graves will be invoked by the priest after the Post Communion Prayer. After bestowing the final blessings of the Mass, the priest gives a ritual sprinkling with holy water. It is not necessary to sprinkle individual graves with holy water. The act of blessing is completed with the words of blessings and the sign of the cross made by the officiating minister. Furthermore the cemetery, as well as the individual graves, have been blessed already in the past and are actually considered hallowed ground already.
3. Copies of the enclosed Order of Family Prayers on Visiting the Cemetery must be reproduced by the parishes and distributed to the Catholic faithful free of charge before the Mass. After the Mass, the family prayer before the graves of the faithful departed must be the highlight of the visit to the cemetery. It is ideal that the families pray this Order of Prayers after the Mass. The tradition of families praying together before the graves of the faithful departed must be promoted and encouraged. The same Order of Prayers may be prayed by the family at home. The family that prays together stays together.
You are kindly advised to take note of the following prohibitions:
1. It is prohibited to collect any donations for the individual blessing of graves.
2. It is prohibited to sell the copies of the Order of Family Prayers on Visiting the Cemetery.
3. It is prohibited to conduct “special blessings of graves” for friends of priests and the benefactors of the church within the October 31 to November 2 period.
4. It is prohibited for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and seminarians to officiate at blessings of graves and violation of this rule may be meted with penalty including perpetual disqualification from being an EMHC or being considered irregular candidates for ordination.
The annual Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is a loved and cherished Filipino Catholic tradition. Let us allow this pious tradition to lead us and our flock to the path of holiness. I trust that you will adhere to these prescribed rituals with utmost filial fidelity and pastoral charity.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
(Central Pangasinan, Philippines)