All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and ‘Dia de los Muertos’

The celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, throughout Latin America celebrates the lives of the deceased. In many places, people fly kites to help their friends and loved ones get to heaven. (CNS/Reuters)

The celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, throughout Latin America celebrates the lives of the deceased. In many places, people fly kites to help their friends and loved ones get to heaven. (CNS/Reuters)

While this year’s observance of All Saints’ Day won’t be a traditional holy day of obligation because it falls on a Saturday, millions of Catholics will take time to remember the lives of departed saints and loved ones Nov. 1-2.

While Nov. 1 recalls the most visible of Catholic icons, it’s Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, that is a day set aside for the rest of the faithful who have graced our lives with their presence, service and love.

The Catholic Sun of the Phoenix Diocese takes a look at what the day means to Catholics as they recall their loved ones. The diocese has been refining its bereavement ministries to reach out to people whose deceased family members are buried far away or people who are alone for the first time in years.

In developed countries the observance is more reserved as Catholics pray for their deceased family members, friends and acquaintances — some at Mass, perhaps at a local Catholic cemetery, but most in private.

Throughout Latin America Nov. 2 is known as “Dia de los Muertos,” or the “Day of the Dead.” It’s more of a festive observance as people gather at cemeteries to clean grave sites, share food and drink in a picniclike way, reminisce and pray. There may even be an outdoor Mass if the local priest is around.

However the day is celebrated, it serves as a time of inspiration and reflection and a way to think about God’s divine plan for life.

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