Despite growing up in a Catholic country, I have different beliefs when it comes to Catholic teachings. For a while, I considered myself a “Selective Catholic”, in other words, believing certain aspects but not others. Now I consider myself more of a spiritualist, in the sense that I believe in an afterlife (perhaps not in the way Catholics are taught to), I always have. And it is this belief that has made me fascinated by All Souls Day.
Catholicism teaches us that All Souls Day is a day to remember the dead, especially loved ones, by praying for their souls to be cleansed or purified so that they can enter heaven. Purgatory, it is essentially called, but which differs from the purgatory that leads to hell. Unless it falls on a Sunday, Catholics are not expected to go to mass, but instead they visit the graves of those they have lost, leaving flowers and perhaps sprinkling holy water. The souls must be purged of their sins and be in God’s good grace in order to enter heaven, and this is where the living come in. They pray for the souls.
My own theory of All Souls Day came from my mother, and which is also a pagan belief. I believe, or at least I like to believe, that All Souls Day is a day when the veil between the living and the dead is thinner. It sounds eerie, but I look at it as something special, the idea of seeing your deceased loved ones on one day of the year. The pagans believe that candles should be placed in the windows of houses in order to lead the dead to them so that they can share a meal together.
I have wondered why I believe so much in All Souls Day, perhaps it is to lessen my fear of death, or perhaps I live in hope of seeing my loved ones so I can say the things I wanted to say to them when it was too late. Will I be leaving a lit candle in my window? Probably not (fire hazard!). Who is it I hope to see? This may be against any belief system in All Souls Day, but I hope to see my pets that I have lost over the years.
We may never know for certain if the dead return to us, even just for a moment, but I choose to believe because, in simple terms, you have to believe in something. Don’t you?