Around Halloween, perhaps you’ve noticed colorful sugar skulls for sale at the candy store, papel picado (pierced paper garland) decorations adorning a local restaurant or small altars around town with photos of loved ones, favorite foods and bright flowers. Día de los Muertos, a tradition that hails from south of the border, is alive and well here in the Southwest.
To the uninitiated, at first glance these may seem like unusual traditions. After all, elements of death, such as skeletons and skulls, may seem frightening if you don’t understand their significance. When you take a closer look at Día de Los Muertos, though, you’ll find that this holiday that seems centered around death is actually a celebration of life. These symbols, which initially may seem somber, really are joyful offerings left to honor loved ones who have died. In rural Mexico, especially, Día de los Muertos is a time set aside to remember our ancestors, pray for them and feel the joy God’s promise of eternal life brings to the faithful.
Día de los Muertos has its roots in Mexico and other Latin American countries. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Americas, they brought the Catholic faith with them. They found that many indigenous cultures, such as the Maya, the Toltec and the Aztec people, had their own gods and traditions.
“It is a time set aside to remember our ancestors, pray for them and feel the joy God’s promise of eternal life brings to the faithful.”
The Spaniards realized these indigenous groups had cults of the dead and offered sacrifices to their gods. The conquistadors, eager to spread the Christian faith to the New World, found it was a natural fit to blend elements of the native cultures with Catholic beliefs. They incorporated some of the indigenous traditions with All Souls Day, the Catholic holy feast of giving alms and prayers for the dead. The native peoples embraced this holiday, which had much in common with their own customs, and Día de Los Muertos was born.
This year, Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes is recognizing the joy of this tradition by holding its own Día de Los Muertos event at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery. On October 28 from 1 to 6 p.m., all are invited to partake in this celebration of life, which will include cultural activities and, of course, prayers of remembrance for those who have left this world to join Christ in the hope of eternal life.
We hope you join us for this very special celebration. Many blessings to you and all your loved ones.
Fr. Ernesto Reynoso is Adjutant Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Phoenix.
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
1-6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28
9925 W. Thomas Road
Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home
Avondale, AZ 85392
ALL SOULS DAY MASSES
Thursday, November 2, 2017
- St. Francis Catholic Cemetery: 5 p.m.
- Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home: 4:30 p.m.
- Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home: 4:30 p.m.
- Holy Redeemer Catholic Cemetery: 4:30 p.m.
- Calvary Catholic Cemetery: 5:30 p.m.
- All Souls Catholic Cemetery: Noon and 5:30 p.m.