Reverend and dear Father Angelo,
I have a question to ask you. Generally, when a loved one has died and is taken away from the affection of his loved ones, to fill that void that one feels, one is driven to go to the cemetery on the grave to pray, bring flowers, etc.
But it happens differently to me. It seems to me that I feel more in union and closeness with a dearest and very important person for my life (who has counted a lot for my spiritual life and now unfortunately passed away) when I participate in Mass. It is as if we were praying in communion.
I feel it clearly, even if it is a delicate inspiration and it is not about anything mystical or extraordinary.
In your opinion, is it possible and real in the Catholic faith vision or is it a deception of my imagination?
I ask because this thing comforts me and makes me very happy. If it is possible, how can it be explained rationally or doctrinally according to our faith?
Heartfelt thanks for your attention and for your tireless service.
1. your experience is the same as Jacques Maritain had with his late wife Raissa.
He said he felt her especially in front of the tabernacle.
2. The theological motivation he gave was this: he was convinced that his wife (she was a soul of extraordinary prayer, of great attention to others and was always in the presence of God) lived in God.
And since God on earth is present in a particular way in the tabernacle, he found her there.
3. In particular we meet with our dead during the celebration of Mass, which is the sacrament in which the Lord comes to visit us not only spiritually, but also with his body and blood.
Here in the Mass and in particular in Holy Communion the Lord never comes alone, as Saint Teresa of Avila recalled: “Do you think he comes alone? …
And is it possible that such a great King moves without following?
No, he always has his courtiers with him; and since they are full of charity, they continually pray to him for us and for our needs” (The Way of Perfection, XXVIII, 2.13).
4. It is a good thing to visit them in the cemetery, as I will say shortly.
But no experience of communion equals the one we experience with them during Mass, when we feel that they come to visit us together with the Lord.
And they do not come empty-handed, because “they continually pray for us and for our needs”.
5. We can find here the supreme desire of Saint Monica, as told to us by his son Saint Augustine: “During her illness one day she fainted and for a while she fainted. We hurried, but she promptly regained consciousness, looked at me and my brother standing by her, and said, as if looking for something: “Where was I”? Then, seeing us shocked by the pain, she said, “Bury your mother here.” I kept silent with a lump in my throat and tried to hold back the tears. My brother, on the other hand, said a few words to express that he wished to see her close her eyes at home and not in a foreign land. Upon hearing him, she nodded disapprovingly of what he had said. Then turning to me she said, “Do you hear what he says?” And a little later to both of them: “You will bury this body, she said, where you like best; I don’t want you to mind. Only this I pray that wherever you are, you will remember me at the altar of the Lord” ” (Confessions, IX, 11).
6. But it’s also okay to visit their mortal remains at the cemetery.
It is true that you can pray for the dead from anywhere else, but by going to the cemetery you make a pilgrimage, you give some of your time to the dead, you publicly testify your faith in the future life and in the Communion of Saints.
7. The visit to the cemetery, especially in the villages, in some circumstances is carried out in community as in the commemoration of all the faithful departed. It is usually held on the afternoon of the feast of All Saints on November 1st.
A visit to the cemetery would be envisaged on the occasion of the taking over of the parish by the new parish priest. This gesture is particularly significant because the new parish priest also takes care of that portion of the Church. And he goes to those holy souls to implore their intercession.
8. Many faithful often go to the tomb of their loved ones to keep it in order, adorned with flowers and light.
They feel this gesture as a sign of affection, as a manifestation of the bonds existing between them and the deceased relative.
Without saying that it is at the same time a testimony of one’s faith in the future life.
The Church encourages such visits and in some circumstances also grants a plenary indulgence, such as from 1st to 8th November.
9. But beyond communion with our loved ones, the visit to the cemetery allows us to enter into communion with many people who preceded us in existence.
Some of them have been our travel companions.
It is by virtue of their sacrifices and their merits that we enjoy so many goods of all kinds.
10. As we pass their graves, we pray specifically for them, which we would not otherwise do.
We recommend their relatives and their descendants to them to protect them and guide them to the life of paradise.
All reasons why a visit to the cemetery is always a great asset.
I gladly remind you to the Lord and I bless you.
Translated by Germana