Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"Suffer Us Not...."

Across much of the Catholic world, this All Souls' Day -- or, as the rising majority of the Stateside church knows it, el Día de los Muertos -- invariably brings mass convergences at cemeteries, as family and friends spend the day paying tribute to their beloved dead.

In some places far elsewhere, the exuberance of the visits has spurred pleas for restraint from church leaders. In others, the pilgrimages are faithfully undertaken regardless of risk to the travelers' safety, whether due to general outbreaks of violence or, indeed, a religious freedom under siege by threat of physical force.

On these shores, meanwhile, all the freedom to keep the day is there. Still, the tradition is largely... defunct. A faithful few still go to Mass, but outside of Louisiana and those locales where a sizable Hispanic or Asian presence has taken hold, the venerable custom is gone -- another void where there was once a bounty... another sacrifice in the name of a "progress" that wasn't.

Either way, as the days grow shorter and the ground turns cold, it's worth recalling that while the whole of November is traditionally dedicated to an intense reflection on the Four Last Things, that's the case above all today... so along those lines, an added meditation in the form of a house favorite -- the timeless 1724 setting of the Anglican liturgy's Funeral Sentences, an adaptation of which has come to be approved for Catholic worship:

PHOTOS: Reuters(1); Getty(2)