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Blessing of the Altar for All Souls Day

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photos by Mike Lara

These photos were taken on October 31, 2014 inside the Ysleta Mission (El Paso, TX )for the Blessing of the Altar for All Souls. The altar is dedicated to the memory of deceased members of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. The altar will stay up until the beginning of the Advent season.
The cross in the photos has the envelopes with names of deceased members of the parish community. The book below the cross is the book for families to write the names of deceased family members. They will be remembered and prayed for at daily mass, celebrated in the Mission.
In the photos leading the service is Rev. Miguel Briseño – Pastor Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish/Ysleta Mission. Also pictured surrounding Fr. Miguel during the service in an orange ribbon shirt is Capitan Rudy Cruz, Jr. /Capitan Angel Granillo in a maroon ribbon shirt / Rene Lopez in a black ribbon shirt/ Capitan Javier Gonzales in a black with orange ribbon shirt/War Capitan Javier Loera wearing a black ribbon shirt with black bandana, he also offered a prayer for the all the departed souls of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and the of the Parish Community. Tribal Sheriff Bernardo Gonzales wearing a black polo shirt. These traditional council members are shown smudging the altar with sage and offering corn meal for blessing. Fr. Miguel is also shown blessing the altar with holy water and incense.
There are also photos that showing members of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo offering corn meal.
Items found on the altar are:
Photo(s) of the dead person to whom the altar is dedicated.
Bread of the Dead
Favorite Fruits
Favorite Foods
Favorite Drinks
Images of Saints – who were important in the deceased person’s life.
Marigolds – These yellow-orange flowers, also called cempasúchitl, symbolize death. Their strong fragrance also help lead the dead back to their altars.
Candles – Candles are lit to welcome the spirits back to their altars
Sugar Skulls – As symbols of death and the afterlife, skulls are not only given as gifts to the living during Day of the Dead, they are also placed as offerings on the altar.
Incense – The scent is said to guide the spirits back to their altars.
Salt – Represents the continuance of life.
Water – The Souls are thirsty after their long journey from the Other Side, so they appreciate a glass of water upon arrival.
Decorative Pieces of Cut Paper – Decorative pieces of cut paper are draped around the altar’s edge or hung from above.
We have used small baskets filled with theses items and small cups with water intertwined on the altar.
We celebrate “Dia de los Muertos” to honor deceased loves ones. It is a loving ritual, full of joy and remembrance. “Dia de los Muertos” allows the dead to live again. During this time it is believed that the deceased return to their earthly homes to visit and rejoice with their loved ones. It is a wonderful, colorful and beautiful tradition.

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