Someone asked if we celebrated Halloween and how: A WOMAN’S PLACE… This caused me to think about all the things I love about what the secular world calls Halloween and that we Catholics sometimes call All Hallows Eve.
WHERE I AM COMING FROM
Well, lets see… I’m a strongly orthodox Catholic and have a masters in theological studies from a nice orthodox school of theology whose professors were all approved by a rather strongly orthodox Bishop; I’ve studied ESCHATOLOGY which is a fancy way of saying I studied the stuff the Church teaches about death and what comes after and the end of time and all that cool stuff….and I LOVE the celebration of All Souls and All Saints and the whole vigil evening called Halloween!
Halloween with its fun of dressing up and having candy is a marvelous opportunity for parents to TEACH THE FAITH to their children. It is also, in my opinion, a great three day break for Home Schoolers who set their own calendar. After all, this is a major feast day of our Faith–make the most of it!
LIFE AFTER DEATH: HEAVEN
I’m kinda into LIFE after DEATH and this is the quintessential celebration of what comes after this life is over. Halloween is the vigil of All Saints and celebrates that this life is only the beginning and that there is a lot more to come.
My favorite costumes show lots of gore, preferably by reenacting the end states of various martyrs. This way the costumes do double duty with the proper dead body and gore stuff and the learning about some wonderful Saint. After all, this is the EVE before All Saints and should be celebrated with great gusto!
I LOVE the ethnic slant of All Saints and All Souls too! Coming from a family who always loved Mexico and traveled there as a child on more than one occasion, the happy skeletons dressed up to dance and party representing the dead joyfully enjoying heaven– just COOL!
Then there are the traditional pumpkins, with their historical roots in a pagan belief that the dead walked one night a year and could be encouraged to move on by scary faces. How fun is that? And it shows that my ancestors from that side of the Atlantic understood that this life is not the whole picture, that there are unseen things that are real and an afterlife of some sort– no wonder they grasped a celebration of the Catholic understanding of all those things they already knew.
I love the candy, the candy corn, the candy pumpkins, the chocolate bars… oh that stuff is wonderfully good– and can be used to remind us of the joys and pleasures of heaven where we see Christ face to face! Heaven filled with the Saints and, we hope, all our ancestors and friends who have already died.
I do wish the people who make the candy corn would make candy skulls–ones that are smiling and laughing– it would SO fit the celebration.
LIFE AFTER DEATH: HELL
Then there is the aspect that some people don’t make heaven. The aspects of Halloween that point to the horrors of Hell are also appropriate, especially as the opportunity to remind ourselves that the end of those who reject God will be HELL. If that doesn’t frighten you then there is likely something wrong with your understanding of what it takes to BE one of those SAINTS who are so happy in heaven that we can portray them as skeletons having a party!
Even PAUL wrote that he could lose Heaven, if a great Saint like St. Paul could be concerned of falling away from the ways of Christ, we ought to be a bit less secure in ourselves. So portraying hell and demons to remind ourselves of that dire end is a good thing too.
EVIL BEINGS ROAM THE WORLD SEEKING SOULS
Portraying demons is also an opportunity to remind ourselves and others that such things as the fallen Angels and the DEVIL himself roam about the world seeking the ruin and destruction of souls– A very GOOD time to pray the prayer of St. Michael!!
ANGELS LOYAL TO GOD DEFEND US
Oh, and portraying an Angel like St. Michael is another wonderful way to celebrate the unseen reality of our guardian angels and the many other angels in heaven who serve God and fight for our protection.
OUR INDIVIDUAL ETERNITY
This life does not last forever, we ALL die but our SOULS live on in eternity to eventually be reunited with new bodies if we were fortunate enough to attain heaven, or to be tortured and tormented in Hell, also for eternity if we did not attain heaven. WE get to choose our eternity by how we choose to live. Which is a great opportunity to think about the importance of making frequent examinations of conscience and good confessions so as to be forgiven and gain the graces to avoid sinning so much in the future.
This is a very important Holy Day and Catholics should put plenty of fun and gore into reminding ourselves of what is coming AFTER DEATH. It makes the whole heaviness of the teachings on our natural end easier to handle, easier to think about, easier to face when we dress it all up in costumes and candy and fun.
Don’t forget the indulgences! Fr. Z has something on this at his blog.
ALL SAINTS DAY
But don’t forget to attend MASS on the Holy Day because it is a sweet blessing you should not miss, not even for a candy hangover. God bless you!
Oh and a major HAT TIP to the writer of the blog A WOMAN’S PLACE… for directing me to the article: Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween? because that article dovetails nicely with what I have written here–enjoy!!