Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

All Hallowed's Eve (Re-post)

All Hallowed’s Eve

         Halloween is just around the corner.  It can pose some interesting challenges for us as Christians.  Some completely shun the holiday because they say it is the celebration of a pagan festival.  Some don’t give any thought to it and figure it’s just an innocent opportunity for kids to have fun and ruin their oral hygiene.
         Growing up, that was the approach we took, and there was an innocence to that which I think was beneficial.  However, even since I was a kid I’ve noticed the character of Halloween change in our society.  It has gotten more morbid, and there is a growing fascination with a darker, even demonic character to the event.
         Certainly this is not true everywhere, and Charlie Brown and his Great Pumpkin still have a place in the popular culture of Halloween.  But a disturbing trend among kids has been an interest in things like vampires and the occult, and Halloween has tapped into that recently.  That sort of thing is no joke and every parent, Christian or not, has to be vigilant in protecting their children from such things.
         Add to that the designation of “Christmas” as a dirty word by secular society, and it can all become pretty offensive to those of us trying to raise our children in the Faith.  So what are we to do?  I can’t give any authoritative answers, but I’ll share what we have done with some success thus far.
         First of all, we reclaim Halloween as a Christian celebration, All-Hallowed’s Eve.  The following day, November 1, is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation, and a day infinitely more important than October 31, although ignored by the secular culture.  We remind the kids how important All Saints Day is, and that we’ll be going to Mass.  All-Hallowed’s Eve is important in its relation to All Saints Day, like Christmas Eve is important in relation to Christmas Day.  We finish off our celebration by taking the kids to a cemetery to pray for the dead on All Souls Day, November 2.
         Our kids dress up like saints when they go trick-or-treating.  They love telling the neighbors who they are.  Now our kids are young, so they go out with us.  I imagine the challenges will be multiplied when they want to trick-or-treat with their friends instead.  We have a great neighborhood, with many parents enjoying the evening out with their kids, and of course, ours are confronted with witches, goblins and haunted houses.  We just do our best to explain that different people celebrate in different ways.  They’re at the age now where they accept that since they are having so much fun the way we celebrate.  Our hope is that when they are old enough to question what haunted houses have to do with saints, they will also be old enough to understand that they are Catholics living in a secular culture, and that the culture will not always do things the way they do, but that God has called them to be a light in this world.  We are hopeful, as just this week our oldest son responded to a store’s Halloween display by saying, “They don’t know that Halloween is about God, not spooky things.”
         I know that many people have approached this dilemma with better ideas than we have, and please email me with any ideas you have.  There are a couple of online resources that may be of help.  You can download pro-life pumpkin cut outs on the Internet to turn your Jack-O-Lantern into a tool for evangelization.  Also, the web site has many resources and ideas for celebrating All-Hallowed’s Eve in a Catholic way.