Saturday, October 31, 2009
Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org/))
'Halloween' comes from 'All Hallows Eve', the Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of 'All Saints'.
The Feast of All saints is our family Feast day when we honor all those who have died, marked with the sign of faith, and gone on before us to be with the Lord. They now beckon all of us into the fullness of the communion of love.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - I just tried to place my books down on the file drawer outside of my makeshift home office and had to move three carved smiling pumpkins out of the way. Our grandson and his mom, our daughter, live with us. I really should say we all live with him, given his ability to “occupy the turf” so to speak, with his toys and the amazing little world he has built. It ever reminds me of the gift of childhood. He has completely transformed our home. He will soon be three years old. He is a continual invitation to my wife and me to keep it simple. We raised five children of our own but have never achieved what people call the “empty nest” stage. They just seem to return home. Family truly is a way of life and, when lived as a domestic church, it is a source of real grace and conversion.
This year our grandson discovered a place he incessantly refers to in his adorable attempts at conversation as the ‘punkin patch’. I have heard so many stories about his two trips with his mom to the “punkin patch” that I could probably write a book. He is looking forward to “trick or treating” with his mom in our neighborhood this year and his excitement is contagious! He has his little “Dash” costume ready. For my readers unfamiliar with who “Dash” is, he is the little boy from the family of Super Heroes in the movie “The Incredibles” who can run really fast. I have seen the video at least five times. The day he tried the costume on we watched him run all over the house with the kind of joyful abandon we sadly lose as we “grow up.” So, pushing those pumpkins out of the way today to clear a spot for my books made me smile.
I hurriedly opened my laptop and read one of the news sources I often check, the UK “Daily Telegraph.” I knew I wanted to write on the Feast of All Saints. A report out of Rome bore this headline “Vatican condemns Halloween as anti-Christian.” However, a further read of the original source upon which the Telegraph reporter based his article in L’Observatore Romano, revealed a very different headline. The article in the Vatican paper was entitled 'The Dangerous Messages of Halloween.' The priest interviewed for the story warned that the celebration has sometimes been hijacked by occultism and encouraged parents to 'to be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death.' Good, sound advice for all of us.
“Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve”, the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of “All Saints”. I contend that what it is becoming simply reflects the waning influence of the Christian vision in the West and presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture. The Church has always recognized that cultural practices can be “mixed”, containing those aspects which elevate the human person and those which do not. However, members of the Church are invited to transform such cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been the missionary model of the Church for two millennia.
Many of the dates which were “Christianized” and now host Christian “Holy-Days” were originally utilized for “Pre-Christian” (“Pagan”) celebrations. This process reflects the wisdom of the Church and a missionary approach. She has “baptized” them, recognizing the seeds of what was good within them. By immersing them in the beauty of the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the fullness of truth and the source of all goodness, she transforms them into vehicles for transforming culture. The Church is His Body. She is meant to be the home of the whole human race. As the early fathers were fond of proclaiming, the Church is the world reconciled - the world in the process of transfiguration. We who live our lives in the Church do so for the sake of the world. We should not be afraid of human culture; we are called to continue the redemptive mission of our Lord by transforming it from within as leaven in a loaf.