Christians and Halloween: Celebrating All Hallows Eve in a Pre- Christian West
Members of the Catholic Church are invited to transform cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been our missionary model for over two millennia
The secularized celebration of Halloween reflects the waning influence of a Christian worldview in the West. However, it also presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - As I was writing this article my grandson knocked on my door. I did not turn away from the laptop computer because I was trying to concentrate. He called out in a deep voice "Poppi" - the endearing name he has called me since he learned to speak.
I turned around quickly and saw this wonderful little boy dressed up as his favorite super-hero, the "Incredible Hulk". Having been engaged by him in numerous discussions this past week as to who would win in a battle between Hulk and another super-hero, I knew that his dear mother had just made this Halloween special.
Now pushing sixty, I became almost as excited as I did when I was a child and preparing to participe in Halloween. His anticipation of visiting neighbors and receiving candy, dressed up like the "incredible Hulk", became the subject of a lengthy and humorous conversation.
He ran around the house for an hour dressed up like the Hulk. I delighted as he entered into that wonderful world of childhood play. All this week I have had the joy of listening to him share his excitement about Halloween.
He and his mom, our dear daughter, live with us. I should say we all live with him - given his ability to "occupy the turf" of our home with the amazing little world he has built under our roof. He always reminds me of the gift of childhood, a gift we should never lose.
He has completely transformed our home and our life together. Family is a way of life and, when it is lived as a domestic church, it can be a source of real grace and conversion. It is also meant to become naturally supernatural.
Our grandson will soon be six years old. As the years have passed I realize that he is keeping my dear wife and me from "getting old" in the wrong way. He is a continual invitation to us to keep life simple and receive every day as a gift. We raised five children of our own and have six grandchildren.
The term "Halloween" is derived from "All Hallows Eve", the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of "All Saints". Tomorrow evening I will serve as a deacon at the altar for the Vigil Mass of All Saints day. The beautiful readings will point us toward the perfection of the Saints in heaven and encourage us to become saints in our own journey here on earth through living the words of Jesus in the beatitudes.
Like many Catholics and other Christians I am concerned that the secularized celebration of "Halloween", with its undue influence on goblins, ghosts and the demonic, reflects the waning influence of the Christian worldview in the West. However, it also presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture.
Particularly during this Year of Faith I suggest we consider how the Church has transformed cultures throughout her history- and do the same. The Church has always recognized that cultural practices can be "mixed", containing those aspects which elevate the human person and those which do not.
Members of the Catholic Church are invited to transform cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been our missionary model for over two millennia.
Many of the dates on the calendar 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 her faith based missionary approach. She "baptized" them, recognizing the seeds of what was good and true within them.
By immersing them in the beauty of the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate - who is the fullness of truth and the source of all goodness - she turns them into vehicles for transforming culture by infusing them with the values of the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated.
The Church is the Body of Christ. She is meant to become 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 now 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.
The early Christians always honored the dead and had a special devotion and affection for the martyrs. We have wonderful accounts like the Martyrdom of Polycarp from the middle of the second century which set forth the practices:
"Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more pure than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, so that when being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Living Faith News
- What Did Pope Francis REALLY Say About Atheists?
- Pope Francis says atheists can do good and go to heaven too!
- According to map, China leads world in atheism
- Receiving the Eucharist: I Have Decided to Kneel For Jesus
- Exorcism or not, it's still a miracle
- The Holy Spirit: Sanctifier and Giver of Life, Love and Truth
- Pope Francis tweets his prayers following devastation in Moore
- The Paraclete: The Counselor Who Helps Us Fulfill Our Calling
- Pope Francis calls for change within the Church
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?