It’s almost Halloween – a day that causes Christian controversy, debate, and lots of ‘fire and brimstone’ speeches. And even though I’m way too old to go Trick or Treating this year, I did take some time to think about the ‘spookiest’ Greeting-Card holiday.
If you’re Catholic, you know that Halloween night is really the vigil for All Saints’ Day, when we remember all those in Heaven. The more I thought about that; these two events that overlapped, I realized they’re both focused on the same thing. Halloween and All Saints’ Day both put our attention on the supernatural afterlife; they just have different destinations.
Now, before I get going, I’m not saying that asking for candy in a Spider-Man costume is going to send you to Hell. That’s ridiculous. Let’s put aside the preschool level of October 31st and talk about what we deal with. Halloween’s all about one thing: fear. We call it ‘spooky,’ ‘scary,’ ‘haunting,’ or any number of other names… but it comes down to scaring ourselves. From movies to haunted houses, we entertain ourselves with the adrenaline of fear. So, I’ve got three issues with this – and please, hear me out before you put me in the “soapbox preacher” box.
Problem 1 – We simply aren’t called to a spirit of Fear. It says so in the Bible; literally ‘Be not afraid,” is one of the most repeated phrases in the Gospels. Just like everything else we take in, the stuff that scares us sticks with us. I can’t think of a simple Catholic example who lived in fear as a way to get to holiness.
Problem 2 – Halloween takes some pretty serious stuff very, very lightly. Hauntings, spells, witches, and demons aren’t the kinds of things to joke about. It’s not the prettiest part of our faith, but there is a devil… and a hell. It can’t just be me that thinks it isn’t a great idea to poke the beehive of Evil with a stick.
Problem 3 – What is it about costumes that make people want to get offensive? I’m not trying to judge, I’m just saying that holiness and that “nurse” costume you walked past in the store probably don’t go together. It seems like no matter what the costume is, there’s a way to make it immodest.
And it’s not just the ladies… guys make up for immodesty with a big dose of ‘gross.’ Just because it’s a costume party doesn’t mean you should throw tact out the window. Whether you’re a guy or a girl – think about creating a costume that upholds everyone’s dignity. It doesn’t mean you have to dress up as a Saint… but you could. Just think about the possibilities of a St. Lucy or St. Alphius costume (don’t know how they died? Look ‘em up!).
Go out this Saturday, get some candy, and have fun. But on this weekend that’s all about the afterlife, remember to focus on the destination we want to get to. Pray for All Souls (the ones in Purgatory) and All Saints (in Heaven). Hopefully, we’ll be hanging out with them one of these years.