Archives for October 2006

Happy Halloween

Today is All Hallows Eve, known popularly as Halloween. Yes, it is that dreaded time when witches cackle while flying on their brooms, black cats cross your path just to damn you to years of bad luck, and neo-pagan college students think they really do have magic powers, confusing their real lives with the latest Final Fantasy game. Well at least that homemade oregano-thyme “magic” concoction is good for circulation! Of course it can’t all be scary. Halloween has its humorous aspects, like the local “hell houses” some churches put on.

In all seriousness, Halloween is always a fun time for me. If anything, my house now has a calming orange glow to it at night thanks to my electric Jack O’Lantern and orange lights on my door. My coffee has that Pumpkin Pie taste, since modern science can now put Pumpkin Pie into coffee creamer. And my kids at school are extra attentive thanks to the anticipation of sweet, sweet sugar running through their veins after trick-or-treat tonight. However, these reasons are not the main reason I like Halloween. Many people don’t know it, but Halloween is actually a Christian holiday. Halloween is the evening before All Saints Day, when we celebrate Christian saints, known and unknown. It is a perfect time to teach kids about the saints, and even let them dress up as one. Dressing up as the martyrs is the most fun! What kid wouldn’t want to walk around as St. Sebastian with a host of fake arrows stabbing his chest as fake blood stains cover the tunic? Well, I would like it! It is a perfect time to visit a cemetery, have a picnic there, and pray for the souls of the departed there. I don’t think this sounds morbid at all. Our culture’s distaste of anything related to death means that we often fail to appreciate and remember our departed relatives. There are plenty of Halloween Prayers and All Saints Day Prayers to avail ourselves of. All in all, this day is a chance to do quite a lot of Christian things.

I know, “Halloween is pagan.” “It should be called Helloween.” Yes, some customs associated with Halloween have pagan origins, like that wedding ring you are wearing and that day of the week you scheduled a meeting on. But nowadays, for most people, these customs are harmless. Sure some pagans really play up Halloween for their non-Christian purposes, but technically they do their non-Christian things everyday of the year, and my carving a Jack O’Lantern has nothing to do with whatever they were originally used for. I think they were used for scaring off spirits. Mine has such a cheesy smile it wouldn’t even scare away a toddler! Well maybe a really wimpy toddler…

Now this is not to say certain practices like Tarot Cards, divination, etc, are not harmful. From a Catholic and Orthodox perspective, these are not “harmless” fun, but dabbling in forbidden paganism. We have to have balance here. You have to go with your conscience and Catholic Teaching. However, if you confess to father that you bobbed for apples and are worried about the state of your soul, you may encounter shocked silence on the other side of the screen.

Happy Halloween!

Photos by David Bennett

For the Departed on All Souls Day

On Thursday November 2, All Souls Day, my classes and I will be taking time out to pray for the departed. I think it is important to teach the kids the importance of praying for the dead because of the effects it may have, but also as a way to remember the departed. I find that praying for the departed gives me a chance to remember, and in a limited way, connect with my departed friends and relatives.

If you wish for your departed friends and relatives to be included in our school prayers, either add the names in the comment section or please e-mail me the names at perchristum[at] (replace [at] with @). We will be praying in the school chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.

The Image is “All Souls Day” by William Bouguereau

The Feast of Saint Francis

Today is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi…you know, the peacenik, animal-loving saint whose statue is, after Our Lady’s, the most popular in yards and gardens. Oh, and how many Catholics and Anglicans took their pets to have the Sign of the Cross made over them at the annual Blessing of the Animals? Or at least thought about it? C’mon, raise your paws…I mean, hands.

St. Francis’ Day is a wonderful day and he is a wonderful saint, “Everyone’s Saint” and “the most Christ-like person after Christ”. I want us to look more deeply at who he was and is, though. Yes, Francis gave up riches for poverty, he loved and cared for all the creatures of God put in his path, and he was a profound man of peace. But, do you know what Francis would really want to be remembered for? His deep love for and total abandonment to Jesus Christ, crucified for poor sinners. THAT was the Source of Francis’ embracing of poverty and the poor, his deep concern for the animals, and his working for peace among men.

You see, we can work to help the poor, we can work for animal protection and rights, and we can strive to bring peace on the earth but, “unless the Lord build the house, the workers labor in vain.” For Christians, Jesus…who gave His Life for our salvation and for the eventual redemption even of the whole created universe…is to be the Source and Centre of even the best and most worthy efforts. For us who “love His appearing”, keeping Him before our eyes, is the best, the only way, really, to make a redemptive impact on this fallen world. Just as St. Francis did.

O Francis of Assisi, pray for us, to Christ our God, the Source of all good works. Amen.