Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Catholic Origins of Halloween

Here's one of my most popular posts from last year; it's from articulate homeschooling mother Judith Mathieu-Conley. Her husband is in the hospital, so please send him your prayers.

Where did Hallowe'en come from?

Before I reverted to the Catholic faith, I used to cringe thinking about Hallowe'en. But when I think of the gargoyles on the Cathedrals in Europe, and images throughout art of purgatory, hell and the suffering and martyrdom of the saints, I know the Catholic faith is not one made of cringing and squeamish people. We are strong warriors for Christ, and church on Sunday is not a nicety, but a sacrifice, a battle meeting in the service of our King.
We, as Christians, put on the whole armor of God. The veil is headgear, the rosary a lethal weapon -- for salvation, and not for death. It is a mother, Our Lady, who crushes the head of the serpent called Lucifer, and it is a woman, whom he approached first to destroy.We are powerful in Christ.After reverting, I learned to see Halloween differently. We Catholics have the Church triumphant and the church militant and the church suffering -- we have the saints, and the souls in Purgatory -- but the Protestants and the pagans can only see Halloween through a prism which only features death, and evil, and not the victory and resurrection; whereas, we Catholics, we have the Communion of Saints, and death has lost its sting, and the victory of Our Lord -- the Kingdom of Heaven -- is truly with us. So, as I grew to understand my faith, I realized that of course worldlings and Protestants would see Halloween as all "Friday 13th", and witches, goblins, and the denizens of evil and hell, mischief and merry-making. Or, as a "kids" fun celebration with policemen, firemen, ballerinas, and other outfits, or as an "adults" chance to be naughty or witty or mocking with various costumes -- some political, some bawdy, all varieties -- and that often reference popular cultureicons, to celebrate or bash.But we Catholics, from wise Mother Church, have the full dimension of All Hallows Eve.
We have the Communion of Saints, we have the Souls in Purgatory, we have Christ with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We see the parade of all these images in the context of the fuller reality of the last four things -- death, judgment, heaven, hell. It is THIS that we ought to point out to our children. Especially the last four things. Because that is what these days around Hallows Eve is all about, as the vigil of All Saints, and then followed by All Souls. The evil that we witness is but the result of what parades on Halloween -- the envy of Satan, the fall of man, the fallen angels, the groaning of all creations, death and pain, the fury of the evil ones against God and Christ's cross and triumphs. But even according to the Bible, the"mummies" were present just after Christ's crucifixion, coming out of the tombs raised from the dead, walking around still wrapped in burial cloths. Even the witches are only witches in reference to their rebellion against God's authority.
We do not celebrate the evil, but we need not FEAR it.

Christ has power over the fallen angels, over death, over pain. For fear, we need only the strong antidote of the Catholic reality, which is the fullness of the truth, which is love, which is Christ's sacrifice. We need to take this day to reinforce to ourselves and our children to FEAR only God. We are not to fear evil (especially on this day where fear is the product advertised or induced rampantly)for He that is in us is stronger than he that is in the world.
Fear Not! as the angels say.
Fear Not! as Our Lord says.

Anyway, when you think about it, every day is a Halloween, but it is paraded and made more evident on October 31st. Every Day there is the reality of the bloodied unborn babe, the real-life ghouls stealing souls and breaking lives, the walking dead, the worshippers of idols and thosein the thrall of Satan. And Every Day there is death, or the close possibility of death. But Every Day is the parade of saints, the church militant, the Church Triumphant who are our cloud of witnesses surrounding us, the daily rejoicing of angels over the conversion of even one sinner, the blood of the martyrs, the blood of Christ covering our sins, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being offered daily all over the world. And every day there is life eternal awaiting us: heaven after the final purification of purgatory, or hell. The Bible says "Teach us to number our days aright."

Here is a good website which I just found, Women for Faith and Family, with more information about Halloween: with ideas for how to deal with Halloween and ideas for what to do. Here's an excerpt:"The word Hallowe'en itself is a contraction of "Hallowed evening". Hallowed is an old English word for "holy" — as in "Hallowed be Thy Name", in the Lord's Prayer.Why is this evening "hallowed"? Because is is the eve of the Feast of All Saints — which used to be called All Hallows. Like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and the Easter Vigil, the Church's celebration of her greatest feasts begins the evening before. (This follows the ancient Jewish practice of beginning the celebration of the Sabbath at sundown on Friday evening.)

We need to begin to re-Christianize or re-Catholicize Hallowe'en by repairing the broken link to its Christian meaning and significance. We need to reattach it to All Saints Day — and to All Souls Day, for it is only in relation to this that we can understand the original and truesignificance of the "hallowed eve". "
HT Helen Hull Hitchcock on Women for Faith and Family.
In the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary,


Joanne said...

Thanks for an excellent essay Judith. I'm sorry I think I just asked Letitia if Judy was your name when I commented on her post a little ways up the blog page.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Thank you so much for a wonderful post, Judith! I linked to it on my blog on Oct. 30, and it definitely made me see the whole day in a better light.

Meow Opre said...

I was browsing for Halloween related blogs and I came by your post. Please allow me to pin some remarkable photos in here :D Thank you so much! I’m also sharing a post of the usual activities in our country, for some of you to know what is halloween in the Philippines .
Cheers and keep up writing nice posts !