Ghosts and goblins or saints and angels? Faithfully navigating Halloween by David Dawson
My husband wrote a wonderful article for the Archdiocese and they posted it recently on their website. I feel like David and I constantly have to explain ourselves and the reasons we make counter-cultural decisions about how to celebrate holidays. Instead of being resentful of this task, we see it as an opportunity to share the Truth... (on a good day- wink wink). Here is David's Article:
Ghosts and goblins or saints and angels? Faithfully navigating Halloween
How to best celebrate Halloween has been a question many Catholic families have wrestled with, especially those with young children, and a wide variety of opinions have been offered. It can be confusing to sift through all the different versions of the holiday’s origins and purposes, but from a Catholic perspective, there are a few important basics about Halloween to keep in mind when making plans with your family.
Most importantly, the word, “Halloween,” as most of us know, comes from the term “All Hallows Eve,” and although the wording sounds a little spooky, this simply means “The Eve of All Saints Day.” Because All Saints Day is one of the great Solemnities of the year, its celebration starts the night before, just like on Sundays. So, for Catholics, the evening of October 31st begins the joyous celebration of the amazing things God has accomplished through the lives of countless people throughout the centuries. His victory over sin and death allows the saints to be with Him for eternity in Heaven and makes them able to intercede for us. This is a huge deal!
Unfortunately, much of the modern celebration of Halloween centers on the excitement that comes from fear. There’s a tendency to want to enjoy the thrill that comes from taking a peek at the seemingly immense power of death and darkness as opposed to the celebration of the immense power of God over death and darkness. This is why even a light-hearted celebration of the power of fear steers us (and our kids) in the wrong direction. Our faith tells us that ghosts and goblins aren’t real, but that angels and demons certainly are, and they are not equal in power. It shouldn’t surprise us, though, that Halloween has become the main “holiday” for those involved in occult or Satanic activity, those who have been confused as to where true power and fulfillment are found. Even when it’s not that extreme, Halloween is often used as an excuse for indulging in immoral activities, or even just candy, both of which reveal our tendency to believe that every now and then, the thrill of diving into things that are bad for us is awesome.
Now, it’s not sinful to dress up in a fun costume and collect candy from the neighbors or have an enjoyable get-together. But, if this is our focus, it can easily distract us from the true gift of the night. Especially when kids are involved, it can make a big difference to include some celebration of God’s victorious gifts seen through the different lives and intercession of the saints. Take some time to enter into this awesomeness! You might do saint costumes for parties or trick-or-treating; let your kids choose who they want to go as, and check out what makes that saint unique. Maybe catch a vigil Mass before you go out, or just spend some time as a family in prayer letting your kids hear you express gratitude for what God has done through the particular saints that mean a lot to you. Then, choose the gatherings or locations that allow the focus to be more on enjoying each other’s company than on the thrill of getting scared.
It may be difficult to avoid the yearly exaltation of fear, but this All Hallows’ Eve, instead of just letting Halloween happen as it will, see if God has something greater in store for you and your family, and if tweaking the tradition can allow for something truly thrilling!