To many of us, getting dressed up and going trick-or-treating does not sound like anything bad...
Halloween is a very common practice, but do you really know what it is?
It is a tradition that comes from the Celtic (i.e. English, Scottish, Wales, North of France, and the Irish) pagan roots from years ago. This tradition was initially celebrated at the end of the harvest, when many believed that the spirits of the dead would come back to earth and visit the living. Those who held this pagan belief left food at the door for the "good spirits" and dressed up to scare the "evil" ones.
So, is Halloween all that bad? It depends on how you celebrate it and what your focus is.
On October 31st, the Catholic Church celebrates All Hallows' Eve, which is the evening before All Saints Day, a feast instituted to honor all those who we know have made it to heaven. On November 2nd, we celebrate All Souls Day, day in which we are to pray for all those who have passed away.
All Saints Day was first celebrated on May 13, 609 AD. However, Pope Gregory III moved it to November 1st to encourage the faithful to commemorate the saints and also to pray for the souls in Purgatory, instead of taking part in pagan practices. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV made it an official feast in the Church.
Many of us celebrate Halloween because we think it's fun. What is FUN? I heard a priest say that many young people, for the most part, enjoy doing Foolish Unnecessary Nonsense (i.e. this spells out FUN). Is that what we seek? Or do we seek something that gives meaning to our life?
Put yourself in these shoes: You are in a Catholic school, and it is the day of the Halloween party. Everyone is dressed up, including yourself. There are many different costumes: fairies, witches... you even see extremely random costumes, such as a pencil and a Happy Meal, but you don’t really care. It's fun. There are no bad intentions. At your school everyone usually wears a uniform, and you assume that everyone is dressed up for the occasion. Nevertheless, everyone is dressed up except for one girl who is wearing her uniform. Seeing her intrigues your curiosity. So, you approach her, and ask her why she is not wearing a costume. She says, “I am a Christian, and in my faith we don’t celebrate Halloween!"
If you really want to dress up, dress up as a saint and be a witness! Or simply don’t dress up, and be a witness of your faith to others like this girl.
All Saints Day gives us a wonderful opportunity to learn about these awesome people who have truly accomplished the will of God in their lives. The saints are men and women who received God's love in their lives and became His apostles.
All Souls Day reminds us to pray for the souls in Purgatory, particularly for those who have no one to pray for them. It should help us realize that time passes and eternity approaches, to recognize the blessing we have of time, time to love and to reach out. It is also an opportunity to question ourselves about our objective in life. Do I really look forward to going to Heaven? This is a very serious and personal question. You have to be honest with yourself. In the end, you have to decide. What will you choose?
Be firm in your decision.