There’s a great article over on Catholic online by Deacon Keith Fournier about Celebrating ‘All Hallows Eve.’ I’m all for parents letting their kids dress up and taking them out. I was a little disturbed by some of the reactions others had when we said we were going the Saints and Biblical Characters route (I wouldn’t impose that choice on anyone, but I also didn’t expect people to say rude things about it) as if the idea was absolutely absurd. The logic seemed to be that this is a completely secular holiday and that it somehow degrades the Saint’s to have your children dress up as them? At least I think that’s where people were going with it, I couldn’t actually get anyone to answer me when I asked what the problem they had with it was (maybe I will now?:D).
The thing is, it’s not a completely secular holiday (although some see it that way) and it does have roots in Catholicism.
“Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve”, the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of “All Saints”. I contend that what it is becoming simply reflects the waning influence of the Christian vision in the West and presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture. The Church has always recognized that cultural practices can be “mixed”, containing those aspects which elevate the human person and those which do not. However, members of the Church are invited to transform such cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been the missionary model of the Church for two millennia.
Many of the dates which were “Christianized” and now host Christian “Holy-Days” were originally utilized for “Pre-Christian” (“Pagan”) celebrations. This process reflects the wisdom of the Church and a missionary approach. She has “baptized” them, recognizing the seeds of what was good within them. By immersing them in the beauty of the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the fullness of truth and the source of all goodness, she transforms them into vehicles for transforming culture. The Church is His Body. She is meant to be the home of the whole human race. As the early fathers were fond of proclaiming, the Church is the world reconciled - the world in the process of transfiguration. We who live our lives in the Church do so for the sake of the world. We should not be afraid of human culture; we are called to continue the redemptive mission of our Lord by transforming it from within as leaven in a loaf.
It’s really a great article and I’d suggest anyone who was interested checking it out.