WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Living Your Faith or Wearing a Mask?
Don't let your Catholic faith be like a Halloween mask. Be real. Your eternal salvation depends on it.
HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - This Wednesday night, many of the youth of my parish will be attending an All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, party. They will be dressing up as different saints and I am sure that we will all have to try to guess who is who.
Last year one kid showed up with arrows sticking out of his chest like Saint Sebastian and another had an ax sticking out of the crown of his head like Saint Boniface. Others were dressed donned with armor and sword like Saint Joan of Arc or holding a papal crozier like Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Yet for most of their contemporaries it is a night that has its origins in the pagan druid feast day that commemorated the Celtic new year, when they would dress up like ghouls and banshees asking for sweets and treats to placate the lord of death and evil spirits, and have lots of bright and shiny jack-o-lanterns, which originally were a sign of a damned soul.
Pretty cheery - anybody for trick or treating?
The statistics for kids getting ran over by cars is doubled tonight more than any other night of the year.
Even more enthused?
Don't get me wrong. Some of my happiest memories are from knocking on doors when I was a kid to get free candy. Loved it. However, Halloween will always be one of the feasts of the year that is an icon of that clash between the Catholic Faith and culture. That is how it started.
In Rome it was clear that it was not possible to commemorate every martyr because there were just too many of them. So Pope Boniface IV in 609 or 610 consecrated the Roman Pantheon as the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of All Martyrs. Then Pope Gregory III (731-741) began the celebration of the Feast of All Saints on November 1st to commemorate all those holy men and women who, although saints of God, were not officially recognized by canonization, followed by Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extending this to the whole Church.
In the evangelization of Celtic lands, the Feast of All Hallows Eve was from the beginning a way of trying to rid the aboriginal culture of the horrible practices that the pagans practiced such as human sacrifice and burning both animals and men alive. It was an attempt to try to Christianize the culture.
Faith must always leaven culture, and if the Church's faithful are not making the world more Christian, you can be sure that the world will be making Christians more worldly.
Do not be afraid of Halloween. It is a moment to truly enculturate the Gospel, making the witness of All Saints to bear on a neo-pagan culture.
Sadly to this day human sacrifices are still carried out by satanic worshipers and it would be a good thing for Catholics to make prayers of reparation for these terrible acts. Such atrocities ought to call Catholics to stand up and take their faith seriously.
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