Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/1/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Members of the Catholic Church are invited to transform cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been our missionary model for over two millennia

The secularized celebration of Halloween reflects the waning influence of a Christian worldview in the West. However, it also presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/1/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Holy Day, All Souls Day, Trick or Treat, missionary, Year of faith, family life, spiritual childhood, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - As I was writing this article my grandson knocked on my door. I did not turn away from the laptop computer because I was trying to concentrate. He called out in a deep voice "Poppi" - the endearing name he has called me since he learned to speak.

I turned around quickly and saw this wonderful little boy dressed up as his favorite super-hero, the "Incredible Hulk". Having been engaged by him in numerous discussions this past week as to who would win in a battle between Hulk and another super-hero, I knew that his dear mother had just made this Halloween special.  

Now pushing sixty, I became almost as excited as I did when I was a child and preparing to participe in Halloween. His anticipation of visiting neighbors and receiving candy, dressed up like the "incredible Hulk", became the subject of a lengthy and humorous conversation. 

He ran around the house for an hour dressed up like the Hulk. I delighted as he entered into that wonderful world of childhood play. All this week I have had the joy of listening to him share his excitement about Halloween. 

He and his mom, our dear daughter, live with us. I should say we all live with him - given his ability to "occupy the turf" of our home with the amazing little world he has built under our roof. He always reminds me of the gift of childhood, a gift we should never lose.

He has completely transformed our home and our life together. Family is a way of life and, when it is lived as a domestic church, it can be a source of real grace and conversion. It is also meant to become naturally supernatural. 

Our grandson will soon be six years old. As the years have passed I realize that he is keeping my dear wife and me from "getting old" in the wrong way. He is a continual invitation to us to keep life simple and receive every day as a gift. We raised five children of our own and have six grandchildren.

The term "Halloween" is derived from "All Hallows Eve", the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of "All Saints". Tomorrow evening I will serve as a deacon at the altar for the Vigil Mass of All Saints day. The beautiful readings will point us toward the perfection of the Saints in heaven and encourage us to become saints in our own journey here on earth through living the words of Jesus in the beatitudes.

Like many Catholics and other Christians I am concerned that the secularized celebration of "Halloween", with its undue influence on goblins, ghosts and the demonic, reflects the waning influence of the Christian worldview in the West. However, it also presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture.

Particularly during this Year of Faith I suggest we consider how the Church has transformed cultures throughout her history-  and do the same. The Church has always recognized that cultural practices can be "mixed", containing those aspects which elevate the human person and those which do not.

Members of the Catholic Church are invited to transform cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been our missionary model for over two millennia.

Many of the dates on the calendar 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 her faith based missionary approach. She "baptized" them, recognizing the seeds of what was good and true within them.

By immersing them in the beauty of the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate - who is the fullness of truth and the source of all goodness - she turns them into vehicles for transforming culture by infusing them with the values of the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated. 

The Church is the Body of Christ. She is meant to become 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 now 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.

The early Christians always honored the dead and had a special devotion and affection for the martyrs. We have wonderful accounts like the Martyrdom of Polycarp from the middle of the second century which set forth the practices:

"Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more pure than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, so that when being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps ".

The Liturgy was often celebrated over the bones of the "holy ones", the saints, who gave their lives in love for Love Himself; Jesus Christ the Savior. This is one of the origins of our practice of embedding relics in the altar to this day. Christians do not fear death. We view it with the eyes of faith as a change of habitation.

The dates of commemorating those who witnessed to the faith by their heroic lives and deaths varied as local communities honored local saints and martyrs. Over time, those Feast days became more universally accepted as the rhythm of the Church Year became more uniform.

The first account we have of honoring all the saints is from St Ephrem the Syrian (d. AD 373). The great Bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom (d. AD 407), set aside the first Sunday after Pentecost for this commemoration. The Church of the East still celebrates the Feast on that day.

In the Western Church the date may have originally been on that date but was moved to May 13th. There is some evidence that the move to November 1 came with Pope Gregory III (d. AD 741), and was likely first observed on November 1st in Germany.

The Feast of All saints is our family Feast Day - when we honor all those who have died, marked with the sign of faith, and gone on before us to be with the Lord. They now beckon all of us into the fullness of the communion of love.

The vigil of the Feast (the eve) came, in the English speaking world, to be known as "All Hallows Eve" or Halloween. While some consider Halloween to be "pagan" in origin it is actually the eve of this great Christian Feast of All Saints. Many of the customs which surround it reflect the Christian confidence in our triumph over death in Christ and our bold rejection of the claim that evil has any more power over us.

In a special way we commemorate all who have been honored by "canonization", the process wherein the Church has acknowledged their extraordinary lives of holiness and holds them up as models and intercessors. This wonderful celebration is grounded in the most ancient of Church teaching concerning the Communion of Saints.

The Church proclaims that death does not separate us any longer because it was defeated by Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:28) We affirm and celebrate our eternal communion in Him - and with one another - through the Holy Spirit. We honor all of our brothers and sisters, known and unknown, who are a part of that great cloud of witnesses to which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews attests. (Heb. 12:1).

Just as we pray for one another, so those who have gone on before us pray for us and are joined to us forever in that communion of love. This ancient and firm belief is attested to in the earliest writings of the Christian tradition.

For example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350) wrote: "We mention those who have fallen asleep: first the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition... (Catechetical Lecture 23:9).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this communion in these words: "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness...They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us...So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped....as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples (CCC # 956, # 957)

So, on the evening when kids throughout our neighborhood and adjoining neighborhoods walk from door to door, collecting candy, my grandson, dressed like the "Incredible Hulk" will join them. I know that some of my readers have made a different decision about their own children or grandchildren. I respect their decision as well. Over the years that my wife and I were raising our children, we tried both approaches. As you can tell, one won the day.

When my grandson is done sorting through all of the candy and talking away about the events of the evening, I will make the sign of the cross on his forehead and pray a prayer which has developed over all those years my wife and I raised our own children:

"May the Lord bless you, fill you with His Holy Spirit, surround your bed with His Angels and give you peace." He will look at me as he does almost every night and ask me to repeat it again saying "surround your bed with His angels?" in a question format. 

I cherish that question because it calls me to do all I can to help to form him in the Christian way of life. As for the growing pagan practices around us, I am not afraid. I will do all that I can to ensure that he will be a part of a new generation of those who, bearing the name Catholic Christian, do what Christians always do, bring about the conversion of Nations and cultures.

That is what it means to be a missionary Church. That is also why I use the term "Pre-Christian" to describe the state of the West - not "Post Christian". This is a new missionary age and there is a lot of work to be done. Let's embrace what is good in our culture - and transform what is not - in the way we celebrate Halloween. It is an invitation to Christian mission in the Year of Faith.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Living Faith

'Nothing can separate me from the love of God': The first American Ebola patient shares his profound realization on deathbed Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

He was the first American who contracted the deadly Ebola virus - fearful and sick, Dr. Kent Brantly came to realize something important for Christians and their relationship with God. Amid the pain and moments of uncertainty, from being diagnosed positive with ... continue reading


J. Matt Barber: The Meaning of Life

Image of Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law.

By J. Matt Barber

So this was rock bottom. The day, which yet again wore into night with fast food and old Bonanza reruns, would end like all the rest. Where were my car keys? As I searched in preparation for another trip to the liquor store, I made my way to my bedroom and opened ... continue reading


'There is no hope, no life, no hope for an end': 'Donor fatigue' setting in among those helping Christians in Middle East fleeing ISIS Watch

Image of Refugees now realize that they will be unable to return to their homes in Iraq or Syria.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With no end in sight, "donor fatigue" is setting in for those trying to help Middle Eastern Christians fleeing ISIS. There appears to be no solutions, only increasing refugees and more need. The refugees' situation is only getting worse. Refugees now realize ... continue reading


Giant cross at veteran memorial to stay standing with game-changing agreement made Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legal battle over the issue of a giant cross standing over a veterans' memorial has been a long and tedious fight, but an agreement may now put it all to rest, keeping the monument on the land. Atheists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed legal ... continue reading


A MIRACLE? Virgin Mary painting caught on tape moving lips along with the Lord's Prayer (VIDEO) Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The lips on a painted image of the Virgin Mary, on display at the St. Charbels Church in New South Wales, Australia, were reportedly witnessed moving along with the reading of the Lord's Prayer. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The video featuring the Virgin ... continue reading


Many accuse Pope Francis of socialist, even communist leanings - is he? Watch

Image of The gift of a

By CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis' recent trip to Latin America has rekindled questions about whether he endorses socialism, or even communism. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The gift of a "communist crucifix" from Bolivia's president Evo Morales and uncertainty over the Pope's response ... continue reading


Schedule released for Pope Francis' Jubilee of Mercy Watch

Image of Twelve prominent events, each with the participation of Pope Francis, have been scheduled in Rome for the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy.

By CNA/EWTN News

Twelve prominent events, each with the participation of Pope Francis, have been scheduled in Rome for the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, and CNA was able to glance at details of their programs. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The twelve big events of the Jubilee of ... continue reading


Bible verse discovered on ancient Hebrew scroll unearthed near the Dead Sea Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A burned scroll, speculated to have existed for 1,500 years, was unearthed in 1970 near the Dead Sea, but scientists only now have deciphered the content of the delicate ancient parchment. They were shocked to find the most ancient Hebrew scroll contained a part of the ... continue reading


Why does Pope Francis mention the devil so often? Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Throughout 2013, during Pope Francis' pontificate, he frequently spoke about the Devil. The Argentine bishop of Rome reminded the cardinals who elected him during his first major address; "Let us never yield to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us ... continue reading


Online stalwart Father Robert Barron named auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles Watch

Image of Known for his online videos, which tackle everything from the saints, to the

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

Known for his online videos, which tackle everything from the saints, to the "new atheism," to the latest blockbuster film, Fr. Robert Barron will have a new responsibility: auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, one of the cultural capitals of the world. Los ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
7 Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13
6 Yahweh acts with uprightness, with justice to all ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:35-43
35 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 28th, 2015 Image

St. Innocent I
July 28: Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter