Hallowing Hallowe’en Again

Anyone who has read my Universe column on the subject will know that I am not an enthusiast for Hallowe’en as it is now celebrated in this country. Happily, however, once we have sung First Vespers of the Solemnity of All Saints at five o’clock this evening, we shall be safely on the other side, rejoicing in Christ’s victory over sin and death and the prospect of eternal life. All will be light and gladness, and anyone who comes to our door ‘trick or treating’ will be sent away with a blessing and a sentence or two about the wonder of the Resurrection (sure to put them off trying it again next year). We don’t do ghosts and ghouls; we do saints instead; and I think we might all be happier and healthier if more of us did saints, especially on this night of the year.

Why the fascination with horror and the celebration of death and destruction which now accounts for £300 million of spending in the U.K.? Surely, it is something to do with getting in touch with our inner caveman, the pleasurable thrill of being slightly scared by things that go bump in the night, knowing that at any moment we can switch on the light and not be scared any longer. Only, it has gone rather further than that, hasn’t it? We have gone beyond the thrill of the horror story to sheer terror instead. I don’t want to go over ground I have already covered, but in my view many of today’s Hallowe’en artefacts are quite sinister and open the way to the occult. Those who have never had to confront evil will laugh dismissively and say it is ridiculous to get worked up over plastic skeletons or ouija boards, tarot cards and the like. Plastic skeletons are a matter of taste, but the ouija boards and tarot cards are a much more serious matter. Ignorance is not bliss: it is dangerous.

I am all for conviviality and hope many of you will be enjoying a pleasant evening with friends, but I hope it will be a celebration of light and life you share, not a celebration of darkness and destruction. There is so much tragedy in the world, we do not need to fabricate horror. There is so much evil, we do not need to manufacture feelings of shock or revulsion. Those 87 people found dead of thirst in the Sahara are a reminder of the reality of suffering and death. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls affirm the unity of the living and the dead, so tonight let us pray for all those whose experience of moral darkness — in Niger, Syria, the DRC, to name just three — is so much more intense and terrible than anything we can produce with our broomsticks and plastic cobwebs. Let’s hallow Hallowe’en again.

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22 thoughts on “Hallowing Hallowe’en Again”

  1. I too have a real problem with how Hallow’een is celebrated these days. Other parents look at me as if I’m Scrooge. I don’t want to be greeted with ‘Happy Hallow’een’ and the dressing up and trick or treating, although I know a certain amount of that comes from the ancient celebration of Samhain.

    There is a connection to the dead of course – dad’s anniversary has just passed – which is another reason why I’m Bah Humbug – when I need that quiet time for reflection all I get is ghoulies, ghosts etc. I realised last night that I want to srtip this all down back to basics, refocus people on what the day is about – just as many want to do with Christmas.

    Sorry for the stream of consciousness but needed somewhere to get this off my chest! Thank you as always!

    • Thank you for your comments, Mandy. I think the fact that we have two interconnected feasts, All Saints and All Souls, focuses our attention on the dead in the right way; and, of course, November is the month when Catholics pray for the dead in a special way. So, I hope you find the time to remember your Dad and just be peaceful.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mandy.
      I understand very well what you mean and how you feel as it’s very much the same for me.

      My Mum’s anniversary (9 years) is on the 9th November and I want to spend this time in deep reflection and prayer. I try not to feel bothered by all the commercialism that takes place, and I am looking forward to the beautiful celebration of the solemnities in my church.

      I will hold you and your father in my prayer.

  2. Like you, I’ve never shared the general hoo ha that surrounds Halloween. Albeit, when I wasn’t a Christian, I gave way to the wishes on my children who wanted to be involved as all of their friends were involved.

    Nowadays, Prayers for All Souls and All Saints are more appropriate in my view and I will be attending an All Souls Service at All Saints Church on Saturday at noon. They also have an All Saints Service on Sunday, which is the 160th anniversary of their foundation. Sadly I’ll miss that as I will be at my own parish with a prior commitment to work there.

    At this service we will be celebrating the ministry of our curate who is moving to pastures new to be a Chaplain to the Bishop and Arch Bishop, leaving us without a priest in this Parish until about February next year. The Cure of Souls will suffer, but other Priests will provide cover in the meantime.

    Halloween should be a time for reflection, prayer and in some ways, remembrance, not a festival of excess which it often is. All Saints on the other hand is definitely the time for a Service of Light.

  3. I disagree with you here, Hallow’een has nothing to do with the occult, it is a money making exercise that supermarkets brought in from the USA. Regrettably Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus either, now being the greatest money making period in the year.

    These ‘fake’ festivals are the true evil of these times, replacing beliefs and spirituality with the religion of consumerism.

    • I wish Hallowe’en did not have any association with the occult, but that has not been my experience. I don’t have any particular problems with commercialism as such, but I disagree profoundly with your view that All Saints, Christmas, etc are ‘fake’ festivals. They are very real.

    • If Jesus had nothing to do with Christmas, then there wouldn’t be any Christmas at all!
      Yes, everything is so commercialised these days, but if you take time to “go into your heart” I am sure you will be able to transport yourself into a frame of faith and joy, and can see the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.

  4. It seems to say everything that my local hospital and the police prepare for their busiest night of the year on Hallowe’en.

    Christians are not kill-joys and I hope we can be convivial and, as you say, celebrate light and life. The world as a place to live is quite benighted enough without tempting the darker fates, even in fun.

    O felix culpa. We have much to rejoice about in the victory over evil won for all humanity through Christ’s Cross.

  5. I agree. I, too, am not an enthusiast for Halloween, but prefer to spend my time reading about the saints or in prayer. Last year I gave out children’s books that I had excess. Your post made me think again about the treats I give out, and thought it be a better idea to give out holy cards, or at least a prayer card, perhaps one that stated “I said a prayer for you today.” Feel anxious about Halloween until I can attend Mass in the morning for All Saints Day. In our parish, the children are encouraged to dress up as saints. Mass in a local cemetery is held to remember those who have passed on, followed by a little party for the children at the parish.
    The good point about answering the door is seeing all the children in the neighborhood and how they’ve grown from last year, as well as new children in the neighborhood with their parents.
    I do like Autumn with the cooler weather, change of leaf color, harvesting, more comfort foods and spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pumpkin pie. October is especially rife with lots of saints to remember and celebrate.

  6. Thank you, Sister. I used to do apple-bobbing and pumpkin heads etc. with my Guide unit and later my children but the innocence seems to have gone – much due to the media and, probably even more, to the marketing from supermarkets etc. When I, and indeed my children, were young “Trick or treat” hadn’t been heard of! Christian festivals seem to be evermore used as an excuse for big business to make money and for the populace to indulge in bacchanalia and, in this case, the dark dangers of the occult. Thank you for reminding us of our opportunity to use these two feasts in a positive and prayerful way.

  7. Possibly because this evening will be a ‘thin place’, with the two worlds even closer to each other than usually, I will take the time to think of my dead ones. I will let my heart be touched by all that I don’t understand. It will mean silence and reflection 🙂
    Blessings on this special day and night.

  8. Thank you for pointing out what our priorities should be. It is so easy to become numb to the real horrors in the world. We move so quickly from story to story. Our minds constantly distracted.

  9. I too do not doubt for one minute the malevolence of tonight, as we prepare to celebrate the saints, other will be celebrating a much darker thing.

    We will begin with singing the 1st Vespers of our Patronal feast (Although we are keeping it with greater solemnity on Sunday with our Bishop visiting) and then we will keep watch for a while before the Blessed Sacrament.

    I hope I wont get into trouble with a merciless piece of Self advertising here, but if you would like to join us in prayer you can via the internet ( http://ustre.am/UCOl )

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