Blogging from Beyond: Hallowe’en by Bro Duncan PBGV

BigSis was telling me the other day that she didn’t want to write about Hallowe’en ever again, so I said I would. After all, Hallowe’en doesn’t happen in Beyond: here it is All Saints all the time, everlasting Easter, and one huge party with enough to eat and drink to satisfy even the hungriest hound. Bliss!

So, where do I start? I have to admit I don’t quite understand you Human Beans and the delight you take in the dark side of life, nor your willingness to spend masses of money on it. Carving pumpkins could be fun, I suppose, though if you’ve ever been hungry, the waste of good food might stir your conscience a little. Plastic skeletons don’t appeal: give me a real bone to chew on any day. I’m not sure I like some of the costumes some of you wear. They don’t scare me — nothing could scare a PBGV — but they do upset me sometimes, especially those that make a mockery of Them. I’m just an old-fashioned gent, I suppose, and always gallant towards the ladies. And as for all that ‘trick or treat’ business, I do wonder if it is quite moral to teach your little pups to extort goodies from others and behave badly if they don’t oblige. We dogs know how to look irresistible but don’t go into a huff if we don’t get a treat. We just try again later. Still, I like to have fun as much as anyone, and if you want to have a party on Hallowe’en, have a good one; and I do mean good. Don’t meddle with things that seem innocent but can lead to things that are anything but. You may think ouija boards and tarot cards are ‘just a bit of a fun’ but, believe me, we have our work cut out up here praying for souls that have been led astray by such things into really serious evil. BigSis will tell you that an encounter with evil — real evil — isn’t fun: it’s deadly. Steer clear of it and you will be much happier.

One of the things I liked about living in the monastery was that Hallowe’en was scarcely noticed. At five o’clock They sing First Vespers of All Saints and then are safely on the other side, where all is light and goodness. They may not hear me, but I shall be adding my own ‘aroo’ to Their chorus of praise and thanksgiving this evening. Happy feast of All Saints to you all!

Love and prayer,

Dunc x

 

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The Allure of Evil

For Catholics in England and Wales, today is not Hallowe’en because the Solemnity of All Saints has been transferred to Sunday. That means I do not feel obliged to repeat any of the things I have already said on the subject, although, if you are interested, the Search Box on the right will lead you to them: just try searching All Saints and Hallowe’en. This is, however, a time of year when what we might call occult practices seem to attract more attention. Some are just plain silly: fake paganism of the most tawdry kind. Others are more serious and some, some are downright evil.

If you have been fortunate enough never to have come into contact with real, diabolical evil, you will probably smile, shake your head in disbelief, and make a few mild jokes about excitable types getting worked up over nothing. Those who have come into contact with evil will probably respond more quietly. Evil is, by its very nature, seductive. It has a false glamour. It never presents itself as what it truly is. Remember how Marlowe’s Faustus wanted to see evil in the guise of a holy friar rather than as it was, in and of itself? That is true of all of us. We do not want to see evil for what it is; we do not want to see sin for what it is.

I said yesterday that being a good sinner meant falling down and getting up again. No matter how far we fall, God’s grace is always beneath us. We can never fall beyond the reach of God’s mercy and forgiveness unless we deliberately and knowingly reject Him. Tonight and tomorrow, lots of people will be unthinkingly celebrating everything from fairytale goblins to the devil himself. A few will be sucked into a world of evil. Praying for those who have deliberately and knowingly chosen evil is dangerous; but we can all safely pray for the protection of those who are, so to say, innocents abroad, that they may escape the allure of evil and be brought, safe and sound, to the great feast of light that is All Saints.

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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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Hallowe’en at the Monastery

Halowe’en at the monastery and not a pumpkin in sight! The fact is that we ‘do’ Hallowe’en in the traditional way, with a glorious first vespers of the feast of All Saints (All Hallows). It is a feast of light and hope; so while those around us are  switching off their lights to enjoy ghouls and goblins and talking of ghosts and vampires, we are focused on something much more marvellous, the beauty and holiness of the Church. There is no room for darkness or fear, but perhaps we need to be reminded of that. The Christian message is always life-giving, life-affirming. If you are partying tonight, have a great party but remember the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who surround us and celebrate them and the glory of heaven to which we look forward in hope. After all, Hallowe’en ushers in All Saints and All Souls, about which I shall be posting tomorrow.

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