It seems that everywhere you look in this town you see orange. There is a lot of excitement around here these days. Because the Astros are in the World Series, even people like me who don’t care at all for baseball are rearranging their schedules to be able to watch some of the games. There is a sense of unity and celebration throughout the city because of the impending victory (hopefully!). It is especially nice to have something to be excited about and to help people forget their cares for a bit after the recent devastating floods of Harvey.
While winning the World Series would be great, I wonder, what if we were as excited about our faith? What if we would have get-togethers and rearrange our schedules in order to share in the excitement of the victory that has been won by Christ that our brothers who have gone before us and one day we will also share in? We do this on Sunday mornings, yes, but I don’t see nearly the devotion to the Lord that I do to the Astros (or Texans, or Rockets…) Where is the festive atmosphere and joy in the House of God?
Next week our culture will spend millions (or billions?) of dollars decorating their homes and dressing up in creepy, evil, spooky things. Most Christian families with young kids will participate because it is fun and the parents have fond memories of the good times they had when they were children (also, if they don’t participate, they will be made to feel like they are depriving their children or weirdos or holy-rolling fuddyduds).
I once heard a priest giving a homily to some Catholic school children on Halloween where he explained that we can celebrate Halloween because Christ has conquered death and sin and so we don’t have to be afraid of evil and death anymore–we can laugh at it and not be scared. I think this is a pretty good explanation and justification of a pre-Christian practice among the faithful. However, I wonder, are we laughing at evil or are we flirting with it and admiring it in our modern Halloween traditions?
Halloween actually means “All Hallows Eve” which is the evening before All Saint’s Day, a holy day of obligation for all Catholics to attend Mass–an opportunity to celebrate and thank God for the glorious victory of Christ and the saints in Heaven. I am not altogether comfortable with having my kids participate in the spooky elements of Halloween. So, what we have done and plan to continue as our family tradition, is to go to Mass on October 31 in the evening and then attend the All Saint’s Day party afterward. The kids dress up as their favorite saints, play games, get treats, and learn a little about the heroes of their faith. They don’t feel as much like they are missing out on all the fun because they are having fun too, and they are being strengthened spiritually instead of being tempted or frightened or just numbed to the shock of evil. This plan has worked for us–it puts my conscience at ease and allows for fun.
While it is fun and exciting to cheer for and celebrate the victories of the home teams, how much more awesome and lasting is the victory of Christ over death and slavery to sin? Celebrating All Saint’s Day is a way to put the focus back on to this ultimate victory and the hope we have as Christians. This is worth getting excited about!