Saturday, October 30, 2010

All Hallows 'Een

Halloween, All Hallows Eve, used to be "light" in England when I was a child: a bit of apple bobbing and a ghost story. Now it has become something else in all its US ghoulishness.
Catholics, and others nowadays seem to be promoting the "Night of Light", dressing up as saints rather than ghouls or ghosts, I think that is very commendable but isn't that a bit of "sanatising"?
Is it really healthy to avoid the horrors of death?
Isn't it a little bit like the white vestment funeral? which seems to want to avoid the very possibility that our own choices can actually lead us not just to heaven but to hell too? Are we not trying to avoid the fact of supernatural evil?

16 comments:

Lucy said...

Interesting point, Father. After years as an extreme protestant, I saw all this same fear and paranoia about hallowe'en in that world, and am a bit sad to see it in catholic circles too. The really gruesome scary stuff in the shops is too much for our children - but to be honest, so are many aspects of the stories of many of the saints. I don't really see why a pumpkin carved with IHS is so much better than one carved with a grinning scary face - surely nobody will be converted by a pumpkin? I'd like something between a full-on horror show and a night of light party for our children.

Annie said...

I think it's actually healthier to have a bit of spook on the 31st. Then have a great light filled All Saints.

pelerin said...

I see that Bishop Conry (who is described on a Brighton website as the Bishop of Brighton!) has made a statement saying that we should shift away from ghouls, the dead and the spirits at Halloween.

I don't remember Halloween being celebrated at all when I was a child and I had presumed that it was another American import. It looks as if it is here to stay now and I was reminded of it this afternoon. I was helping out in a friend's shop when hundreds of young people dressed as zombies wended their spooky way down Queens Road. They all seemed good humoured but their frightening appearance could easily have given young children nightmares. There was an awful lot of fake blood on view too.

Wilst most looked as if they were imitating Michael Jackson's thriller movie there were some odd inclusions. A 'Bishop' complete with mitre walked majestically past and later someone carrying a very large wooden cross made the whole event very surreal.

I agree that we should not avoid the horrors of death - after all each time we say the 'Hail Mary' we are reminded of our own death but if I had been there with young children today I would have quickly left the area so as not to upset them. As it is zombies making faces at us through the shop window might well give me nightmares tonight!

EFpastor emeritus said...

I recently attended a priest's funeral in Wales where the clergy were discussing whether the Mass should be in Purple or White (no mention ofBlack) It was in white. . One priest told us he had been at a priest's funeral in another diocese where the clergy all wore purple for the Mass. He told the principal celebrant there that in Wrexham Diocese they always wore white for priests' funerals and received the reply "In this diocese we are more realistic!"

Mike Cliffson said...

It's satanic, period.

Patricius said...

When I was at school we read about Americans celebrating Halloween. Nobody, as far as I was aware, celebrated it in England. Subsequently it was pushed on children's television programmes and now Tesco's and Sainsbury's are full of costumes.I think it has more to do with Mammon than Satan.

JARay said...

Yes, Father, everyone goes straight to heaven nowadays and the requiem Mass is a celebration of life!!!!
I want black vestments at my funeral, no eulogy and prayers for me to be released from purgatory.
Halloween's ghoulishness is an American import which we can well do without.

Pablo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Richard Collins said...

Father, we can embrace the death aspect on All Soul's Day....we do not shy away from it.
The commercial modern Halloween is really distasteful and has nasty demonic undertones. Furthermore, it is really a Christian feast, put away the pumpkins, have a bonfire and a few fireworks for the children and a glass of wine for the adults.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pablo,
No anti-semitic ravings here, please!



Richard,
All Souls is about the Faithful departed, those destined for heaven, those who are already Saved.
Halloween, for a Christian, is reminder of those beyond Grace, the Un-faithful departed.

Clare said...

Today is the Feast of Christ the King!

Mark Lambert said...

I was a little surprised by the tenure of your argument with this post I have to say Father, but I found it refreshing none-the-less.

I think my "problem" with Halloween is the pagan connotations. The old belief (before Christianity spread through these islands) was that at this festival (Samhain ) the veil between this world and the afterlife was thinner, allowing the spirits to pass through. Both good and evil spirits passed through and roamed the land. People dressed up as scary things to ward off the evil spirits.

I think it is important that we should reclaim this festival as a Christian one or at least distance ourselves from the old beliefs.

Clare said...

Hallow'een is not about ghouls and ghosts, being the Eve of All Saints Day. It may be a tradition that unclean things come out to play but as far as I know it isn't church teaching.

Living in the States back in the 80s I witnessed people going to Communion dressed as skeletons etc. Revolting.

I don't believe that dressing up as a saint is sanitising at all, it's simply reclaiming the feast from the pagans.

mary said...

This is an Irish custom. When I was a child people believed that the departed returned to their homes on hallowen night and the kitchen was kept warm.It was believed that the veil dividing life and death was lifted and our dear departed were very close and we prayed for their eternal souls and for ours.
It is an irish custo brought to America by emigrants

Father John Boyle said...

I have rather enjoyed the halloween atmosphere here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It all seems like good fun and nothing sinister about it. There will be a night of saints here tomorrow evening. (Monday, All Saints, the feast not being transferred but the obligation lifted.)

naturgesetz said...

At Mass on Sunday the priest added an interesting bit to the idea that Hallowe'en is a Christian response to pagan Celtic Samhain. He said that treats were left out for the goblins. Then some clever people figured out that if they disguised themselves as goblins, they could grab the treats with impunity.