This Article is written by Guest Blogger Dr. Brian McAdam, FOCUS Missionary in the National Formation Department
Halloween is the vigil of a major Catholic feast day. Let’s redeem it!
The word “Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve.” It is the evening before All Hallows’ Day, which is what we used to call All Saints’ Day in the Church. So Halloween is the vigil of All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day, in turn, is a solemnity (major Catholic feast) in the Church instituted to honor all the saints both known and unknown. Halloween should be for All Saints’ Day what Christmas Eve should be for Christmas: namely, a time of preparation before a great feast!
Is this what you think of when you hear the word “Halloween”? Probably not. Most of us probably think of trick-or-treating, horror movies, and pumpkins — or, if you’re posh enough, pumpkin spice lattes! Halloween has come to include so many secular elements that its original meaning has been largely covered up.
How should Catholics serious about their faith participate in Halloween?
One extreme would be to plunge headfirst into everything that Halloween has come to imply for some people. The big mistake here would be to participate in things we should always avoid, like the occult (see CCC #2116). We also want to avoid things that take the focus off God and His saints; horror movies, for instance, might be an example.
Another extreme, however, would be to abandon Halloween altogether on account of the fact that it is often associated with things like horror movies and occult practices. The big mistake here would be to detract from the Church’s Solemnity of All Saints by not keeping its vigil.
The best course of action would be for us to redeem Halloween. “Redeem Halloween” — say it three times fast! Here are a few examples of how we can redeem Halloween:
1. Pray and fast
Pray and fast in preparation for the great feast that is All Saints’ Day. Ask for the grace to emulate the saints who have gone before us in faith.
Rather than watch a horror movie, watch a movie about a saint’s life. Among the many great movies about saints are those listed on the Vatican Top 45 Movie List.
3. Dress up as a saint
When others ask about your costume, you can tell them you’ve dressed up as such-and-such saint and use the opportunity to share with them the Catholic meaning of Halloween.
How else can we redeem Halloween? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.