Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

My Friend S sent this to me, I think it appeared in their church bulletin.

I hope the authors don't mind me borrowing it. I thought it was very good.

(In this weekly column, Tom and April Hoopes share family-friendly ways of
observing the liturgical year and celebrating the Sunday readings.)

Halloween and All Souls

Last year, we attended our Connecticut parish’s “Holyween” party,
where the kids dressed as saints and Dominican Father Bernard Confer guessed
with astonishing accuracy who each was. This year we’re in Atchison, Kan.,
a town that has a cottage industry of promoting haunted houses.

Catholic parents often debate the merits of Halloween as it’s celebrated
in America today. Is it too macabre? What message does it send?

We will remind the kids that “All Hallows Eve” — the vigil of All
Saints’ Day — dates back to the time the Church took over the Pantheon
in Rome in the 600s. The “gods” were removed from altars which were
reconsecrated to the martyrs. So, on the first “All Hallows Eve,” the
streets of Rome were literally lined with carts of bones — martyrs’
relics. Yes, other pagan practices have been mixed in, but we will focus on
that first mix of skeletons and saints.

We’ll pray to the folks in heaven and celebrate their victory with fun and
candy. And on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, we will round out the experience by
visiting a cemetery to start the month of prayer for the dead.


Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Our Take

The beatitudes — today’s Gospel — are more relevant than ever. Let us
count the ways.

1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of

Those who aren’t poor in spirit — those whose hopes are in wealth,
health or material pleasures — have had a tough year. But those who look
to spiritual realities for fulfillment needn’t be fundamentally disturbed
by market crashes or tough times. Their investments are in good hands.

2. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

In order to mourn, you have to be sensitive to the value of life. In a world
with 42 million elective abortions each year, this beatitude is as needed as
ever — and as powerful as ever. The most effective new voices in the
pro-life movement are the mothers of aborted children.

3. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

To be meek means to allow God’s will to dominate your own will. The meek
don’t abuse the earth; and the meek don’t see mankind as a blight on the
earth, either. The meek take God’s creation on God’s terms, and truly
inherit the earth by appreciating the beauty of nature and the dignity of
human life.

4. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
will be satisfied.”

“Be nice” is a fine philosophy of life, as far as it goes, but it
doesn’t go far enough. To “hunger and thirst for righteousness” means
to refuse to tolerate the destruction of social values. Such a hunger
won’t stand for the destruction of marriage and the family, pornography,
embryo-killing research, or other intrinsic evils. However …

5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

“Not tolerating evil” can’t mean “rejecting those we disagree
with.” Christ said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We
can have that same merciful attitude toward sinners — especially since
we’re sinners, too — and seek to better them, not just denounce them.

6. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.”

Pope John Paul II said to be “pure of heart” is to see the true value of
other people, and not make them objects. People describe how a glance from a
John Paul or Mother Teresa made them feel like they were in the presence of
something great. If we are pure of heart, we’ll see Christ in those we
meet — and that will help them see God, too.

7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Ours is an age where escalating violence is seen as an answer to problems.
Though self-defense is sometimes necessary, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John
Paul II both pointed out that even that necessary and noble war, World War
II, left Europe on a path to secularization and the culture of death.
Solidarity, not war, is the path to peace.

8. “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for
theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

There are today more persecuted Christians than ever before — Christians
are being harassed and killed in India, Africa, the Philippines, China,
Myanmar, Iraq, the Middle East, and on and on. We can pray for the
persecuted — and pray to the martyrs of our time for the building of the
Kingdom of heaven on earth.

—This article originally appeared in our sister publication, the National
Catholic Register.

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