The Monastic Mirror


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween, All Saints and All Souls

Every October brings the carved pumpkins, goblins, ghosts, and children going "Trick or Treat".  It is a time when we mix secular and religious elements without many of us knowing what it is all about.  Halloween or All Hallows Eve is the night before or the vigil celebration of the Catholic Feast Day of All Saints Day.

In medieval times, one of the customs was for children to go begging for "soul cakes" while they promised to pray for the dead relatives of the person who gave them a cake.  Some would dress in scary outfits collecting firewood for a community bonfire. History says that they celebrated this night with a festival marking the colder temperatures, harvest, and the change in activity.  They believed this magical time opened up some sort of connection with the dead.  Whatever the history, we feel connected in some way to our deceased family and friends.

Tomorrow, we celebrate All Saints on November 1 with the entire church on earth to honor those in heaven.  On November 2, All Souls Day, we remember the faithful departed whose souls are in Purgatory making reparation for their sins, before proceeding to heaven.  Pope Benedict XVI in a homily for All Saints Day in 2006, explained that remembering all the saints helps  "reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God's friends.  Being a saint means living close to God, to live in his family and this is the vocation of us all."  It is a way to recognize those individuals who have served God well on earth and now enjoy the communion in heaven.

With all three of these wonderful and beautiful days there is a great opportunity for us to familiarize ourselves with the lives of these holy men and women.  They can show us how to be saints  by the way they lived.  We can look to them to learn, to model some aspect of our life so that some day we also can be with them.  For the young, or even young at heart there is Maximillian Kolbe, Kateri Tekakwitha, Maria Goretti and Martin de Porres to name just a few.  These saints have shown us how to live life with conviction and love of God.  They were passionate about their vocation in life whether single, married, or religious.  So I pray that during this wonderful time, that you remember those who have gone before us with the hope and promise of eternal life.

God Bless and Happy Halloween.

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