As October dims and November brightens, we turn to a time of tapping into saints, spirits, costumes and remembering our deceased heroes and loved ones. The original idea of this time is rooted in All Saints Day which we celebrate this coming Thursday, and the “Hallowed” or Holy “Eve” that we have come to mark by putting those two words together for Halloween. These important days and evenings are deeply rooted in our Catholic spirituality, but have been supplemented by secular images of dressing up, ghosts, haunting, goblins and other spooky things. So now we have a series of three interesting rituals: one can be fun or adventurous; the second an acknowledgement of truly holy people who have inspired millions and millions through the centuries; and the third is our tender and prayerful memories of our deceased loved ones and friends, many of whom hold a holy and special place in our hearts. We celebrate Halloween this Wednesday, October 31, All Saints Day on Thursday with Masses at 7:00am, 9:00am (led by our Academy children for the entire parish) and 7:00pm. Masses on All Souls’ Day, Friday, November 2 are at 9:00am and 7:00pm.
As I was preparing for the All Saints Mass with our 3rd grade Academy students, they asked me a couple of important questions that I did not have the answers to, but I do now. I want to share this information with you and hope that it enriches your All Saints and All Souls’ Day prayer. They asked who the first saints were and who are the youngest saints?
The earliest and youngest are the Holy Innocent Children who were killed by Herod in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus, followed by Anna, Mary’s Mother, and Joachim, Mary’s Father. Jacinta, age 9 (died in 1920) and Francisco, age 10 (died in 1919) of Fatima Portugal, whom Mary appeared to in that town, are the youngest individual saints to be canonized by Pope Francis last May. Maria Goretti (1890-1902), age 11, canonized in 1950, and Dominic Savio (1842-1857), age 14, canonized in 1954 were previously the youngest saints to be canonized.
As for All Hallows Eve, the earliest celebrations of Halloween were limited to dressing up like your favorite saint, but now that custom has expanded into dressing up like all sorts of heroes, famous and even scary characters. The more mysterious and adventurous side of Halloween turns some people into the ghoulish realm of ghosts and tales of fright. An additional ritual, “trick or treat,” is a proclamation made by children visiting homes dressed up in costume. It began in Britain and Ireland in the 16th century and made its way to North America in the 1920’s. It refers to a mostly idle threat that if no treat (candy or money) was given out that the little visitors would play a prank, or trick, on the home.
These special celebrations also invite us to ask and answer some question that I suggest are quite important. What will you be or dress up as on Halloween? Some people go to elaborate parties with sophisticated costumes on or around Halloween. This gives us an opportunity to step into another character or persona. It can be quite fun. Enjoy it. Be playful.
How generous will you be to visitors during Halloween and beyond? What kind of treat will you share, especially with strangers who come to the door of your home, or the door of your heart?
Who is your favorite saint and why? What kind of spirituality do they inspire in you? How can you be more like them and use them as a motivation for your own spiritual growth?
Who will you remember in a special way on All Souls’ Day and why? How are you keeping their example or legacy alive?
Remember, we are encouraging you to bring a photo of any of your deceased loved ones or friends for display in our church from November 2 through 18. This is a unique way to include them in the Communion of the Saints with confidence that they share the fullness of life now.
Our Gospel this week tells us of the blind Bartimaeus outside of Jericho. When summoned by Jesus, the crowd encourages him in three ways: “Take courage … get up … he is calling you.” Where do you need courage? Are you rising up to challenges? Can you hear the Lord calling you?
Thank you for being so attentive to my requests last weekend. As I mentioned, we will be sending a budget catch up letter to all parishioners. If you haven’t already received it, you will within the next week.