From a reader…
It surprises me how popular it’s becoming among traditional Catholics to “white wash” Halloween. It’s certainly not traditional! The 3 days of this time have always represented a trilogy –Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory. A time to reflect on the realities of each. The spookiness of Halloween is not a worship of Satan or the occult (although some may choose to do that) but a reminder of the very realness of evil and hell.
I’m so puzzled by what seems a very Protestant reaction to Halloween among traditional Catholics….am I wrong?
GUEST RESPONSE from a long-time contributor here Fr. Tim Ferguson:
The author has a point – the three days of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day really should be looked at together. The traditions of dressing up in spooky clothes on Halloween has a long history. Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., a frequent commenter here, and a good friend of mine wrote what I believe is the definitive internet expose of the Catholic origins of our Halloween traditions. HERE
Frankly, I’d be happier to see children dressed up as ghosts and ghouls on Halloween, rather than the more recent trend of “sexy pirate,” “sexy cat,” “sexy hobo,” “sexy nun,
” and “sexy Hungarian hussar.” The collegiate/Hollywood extrapolation of Halloween as an excuse to wear next to nothing, get wildly intoxicated, and pretend that we’re wanton animals with no control over our passions is more troublesome to me than any threat posed by little George and Jeanette dressed as a werewolf and a vampire princess.
At the same time, I think seeing kids dressed up as their favorite saint is cute. Perhaps not something with a very long tradition, but cute, and praiseworthy. On the one hand, seeing a small child as Padre Pio can have the salubrious effect of bringing to mind the four last things. On the other hand, looking at our contemporary culture, what frightens it more than seeing a horde of young children, being raised as faithful Catholics, taking their faith seriously out in the streets with pumpkin buckets. Seeing a dozen youngsters, homeschooled and from the same orthodox parents, would surely cause gasps of fright from the Democrat, Planned-Parenthood maven driving through town in her hybrid. Imagine the look of horror on the face of the “recovering Catholic” who sees the van doors open and the Lumpenbraat children, all dressed as the Theban Legion (before they were stripped of their uniforms, of course) pour out? Consider the fright and discomfort caused to the Unitarian Universalist pastor who preaches a watered-down Gospel when his front porch is invaded by little John Paul II’s, little Mother Teresas, little Vincent Ferrers, little Thomas More and John Fisher, and a troop of the Martyrs of Otranto.
Society does quite a bit to scare us faithful Christians, perhaps on Halloween, we can return the favor.
–Fr. Tim Ferguson