Sunday, October 22, 2006
Why I appreciate Halloween so much!
Actually, it is "All Hallows Eve"!
Pictured; "Vision of Hell" - Bosch
Many people think it's the night the devils prowl and witches have their covens. Well it is - more so now in our 'new age' than ever before in the history of witchcraft. But that is not why I appreciate it - although they are good reminders for everyone that evil exists, as does hell. Nevertheless, devils and witches are out and about all of the time. Especially those devils. Just go Downtown Minneapolis when the bars close - or before - you will see evidence of the diabolical. Or read the newspapers about the murders the night before in any given area of the country - reads like the devil to me.
Driving home from Mass this morning, I admired the trees holding onto their last remaining foliage, the barren dry grasses with some greenery surviving amongst it, all along the freeway. Freeway landscape is sometimes very beautiful here in Minnesota.
When I got home, I posted a piece on the "work blog" - after which, I laid down to take my Sunday nap. The sky was overcast, allowing the leaves still clinging to the trees to show their color cloaked in somber, muted tones by the grey mist, rather than the fiery excitement of autumn leaves on a clear, crisp day. I watched them fall more quickly today, in just the slightest breeze. It was a steady stream, sometimes a few at one time, followed by a torrent, then calming to a trickle, the again repeating itself. I thought of Fatima.
Ever since I was little, the nuns told us that either Our Lady or one of the children reported, that "souls fall into hell like autumn leaves falling from their trees'. What a wonderful, yet sobering metaphor, I thought. The tree, representing life, or more accurately Christ and the Church, or just the world if you prefer - while the leaves imaging the souls living in in it. At death, detachment from this life occurs instantly, as the leaf breaks its tender tether to the branch. Thus, I imagined more easily the concept of souls falling into hell.
All Hallows invites us to reflect upon the last things and that is why I appreciate Halloween. The following day is the feast of All Saints, while the day after that is the feast of All Souls. Interchangeably we remember the dead in glory, as well as the dead in purgatory - albeit all are alive for God, as Jesus in the Gospel states, "He is the God of the living not the dead." Hence the souls in hell are the living dead and quite an unhappy lot they are.
In his letter, St Peter says that "The devil prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." He wasn't talking about Halloween. Sometimes I wonder if Christian parents could be making it more scary for the kids by focusing upon the dark side of Halloween, missing the fun and innocent side of it. Certainly guard the children from the occult, you have to do what you have to do.
Remember Teresa of Avila's remark about exaggerated concerns over the devil, she said, "I don't understand these fears. 'The devil! The devil!' when we can say 'God! God!', and make the devil tremble...I fear those who have such great fear of the devil more than I do the devil himself, for he can't do anything to me. Whereas these others, especially if they are confessors, cause severe disturbance," Life 25; 22 And yes, I know, St. Teresa was talking about confessors who were worried she was being deceived in prayer, but it can just as well apply to anyone else with a morbid curiosity and suspicious and fearful mind, even some modern priests who think so many are possessed.
Catholics have Christ, the Blessed Mother and the angels and the saints, the Church and the sacraments. We just have to make sure we are Catholic. Celebrate Halloween as a Catholic and pay no attention to the devil - fix your eyes on Jesus, as St. Paul writes, and appreciate Halloween for what it is - All Hallows Eve.
But do beware, the devil does prowl around - but he's sneakier than Harry and the other witches and goblins - he's prowling through cartoon shows, television ads, the Internet - almost everywhere - but it's just not only on Halloween. Actually, the scary costumes were the primitive answer to scaring away the devil - not inviting him in.