Let's bump back at the things that go bump in the night
My aunt, Mary Pat, sure knew how to throw a party. I have incredibly fond memories of going to her house on holidays, but my favorite was always Halloween. From the moment my family walked through the door and saw her creepy, crawly decorations, we knew it’d be a spook-tacular event with spider webs everywhere, scarecrows on the front lawn, and trick-or-treaters showing off their costumes to my aunt who was equally decked out in hers.
Many Catholics are hesitant to celebrate Halloween. In 2009, the Vatican’s weekly official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, printed an article warning parents against the dangers that Halloween could send their children an “anti-Christian” message because of its “undercurrent of occultism.” Today’s issue of the newspaper highlighted a group in the Philippines who are celebrating with a Christ-centered alternative to Halloween that includes dressing up as Catholic saints. Although dressing as saints can be cute—I mean, check out these adorable saints—it may take away an important part of Halloween.
Angelo Stagnaro, in his Sounding Board from the October 2009 issue of U.S. Catholic is not afraid to show how much he loves the holiday. He connects All Hallow’s Eve to its Christian roots of celebrating the harvest and remembering the dead, as opposed to what many believe is a pagan ritual for demons and sorcery.
Two phrases in particular stood out to me from Stagnaro’s article. He states that, “the more Christians become scared of this otherwise benign and harmless holiday, the more we empower those who wish to desacramentalize and even commercialize Christianity.” He also encourages us to act. “Let's indulge in the sticky, the creepy, and in things that go bump in the night on Halloween,” he says. “This is our night to bump back.”
These two phrases remind me of a homily I heard a few years ago about Halloween. The priest, after giving the historical account of the holiday, encouraged parents to not forbid their children from dressing like witches, or demons, or anything associated with occult. “Halloween is our time to conquer these demons,” I remember him saying. His message was clear: If we are too afraid to be these things, it shows that evil has won in a way. By dressing as them, we show the witches, the demons, the devils that we are not afraid of them and that they are, in a way, laughable. We shine the light of Christ through them and let them know that our God is bigger than the boogeyman—as Junior the Asparagus from VeggieTales sings.
Let’s bump back.