Let’s Break a Bad Habit: October is Not a Month-Long Halloween
From infancy many of us have been raised to think of each month in terms of a holiday celebrated during the month. For example, February is the month of Saint Valentine’s Day. March is the month of Saint Patrick’s…We’re surrounded by this kind of thinking and the appeal lies in its simplicity.
The October calendar almost always is ornamented with signs of Halloween. In all sorts of venues, Halloween has become October’s theme. Throughout the month some people surround themselves with Halloween’s ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties. The observance of this holiday has become stretched backward for a month…
Catholics in love with their way of life ought to have trouble with this sort of thinking. It puts the emphasis where it doesn’t belong. To the Catholic way of thinking, Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day. It is not October’s running theme. Halloween isn’t even an actual day…
In October, in a gradually increasing manner, it’s time to make ready for the great festival of All Saints and then the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Make sure that an emphasis goes on November 1 and 2, with October 31 understood as the time to enter into the festival…
It may strike us a bit odd to use spooky images to celebrate All Saints and All Souls, but in fact these images have a long history in Catholic cultures…Images of demons have a special place in Christian iconography.Almost always they are shown cowering in fear or stuck behind locked doors or else being trampled underfoot by Christ and the powers of heaven (That’s what’s happening in the depiction of Saint Michael battling Satan.) The demons aren’t happy with what’s happening to them. They hiss and spit in anger. And almost always, even in their hideousness, they are made to look comical. God’s mighty laughter strips them of power.
The same dynamic is afoot when Christians dress up as demons, when Christians use images of hell in celebration of the reign of heaven. That’s what’s going on at All Saints and All Souls. The spooky decorations are meant to evoke a hearty laugh, a laugh in the face of death. We spend a lot of time poking fun at death, because death and injustice and the other sorrows of the world often seem to have the upper hand. But we know that in Christ we will have the last laugh. The “divine comedy” is guaranteed a happy ending.
School Year Church Year --- Peter Mazar pages 111-115