All Soul’s Food
Two days ago many children celebrating Halloween dressed in costumes, approached a stranger’s home, knocked on the door and insisted for candy. Or else, suffer the tricky consequences!
(Typical of seminarians, always playing tricks – even on food.)
It’s redundant, but so worth repeating: Halloween is just another example of a secularized holiday, rooted in the Christian celebrations, that brings the community together through FOOD. Namely CANDY!
(Granted, it’s not candy, but these sweet desserts prepared by the seminarians of Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, are definitely my kinds of sweet “treats!”)
Now that Halloween is over and children are still on a sugar rush, parents have a responsibility to properly integrate the social fun with the solemnity of the holiday. If not, the silliness of costume dress up combined with the demand of for treats could stunt the spiritual maturation and psychological growth of our children. If kids don’t see a deeper meaning to the lighthearted expression of this holiday, little kids can turn into “big kids” – not necessarily mature adults.
“Big kids” still “dress up,” but in a different way, i.e., they prefer fantasy to reality, and they put on titles and attitudes rather than discover their true identity. Big kids seek adult “treats,” – expensive technology, fashion, luxury, or high dollar socializing. And if they don’t get it, big kids may play tricks that come in the form of vandalism, or theft. They may even organize themselves and demand the sweet things in life through obnoxious bullying or “protesting.” Unless as kids we grow up seeing a more meaningful side to Halloween, those childish tendencies can stick with us for a very long time.
Today’s solemn Feast Day of All Souls offers gentle reminders and a helpful perspective to young children about how the Halloween fun has a deeper meaning. All Souls Day celebrates life in a spiritually healthy way. It reminds us of the humility with which we must approach life, knowing that life ultimately isn’t about costumes and candy, but the salvation of our soul.
(An ironic picture: we’re like “walking dead” until we get that cup of coffee in the morning.)
Now please don’t think I’m a fuddy-duddy when it comes to the Halloween fun! I sincerely hope the young children had fun dressing up, parading around the neighborhood, and just being children who love candy. At the same time, I hope parents can help their children see a more prayerful and serious approach to Halloween – an approach that’s connected to today’s feast of praying for all the souls of the dead, minus that feeling of just entering a haunted house. Go ahead parents, and take your children to church today, or even visit a cemetery to pray for the beloved dead.
Today’s celebration and the prayers and prayerful remembrances of the faithful departed remind us that life will eventually lead to God’s door. We will knock and He will answer. We won’t be dressed up, but in fact it will be the exact opposite – our real identity will be completely exposed. No tricks can be played, and the only “treat” offered is the banquet of eternal life to those who did not mask their Christian identity. Yes, this Feast Day, connected to Halloween, reminds us that only the souls of the just receive that sweet reward of eternal life.
(Seminarians in procession at Mount St. Mary’s Emmitsburg Cemetery, located at the National Shrine of the Lourdes Grotto.)
That’s what we pray for today.
The modern world approaches the afterlife, death, and the subject of spirits and souls with a creepy hesitation and subconsciously imbedded fear. The Church, though, offers children of all ages an opportunity to mature in their understanding of this mystery through study and prayer.
You can certainly see that Halloween doesn’t bother my Christian sensibilities. I think parents that let their kids have a little neighborhood fun are healthy people. At the same time, I encourage families to make sure they share the real “treat,” if you will, the Eucharist – true food for our soul.
(Enjoying a sweet treat with my project manager, Joe, and some YouTube artists in Hollywood, California! Stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming YouTube channel.)
Let us pray:
Father, we ask Your mercy on all of those who have died, especially in this past year. May they experience Your purifying Grace, be welcomed into the eternal communion and participate in the feast that gives eternal life to our body and soul. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Did you let your children go trick or treating? What costume did they wear? Do you remember your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? What was your favorite candy? And what type of candy did you give to your neighbors? How will you celebrate All Soul’s Day and talk about it with your children?
By the way: My favorite Halloween costume was “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” And my favorite candy was chocolate covered malt-balls! Just loved that sweet chocolaty crunch!
(Instead of turning pumpkins into scary faces, turn that jack-o’-lantern into something beautiful – or even a pie!)
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