Friday, October 31, 2014

A Glance at Death...

Praised Be Jesus!

I hope everyone is enjoying all the fall festivities and that this post finds everyone well! The Halloween season is upon us, and so is the season of many huffy Christian posts about Halloween — but luckily, this will not be one of them! As we approach this time of year, there is a torrent of content which seeks to either destroy the practice of celebrating Halloween or to discourage those who wish to revitalize its Christian roots. But as I see it, the way the modern celebration of Halloween flows into the great feast of All Saints Day can give us greater insight into the mystery of Christ.

As Halloween is celebrated in North America, we are familiar with haunted houses, horror movies, lawns transformed into cemeteries, and costumes of all types of horrors, monsters, demons (and in recent years, zombies), and the occasional princess or ninja. Many of our fellow Christians, seeing so much of the gore and violence and those things that in many cases border on the sinister, have called for a mass outcry against Halloween, and many Catholics have returned to the practice of dressing as Saints.

But looking at the darker side of Halloween, we can get a tangible image of death and evil in the world. It gives us a look at our human condition, the brokenness of sin, and the discord that original sin has set loose — even the creators of horror films have stated that their movies are a study of evil in the world and the human person — and an example that supernatural evil does exist. We have an intimate look at our own mortality; in a sense, the macabre of the Halloween season can be seen as a living memento mori (remembering our mortality) where we come to grips with the very fragility of our existence and the very fact that one day we will die.

But this is broken with very good news!! And it is the message of the Gospel itself, and that is that Christ has conquered death, Christ has conquered evil, and this is typified in the lives of the Saints on All Saints Day. The dark night of Halloween is broken by the glorious dawn of Christ's Victory of the Cross, and this victory is realized in the Saints of his Church: those who are still fighting the battle here on Earth, those who are awaiting entrance into the beatific vision in Purgatory, and triumphantly, in those Saints who shine in the glory of Christ. It is in these souls that the loving Triumph of the Cross is realized and explodes into a fire which extinguishes all darkness.

It is through the lives of the Saints that we realize that evil has no real power in this world, the monsters of Halloween are themselves empty, zombies are just reanimated corpses (in foil to the full glorified resurrection of Christ and the resurrection we will all share in at the end of time), vampires have no souls, and all the demons (both real and fictional) are already defeated by the Blood of Jesus Christ and in the fullness of time that victory shall be realized. Dante even states in the Inferno that Satan himself sits in Hell frozen in ice and is eternally bored, for evil and sin are boring and suck originality from the soul.

Halloween also teaches us another important aspect of the spiritual life, and in the words of Saint John Paul the Great, "Do Not Be Afraid." Halloween shows us that in the reality of great darkness, that the light of Christ within us breaks through that darkness, we have no reason to fear the darkness because Christ has already conquered it and continues to conquer it through his Saints — all of us in the Church on Earth, and all those in the Church in Eternity.

So, I wish you all a very safe Happy Halloween, and an even more Blessed All Saints Day! Have fun, kids!

Almighty God,
who hast knit together thine elect
in one communion and fellowship,
in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord;
Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints
in all virtuous and godly living,
that we may come
to those unspeakable joys
which thou hast prepared for those
who unfeignedly love thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Book of Common Prayer, 1928

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