As a proud graduate of Catholic grade school, I vividly remember going to class dressed up as a saint in the week leading up to Halloween. I also remember feeling excited, but also a bit annoyed. Any day not in my uniform was a win, but all of my public school friends got to wear their actual Halloween costumes. And although I knew St. Francis was pretty cool, I’m not sure I would have chosen to dress like him over Woody from Toy Story, if given the choice.
Looking back on those memories and seeing pictures of my little cousins, nephews, and nieces dressed up as saints this year, I’m struck by how much more inspirational the Christian’s Halloween can be vs. the main-stream “annual fright fest”, as Fr. Steve Grunow at Word on Fire describes it.
Without Jesus, we go out tonight with smiles and empty baskets just to wake up tomorrow with frowns pointing to tummy aches and masking cavities in the making. We work up a willing suspension of disbelief as we put on our Stranger Things costumes, our Netflix & Chill signs, or our Joker makeup, but we wake up realizing that it was an empty charade, only alive until the sweaty costumes come off. Next up? 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, or for the more aggressive, time for Christmas music.
But we know as Christians that that is not the fullness of the reality we embrace. Our big event is not tonight, but tomorrow. Halloween after all is “All Hallows Eve”. The eve of what? All Saints Day, that sneaky holy day of obligation where we celebrate all those that have answered God’s call to know, love, and serve him in this life so that they could be with Him in the next.
What’s so inspirational about that? Well no matter how many times I wore my Woody costume, I knew that I would never become him. Our Christian faith however, calls us to believe that by embracing the lives of the saints, we can actually receive the grace to join them in the everlasting joy of heaven. After all, isn’t that the whole point, that we are all called to strive to become saints?
Now of course there is nothing wrong with having fun on Halloween, but as you prepare, here are 4 quick ways you can let God hallow your evening.
- Go out with a full basket – Trick or treating will look differently this year, but one thing we all can do is see Halloween as an opportunity to build community and give back. In addition to going out with an empty basket to collect your candy, consider also bringing a full basket of food to a local homeless shelter or giving resources to those you see living on the street. (As long as you can do so in a socially distant, safe way!)
- Remember those without neighborhoods – Consider making a stop on your trick-or-treating route at a local retirement home to drop off handmade cards, or give homebound family members a call. On top of the fact that you will make their day, remember that Jesus tells us that it is the little ones that bear the face of God. Help those that are confined see Him today.
- Pray for those who aren’t around to go trick-or-treating anymore – There are no doubt many people who we know and love that are no longer with us. Before you go out, take the time to share stories and pray in thanksgiving for their impact on your life. You could pray on Hallow with the “Litany for the dead” in the Litanies praylist, or offer up a prayer from the Gratitude praylist.
- And finally, learn more and pray with the saints! Challenge each member of your family to learn about a new saint and share with everyone else – you can check out Hallow’s Saint Challenge for some inspiration. One fun activity could be to make your own Litany of Saints: have each member of your family choose their favorite saint, write them down, and pray together “St. (fill in name), pray for us.”
God Bless and Happy Halloween,