All Hallow’s Eve

halloween-kidsToday I look forward to our annual tradition of a bonfire in our driveway, hot apple cider, donuts and candy. The music – some of it spooky, some of it fun – will be playing for the neighbors to hear. A little fog machine will add to the atmosphere as brave little trick-or-treaters and their parents stop by.

It’s Halloween! The night before All Saints Day (Holy Day Alert!); followed closely by All Souls Day.

As I sat down to prepare this reflection of our readings today, I wondered if there would be some message, some lines – a turn of a phrase perhaps? – that would let me write about the importance of keeping to the traditions of Halloween.

Fortunately for me, Luke did not disappoint.

“On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.

“Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Indeed … on this night, we invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – the ghosts and goblins; lions, tigers and bears; monsters, vampires and superheroes – anyone who comes to our home in search of a little nourishment (ok, candy) and fellowship.

This may not seem to be on-point with the message of Christ today. But bear with me …

After all, this night of tricks and treats and costumes is merely the beginning of three days of solemn remembrance of those who have come and gone before us. That includes the saints, who we know lived exemplary lives to which we should aspire to imitate.

Certainly that would include a strong sense of hospitality; A true open door policy.

Then there are the souls, our dearly departed; the names we sign into our parish books of remembrance. Our moms and dads, our grandmothers and grandfathers. Possibly a great grandmother we vaguely remember as a child.

In most cases, we remember these dearly departed souls because they showed us love and hospitality. Another example of lives worth living.

They may not be official saints of the Church, but in many cases, they lived like saints in our eyes. And we can only hope to do the same as we carry on.

Jesus tells us that our open doors should be for all and not just those who we hope will “pay us back” with a return invitation. In other words, this role we play as hosts is never about us and what we will receive. On the contrary, it is always about them, whoever “them” may be.

Everything … is all about them.

Tonight, it’s candy for them.

Tomorrow, it’s a Holy Day of obligation for them.

The next day, it’s lighting a candle, pondering a photo, saying a prayer … for them.

How is that for a Halloween lesson?

Life is not about us.

It’s about them.

Always!

Scary, eh?

About the Author

Dan McFeely is a Carmel, Indiana, writer, communications business owner, book editor and a former professional journalist at The Indianapolis Star. A "cradle Catholic" who once felt the call to the Priesthood, he is now happily married to his wife, Sue, and enjoys spending time with his three granddaughters (and two cats). For the past decade, Dan has worked as an Adult Faith Formation Minister, currently serving as a spiritual director for the men's and women's Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. He is a graduate of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry program offered by the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana through St. Joseph's College; and has studied theology as a student at Marian University. He previously studied journalism and political science at Indiana University. Currently, Dan loves to read and study the Catholic faith on a daily basis. He is particularly fond of the works of Thomas Merton and modern day scholars and theologians.

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for such a great enlightenment reading for today, for a lot of points to ponder and more more works to do! Thank you.

  2. Hi Dan, a good message, and a valiant effort to tie Halloween into commemoration of All Saints and All Souls. Sadly, I suspect that only a very tiny fraction of those having parties for Halloween have even the slightest idea of where it originates from. In that sense, it’s even worse than Christmas! So well done for reminding us what it’s all about. Perhaps it’s a good idea, before handing candy over to the Trick or Treaters, to ask them the test question: do you know what (or rather whom) Halloween actually commemorates?

  3. I hope that every parent could explain to their kids the significance of Halloween as to the way you tied it in Today’s Reading. I hope that the parents could simply say to every children in the front door to remember to pray for the souls of their dearly departed that they may rest in peace.

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