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Halloween and Catholic Evangelization

FP.Halloween&CatholicEvangelization

Let’s face it. Catholics around the world fall into one of two camps: those who celebrate Halloween – sometimes going all out – and those who will avoid it at all costs. 

THIS POST IS FOR THOSE WHO CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN

Whether you are like me, and dread the thought of figuring out costumes for a gaggle of children – insisting that they look through the dress up boxes for a homemade version of a fairy with bumble bee antennae and a tutu because, why not, right? – or you have costumes mapped out months in advance, and even coordinated with your parish All Saints parade, this post is for you!

THE CHURCH’S CALL TO EVANGELIZE

You know that each and every time we leave the house, it’s an opportunity to live out Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. 

In short, “be in this world, but not of this world.” I also love St. Paul’s call to be all things to all people in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all.  And I do all things for the gospel’ s sake: that I may be made partaker thereof.

We can look to the Catechism as well, which upholds Scripture and weaves together Councils and encyclicals. We see this well in Mission – a requirement of the Church’s catholicity, found in CCC 849-856. Looking specifically at CCC 850, we get a glimpse at the importance of our call to evangelize: 

850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: “The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”341 The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.342

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

COSTUME IDEAS

Dressing up for Halloween doesn’t mean going the route of secular costumes, necessarily, especially if you enjoy going to your parish All Saints celebration that encourages participants to dress up as their favorite saint! Here are some articles with great saint costume ideas that can double as Halloween costumes. 

HALLOWEEN CANDY EVANGELIZATION 

Not comfortable being bold with your evangelizing? Why not let your candy do the hard work?

  • How about a Halloween Gift Poem?
  • Or this nifty note for your candy? I threw this together after seeing something similar online, but felt it lacked a few details about the Holy Trinity. All you do is print this PDF, cut out and attach each to small baggies of candy corn. Easy peasy! Each candy corn says: Just as there are three colors in one candy corn, so there are three Persons in the Holy Trinity. The One true God has three Persons: God the Father is God, God the Son is God, and God the Holy Spirit – the Love between the Father and the Son – is God. Have a safe and blessed All Hallow’s Eve.

HalloweenCandyCorn

PUMPKINS

PRINTABLES

 

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Holy Days of Obligation

In Defense of Halloween

Amongst Christians there is a debate on whether it is fine or demonic to participate in Halloween. I’ve watched a few videos of Christians explaining to me how Halloween – costumes, pumpkins, trick or treating, even the date, all have pagan and demonic roots and should be avoided by true Christians. Also, these videos will tie the Catholic feast days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day to the celebration of Halloween. Some will thoughtfully ask me how it is that costumes and candy could possibly be holy or bring glory to God or his defeat over death, and question why Catholics choose to celebrate All Saints’ Day this way.

I’d like to make a critical distinction which is muddying these preachers’ arguments against “celebrating” “Halloween”/”All Hallows’ Eve”/”All Saints’ Day”. Let me be clear. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day by attending Holy Mass on these days, during which ONLY Christ is worshiped and glorified. Trick or treating (or even All Saints’ parties) is not the primary vehicle by which Catholics claim to be worshiping God. Celebrating outside of the Mass (or ceremony) is a common practice – take for instance a wedding ceremony versus the wedding reception. The dancing, food and decorations at a reception are not the critical part of a wedding, those things are merely the celebration of a wedding has already occurred. Different people and different cultures will celebrate differently. Some wedding festivities you might enjoy, like a tasteful reception, and some you may abhor like a raunchy bachelorette party. The style of a wedding reception or pre-party is up to the celebrant, but isn’t a critical component to the validity of the ceremony itself, and in fact doesn’t even need to happen. Likewise, When a Catholic celebrates All Saints’ Day, he/she isn’t doing so solely by the Halloween party he/she may or may not be having. A Catholic only validly celebrates this feast day by kneeling in prayer to Jesus during Holy Mass – if he/she chooses to party before or after then so be it (hopefully it is tasteful ;)).

halloween-candy-pictures-1In America, we have a tradition of wearing costumes and trick or treating on Halloween – October 31st. Yes, these traditions came about somehow and landed on this day by some historical reason.  Some of these things may have been inspired in the past as directly celebrating these Catholic feast days, some traditions may not have – while the authors of the articles I read seem sure of themselves, I find that they often contradict one another and thus I can’t say for certain what came from where. But generally, Americans do these things for neighborly fun. I see these things as fun American traditions, like fireworks and cook-outs on the 4th of July – perhaps another pagan celebration, depending on how you look at it. However, Halloween is the one day a year droves of your neighbors come knocking on your door.  That such a time even exists in our isolated automotive culture is amazing in itself, and I personally thank God for it.  As for the knock at the door, maybe you’ll open it with a warm, friendly smile, pass out some goodies and wish your neighbors a good, safe time along their way. Or maybe you’ll sit in the dark and pretend to not be home. Either way is fine. I’ll be opening the door and sharing some neighborly warmth. And I’ll also be going to Holy Mass to properly and most specifically celebrate All Saint’s Day.  Whatever your traditions, I wish you a Happy All Saint’s Day!

If you are looking for some counter explanations to the non-Catholic blog posts and videos that are circling about, try this one from uCatholic: The Catholic Origins of Halloween, or this one from Word on Fire: It’s Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween.

Whether it is trick or treating, an All Saints’ Party, or a quiet day of prayer, please share with us your family’s traditions for this feast of All Saints!

 

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Colleen Crafts Domestic Church Feast Days Liturgical Year Saints Uncategorized

No-Sew All Saints’ Day Costume {for the procrastinators!}

If you are spending today putting the finishing touches on your children’s All Saints’ Day costumes, or the completed costumes are already hanging by the front door ready for the party, I salute you! If you saw the announcement about your parish All Saints’ Day party in this week’s bulletin and your eyes widened as you started wondering if your kid can go as himself, a modern-day “St. Jack” who wears a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt, or maybe as pirate saint – this post is for you. I usually find myself in the latter group.  But it really is possible to pull off an epic All Saints’ Day costume in a short amount of time – even WITHOUT your sewing machine.

A favorite movie in our house right now is St. Francis Xavier and the Samurai’s Lost Treasure. I suggested to my two older boys (ages 4 and 3) that one of them should go as St. Francis and the other should be St. Ignatius, who makes a short appearance in the movie as Francis’s friend and the one who inspires him to give up his life in the service of God. My 3-year-old was up to the task.

ignatius

So I set about making a costume that resembled the above picture, on two conditions:
1) It didn’t take very long to make
2) My blood pressure didn’t spike while working on it.

I know how to sew – that is, I know how to operate the sewing machine and produce something mostly wearable. But between stitches skipping, needles breaking, puckering (oh, puckering!!!), and just the general frustrations that come along with sewing when you are a relatively impatient person who is also kind of a perfectionist, I usually end up with a beautiful finished project and a bloodstream full of cortisol. A “20 minute skirt” once took me 4 hours.

heygirl(I’m not really a fan of the Hey Girl memes, but this speaks to me.)

Therefore, I present to you: The Incredibly Easy No-Sew All Saints’ Day Priest Costume.

allsaintspicmonkey

{I am making it for St. Ignatius, but there are several famous priests who are usually portrayed with Roman or fiddleback chasubles: St. Philip Neri, St. Padre Pio, Servant of God Emil Kapaun, and Pope Benedict XVI. If your saint is a priest who lived between the 17th century and the mid-1900s, his vestments probably looked like this. Gothic vestments, which are the flowy chasubles that are worn by most priests today, can be made using this tutorial as well – “poncho-style.” Saints that are portrayed in this style include St. Thomas Becket, St. Nicholas, and St. Patrick.}

You will need a glue gun. Fabric glue will work, but it takes a lot longer to dry; glue guns dry almost instantly. I use a lo-temp mini one I snagged from Hobby Lobby for $2.99. My whole project used about 5 glue sticks.

I was looking for brocade fabric, and planning to make the drive to Joann Fabric to pick out some fancy red and gold. However, I discovered that the Walmart near me still carries fabric. The thought of going to Joann’s the Saturday morning before Halloween (aka 40 people in line at the cutting counter) made me determined to find something at Walmart that would work. The red fabric is cotton, the green is a thick tapestry fabric found in the clearance section. 1 yard of each. $6.44 for both. (You can also use felt.)

allst2(I hope St. Ignatius forgives me for using fabric with gold swirls.)

Cut out two matching pieces in a bowling pin shape. (For Gothic-style, keep the length at 40 inches, cut each end 16 inches wide and the center 20 inches wide – more of a hexagonal shape than a bowling pin. Keep neck hole 6″ diameter.) This is a one-size-fits-many pattern – my boys wear 4T and 5T and it fits both of them well. If you have an older child, you may have to add an inch or two to the width and a couple inches to the length.

picallst4(The “15 inches wide” bottom does not look straight – but it should be.)

Whip out yer ol’ glue gun and glue the two pieces together around the border and the neck hole. MAKE SURE you have the fabric lined up with the pretty sides out and the ugly sides in – you want to glue the ugly/backs of the fabric together, so that both sides of the chasuble look nice and it is reversible. Double-check before you start gluing or you might end up with the front on the inside accidentally. (Don’t ask me how I know.)

allst6

OPTIONAL: Add decoration. Leaving it plain is perfectly acceptable (after all, the only reason you are gluing your child’s costume together is because you are short on time), but if you add a little gold ribbon it will look more finished and legit and the other moms will be amazed at your mad crafting skills. I used one entire spool of 97 cent gold Walmart ribbon for mine, and since my little guy is a Jesuit, I added an IHS – the symbol for the Holy Name of Jesus and the monogram of the Jesuit order.

Grab a $3.97 men’s Large white t-shirt for your surplice, slip the chasuble over your child’s head, scribble on a beard with eyeliner if necessary, and you. are. done.

IMG_2903

Time to completion during naptime: 20 minutes without gold decoration, 30 minutes with decoration.
(Time to completion not during naptime: 87 minutes – includes 2 baby feedings, lunch for the kiddos, and eating Butterfingers throughout.)

You CAN sew this project if you really don’t want to use glue, and if you have an embroidery machine you could embroider a beautiful Sacred Heart or cross on the front or back. You could also make a stole instead of a chasuble and wear it with the white t-shirt surplice to portray St. John Vianney. Even if you don’t need an All Saints’ Day costume, this is perfect for the kids who like to “play Mass.”

For more All Saints’ Day ideas, including other costumes, crafts, games, and educational materials, check out this post. And if you need a quick and easy no-sew costume for a little girl, check out Catholic Icing’s Blessed Teresa of Calcutta costume!

Categories
Guest Posts Liturgical Year Ordinary Time

Of Ghosts, Goblins, and Birthdays

 

 

 

By Mary M.

My birthday is on Halloween, and it hurts a little when Christian families, some of them friends of mine, belittle the day’s festivities, label them evil or ignore it altogether. I know their intent isn’t to damage my psyche, but it makes me feel as if I’m living in the days of the Salem witch trials, when one would simply know better than to ask, “So-o-o-o, watcha you doin’ for Halloween?”

No worries. Despite the date making me one year older every year, I have a pretty balanced view of it. Thanks to my Mom, who made it neither forbidden fruit nor anything that would rival Christmas. Note: I do have neighbors with lights – yes, colored lights – in their yards along with Halloween decorations this year. They’re upping the creepy factor, I suppose. Or maybe they’re using the retail holiday calendar.

Paper Halloween decorations, that’s what we had. Construction paper silhouettes in gray, orange and black, delicate and faded from years of use and placed on our house front window, would herald the coming of my birthday every year. Witches in black. Ghosts in gray. Pumpkins in orange. My mom had traced the images, and then cut them with the perfect care of a seasoned seamstress. Even when the stores began selling plastic, multicolored window clings, we put up the same paper cutouts, plus a few pumpkins I’d crafted and added to the collection. I wasn’t about to throw my mom’s creations away, ever.

Eventually I was old enough and eager to put them up myself, but that didn’t last long. High school costume parties have a way of competing with – and beating out – childhood traditions.

As for costumes, I breathlessly waited to grow into the next size up of Princess and then Colonial Girl. It seemed I’d forever be Little Miss Muffett, consisting of a pink jumpsuit and a brittle plastic mask with a painted face, which I thought looked like a baby face, held on with an elastic string. My big sisters got to wear one of two princess costumes, their masks having painted-on blonde hair, pink lips, arched eyebrows and 3-inch crowns; Colonial Girl had white, “powdered” hair, painted-on eyeshadow and a painted-on hat angled on her head. My older sisters wore those until they outgrew them. The clothing tied on with ribbons and was silky, in vibrant colors. All masks had quarter-sized eye holes. This was years before anti-flammable costumes and concerns about blocked night vision.

My dear dad would mark my birthday each year by going dove hunting. I think he took me trick-or-treating once, and I voluntarily went dove hunting as many times, but I’m okay with that since he had a part in giving me life. He raised me, too, from tantrums, through the moody teen years, and stood by me through the know-it-all 20s, which altogether must have been more hair-raising than any modern-day horror house.

My life is a whirlwind of wonderful birthdays: my sisters and parents singing around one of my mom’s homemade cakes; watching scary movies with girlfriends;  a special trip to an ice cream parlor with “Sixteen Candles” playing on the juke box for my 16th birthday; designing and sewing  my own Snow White costume to wear to work; and dressing up with friends from out of town to go trick-or-treating at different apartments within walking distance, sort of a candy-and-beer domestic pub crawl. I spent one birthday on a solo trip overseas, and another campaigning my heart out for a presidential candidate.

I’ve been a mom to five girls for nearly seven years now, and what began as anxiety over what my daughters could and should wear (saints vs. secular, saints modified into secular, just plain secular) is now relaxed enjoyment as they flutter around the house on Halloween piecing together their fifth change of costume from what they’d originally planned to wear at the end of summer. In other words, my perfectionism has moved to the backseat, along with my youth.

Of course, Halloween, being All Hallow’s Eve, it should never overshadow the holy day of All Saints. Nor should it blacken the beautiful feast of All Souls, during which Catholics pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, a devotion very dear to my family. While growing up, my sisters, parents and I would attend All Soul’s Day Mass with few exceptions. Those are less memorable than my birthdays, although I will never forget the one following my sister’s death in the mid 1970s, when my mom and sisters were certain they’d heard her call to them from another room in our house.

You just don’t tell a 7-year-old her dead sister is making efforts to communicate, no matter how much she loves the deceased sibling. I still get chills thinking about it, because I know in my heart they heard something, even if I only saw them quietly in unison prick their ears and I didn’t hear it myself.

And so this is what Halloween is to me: another birthday, another day of dress-ups for my girls until they’re grown, a moment to reflect on the scenes of my past and dreams of the future. I even use it to make resolutions: on my next birthday ending in “5,” I want my husband to send me to California to take surf lessons. It’ll be even better if my daughters and sisters come with me.

And here is a beautiful prayer to the Holy Souls (my parents would take my sisters and me to visit my sister’s grave every Sunday and we would pray this prayer):

All you Angels of Consolation, go and visit those patient sufferers,

offer for them the merits of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

and obtain their speedy unions with Jesus, Whose vision is bliss, and Who yearns to have them with Him.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

A link to a Holy Souls novena:
http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/novena/Purgatory.htm

 

::Mary M. is the youngest of five girls, raised by saintly parents, and a Catholic mom living in Texas bringing up five beautiful, lively daughters with the perfect husband.::