Front porches are decorated with painted and carved pumpkins. Front yards are filled with skeletons, ghosts, and goblins. The kids are counting down the days and strategically planning ways to collect the most candy. It’s Halloween, the second largest holiday in America. With every passing year, it seems the decorations get more grim and gloomy in our neighborhood and there are more houses we are skipping over, because of the fright it causes our little ones.
Although Halloween, All Hallows Eve is the vigil to All Saints Day, All Hallows Day, the Feast Day is often overlooked. It dates back to the early Church as a day to honor and remember all of the martyrs, who courageously gave their lives for Christ especially during the time of Christian persecution. Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel to all the saints on November 1. Later, in the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV began the observance for the entire Church.
All Saints Day is a celebration of all the saints in heaven, those canonized by the Church and those whose holiness has never been officially recognized, but still are a part of the Beatific Vision. A celebration of the Church Triumphant, those who now enjoy perfect union with God, in His glory, praising and worshipping in the beauty our hearts can only begin to fathom.
With Halloween so commercialized and in the limelight how can we keep the focus on the following day, All Saints Day. Truly, a beautiful solemnity to remember and reflect on lives lived with heroic virtue, those who have given us an example to follow and who have exemplified true holiness. Lives that we can look to for guidance and ones to whom we can ask their intercession as we strive for our own holiness. Ordinary people, with similar struggles, crosses, and hardships, yet keeping their eyes fixed on Christ living out extraordinary virtue.
Go to Mass as a family. Help your children prepare by having them pick a saint to dress up as, read about the saint, and discuss their lives. Perhaps, have your children write down three qualities of their favorite saint and share them with the family during dinner. Keep the focus on the saints by creating more excitement around an All Saints Day costume rather than the focus solely on a Halloween costume. Collect prayer cards of the saints, put them in a small photo book or clip them to a string to display in your house.
Have an All Saints Day party, invite over family and friends for food and games, saint bingo, saint trivia, or saint charades. Have everyone guess who each child has dressed up as. Read stories of the lives of the saints and continue doing so throughout the month of November. There are so many great saint books, starting with the very young and continuing on. Pray or sing the litany of the saints, making sure to include your own patron saints. Have a special meal, make a favorite dessert and use the good dishes. Strive to make the day a joyful celebration, one that your children look forward to with great anticipation every year.
All you holy men and women, pray for us!