Dear Parishioners ,
As of this writing, we begin a trilogy of celebrating our faith beginning with All Hallow's Eve (Halloween),
All Saints Day, and All Souls Day (a.k.a. Day of the Dead). What is this all about? Simply put, it is our way of connecting with the reality and the persons who have gone before us marked with the signs of faith. I love it also because of the fun had by our children dressing up in costumes. Today, for example, I was at St. Francis Catholic School in Roy, OR to meet with the kids and talk about these special days. I must say that the kindergardeners were the cutest of all!
Halloween has become popularized in our culture to the point of being only second to Christmas when it comes to retail sales. It has become a point of discussion for many whether or not Christians should be celebrating this day as it is also the high "unholy" day of the satanic church. My response to this is quick: since when did we give over to Satan any of our holy feast days? Satan always tries to take what is good and turn it bad as well as tell us what is bad is really good. So which came first? Halloween has a history which finds its roots in the Irish feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). For information on that, check out the History Channel's web site and Wikipedia.com. Additionally, St. Anthony Messenger Press offers a wonderful article entitled, How Halloween Can be Redeemed.
All Saints Day is so important to Catholics that we consider it an obligation for all parishioners to celebrate those saints who, while not famous like St. Francis or St. Anthony, we believe share in the beatific vision of God in heaven. We share a communion with them as we are also striving to be saints here on earth and ask for their prayers. This day connects closely with All Souls Day where we also gather in prayer at Mass for those who have died yet have not come to the grandeur of the vision of heaven. These "poor souls" as we call them are on the journey to heaven and are being purified by the mercy of God. This event is also called Purgatory. Yes, we still believe in purgatory. Some folks find this an antiquated idea, yet, when I ask other non-Catholic Christians what happens to those who die with sin on their souls, the response is that they are cleansed by the blood of the lamb (Rev. 7:14). Well, that is in harmony with the Catholic teaching of purgatory. In purgatory people are cleansed by the saving act of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection. The text in the book of Revelation speaks of a time of distress while Rev. 12:11 also tells us that it was in the synergy of Jesus' action and the testimony of those who have already been purified (ref. Rev. 6:9) that the souls who have died can be aided on their way to heaven. In our Hispanic community, All Souls Day takes on further dimensions. For them the day is called Dia de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead. During these days, culminating on All Souls Day, the community remembers and prays for their loved ones who have died. They remember them using potent symbols which also mock death. In the Christian view, death is a door as well as a great equalizer. Christ has opened the door for the faithful, and in death we are all seen by God as his own beloved children, nobody more lovable than the other. It has been my observation that this fascination with death carries over into their day to day lives. In the Mexican culture, death is not so feared as it is in the Anglo culture. It is simply a fact of life to be
Happy Trilogy of Holy Days! God bless you!
Fr. William Holtzinger