Sunday, October 31, 2021

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Trick or Treat God

Before we begin today's reflection, let us focus a bit on Halloween. It is October 31st and it falls on the 31st Sunday of Ordinary time. This day brings many memories to me and possibly you reading this blog as well.  It is "Halloween."  In America and other nations, many young people dress up in different costumes and go "trick or treating."  

The holiday seems innocent enough, but of course, there are the dangers of knocking on strangers' doors, receiving candy and other treats from strangers, and becoming a victim of a prank or more recently, gang initiations.  

Many Catholics and other separated Christians wonder if it is ok to celebrate this day since most of it seems to be about evil, death, darkness, and violence.  All throughout television scary movies about psychopathic serial killers, zombies, ghosts, and monsters are being played in syndication.  There are even ghost shows out there having live ghost hunting sessions.  The question that comes to mind on this day is: 

Is this day all about a glorification of evil?

Well, let's briefly look at the origin of this holiday.  Some claim that this day originated in the Pagan Celtic harvest festival called Samhain.  The Catholic Church purposely moved All Saints day and All Souls day to coincide with this celebration in order to drain Paganism and convert it to Christianity.  

However, that is disputed because there seems to be no evidence that Pope Gregory IV was aware of this Pagan celebration.  Nevertheless, the Universal Holy Day of All Saint's day was added the day after the 31st and hence the 31st became to be known as, "All Hallow's Eve."  

In the Liturgy, Solemnities begin at the vespers (Evening Prayer) before the actual day of the Solemnity.  So in effect, All Saint's day begins at the vespers of October 31st.  Moreover, All Soul's day follows All Saint's day.  This further adds to the speculation that the Catholic Church did this on purpose to convert Pagans to Christianity.  

During the Reformation, ultra-conservative and fundamentalist sects attacked the idea of Saints, praying to saints and of course celebrating them.  Groups such as the Puritans forbade the celebration of Hallow's Eve and anything that was suspected as Catholic, Pagan, or Satanic.   However, while in America the Puritans did not prevent Hallow's Eve from "evolving" to its present form.  Many cultural elements were added to it such as the Jack o' Lantern, Trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, etc.  

Like any Holy Day, society often twists the purpose/meaning of it.  Hallow's Eve became Halloween and now is celebrated as a day when people just dress up, trick or treat and just enjoy themselves as someone/something else.  

While these celebrations seem strange and "evil," but also are fun, we have to thank the Catholic Church for the fun part, so to speak.  The trick or treat part derives from the Medieval practice of young people going door to door collecting, "Soul cakes."  For each cake, the child prayed for a soul in Purgatory.    Instead of the jingle, "trick or treat, gimme something good to eat"  kids said, "A soul-cake! A soul-cake! Have mercy on all Christian souls, for A soul cake!"  

In my opinion, Catholics and other Christians should not fear Halloween, but try to re-Christianize it.  Remember that this day belongs to the Lord and us.  Do not let secularism or paganism claim it as their own.  Have fun with it, but always keep in mind that evil is evil and is something that is real and must be avoided.   

Parents: If you let your kids dress up as monsters or violent characters, explain to them that what these characters represent or do in movies or shows must remain fiction and not become reality.  

We must strive for a world where monsters, violence, murder only exist in fiction.  

We must also remember to be proud of who we are.  Dressing up as a monster, character or whatever must be done just for fun and not to "feel" like someone else.  You are a unique individual.  No one else will ever be LIKE YOU!  Appreciate that!  

It is up to you if you wish to celebrate this day or not in the way secular society celebrates it now.  Instead of having kids dress up as violent things, one can try dressing them up as saints, angels or positive people as well.  

Say a prayer before going out to Our Lady, St Michael, and your Guardian Angel.  Pray for each home you visit.  

Check the sex offender's list to make sure you know who you are visiting.  

http://www.familywatchdog.us/

http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/registry


Download Apps to help locate and track trick or treaters.  http://www.wltx.com/news/article/156875/2/Halloween-Safety-Theres-An-App-for-That

Check the treats before letting your children eat them.  Check your surroundings. Try to be with a crowd, not alone.  

Reflection:

Today is Halloween and it is a day much used for frights and to scare. Fear seems to be the theme today.  The first reading tells us to feat the Lord, your God.  Does this mean we have to be afraid of God? No! God is our Father. We cannot fear our father. Fear here means respect. We respect God just like we respect our parents. We do everything right so as to not offend them. Moses tells us that we have to keep God's statutes and commandments.  We must love God with our entire being: heart, soul, and strength. This is very important. It makes no sense to go to Mass and then do all kinds of evils afterward. Where is the "fear" of God there? Where is the respect? God sees us all. We cannot hide anything we do or plan to do. God is our strength and we must love Him as the responsorial Psalm tells us. 

God is our strength. We must love Him. He is our fortress and deliverer; our rock of refuge and salvation. Without God, we cannot exist. We are nothing without Him. He keeps us in existence with a mere thought. God created us because of love. He puts up with us because of love. He sent His Son to die for us because of love. We must return that love by doing what He wills. This means following His commandments and helping one another.  This is our ministry whether ordained or not.

The second reading tells us that Jesus is with us forever in His priesthood. Jesus is the one true priest. Priests at our parishes serve and act in Jesus' name. It is Jesus who celebrates Mass and the Sacraments. The man investments are just a stand-in if you will. We must make use of the priest by going to confession and Mass. We must pray for them and remember that they too are human. They are men subjected to weakness as the reading tells us.  Jesus died once for all. The Mass is not a new sacrifice. It is a reenactment of the one and only sacrifice on the Cross by Jesus Christ.  Many of our separated friends erroneously believe that Catholics sacrifice Jesus over and over. This is not true. The priesthood is grounded in Jesus and His Word. 

Today's Gospel summarizes the duty all Christians must follow. We must love God with all our mind, soul, body, and strength and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the summit of Catholicism. This is why we have Sacraments, Commandments, Mass, and so on. If our Catholicism is not bringing us to love God with our entire being and our neighbors as ourselves, then we are just practicing nonsense. We are just being mechanical and going through the motions. The faith and its seed are not sprouting in us. If we are not making use of the Sacraments to show that we love God with our entire being, then we are just wasting our time and condemning our souls.  If we are not loving one another and just love people or tolerate them in certain situations or to get ahead, then we are just wasting our time. The faith is not in us. We are just being hypocritical and atheistic in thinking. Both of these acts are necessary. We must love God with our entire being and neighbor as ourselves. It is sad to see online and in parishes Catholics hold grudges. Recently the founders of Where Peter Is and One Peter Five blocked our Sacerdotus account on Twitter. It is an immature move showing that the founders behind these blogs are not living an authentic Catholicism. They are not loving their neighbor as themselves. This may indicate that they do not love themselves. There is a disease in their spirituality that does not allow them to love themselves and others. We cannot be like this. We cannot hold grudges.  A Catholic who blocks another Catholic does not follow Jesus' commandment. He or she is simply going through the motions of Catholicism and not internalizing it. We must love God with our entire being and love our neighbors as ourselves. This is what God commands of us. It is not easy, but it is also not impossible. It can be done if we subscribe to humility and openness. The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in its onset hurt this. Doctors and scientists told us to keep apart from each other. No one could embrace each other or help each other out of fear of being contaminated. While we must care for ourselves, we cannot exaggerate. Viruses and diseases are part of nature. We will get sick from something. It is only inevitable. May Jesus Christ be praised!

  

Readings: Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

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