Beware the unknown (cue eerie music)…:Weekly Message for 10-27-2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

In a few days we will be celebrating a date around which dentists fear to tread: All Saints Day (what day were YOU thinking of? Maybe All Souls Day…). Did you know that the eve of All Saints Day was called Hallowe’en, which means “Saint’s evening,” a Scottish abbreviation for All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Hallows Day (source)? To say that the eve of All Saints Day, October 31st, has been hijacked is an understatement. The same source cited above observes that the celebrations on the 31st may have been inspired by Celtic harvest festivals and pagan attempts to reconcile ancient religions with Christianity. 

Depending on the person you ask about the origins of All Hallows Eve you could get either explanation, hoping to either debunk Christians pretensions or to enlighten and unmask trick or treaters unwittingly being agents of Satan. 

When Halloween practices arrived in Italy some of my lay co-workers at the Catholic university where I teach asked me whether I had participated in it as a child, with concern on their faces, because a book had been published in Italy denouncing it as Satanic. I told them the only thing I cared about on Halloween as a child was how much candy I was going to get and what my Mother would let me dress up as for Halloween—in modern terms, candy and cosplay.

Some pagans in the second century A.D. criticized Christianity as being a “new” religion, citing the ancient roots and myths of their own religion and the absurdity of Christianity’s claim to be the true religion when it was only recently founded in comparison to their own. The way to resolve that apparent dilemma is to focus on the beginning and the end. Lumen Gentium teaches (n.2): “[The eternal Father] planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world, the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant. In the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and ‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,’ will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.” In the beginning, the eternal Father planned Christianity: that happened in eternity, not ancient Greece or Scotland. On All Saints Day, we celebrate the end: Heaven, the point of arrival to which we are all called. Everyone who makes it to Heaven is a saint, and that’s what we celebrate on All Souls Day, October 31st included. We commemorate and celebrate with that cloud of witnesses in Heaven that urge us to join them and help us through their example and intercession.

Don’t get me wrong: there is a spiritual evil in the world that wishes to keep you from joining the ranks of the Saints. Evil triumphs when fear and ignorance lead to superstition. That’s all the fruit of sin, and Our Lord came to overthrow the sinful order of things. We should beware of the unknown about our FAITH, whether it is the history of a liturgical feast day or how we can one day become a saint in Heaven. The Online Classroom at RCSpirituality (of which I am the manager: full disclosure) has courses to help you learn how to face the unknown: with knowledge of the faith and holiness. Why not take a course?

May All the Saints intercede for you and help you continue along the path to Heaven.

Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.
Maximizing the Mass

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