Pastor's Corner 102713

posted Oct 30, 2013, 7:33 AM by Music Director

         My goodness, can it be the end of October already?  Fr. Vincent, Fr. John and I enjoyed another Presbyteral Convocation last week in Avalon.  When I’m asked the purpose of these yearly gatherings of the priests of our Diocese, I usually quote Oz, the Great and Powerful:  “to confer, converse, and otherwise hob-nob with my brother wizards.”  (Can you name the scene in the film?)  It’s a time for us to pray and reflect on various aspects of our ministry, intended to help us be more enlightened, empowered and effective priests for you, our beloved people, while fostering fellowship with each other.  (That’s the “hob-nob” part!) 

Another highlight of this time of year, at least for children (and those of us who are still children at heart!) is the celebration of Halloween.  For all its frivolity and fun, Halloween actually has very serious roots.  It’s earliest traces are found in the ancient Druid celebration of “the Day of the Dead,” when spirits of the deceased were believed to return to earth to collect on old debts or otherwise haunt those who did them wrong in this life.  Other spirits were believed to have returned to bless those who had been good to them during their lives on earth.  Similar observances are common in many other cultures all over the world. 

The holiday took on Christian overtones as the people of Britain and Ireland were evangelized beginning in the 5th century.  The feast of “All Hallows” (All Saints), celebrated around the same time as the Day of the Dead, was used as a bridge by Christian missionaries who taught that these evil spirits were actually demons released from hell to wreak havoc on the earth in anticipation of All Hallows Day, when the saints would descend from heaven to bless the faithful and chase the demons back to hell.  It is from this that the “mischief” aspect of the holiday originated. Influenced by these demons, people, mostly the young, would play pranks on others, sometimes harmless, sometimes quite harmful.  If given a “treat” however, the prankster would belay the “trick.”  To confuse the evil spirits, villagers began dressing their children in costumes depicting various saints on the evening before All Hallows (“All Hallows Eve,” compacted over time to “Halloween”).  Seeing these “saints,” the demons would flee in terror back to hell a day early.  For “tricking” the evil spirits, the little saints were offered a “treat” from grateful villagers.

Even the “Jack O’Lantern” is rooted in Christian story-telling, going back to an old Irish legend about a man called “Stingy Jack,” a very unsavory fellow who, upon his death, was condemned to roam the earth at night with only a burning piece of charcoal to light his way.  Placing it in a carved-out turnip, this ghostly figure became known as “Jack of the Lantern,” or “Jack O’Lantern.”  People began to carve scary faces into turnips, large beets or potatoes and placed them in windows or near front doors to frighten away “Stingy Jack” and other wandering evil spirits.  The custom spread to Scotland and England, and then made its way to America, where the plentiful native gourd, pumpkin, was substituted for the turnip/beet/potato.

Some Christian evangelical groups disdain Halloween because of its pagan roots, but you can see that even our ancient ancestors-in-faith wanted to inject a little fun into what otherwise was very serious business.

               I hope you all will enjoy the holiday, but let’s not forget the holy day that follows, All Saints Day: a day to honor and reflect on the lives of the saints who inspire us to follow Jesus and share their glory with Him forever.  Remember:  Catholics are obligated to attend Mass this day! 

Let us also remember our own “Day of the Dead,” All Souls Day on November 2.  Because Bishop Sullivan has committed that weekend to prayer for vocations to the diocesan priesthood, we will hold our special Mass of Remembrance for our fellow parishioners who have died this past year the following Saturday, Nov. 9 during the 4:30 PM Mass.  Please be sure to return your All Souls envelope with the names of your beloved deceased recorded on the back so we may remember them throughout November, the month dedicated to the remembrance of the faithful departed.  Happy Halloween, everyone!



(Trick the Giants & treat your fans!)

In His Love,

Fr. Mike