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Wishing you a holy Halloween

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : Father Michell Joe Zerrudo wants the holy put back in Halloween (Holy Eve), which is marked on October 31, the eve of All Saints Day.

To achieve this he wants a change of clothing, dressing children up as saints instead of Draculas, devils or zombies.

“Dressing up children as zombies, devils and the like for Halloween gives them the impression that evil spirits are fun and friendly, and there is nothing wrong with keeping their company or imitating them,” the director of Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls told CBCP News.

In its place, he is promoting a March of the Saints campaign, identifying children with real people with real stories, who could serve as role models to young people.

“These are people, not fictitious characters like the superheroes, who are worth emulating, because these are men, women and children, who have struggled against the world in order to be faithful to the Lord,” Father Zerrudo points out.

However, stories of saints are fine, but it is important to keep them true to life, as often the versions passed onto children are sugarcoated fabrications, with the ingredients of mythology, overstatement and a large dose of what generations have wanted to believe mixed in, often with an accent not on what they did, but the unproven miracles they have been accused of.

Nevertheless, Father Zerrudo’s pastoral advice has much merit.

However, Halloween is not particularly a Church feast day, but more of a secular party.

Churches in some countries are taking a different approach and, rather than trying to run against the tide of the secular, try to use it in creative ways to teach a religious message.

While exorcists tell us that the real evil does not have a tail and does not carry a pitchfork, there is probably little harm in the dress up fun, if the context is good.

From an early age, children have to deal with evil in their lives and party rituals have been developed by Churches that can give young people of all ages both a fun night, which does not make them too different from their peers, and teaches them a valuable lesson as well.

Catholic high schools have run parties for teenagers that have input on how to deal with a variety of problems and difficulties and pressures that young people face in their lives in society, with professional advice on how to cope with them.

The bottom line of the evening, learn while you have fun. Join your peers in the dress up parade, but
use the appearance of evil to
learn something about the good that a positive response in its face can do.

The continued development of creative pastoral programmes around secular feasts, like Halloween, Valentine’s Day and days of national importance in the Church also has a role to play in letting people experience Church in the flow of everyday life, reinforcing that it does have a message relevant to today’s world.

 

Pope Francis stresses that we should not be naïve about the devil, saying that he is real and Christians need to deal in a positive way with evil in the world, as it is frequently disguised as good in the distortion of modern culture.