|My lighted All Saint's Day pumpkin from 2010.|
And I'm wondering something about All Hallow's Eve...
A few people are hailing Halloween as a special and perfect day for remembering our dead, praying for the poor souls, and thinking of our ultimate end. If that's true... then what is All Souls' Day for? Because I'm pretty sure that IS what All Souls' Day is for and that All Souls' Day is a feast day and Halloween isn't. Can't we just call Halloween "Costume and Candy Day" and throw all our Catholic Pinteresty awesomeness behind All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, the two real holy days? It would make life as a Catholic mama ever so much simpler and perhaps help us focus better on the good and worthy.
When time, energy, and money are short in my house, we prioritize the good stuff. Holy days are in. Candy day is out. There's a big week coming up for me, probably involving an All Saints'-costume-making-all-nighter. I have to plan early so I know how long I have to procrastinate. Our schedule will look something like this:
On All Hallow's Eve, I will be busy getting the kids decked out in their Saints' costumes before heading out the door to evening Mass. There's no better way to pray to and for the ones who have gone before us than through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The daily Mass goers love to see the kids decked out and they have often been asked to bring up the gifts because they look great... and because everyone else is out trick-or-treating. Then we'll come home to a late dinner and to put the finishing touches on our preparations for the All Saints' celebration the next day. Sometimes we'll take a late drive to show off the saint costumes to other family members. There's no time or inclination for "trick-or-treating" and nobody misses it.
All Saints' Day.
Since we homeschool, this is usually a daytime party with one or more homeschooling families. I like the idea of the big church parties but find that smaller gatherings are generally more focused and meaningful. Besides, getting two or more homeschooling families together generally means an entire house full of kids, which is always more than enough company, noise and fun.
And we have candy... far less than they'd score on a trip around the neighborhood but still way more than they need. The nicest part about the candy is that the Chief picks out stuff everybody really likes. No peppermints or boxes of raisins in our bags.
All Souls' Day.
All Souls' Day is on a Saturday this year so we'll be attending an early morning Mass and then spending some time praying and witnessing at a nearby abortion mill. It is unfortunately appropriate for the day. Some women walk away without an abortion... but many of them drive home with an empty womb and leaving a child who will never have a proper burial. Lord, hear our prayers.
We might light candles at church for our family members who have died and then take a trip to the cemetery. It's so pretty there and the kids have actually enjoyed our past visits. They like to touch the headstones and wonder about the people buried there. They can't help but think about life and death as they literally walk over the bodies of the dead. Our little son is buried there along with other people from our family tree who are no longer with us.
Death is not glossed over at the cemetery, but neither is it terrifying. No ugly masked creatures jump out at the children. No bloody arms protrude from the graves. My older children know what gruesome, violent death looks like. They are involved in pro-life work and have seen images of what happens to a child who comes up against an abortionist's tools. It is a grotesque reality and they do not delight in it, seek it out, celebrate it, or mock it. It is no wonder that the gore fest of a secular Halloween does not appeal to them. We approach the cemetery with a certain amount of reverence because it is where the bodies of God's beloved creatures have found their final earthly resting place. It is a place of peace and prayer.
Last time we visited, we found a gravestone with Crash's full name on it. Of course the kids thought that was hysterical and the coincidence of the name gave us some perspective on the brevity of life on earth. The man was a soldier who died in the 1800's. He had a wife and children and is buried under a beautiful tree.
Maybe after the cemetery visit, I'll let my little chefs pull a fun recipe off of Pinterest. Or perhaps we'll be too tired from our weekend of celebrating and just relax over a quick and easy dinner before bed. And we'll need our rest before next day, Sunday; another day of celebration as we partake in the Eucharistic banquet at Holy Mass.
What will you do?
Whether your family participates in the American cultural version of Hallow'een or not is up to you and neither here nor there to me. What I'm curious to know is how you are going to celebrate All Souls' Day this year? Do you plan on doing something special or do you transfer the significance of All Souls' to Halloween?
If you comment, please don't tell me all about the history of Hallow'een and why you think it's Catholic... that discussion, although interesting, is irrelevant to this particular conversation. We can have at that one another day. For now, I just want to focus on the actual Catholic feast days and particularly, how you recognize the under-appreciated feast of All Souls'. I know there are some of you who have some excellent traditions to share.
Bloggers, if you have a post about your All Souls' activities, please link it in the comments so that people who find this post can look you up. UPDATE: I added a linky for those who would enjoy that option. I'll leave it open for a couple years so take your time. ;)