All Saints is a great old celebration, but is too often co-opted by its commercial version, Halloween. I enjoyed trick-or-treating as a kid, getting a good fright once in a while, and celebrating with costumes, pumpkin carving, and lots of candy. However, there is a way you can transform even this most “commercial” of celebrations into a holy exercise. The tradition of dressing up on Halloween (All Hallows Eve) actually comes from an old tradition used to honor the saints. On this day, people would dress up as their patron saint as a way to honor their life and seek their intercession. I would love it if on the Holy Day Masses the children would take the time to investigate the life of a saint and dress up in a “holy” costume. I know this may involve a bit of extra work, but I think it would be a great exercise to try out this year and get in touch with a neat old tradition.
Following All Saints Day is All Souls on November 2nd. This is a day to remember, pray for, and honor all those who have gone before us in the faith, even if they weren’t saints! This is a great day to visit the cemetery with your family members and pray for deceased relatives and friends. I will make a visit up at Calvary cemetery to visit the priest’s circle and say hello to some old friends. Right up the hill here on the West End is Holy Family cemetery, where many Redemptorist fathers and sisters of Saint Francis are buried. Perhaps you could go and say a prayer for one of the old pastors?
In all this we remember that Christ is Lord of the living and the dead- membership in His Church does not end on your last day here on earth, but continues to the end of time!