Weekly Reflections for October 31, 2021

‘Halloween & All Saints’ Day’

Across our country, people are celebrating Halloween, and some have been doing so for almost a month. It has become one of the most popular holidays of the year, enjoyed as much by adults as children.

While Halloween has its pagan origins, it developed mostly from the Catholic feast of All Saints’ Day (November 1st). By the 9th century, October 31st was being celebrated in Ireland and later throughout western Europe.  All Hallows Eve, after shortened to Halloween, came to be a time from sunset to sunrise that evil spirits roamed the earth.  However, by the 18th century the celebration took on a lighter tone in Europe and North America.  As the feast grew in popularity the true feast of All Saints’ Day diminished until it was forgotten by many.

So, what is All Saints’ Day?  It is a day our church celebrates annually on November 1st and dedicated to all those who are in heaven.  As Catholic Christians we honor all those men and women, including saints who are recognized by the Church as well as those who are not.

Today’s readings tell us the simple but difficult formula to become a saint and attain heaven.  In the First Reading from Deuteronomy, Moses imparts the greatest law on the Israelites, “Listen, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone and you.  You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  This prayer is known in the Jewish community as the Shema and it serves as the centerpiece of Jewish daily prayer services, much like the “Sign Of The Cross” does for Catholics.

However, Jesus adds to this commandment with, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  He reminds us that there are no greater commandments than these two.  It is also the path to sainthood as illustrated in the lives of the saints.

After all the trick or treating of today, let us awake tomorrow and celebrate the real feast day.  Take some time to read about the life of a saint and recall the saints who have been part of your life.  Be inspired by holy men and women and follow the way that will lead to true happiness.  That is why we celebrate All Saint’s Day.

– Patrick J. Perkins