Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Why do Canadians celebrate Halloween? "Halloween" comes from the Scottish "Hallowed Evening" i.e. The eve of celebrating saints and remembering the dead in prayers.

The Lord's Prayer to the Father starts with "Our Father Who Art in heaven - Hallowed be Thy Name..." The Father is the Father of all of us who gives life to every person and loves all humans...

On this day, we ask the saints to intercede for every person on earth, and ask God to forgive all, and have his abundant mercy on all the departed souls.

However, Halloween is important to Christians, not only to remember the dead but also to live with the joy that God brought to humanity in his abundant love fully manifested in the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ and present in the Church through the sacraments by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why would we care about this festival of Dracula and "evil spirits"?  Let us think a bit of history.

The Church does not live a separate life from humanity. She is the seed of the kingdom of God on earth and must always strive to reflect in her members the eternal love that is the Triune God. The act of creation is an act of love in which God wishes to reflect the joy and love of Father and Son in the Holy Spirit by abundantly bringing life and letting the entire creation develop from nothing. The start of the Big Bang is what scientists today call a singularity. In the 2nd century AD, St. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote "For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom - the Son and the whom also He speaks saying 'Let Us make Man after Our image and likeness' (Genesis 1: 26)," (Adversus Haereses - Cf. also Ecclesiastical History, Book V by Eusabius of  of Caesarea (260-340)). This is the eternal Trinity outpouring love brought to our attention in the earliest canonical Biblical book. It was manifested in Christ's life on earth, his humanity that he shared with all is fully united to his divinity.  St. Irenaeus wrote too against Gnostics who denied the intrinsic value of Man. He wrote "The glory of God is man fully alive and the life of Man is the vision of God". (AH IV, 20, 7)  The more we become human the more we become one with God. According to the Eastern Fathers of the Church, God became man so as to restore us to him. This love of God endures and continues to expand in the entire world thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit in Christian missions.

It is in that vision that St. Pope John Paul II teaches the Church based on Christian personalism. Since its beginning and throughout its history, the Catholic Church has always penetrated and renewed the lives and civilizations of humanity sometimes with suffering but always with the hope that as many souls as possible will find the joy of living eternally in Christ and with him. This is found in the humanism of St. Francis of Assisi who not only had the first Stigmata recorded in history, but also spoke to birds and animals, called the Sun a sister and the Moon a brother, wrote hymns to celebrate the peace of Christ (Listen to Make Me a Channel of Your Peace here:
This is also found in St. Thomas Aquinas whose spiritual insight and philosophical inquiry opened the way for humanity to explore nature on its own. The same openness is found in St. Teresa of Avila among many mystics whose dialogue with God inspired untold number of faithful. The retrieval of classics from the ancient Roman and Greek literature found expression in the Renaissance which started with Pepin and Charlemagne and flourished in the 15th century and beyond and in the polyphony in sacred music by the 15th century which added to the majestic expressions of faith in the music of Mozart, Bach, Handel and others in the so-called Baroque Age. From the 16th century on, the Counter-Reformation insisted on reforming the Catholic Church. St. Thomas More, a great humanist, encouraged generations to follow his example. St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus whose champions made great inroads in all the way to the Far East, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. In the 20th century, St. Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council which sought Christian unity and made it possible for the Church to have dialogues with other religions and ideologies. On this basis, the Christian-inspired human dignity is the at the center of the Western civilization even when materialism claims new powers. Humanity is looking to the Church for guidance. In a recent homily, Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J., described the situation in the West. It is true that radical Islam is increasing in Europe, but, he said, Catholic schools in Europe are full of Muslim students.The evangelization of the world may well be carried out by Muslims converted to Christianity...

If the above is of any significance to us, it is that Christ penetrates, through his Spirit, the entire globe and is the only answer to today's mixed and polarizing ideologies.

Here is again today's celebration of Halloween. What good is there in it? May be we can learn from the past.
An example may be sufficient. The early Church used to celebrate Christmas or the Nativity of Jesus Christ on the 6th of January, a custom still followed by a few Eastern Churches while other Eastern Christians celebrate it on January 7th. However, the date to celebrate Christmas was moved to December 25 as early as the year 336 AD by St. Pope Julius I. The reason for this decision was to attract as many people as possible in the Roman empire and beyond to the Christian faith since pagans (Polytheists) used to celebrate, on the same day or close to it, the feast of the unconquered Sun in Mithraism (a god of the military widely worshiped at the time in the empire), December 22 or 25 was found to be the day where there is the shortest time between Sunset and Sunrise.  the ancient pagans celebrated in it the end of Winter and the coming of Spring which brings flowering to sleepy nature. Christ is the unconquered Sun. It was therefore found fitting to move Christmas to December 25.

Let us now consider celebrating Halloween. How can we transform a day of fun for children into a holy day for them and us? First, it is not about us versus them. It is about the entire Church. They are the future. How can we attract them? They do not listen to boring lectures. They love to share an innocent toy or get a treat. This is why parents love to go trick or treat with their kids. They simply want them to have innocent joy by knocking on doors in the neighborhood.  Other parents or grandparents who open the door to them play with them and give them anyway a little treat - chocolate or candy. Everyone is aware of a few mentally-ill persons who in the past gave them poisonous treats. If parents are careful they will bring joy to their kids.

Second, click this link and watch the meaning beyond Dracula and Halloween:

Have you listened to the video?  The presenter Dr. Taylor Marshall speaks of the historical events that made this festival popular in the West. Pope Pius II (1405-1464) subsidized a Romanian prince by the name of Vlad III or Vlad Dracula. In 1453 the Turkish Muslims conquered Constantinople. This opened the gateway for the Muslims to begin to move west, invade Europe and take over St. Peter's. This alarmed Pope Pius II who sent funds to Prince Vlad Dracula in order to defend Europe against Muslim conquest. Now a myth developed around the personality of Dracula that made him sell his soul to the Devil in order to get superpowers to fight and defeat the Turks. The myth of Dracula the vampire is born. He is the person who bites human flesh and drinks human blood. In the Gospel Jesus said "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (John 6:53-56). This is why the Eucharist or the Blessed Sacrament is central to Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Now note how Christ in the Eucharist is at the center of this liberal custom. While Dracula and the Vampire bite human flesh and drink human blood and mock the resurrection by going down in the coffin and faking the resurrection, Christ offers his flesh and blood to Christians for their resurrection and eternal life. Jesus in the Eucharist repels Dracula who is possessed by the Devil. Christ and the saints conquer the Devil who "possessed Dracula".

We could find the good things that God implants in everything in the world and carry them as insufficient as they are, to Christ'grace, for in Christ everything can be redeemed. More to come on this.

Third, we need to learn and help others to become like saints. The meaning of Halloween is to become hallowed like saints. In the recent wars of the Middle East, let us remember how many Christians chose to be killed rather than renounce their faith. The Church is strong because of the martyrs whose blood was shed following Jesus in spite of threats by ISIS and other Islamic extremists. This is a celebration in heaven.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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