Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

The Celtic cross, a pre-Christian symbol which...
The Celtic cross, a pre-Christian symbol which was later amalgamated with the Christian crucifix. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Halloween Costumes
Halloween Costumes (Photo credit: Transguyjay)

I saved the following as a draft b/c I knew I wanted to speak to this question but I wasn’t quite feeling it at the time…Halloween is it right or is it wrong?  This is a post from back in October by another blogger.    Halloween is it right or is it wrong?

How is everyone doing, I like to ask a questions and I am not asking this to raise any doubts or two dampen anyone’s celebration of Halloween, but as a Christian how do you feel about Christian’s taken part in hollowing celebration ?there is no right or wrong answers I’m just looking for your opinions, And by this time tomorrow I will give you my thoughts from a Christian standpoint or point of view on this subject.vision, purpose, destiny

I have thoughts about this…..I have quite a few thoughts about this from a few different perspectives so I will try my best to organize them around a few main themes.  They are the:

  • I love the season of Autumn and all of the holidays Fall entails

    Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Religious holidays are commercialized right along with the rest and in this case it might not be a bad thing
  • Some cultures the dead are remembered and honored at this time of year, i.e. Day of the Dead in Mexico where it is a national holiday
  • Samhain or Sah-ween holiday, similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead, celebrated by the ancient Celts as the day
    English: Mexican "Altar de muertos" ...
    English: Mexican “Altar de muertos” detail: sugar skull, cempasúchitl flower and candle Español: Detalle de un altar de muertos: Calavera de azúca, flor de cempasúchitl y veladora (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    the souls of dead people moved to the “other side” and they were honored by the lighting of bonfires

  • So first, I was raised in a family that loves the autumn time of year and I love it too which is a fact I attribute to being born in October and feeling really special because of it too, LOL.  I don’t recall how I learned to associate black cats and witches and all the rest with Halloween but I do know that it wasn’t part of being indoctrinated into a wicca coven or devil-worship type group.  I attended Catholic school and we had Halloween celebrations where we changed into costume and had a big ‘ole party complete with “haunted house” where the 8th grade boys would blindfold the younger kids and lead them through a dark path rigged to make them think they were walking through spider webs and stepping on dead things, etc.  all in the name of a little friendly fright.  Some people enjoy that sort of thing…I’m not a big fan but to each his own.

Then we have good old commercialism and the quest for the almighty consumer dollar.  While no one’s been crazy enough to try to get Halloween declared a national holiday it’s a fun enough thing for young and old that people are willing to either “celebrate” it on an inconvenient day of the week – i.e. take the kids trick-or-treating on a school night after dark on October 31 OR the very popular defer celebrating this important day to a more party-appropriate Friday or Saturday night where we have a whole day off to recover from a hangover. My point?  My point is simply this, Halloween is an occasion for people of all ages to put on costumes, enjoy treats, entertain one another, laugh it up, let their hair down and generally have a good time for a change.  From toddlers to seniors, there’s fun to be had by everyone on Halloween if that’s your thing.

As a Roman Catholic, I was also raised to observe October 31 and November 1 as All Souls Day and All Saints Day respectively.  I was taught that these were special days set aside to remember and honor our own departed loved ones and well as the saints in heaven, many of whom died testifying to our Faith.  The Halloween was just the party we got to have for ourselves to celebrate around the same time. I associate this with the Day of the Dead in Mexico which I sort of observed for the first time this year in that I attended an art retreat where one of the activities on opening night was to make sugar skulls in honor of a loved one.  Working on the project with other artists and sharing stories about those we were honoring was a way of bringing us together as a community and also connected us with a departed loved one in some way.  I’m still not feeling anything sinister here.
Finally we get to the pagan festival of Samhain which early Christians worked really hard to eradicate.  Personally, I believe that  Pope Gregory the First got it right because he didn’t try to eradicate the mores and beliefs of the natives but very wisely he ordered his missionaries to use them to teach the natives about God as follows: if a group of people worshiped a tree, he didn’t instruct his missionaries to cut the tree down, no instead like the wise man he was he had them consecrate the tree to Christ and allowed the devotees to worship it.  Ah, drawing a fine line between idols and statues and the first two commandments!
I have a lot of thoughts about this and most of it is not really gelled into a short paragraph; it’s mostly thoughts and feelings all wrapped together with a few words thrown in for good measure.  But I guess the gist of it is that most of the people had good intentions and what I mean by that is in “worshiping” a thing of the world, like a tree, they were recognizing and appreciating the good it brought them – it brought the shade, it brought them food, it brought them building material, it brought them fuel and at the end of the day it came from God.  This is not to be confused with being so in love with wealth, status, power, money, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography that your life revolves around it….heck, some people build their worlds around things that may be wholesome in moderation but unhealthy when “idolized” in a certain way…..food comes to mind but there is a myriad of other examples.
St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220)
St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But getting back to the tree, my take on this can be summed up using the reference to the Canticle of the Sun or Praise of the Creatures (Laudes Creaturarumby St. Francis of Assisi.  Believed to be among the first works of literature, The Canticle praises God and thanks him for such creations as “brother fire” and “sister water” and is rooted in St. Francis’  personal theology of referencing animals as brothers and sisters to mankind, rejecting material comforts and the accumulation of them, and denying himself sensual comforts.

In fact there is a song, written a long time ago by a very talented singer & songwriter named Sebastian Temple.  Mr. Temple is deceased and his music is out of circulation for the most part but having first heard it when I was about my son’s age (10 or 11) his songs stuck in my head to the point that 40 years later I hunted down two of his albums (yes vinyl!) bought them and converted them to digital so I could listen to them on my iPod.  The song I’m referring to is Canticle of the Sun and these are the lyrics:
Be praised, Most High, Almighty Lord

Yours the blessings and glory be

Only honour belongs to you

For all eternity

Be praised, Lord of the creature world

And first Sir Brother Sun

Who through the day and light you give

Reflects you O Holy One

Be praised through Sister Mother Earth

For she sustains and guides our way

And yields so many fruits and grass

And flowers to brighten our day

Be praised through all who pardon give

For love of you bearing their pain

Blessed men suffering peacefully

They shall not cry in vain

Sebastian Temple sang this with such passion and such devotion to our Lord that it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it and every time I think of this collection of songs (which includes the better known Prayer of St. Francis, Make Me A Channel of Your Peace) I am thankful to my 5th grade teacher for introducing them to us – Thanks again Ann Clerico wherever you may be now!

Sun (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

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