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Hallowe'en: Light and Glory

Author: Paul Hammond

Picture: Max Pixel

Hallowe'en: Light and Glory

Popular Hallowe'en phrases like "Today I can be moody and a little witch" reflect a preoccupation with witches and sorcery. How can Christians celebrate All Hallows' Eve in an appropriate and life-giving way? Paul Hammond shares his experiences.

What is Hallowe’en? What does it mean to you and your family? How do you celebrate it? Perhaps you try to avoid it?

Whilst many see Hallowe'en as a bit of harmless fun, the problem is that, at its core, the secular commemoration of Hallowe’en celebrates evil.

It encourages a preoccupation with supernatural evil and the occult, trivialises bad things, and blurs the boundaries between right and wrong. 

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to offer a more wholesome, Christian alternative to this annual celebration of all things creepy, scary and dark.

Many churches put on a Light Party to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness in Jesus, who said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) 

A Celebration

As Catholics, it is good to reclaim the original celebration in its fullness.  “Halloween”, of course, means “All Hallows’ Eve” or “hallowed evening”, the Vigil of All Saints. 

It should be a celebration of the glory of God in his saints; an opportunity to rejoice in the saints, to learn more about their heroic lives, draw inspiration from them and ask for their help.

In the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, together with other families, we have been putting on an annual All Saints Family Event for many years.

Last year’s event was filmed by Shalom Media and the 2-minute highlights can be viewed below, between 6.55-9.05: 

Christ-Centred and Prayerful

We believe we have honed it into a comprehensive and well-balanced event which is Christ-centred, prayerful, educational and fun and which appeals to all ages.  This year, over 100 people will be coming.

 The event starts off in the late afternoon with half an hour of adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, joining the saints in heaven in the worship of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

This is accompanied by some hymns and a homily and ends with Benediction.

 We then have a saints’ parade. The children (and adults) are invited to dress up as one of their favourite saints and to say a few words about their saint to inspire others.

We sense some families are put off coming by the thought of having to make or hire a costume, so we let them know it is fine to come with just an accessory, such as a small cupboard door for St Margaret Clitherow (who was crushed under a door) or a bow and arrow for St Sebastian.

 Super-Hero Saints

Some of the older children get embarrassed at the thought of dressing up as a saint, so we remind them that all of the saints lived heroic, super-hero lives.

Many experienced gruesome deaths or exciting episodes during their lives, and it should be easy to find one that appeals to them.

 By the end of the saints’ parade, it is dark outside, so we switch off the church lights and process with candles to an outdoor shrine, where we pray for those who have died.

 We then end with a bonfire, fireworks, sparklers, hot dogs, cakes, mulled wine, All Saints bingo and other activities for the children.

 Our hope is that we have offered something good, true and beautiful which gives glory to God and inspires families to live holier lives.

  • There are many initiatives similar to the one Paul describes, such as the "Night of Light", founded by the Cor et Lumen Christi Community. Find out more here:http://www.nightoflight.org/index.ph

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