I was asked to re-post this for Halloween, enjoy.
Reclaiming the Night
It seems as though the world always takes things we Catholics celebrate and twists them for pleasure and gain. For instance, Mardi Gras has gone from a celebration before we enter a time of self-examination and penance to an excuse to drink, party, and worse. Halloween is no different. It has turned from a time of remembering those who have gone before us in Christ as well as our own mortality to a time of celebrating darkness and even evil. The world has taken our remembrance of those who have passed on in faith and like everything else turned it upside down. The focus is no longer on our dearly departed and the saints that give constant witness to the Gospel even from their place in heaven. The world will not continue a month-long meditation on death and the four last things. If you don't believe me, check out the Christmas decor at your local store today or tomorrow.
How can we as parents help our children regain the true meaning of this season? How can we show them the “light of the world” in a world inebriated with darkness? The goal should not be to protect the light from the darkness but rather to let the light dispel the darkness. Our first response should always be prayer. Next, we should imitate Christ and find the good in all things and bring them to the attention of our children. Hopefully during this season a jack-o-lantern will suffice as an excellent teaching tool for spreading the Gospel and understanding the truths of the faith.
Sacraments and Pumpkins
Once we, like the pumpkins, have been cut open the junk (sin) can be removed. Anyone with experience carving pumpkins will tell you that you must remove all of the junk in order to make carving easier, make room for the candle, and to keep the pumpkin from burning when the candle is placed inside. It is the same for us. The candle and its light are symbolic of Christ’s light within us. The cleaner we are the easier time God will have carving us into the people He wants us to be. The cleaner we are the better our light will be able to shine. The cleaner we are the less likely we will burn (purgatory or worse).
Let Your Light Shine
How can we bring this lesson to life in our journey of faith? First, we must be cut open and this is done with an examination of conscience. Many good guides are available to help us do this properly. A good examination of conscience can be painful but it is necessary. This should be done prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate our conscience. Second, we must discard the junk (sin) in our lives. We can do this by frequently confessing our sins in the sacrament of Confession. Christ wants us to bring to him our burdens of sin and He will give us rest. Finally, we must allow ourselves to be filled with the light of Christ through frequent reception of the Eucharist which fills us with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, The Light of the World.
As we approach All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day encourage your children to participate in traditional Catholic practices like praying for the poor souls in Purgatory. Encourage them to fully participate in the Communion of Saints through constant conversation with those who have gone before us and on whose constant intercession we rely for help. The world sees this as a time to revel in the darkness. We must see this as the most opportune time to remove the bushel basket from our lamp so that the world may see our good deeds and give glory to God. Let the light from your jack-o-lantern be a symbol of the light of Christ that is within you. Let your light shine in the darkness for the darkness will not overcome it.