The Halloween "holiday" dilemma seems to get worse with every passing year. Halloween has become a big business secular holiday that comes close to rivaling Christmas for the level of decoration and preparation.
Needless to say, this is an alarming trend for Catholics, particularly those who are parents and grandparents. It is an event that has become even more unwholesome and actually evil in aspect. The notion of sending innocent and impressionable children out into a night dressed as demons and witches to beg for candy at the homes of strangers is hair-raising to even the most jaded of Catholics.
Perhaps some readers will think that we are a little over the top on this one. And perhaps not. When our son (now studying for the Priesthood) was a small child, we participated in Halloween decorating. I'm sorry now that we did, but it was a learning process. One year I fashioned a somewhat cheerful witch figure and attached it to a tree. Our little son was so upset that he wouldn't go to sleep until we took it down, placed it in a garbage can and put heavy cinder blocks on top of it. As "cheerful" as it was, this innocent child recognized it for what it was. Evil.
As he grew older and reached adolescence, he had decisions to make. Some of them revolved around celebrating Halloween with his peers. I wanted him to begin to learn to make his own moral judgments. I told him, quite simply, everything in this world either brings you closer to God and your salvation, or a step away from Him and onto the path that leads to temptation and destruction. Use this as your scale and judge your activities wisely. He did. Not always as I might have wished him to choose, but the scale on which to weigh his choices was presented to him and since then he has used it, even if in retrospect.
Again, this might seem extreme to many of our readers, but as our Catholic life has progressed and our spirituality deepened, we've come to see some things much more clearly than we did years ago.
We do believe that participation in any activity related to the occult or anything even vaguely related to the devil opens the door a tiny crack to a flood of wrong thinking and wrong actions. That includes the activities that our modern society have come to include in this end-of-October holiday.
For little ones, Halloween is a training ground for more dangerous activities as they grow older. Dressing up like a demon, a vampire, or Harry Potter glorifies the dark one. Even cute little ghost stories begin to instill the belief in the occult -- and the seduction away from the Catholic faith begins.
In short, it doesn't bring you closer to God.
As your children reach adolescence and their teen-aged years, think about the activities they engage in at Halloween gatherings, parties and outings. Con't
If they go out into the streets, there will, no doubt, be mischief. No, it's not innocent. The "fun" activities of egging, flour-sock attacks, shaving cream and worse can cause damage to property and worse yet, injury to others. In truth, these are sins that are not likely to be confessed ... all to the damage of their souls.
At parties, there might be Ouija boards, tarot cards, or séances. All in "fun" -- and all opening the door for the dark one to enter.
Teen-agers might gather to watch bloody horror movies, many featuring the "undead" in horrifying detail. Again, I pose the question - does it bring you closer to God or another step away from Him?
Do any of these activities encourage the practice of virtue? Or do they lead to temptation?
There are solutions for the Catholic family, whether or not you have children in your home, or if you are an adult who will have to make the decision as to whether you will answer your door when little children, carrying axes and dripping blood, come looking for candy.
We invite you to explore some of the alternatives we've put together and see what works for you. We've also included a list of links to help you learn more about how you can turn Halloween into an opportunity to "quietly" but effectively evangelize your Catholic faith and keep your sanity.
And just in case you're still reading and taking us seriously ... it never hurts to have a Saint Benedict* medal over your door ... some holy water on hand and a sprinkling of Blessed Salt over your doorstep.
If you're not convinced, please read Spiritual Warfare: The Demonic Influence of the Occult
What does this do to a child's soul?
*St. Benedict Home Protection Kits
and Holy Water Fonts are available here.
Front Yard Displays
You can make your own graveyard with a message. Most hardware stores carry Styrofoam insulating sheets that are about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. Just enough to make three tombstones. Cut them out and place your own Catholic message on them. 2 Ft. Realistic Cross Tombstone
"Here Lies An Atheist.
All dressed up and nowhere to go."
"The soul of the Just
is in the Hands of God."
"My hope lies in the Lord."
"Turn to God.
Your Eternity Could Begin Today."
Instead of a skeleton on your lawn,
why not Our Lord?
After all, He is the only One
Who rose from the dead.
These are life sized cut outs for your lawn
Stand Up Jesus
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Jack o' Lanterns
Certainly the most popular of all Halloween decorations is the jack o lantern. Over the last 10 or 15 years, carving jack o'lanterns has gotten to be a pretty complicated business. There are kits and special templates available to create all sorts of designs.
But ... no Catholic designs. Why not?
Here are some simple ideas that get the essential message across ~
Christ is the Light of the World!
Candy and Other Halloween Treats
OK. You've put a good Catholic face on your home ... now you're ready to answer the door. We'll deal with suggestions about how you should look later on this page, but for now ... what will you give out?
There is truly some very disgusting stuff out there. For example, the Harry Potter Cockroach Clusters. No. We're not fooling. A real product. Perhaps what they serve in hell.
But there's Good News. It's called Scripture Candy. When children ring your bell and say Trick or Treat, it's fair to "trick" them. A good trick. Scripture Candy. Every piece is quite normal candy -- except for the Biblical quotation.
You might also wish to give out a small piece of regular candy with a holy card featuring St. Michael the Archangel or St. George slaying the dragon.
We no longer carry the St. Michael cards as they are Made in China. Something that is too scary, even for Halloween.
Or simply make your own scripture on small pieces of paper and wrap it around a lollypop.
One more thing ... when the little ones leave, please don't say Happy Halloween. Say God Bless You!
If you parish is hosting a Halloween party, speak with your pastor and ask if it can't be an All Souls and All Saints Day party instead. There are some wonderful scripts for planning a Souls in Purgatory tableau instead of an awful haunted house.
and help others take
a Catholic approach to Halloween.
Here are some ideas from last year:
From Corinne: Last year my son went as a warrior, I hot glued a picture of Saint Michael to the front of his breast plate, when he carried his sword around the blocks he was proud to tell people he was Saint Michael. This year he is 4 and he said that he wants to be Saint Michael again! We are using the same costume and I bought him a HUGE pair of wings to go with it. It has really inspired a love to St. Michael, he has pictures all over his room and I know St. Michael is watching him especially closely. My daughter was dressed as a princess in a long gown, we told her she could be St. Helen, since her name is Helen she was very happy telling people that also, I think maybe this year we can pass out holy cards of the saints to the houses we visit.
Diane from Houston, TX: My girls will be St. Lucy with a small platter of her eyes and Blessed Kateri, both with name tags so that people know that they are dressed up as Catholic Saints. They will hand notes back as thanks after receiving treats that say: All Hallow's Eve - Thank you for this treat. We will pray for your loved ones at Mass on the Feast of All Souls Day. Remember those that successfully ran the face before us on All Saint's Day. We will display a pumpkin with the Cross and Crown.
Lana who is from our Diocese: Peace! Thank you for your witness to our faith. I am a mother of two daughters 12 & 14, and a girl scout leader. My troop set out to teach children the True meaning of Halloween last Halloween. We organized an All Hallows Eve Ball for the children. We then put all our ideas on a web site, and mailed a flyer inviting every Pastor, Principal of all Catholic schools, and Youth ministers to visit our web site throughout the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Brooklyn. Please visit our site. www.halloweenalternative.org We hope it will give others ways of spreading the Truth about our Catholic Faith. God bless you and may our Blessed Mother and all Gods angels and saints continue to guide and protect you!
Of course we'd love for you to order from our costume pages, but if you don't, here are some ideas.
If your children attend Catholic school, you probably don't have to worry about this too much. They'll be dressing up for All Saints Day. We emphasis the word "probably" because there are some "progressive" Catholic schools out there that don't think twice about celebrating Halloween.
However, if your children attend public school or if they are likely to want to go out Trick or Treating or even if they just stay at home and answer the door ... why not make a Catholic statement?
Our Catholic Faith is full of bold and fascinating saints. Here are a few ideas - but make sure the kids know the story of the Saint so they can tell people about it if they are asked!
St. Michael the Archangel: An angel gown, wings, a spear with an impaled rubber demon
St. George: Armor, a spear with an impaled dragon
St. Stephen: a simple gown with stuck on arrows signifying his martyrdom
If there's a group of boys - St. Nicholas with the three boys in a cauldron
St. Isaac Jogues - a Jesuit cassock with chewed up bloody fingers
St. Kateri Tekakwitha - A Mohawk Maiden carrying a Cross. Please! Don't give her a dream catcher or some other pagan symbol!
St. Therese of Lisieux - A little Carmelite strewing rose petals
St. Joan of Arc - A beautiful French maiden with a sword!
St. Teresa of Calcutta: A simple sari made of a white sheet with a blue and white dish towel veil
You can also dress up a group with make up to create burned and blackened skin, dressed in rags, with chains dangling from their wrists (make these from tin foil) and cellophane gift basket wrap in yellow and orange to resemble flames.
Who are they? The Souls in Purgatory!
And of course, you can't go wrong with an angel.
Halloween's Christian Roots
When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins. But do you know the Christian connection to the holiday?
The Tale of Jack O' Lantern
Why do we carve pumpkins for Halloween? Read a story from Catholic Update that explains the origin of this yearly tradition.
Witches, Ghosts and Magic: What Catholics Believe
What are Catholics to think about the devil, exorcism, psychic hotlines, fortune tellers, ESP, ghosts and magic in the light of current Church teaching? Curiosity about the supernatural is normal especially for teenagers during Halloween but is it “of the devil” as some Christians claim?
Halloween The Holiday We Love to Hate
Remembering The Dead - Don't Make Them Remind Us
Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween
All Saints Day and All Souls Day
- History of All Hallows' Eve
- Purpose and Focus of Party
- Outline of Party
- Suggested Time Frame for a Halloween Party
- A Sample Invitation
- Suggested Script for the Poor Soul in Purgatory
- Know Your Saints Quiz
- Prayers (Eternal Rest, De Profundis, Litany of the Saints, Dies Irae)
- Recipes (Soul Cakes, Colcannon, Barmbrack)