Facing the Darkness

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A conversation with one of my friends reminded me that not everyone in the “Christian” camp believes in the perpetual spiritual war between good and evil. This is one of those perks of being Catholic (and another thing which makes most Protestants think we’re all completely mad)–I can say to you, with a perfectly straight face, that we are in the midst of a battleground at this very moment. The war is raging all around us and we are an inherent part of it whether or not we want to be (because as humans we’re inherently spiritual creatures but that’s another Catholic pre-supposition).

Come Halloween-time, it’s a very common practice of Protestants and Catholics alike to “sterilise” the holiday by making it only about saints and churchy things–or making it not exist at all. This is the 180-degree turn from the secular world’s tendency to utterly defile Halloween and turn it into a festival of lust. I take issue with both approaches to Halloween.

Obviously, caving to the secular ideals turns the entire night into an occasion of sin. But it is almost equally detrimental to completely saint-wash the day and ignore the fact that there is a darker side to the world–one we don’t see. All Hallow’s Eve is, technically, the vigil celebration of All Saint’s Day. In the dark vigil hours, however, we should face the darkness. As with Easter Vigil, where the service begins in darkness and ends in light, All Hallows Eve does the same–over longer time and on a much less dramatic scale. The night before All Saint’s Day is dark (because it’s night, and it’s October). And with darkness comes uncertainty–a certain degree of mystery. It is that mystery which keeps children dressing up year after year, and having people ask them who or what they are. In the dark before the light, they can be someone or something else, just for a little while. The mystery turns into magic for them.

This is turning into a post on mystery now, which could easily lead into a discussion of the Eucharist–so I think I’ll leave that for another day.

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