7 Ways to Keep the “Hallow” in Halloween

Hey, folks! Did you know that Halloween (or “All Hallows’ Eve”) has Christian roots? The evening of October 31 is the vigil of the Feast of All Saints (or Hallows). Here are some tips to mesh the sacred with the scary:

1. Trick-or-treat

Did you know that the origins of trick-or-treat have to do with prayer? The poor (often poor children) would travel from house to house offering to pray for the souls of the dead belonging to each family in return for small treats. This year, in the midst of the onslaught of candy, caramel apples, and popcorn balls, take time to pray for the poor … especially poor children.

2. Need a costume?

Honor the reason for the season by dressing up like one of the saints! You could be St. Lucy carrying her eyes on a plate, St. Thomas More toting his severed head under his arm, St. Michael the Archangel in full armor, St. Padre Pio — complete with oozing stigmata — or St. Margaret of Antioch peering out from the mouth of a dragon. Use this as an opportunity to talk about your Catholic faith.

3. Celebrate the saints!

If you’re new to praying with the saints (or if you’re in need of a refresher course), get to know a new saint this All Hallows’ Eve. Choose a saint to be your partner in prayer for this year. You can pick a saint whose name you share, whose feast day coincides with your birthday, who is the patron of your occupation or field of study, or whose life resonates with you for one reason or another. This website offers a database of saints listed by name, patronage and feast day.

4. Pray

This year, consider praying the Novena for the Holy Souls in purgatory. (A novena is a prayer said for nine consecutive days.) Take advantage of this opportunity to pray for loved ones who have passed away.

5. Recognize mortality

Falling leaves and cooler temperatures have a way of turning our thoughts toward our own mortality. Halloween is (at least in part) a way for us to think out loud about this difficult reality. Spend some time thinking about the fragility of human life. Make an intentional and prayerful effort to see the miraculous in every person who crosses your path this All Hallows’ Eve.

6. Go to Mass

Start your Halloween-ing off right by going to Mass. Many parishes will offer a Vigil Mass in honor of All Saints Day (which, FYI, is a Holy Day of Obligation). Before the costumes, parties, and shenanigans commence, come to adore and receive the One whose glory is made known in the lives of the saints.

7. Have fun!

Despite common misconceptions, one need not be a stick in the mud to live a holy life. St. Teresa of Avila famously prayed, “God saves us from sour-faced saints!” Allow me to introduce you to the remarkable virtue of eutrapelia. It means playfulness and pleasantness. It means providing the soul with rest and refreshment. So, enjoy the opportunities for play which this day has to offer, and remember, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

(Previously published October 2014)