Ready or not, here comes November! As we wrap up October, of course, thoughts of children and adults are on Halloween. This holiday is second in the United States only to Christmas when it comes to consumer spending. The average American will spend $102 on Halloween, and nationally we spend over 10 billion dollars on this holiday. From decorations, to costumes for adults, kids and pets to candy and parties, Halloween has become a major focus for Americans.
Halloween however has taken on a very secular focus, but for Christians Halloween was always known as All Hallow’s Eve, the vigil of All Saint’s Day. Tradition says that between the fall harvest and the darkness and death of winter, All Hallow’s Eve was the date in which the line between the living and the deceased was blurred. From the ancient Celtic traditions of warding off ghosts that would wander the earth, the celebration of All Saint’s Day was moved to November 1, in the 600’s. The celebration for Christians went from warding off ghosts to celebrating family and friends who had died.
It is important for us to know the origins of what we do and celebrate. As Catholics we do not fear death and dying. The month of November, All Saint’s Day, and All Soul’s Day are opportunities for us to intentionally reconnect with those who have gone before us. Our remembrance table is a great way for us to do that. I encourage all of us to take a moment or two sometime in November to say a prayer at the remembrance area of our church. It is also a tradition to visit the graves of our loved ones. Prayers at the cemetery and lighting a candle and leaving it on your loved one’s grave is a great tradition. In Poland this tradition creates an unbelievable image of light in cemeteries. Check it out by going to YouTube and search: All Saints Day Poland. The videos are extremely instructional and inspiring.
In a special way our own cemetery of St. Mary’s is a sacred place. You may have noticed that we are getting some work done in our cemetery so that our loved one’s dignity is recognized. Trimming and removal of some trees, power washing of the altar and statues, repainting of the statues, new fencing and slowly working on getting headstones raised and leveled. Our cemetery committee is working hard at making sure our cemetery is a holy, dignified and respectful place for us to place, pray for and remember our dead.
Lastly, it is hard to believe, but this weekend Fr. Luke and I celebrate our one-year anniversary with St. Mary’s. It has certainly been a year of firsts, and I know I can speak for both of us when I say it has been a pleasure to be your priests at St. Mary’s. Thank you for welcoming us, loving us, encouraging us, challenging us and supporting us. We have accomplished much in one year, and we have a lot more work to do moving forward. I hope all of us can see and appreciate the positive direction St. Mary’s is moving in. GREAT things are happening here!