Bishop: Let saints come marching in on Halloween
MANILA, Philippines–Instead of wearing scary costumes and going trick-or-treating or playing pranks on Halloween, why not dress up in clothes or robes emulating the saints and martyrs of the Catholic Church?
This was the appeal of Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Bagaforo to the Catholic faithful, especially the youth, as he urged parishes on Thursday to organize wholesome activities that would recapture the essence of “Undas” (All Saints’ Day) and replace the popular Halloween horror practices.
Instituted by the 8th century Pope, Gregory III, All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1—also known as the “Feast of All Martyrs”—is a day to honor people the Church says are worth emulating.
Bagaforo, in a post on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website, said the Archdiocese of Cotabato would stage a “March of the Saints” before the end of the month.
He said the event, which would highlight the lives and virtues of saints, aimed to do away with the Western-influenced tradition of scary pranks and bizarre costumes Filipinos are used to seeing during Halloween, with its focus on the “paranormal.”
The celebration should reemphasize the message of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, the prelate said.
Bagaforo said he hoped the program would inspire the lay faithful, especially the youth, to emulate the examples of the Church’s “super heroes,” whose sanctity has earned them the privilege of beatific vision.
Essence of feast
Other parishes, like the St. John the Evangelist Parish in Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan province, has also been holding a “March of the Saints” to bring back the essence of Halloween.
Halloween is a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”) occasion, that is, the night before All Hallows Day, or the Mass day of all saints.
During the “March of the Saints,” the children, dressed in the image of the saints they represent, usually join the priest in a processional at the start of the Mass.
Beware of ‘evil one’
At the homily, each child will entertain parishioners with a brief story about the saint they represent.
CBCP media director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, in an interview, said it was all right for people to have parties and feasts but they should avoid glorifying the “evil one.”
Dressed up in the gruesome images of ghosts, witches and demons and matching their outfits with glowing red horns, children usually go to Halloween parties or go house-to-house in their scariest costumes, collecting “treats.”
“Allowing children to use the symbols of Satan sends a bad subliminal message to them … We are not glorifying the saints, this is a glorification of Satan himself,” said Quitorio.
The observance of Halloween is supposed to “enhance the feast of the saints” but over time, it has “morphed” into something that parades not the saints and their holy symbols but the “icons of evil,” Quitorio said.
“There’s nothing wrong with costume parties on Halloween as long as the costumes and symbols used are the ones that would enhance one’s faith and values,” Quitorio said.
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