Friday 31st October 2014: Happy Vigil of All Hallows!

As this weeks bulletin comes on Halloween, or as I prefer to call the vigil of All Hallows, I’m not going to mention the usual Halloween stuff which surrounds us this time of year. This coming Sunday, my local parish has invited all the children to attend the usual family mass in costume dressed as a Saint. This isn’t a new idea, but I’m glad it’s something that’s gaining traction generally, and I hope it becomes mainstream in parochial activities. All children love dressing up, the fun, the anticipation, and the use of imagination are wonderful vehicles for joy and laughter in the household. It’s a gift of the Spirit, and we should all cherish it. More importantly, it presents the opportunity to talk to our children and grandchildren about the example of the Saints and the vast array of witness down through centuries to spur us on to holiness of living. It’s one of the greatest treasures of Catholic faith to hand on.

We shouldn’t underestimate the value of what the Saints can teach us today about sexual difference and complementarity either. In his formal intervention at the synod Cardinal Nichols said:

“Conflicts and confusions in anthropology underlie much contemporary controversy and instability. The Church has a crucial contribution to make if we can find a revitalised language.” 

Part of that revitalisation of language, I think, can be discovered in the recorded witness of the Saints. God knows, they were real about masculinity and femininity! Likewise, as we cherish the memories of our dear departed ones, especially by preserving keepsakes of them and photographs of them in our homes; so too, do our images and relics of our beloved Saints in our churches betoken solidarity communion and comfort in our hearts. The charm of the Saints helps us cope better with the harsh and often cruel reality of the world which lies behind the disproportionate preoccupation with the ghoulish at Halloween(not that there’s anything wrong with “spooking”out the demons figuratively speaking on this night to be better prepared for the Solemnity itself. Indeed, its a timely reminder to have fresh stock of Holy Water in the home).

I think there’s a distinct lack of charm in society, which is why perhaps there seems to be such a collective mental block against the wisdom and beauty of the Church’s teachings on the family. “Go against the current, against this civilization that is doing us so much harm,” said Pope Francis on July 27th 2013. The saints teach us to do just that.  But on the subject of a revitalised language, I leave you with this insight to ponder on  as we rejoice with our families in the heavenly glory of the communion of saints:

“The old Christian dogmatic terminology is like an enchanted castle where the loveliest princes and princesses rest in a deep sleep; it only needs to be awakened, brought to life, in order to stand in its full glory.” Søren Kierkegaard

– Edmund Adamus

Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster
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