National Catholic Register


Evangelizing with Halloween

BY Matthew Warner

| Posted 10/31/12 at 2:27 PM


The ancient Celts and Romans believed that the souls of the dead could walk among us. And every year at the end of October they would wear scary masks and build fires to scare them off.

Christians saw that they got it half right. That the dead (just as the living) do have souls and they are just as much a part of the Church as the rest of us. Additionally, Christians recognize that other spiritual beings, good and evil, do in fact exist - many of them seeking your ruin. In the 9th century, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration of All Saints Day (Martyrs Day at the time) to Nov effect "baptizing" these ancient pagan celebrations and re-orienting them to the truth. So that made the night before - the end of October - into "All Hallows Eve" (A.K.A. Halloween).

That's what we have to keep doing today as this holiday continues to be further secularized, trivialized and the real value missed. And that's exactly why I love the idea for Back from the Dead.  

"Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk" is an engaging and inspiring "evangelization drama" to help teach the Catholic faith about the "Last Things" including teachings on the Communion of Saints, the angels, and the three great virtues: faith, hope and charity.

In other words, they've baptized the haunted house. Which, to me, is ingenious. I hope this catches on and we see these done all over the country. People have a natural curiosity about "the dead." They love haunted houses. How much cooler (and scarier) is it, then, to learn which parts of all that freaky stuff are actually real and which are made up? And to learn something real about spirituality and be reoriented back toward God and the hope of becoming a saint in the process.

I know some Christians are completely against any celebration of Halloween. And I recognize there are a lot of distortions of it that are harmful. But I think we just need the right perspective, which not only involves "baptizing" the Christian aspects of it and reorienting it toward the truth, but it also includes recognizing it as a big opportunity for evangelization.

There's a reason why we dress up as ghouls and goblins on the night before we celebrate the feast of All Saints Day, and, despite the claims of supposed Satanists and Wiccans and anti-Halloween Christians, it's actually a Christian reason: We believe in a world that extends beyond the one that we can see, a world in which angels and demons do contest for the souls of men, and the Prince of Lies grows in power by convincing people that he does not exist. If for no other reason than the fact that it reminds us that, as Hamlet tells his friend, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," Halloween is worth celebrating. - Scott Richert

It's also a great reminder and preparation for the celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day that immediately follow. Happy Halloween, y'all. Here's a recent interview with Fr. Brian Nolan, the creator of Back From The Dead: