Of all holidays, Christmas deeply reminds us of the humility of God, Easter demonstrates the Love of God, but my favorite holiday season is from October 31 to November 2.
This season is centered around all Saints Day (November 1), the day that we celebrate the victory that our brothers and sisters who have won the battle for their souls are now in communion with God. It reminds us that the war is not hopeless that it is possible for each of us to enter heaven, and that it is possible for each of us to become a saint. This is a holiday of hope. In reflection on All Saints we ask our older siblings who have made it to heaven to pray to God for us. All Saints is the celebration of the Church Victorious.
The day after is the memorial of All Souls. On this day we pray to God for our older siblings who have won the war, their battle, but still suffered grievous harm to themselves and their relationship to the body of Christ. The souls in purgatory, that place of mercy God provides for those not perfect upon death, are by God’s judgment able to receive his mercy to enter heaven. I imagine the suffering in purgatory would be like the suffering experienced if there was a great party happening and you couldn’t go because you were down with the flu. You know that there is a party going on. You could’ve been having a good time yet you aren’t able to go yet, because you are not healthy to attempt attend. Reflection on the spiritual triage unit of the afterlife reveals that All Souls is a holiday of mercy. The memorial is for the Church Suffering.
In heaven resides the Church Victorious, in purgatory resides the Church Suffering, but what about us on earth? Those of us still on earth are called the Church Militant. Named that way because we are still fighting the battle for souls. But there isn’t a feast to celebrate us, and you might be a little bummed about that. In fact you might even be more bummed when you consider that Halloween which is the eve of all Saints, seems to have been taken over by the world and become a secular holiday. But isn’t that perfect? We are supposed to in the world and not of it after all. And Halloween is an excellent time to reflect on ourselves as the Church Militant. Halloween is the time where we can step out of ourselves and out of our surroundings and look at the world full of monsters and heroes. A world where both good things (treats) and bad things (tricks) happen seemingly indiscriminate of who they are. Now some may still find it evil or worldly, and attempt to banish the darkness by dressing up only as saints or banish the holiday altogether. Ignoring the existence of the dragon. A reversal of the world which seeks to banish the knight. But reality like fairy tales have both.
Joshua Fahey is a Chestertonian Catholic with a bachelors in software engineering, and hasn’t dressed up for Halloween in years.