Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Spookiest Weekend

In our Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood, almost every lawn has Fall decorations including scarecrows and ghosts. Halloween is celebrated in a big way here. The Feast of All Hallows--Halloween--has morphed into a much bigger celebration than long ago when we trekked door-to-door with Dad's old hat. At each stop we would sing song this phrase: "Halloween is coming and the goose is getting fat. Please put a nickel in the old man's hat!" I don't recall getting many nickels, but we did reap a bountiful harvest of candy corn and other sweets. Things have certainly come a long way from candy corn and apple dunking to orange colored lights and glitzy costumes. A friend said he has to go to a parade today. His granddaughter's school is having a Halloween parade--a not-to-be-missed affair! We grown ups know that All Saints Day, November 1st, is All Hallows Day when we Catholics attend Holy Mass to honor all those holy men and women who preceeded us in life. Some are officially recognized as saints with a capitol "S". The over whelming majority are lower case "s's", but still saints. I think of Mrs. McN., the mother of a local priest who is a university chaplain. Left a single Mom when her husband disappeared after their son was born, she waitressed in local diners to support herself and her son. In the early 1960's a black man came in to the diner where she worked and ordered a hamburger. Her boss ordered her to salt the man's food so heavily "that he and his kind would never come back."  Mrs. McN. removed her apron, handed it to the boss and refused to follow his orders. She returned home and told her son, "We will probably be hungry for a few days. But that's OK. God will provide for us." God did provide and her son grew to be a priest even though he met difficulties on the way to ordination.
My own mother took in my youngest brother's high school friend for an entire year. His new "Dad" locked him out when he came home one night and told him not to come back. Even though ours was a large family, we always had room to take some neighbor boys to Mass on Sunday. During our post high school years, a friend who went to school with me stayed at our house for four years while she worked out some of her difficulties.
Even though Halloween might seem to be a pagan custom, we who believe in the Communion of Saints--those in heaven and those on earth--have a deep reason to celebrate everyday holiness. Happy Halloween!

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