Saturday, October 30, 2010


This article (from last year) doesn't strike me as a good sign. Though the L'Osservatore Romano is, of course, not an official mouthpiece of the Pope (as the American media often seems to imply; portraying "the Vatican" as making trivial pronouncements about The Beatles or The Simpsons) still represents an attitude in the Church that I find troubling:

The Holy See has warned that parents should not allow their children to dress up as ghosts and ghouls on Saturday, calling Hallowe'en a pagan celebration of "terror, fear and death".

The Roman Catholic Church has become alarmed in recent years by the spread of Hallowe'en traditions from the US to other countries around the world.


The paper quoted a liturgical expert, Joan Maria Canals, who said: "Hallowe'en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian."

Parents should "be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death," said Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites.

Last year a newspaper controlled by the Italian bishops, Avvenire, called for a boycott of Hallowe'en, calling it a "dangerous celebration of horror and the macabre" which could encourage "pitiless [Satanic] sects without scruples".

Earlier this week the Catholic Church in Spain also condemned the growing popularity of Halloween, saying it threatened to overshadow the Christian festival of All Saints' Day.

The Bishop of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Jose Sanchez, said there was a risk that Halloween could "replace Christian customs like devotion to saints and praying for the dead."
This is as absurd as when Ratzinger was condemning Harry Potter.

These are men who prance around in costume 365 days a year talking about spirits and kissing bones and drinking blood...and then they get mad when everyone else does it for one day?

There may be nothing more pagan than Halloween, but there is also nothing in our secular world more Catholic (at least as I understand it). This new "purist" fundamentalist Catholicism is really starting to get on my nerves. If anything is objectionable about how Halloween is practiced, it is as an excuse for adults to binge drink and dress like whores, definitely not the ghouls and goblins.


Who Am I said...

Regarding secularized holidays/celebrations in The US, Mardi Gras would be the MOST Catholic of those celebrations. While Mardi Gras is not celebrated much outside of Louisiana, it is ALL throughout the Catholic world (Carnival/Carnaval, etc.). While the intention of Mardi Gras is to call to mind The Lenten Season (and the fasting we will do throughout), the secular appropriation of the celebration is to get one's sinning done on that day of carnival. Am I right or wrong ?

True, the above doesn't necessarily apply to EVERY Catholic nation, but carnival encompasses EVERY worldly aspect of our lives (hearty meals, festivities, etc.). It exists as a contrast between life and the dying to the world that is Lent. That is why meat (fish were included as well)and meat byproducts (milk, eggs, fats, etc.) were prohibited during Lent (It's called Mardi GRAS for a reason.). The contrast between the period outside of Lent and Lent isn't really made apparent anymore, given that you can still eat meat during Lent (at least in The Latin form). I'm all for ekonomia, but it is an observation of the effects that has on a culture. ;)

Who Am I said...

Halloween as celebrated in The US (and elsewhere (globalization for the FAIL !)) has absolutely nothing to do with what the focus of the day should be. Namely All Hallow's Eve as a "prep" for those who have received their crowns of immortality. How does dressing up like a hob-goblin, vampire, faery etc. exemplify that aspect of the season ? All Hallow's Eve is a Catholic holiday (a contextualized Samhain, but that's another story) . So ultimately what they are asking is that CATHOLICS be mindful of the significance of the day and not get caught up in the "Trick or Treat" culture that has become the focus of the day. That has nothing to do with puritanism at all. You know me, I'm NO prude regarding contextualizing a culture (Do you REALLY want me to rant on OTHER things that should have been contextualized ?).

Ultimately what The Vatican is asking for, is that CATHOLICS take back holidays and observe them as HOLY DAYS (I know holidays and holy days are the same thing, but lexically holidays and holy days have become two very distinct things.). I mean didn't you mention on here (not this particular post, but in another) that The Vatican should move it's affiliations away from America, The West, Israel, etc. ? Isn't this PRECISELY one way The Vatican is doing that ? Ultimately saying Church custom takes PRECEDENCE over local practice. ;) It only applies to Catholics, so what's the big deal ?

If the focus was to be on the dead, that would be one thing (which is PRECISELY what November 2nd is for), but there is no way of arguing around it for a Catholic.

If people want to celebrate death and the like, why aren't AMERICAN Catholics putting more emphasis on All Soul's Day ? That is what the article is addressing. It's about re-discovering OUR Catholic roots and taking part in the culture that way.

What the author probably intended to say (but did so poorly) is the fact that the holiday comes off as a MOCKERY of All Saint's Day. Catholics venerate the dead, we don't conjure up spirits and other such things (at least that is the message they are trying to get across).

I mean I have issues with the lifting of the fast on the Friday following Thanksgiving in The US, but I'm not one to complain. I understand that the dispensation was allowed at a time when most American Catholics were poor (and refrigerators were likewise uncommon). However, now is that really the case for EVERYONE ? The same with Catholics who had a fit when The 4th of July fell on a Friday. I mean HEAVEN FORBID you can't grill meat that year. What takes precedence, Catholic Law or American custom ? One can most certainly harmonize the two, but typically it happens not for the sake of ekonomia, but for the sake of proving just how AMERICAN we are. Think about it for a moment.

Next time a Catholic complains about Christmas in The US, they should realize that the focus of Christmas is to go to MASS, not the gift giving. Epiphany is the day for gift giving (even if that's not the point, but still it's a Tradition that developed around it, nothing wrong with that). The West still preserves that in many places, why should America be any different ?

sortacatholic said...

Gimme a frig break. Halloween is a fun day for kids to dress up as robots, the Tin Man, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Lady Gaga, whatever. Heck, as a tween I did conceptual costumes such as "Joe Isuzu" and Norman Schwartzkopf. As an adult H'ween is just an excuse to get mad crunk to the point of alcohol poisoning. The PBXVI crew really have no clue about this (like most things). They should be forced to eat an entire bag of "fun size" Snickers each.

I'm convinced that most princes of the church today popped straight out of the oven as socially regressive 70 year old men.

Who Am I said...

Doesn't that prove the point of the article ? The idea that in America the concept of All Hallow's Eve (like Christmas, Easter (well that one is a bit harder to sell), Valentine's Day (We completely dropped ST. on it), St.Patrick's Day (which is used as an excuse to get drunk etc.)) can and HAS been separated from the LARGER scheme of it all. Namely that people may say they are observing Halloween, but who are they kidding, they're observing a desacralized form of Samhain. Instead of spirits, the idols of pop American culture have been the ones to take their place.

They're ultimately putting it this way, what's more important to the American, being Catholic or being American. A much BROADER issue is what is being addressed here. It's a challenge to the Catholic to be more than just Catholic with their votes.

sortacatholic said...

Who Am I:

Were you ever a kid?

Do you socialize as an adult?

Damn, it's pathetic that I'm in my office preparing a lesson. I should be at Rocky Horror with my coworkers. I don't do TG or cosplay, but I probably would have a blast as old me. In fact, I'm thinking of just showing up. I can ad-lib to the freshmen tomorrow.

Lemme guess. You're in the pen (aka Catholic seminary). Next year, find someone on the "outside" with wheels. Hop out the window after Compline and pass the Lauds hangover off as late night study. You're supposed to take lots of cold showers anyway, so bottoms up!

Who Am I said...

I was a kid and yes I do socialize as an adult, however Halloween was never that big a deal in my home.

Sure I dressed up in a costume a few times growing up, but it was mainly for the school costume party. Culturally speaking, Halloween is not a big deal where I'm from (I live in the US, but I'm one of those bi-cultural individuals.). The same is true of Christmas, the focus is geared towards Epiphany in regard to gift giving. Carnival likewise holds the same position The Mardi Gras Carnival holds in Louisiana (costumes and such are worn for it as well as during certain Saint's feast days and their accompanying processions.).

I'm not in seminary as the blog's owner could probably inform you. I'm QUITE conflicted in certain regards towards the current seminary model ;).

I'm an anthropologist and thus in reading the article, it is stating more about American culture than we would care to think about. Like I said, it is CHALLENGING American Catholics to push towards an OBSERVANCE of Catholic Culture and not blindly give into being American. I mean what's stopping American Catholics from celebrating Carnival ? No one says it has to be some grandiose affair, but yet we leave that for Louisiana and the rest of The Catholic world. We participate in pockets, complaining how things aren't the way they should be etc. without pushing forward in our position as laymen to DEMAND these things. Tradition is a dialogue between The Church (The Faith) and The church (the people, why aren't we engaging it ?