Friday, October 5, 2012

Is Halloween just an innocent practice?

Halloween: Time we took a second look
(Please note: this feature blog entry is written by Lalit Lobo, a father who cares about the faith, family and Catholic education. He intends to address the next Toronto District Catholic School Board meeting with these concerns about Halloween. Everyday For Life Canada supports him and shares his thoughts with our readers. We thank him for being a witness to faith.) Here's the entire article:

"We certainly need to narrow the question in our title down to: should a Christian participate in Halloween? If one thinks that participation is not really sinning then it is worth investigating to see if the practices give honour to God. My hope in this article is that each person regardless of your religious denomination or title takes a closer look at what this really is about since everything in life is not clear-cut.

"For starters - I want to get into the portion of SYMBOLIC COMMUNICATION. Let’s talk about “Just Costumes.” What is the reason our children dress up as witches, ghosts, demons, Dracula, and so on? And served on the side is a bit of painted blood streaks/drops, done up eye-lashes, false sabre-teeth, and you can add to the list while being creative! Two-thumbs up! So then what would God think about dressing up our children to represent such entities? Please read on. 

Who is really being influenced?

"Innocently dressing up and taking part in some sort of masquerade festivity puts us closer to the theme of the event thereby establishing a clear connection between what is innocent and what is ….. You can complete the sentence if you are definitive about what the practices of Halloween are; if you have investigated everything about the festivity and are now absolutely 100% sure that this has not the slightest thing to do with any sort of evil. Dressing up in costumes on another day or collecting candy for that matter is certainly neutral on any other day. So it is not really the practices but the association to this particular day that raises the issue of involvement. 

"Does this mean that my child cannot and should not dress up like Spiderman or Barbie and collect candy from the neighbours? I am not suggesting that it is sinful to do so, only that it is probably not the best choice. 1 Cor. 10: 23-24 suggests that abstinence is the best way to go – “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial or constructive.” 

Impersonation of Evil Practices

"3 John 11 says, “Do not imitate what is evil.” If the blind lead the blind, then Jesus reminds us that both can fall into the ditch which doubles the trouble and hazard. A single act of mind could possibly turn the tide of another’s life. Before your final day is done, remember that you will leave a legacy of good or evil. Moreover, if you seemed to be the person who helped others live a better life you will be rewarded well. Remember that good people don’t make it to heaven; only the ones who are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb through Repentance and solid faith. These days it is very easy to sell a value system that you never would live out. 

"Satan is most willing to let us profess our Christianity, as long as we don’t practice it"... Remember that our bad example will give us the tendency to rationalize: Pre-marital sex is fine if you love the person; dress them up in costumes since it doesn’t really harm them at all and we have done this all these years and nothing bad has happened… I guess in that case the person is waiting for something bad to happen and until such time will carry on doing what he is doing. Another one you might have heard – I have been smoking for 20 years now and I see persons who don’t smoke have lung cancer! So the rationale is, if I stop smoking something might happen to me, so I better not stop! Hence, according to the person's logic all of humanity should begin smoking or something might happen to them. Genius! 

Giving Credibility 

"In partaking of the evil practice through our children we certainly do some free advertising and publicity on behalf of multi-national corporations that produce these costumes and masks. Spiritual darkness and the church of Satan rejoice since this important day in the world of dark and evil spirits seeks out any free publicity that’s out there.  

What about the future?

"In any form or manner, could it be possible that we are setting up our children to become familiar with the practices of spiritual darkness? Hence, could this then lead them in the future to explore occult areas by sheer fascination? And who can testify that not one child has gone down that dark road? 

"Think about the frog and boiling water syndrome: it will quickly jump out of the scalding water if thrown into it, but will allow itself to be boiled to death in slow heating water. Many are spiritually killed slowly by witnessing or imitating others around them. Every sociologist would tell you that behaviour and symbolic communication is contagious. To put things another way – can we just pretend we are not really part of something when we cannot totally avoid it? If because of the very nature of Halloween, how can we think we innocently are not part of its symbolism if we choose to participate in any part of it? We tend to downplay the negative effects of a bad example, especially in our children who are particularly vulnerable. Some parents are in total denial and will have every excuse in the world for celebrating darkness and feel proud when they see their child in devil’s gear. 

"As a Catholic, I would like to question each of you who holds a position of authority over our children – parents first, then the teachers, school principals, school trustees, bishop, priest and deacon, youth ministers and early childhood educators, ministers in a children’s ministry setting: If the KuKlux Klan or Nazis would have a special day, would you baptized Christians dress up your kids as klansmen or in the Nazi outfit and send them out at night to commemorate it, even in fun or jest? Surely not! But why not? Because all of you in authority would not want these little ones to associate themselves with what the organization depicts. Remember Jesus’ strongest excoriation was reserved for the Pied Piper seducers of “these little ones.” (Mat. 18:6). A Dutch proverb says it well: to teach youth nothing is to teach them evil. And Pope St. Felix said, “Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them." 

"Our threshold of tolerance each year goes to a new low with crafty and convincing rationale. If we cease to take action against such scandals, the cost will be high and someone is going to pay for the damage. The least significant act can do vast destruction. Then don’t question God when something goes wrong with your family, since you were the decision maker first and not Him. Paul states in the book of Corinthians that it takes only a little yeast to work through a huge batch of dough. 

In closing, let me ask this: were we born and baptized to Raise Hell or Lift Jesus Higher? A lot of things that cause others to sin will come and go and drag most with it. In our times there is certainly more of a need to focus on the danger of a bad example than the advantages of a good example, since we tend to rationalize our bad examples. And for the parent: are you really taking the Eucharist home and making the home your domestic Church of Evangelization? And for the preacher: can you be a Lion at the pulpit and not a Lamb? Can the laity challenge you to “tell it like it is” and not sugar-coat it as it is too often done? The status right now is that there are only a handful of priests who will take the “No nonsense approach” when it comes to Catholic teaching.

Perhaps they are too afraid to lose members of their congregation or perhaps get a slap on the wrist from their superiors. I’d rather take a slap on the wrist now than to take a slap on the face later from my Maker! And to school trustees, teachers, principals – can the hallways in our Catholic School buildings look like Catholic hallways and not like the Hallway to Hell? Seriously! Put up some good Catholic artwork of saints and stories like the Prodigal son, while putting union concerns and politicking aside. Salvation and the saints take precedence. Who will stand up and take the first bold step in banning images of goblins, Dracula, skulls and serpents in the hallways? A viable, educationally sound Christian alternative to all this would be to have an “All Saints” costume day and give each pupil an assignment to research the life of one saint and present the findings in class during the month of October. 

No matter what the evil, parents and teachers are always searching for better ways for  their children not feel deprived of the world’s fun. Trust me, it will not traumatize your child if they will not be allowed to go trick-or-treating just because everyone else is doing it. Let’s not work our way into damage control later since we did not act responsibly when our sons or daughters were not taught the truth about Christian responsibility from the start. De-programming is a difficult task. Let us not glorify the enemy of Christ but rather glorify Christ the eternal and all-knowing God."

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