Report from Louisiana: Thoughts on Halloween

Posted: October 31, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
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By: Pat Austin

Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

SHREVEPORT – Today is Halloween, of course and who doesn’t love the fun of it all, and seeing the little children dressed up in their costumes?

We attend the Episcopal church along with two other Episcopal churches in the area, we have a group performing The Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37) and the War in Heaven (Revelation 12) in the cemetery this evening. There is a bit of side-eye going on amongst those who think this is purely a pagan holiday. To clarify this, I’d like to share a post from a Catholic priest friend, Fr. Clinton Sensat:

In 726, Emperor Leo the Isaurian issued a decree banning all religious images.

He had been fighting the Umayyads, and influenced by Muslim claims, regarded images as idolatrous. That seemed plausible to him. He didn’t consult learned theologians. He didn’t study the history. He didn’t hesitate to believe that countless souls had been led astray with nary a peep from heaven.

He believed a lie told by the enemies of the Church, and so in the name of the Church (but really according to his own personal judgment) he lifted his hand to destroy something the people held dear. Countless images of sacred art precious to the hearts of his people were destroyed by Leo’s zeal – a zeal that came from believing an enemy’s lie.

The same thing happens to Halloween today. Zealous Catholics, believing the lies of an enemy, raise their own hands to savage something people love.

When we hear that Easter is really a pagan celebration of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, we rightly scoff. When we’re told Christmas is really a feast of Mithras, we roll our eyes and move on with our lives. But as soon as people are told Halloween is really a Celtic feast of the dead, we’re all wide-eyed credulity. And being credulous, people become zealous to destroy that which they don’t understand.

How can this be? The same age, the same liars, the same pseudohistory that claim Easter and Christmas are pagan claim Halloween too! But we know the first two are silliness and believe the third?!

Let’s have some facts. Halloween started in Italy, not Ireland. The date has to do with an eighth century pope consecrating a church to all the saints. The date has exactly nothing to do with Samhain.

The folk practices of Halloween came from a variety of different countries, not from secret Celts meeting for midnight covens. Moreover, they’re exactly the kinds of folk practices Catholics spontaneously associated with other major feasts.

In Catalunya they dress up as dragons and giants and fairies for Eucharistic processions. Are the people of northeast Spain secretly Irish druids?? Throughout northern Europe they burn enormous bonfires in honor of the birth of John the Baptist. Are they really worshipping Lugh of the Long Hand? I can promise you that the vast majority of Scandinavian people have never even heard the name.

Please, please stop repeating the lies our enemies invented against us as if they’re good Catholic truth. For CENTURIES anti-Catholics have claimed that Catholic practices, Catholic devotions, and Catholic folk traditions are really pagan. For CENTURIES Catholic priests and theologians have fought a bitter fight proving this is in no way, shape, or form the truth. To have Catholics themselves, even some Catholic clergy, take up the arms of our enemies against the Catholic holidays is disheartening in the extreme.

The Church loves the spooky. The Church honors the dead. The Church is not afraid of death. The Church mocks the powers of hell. All of these attitudes spontaneously gave rise to the folk practices of Halloween as we know it today. Don’t give any credence to the apostles of anxiety. Halloween has nothing to do with paganism, and everything to do with good Catholic humor.

I think highly of Fr. Sensat and think he is a wonderful priest, and he has a brilliant mind. I also think Halloween is fun for kids and adults alike.

Happy Halloween to you and have some candy! 😉

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