23 October 2008


I was going to post on November being the month to remember the Poor Souls, but heard Dr. Ray talking about Halloween yesterday as I was driving home from dropping hubby off at the airport.

Looking back, it's kind of curious how life takes you different places. I was raised in the post Vatican II world and was poorly catechised. My poor parents were very devout but also were of the generation where no one imagined their children would not obtain a good grounding in their Faith if they received instruction at the parish.

During my junior high years, I was deeply immersed in the Charismatic Renewal. The meetings were at a Catholic Church with the parish priest in attendance, but there were many things that weren't Catholic. For example, I was taught that the Rapture was fact and our youth group regularly got together to watch, "Like a Thief in the Night." I've posted previously about my experiences with the Charismatic Renewal, but have been told there are some faithful Catholic Charismatic groups around. Personally, I would be very cautious on many levels.

Despite my parents' wonderful example, there was a time I was outside the Church. Not that I disagreed with the Church, but I had just slowly drifted out of the Church, knowing in my heart that I was in a state of mortal sin that would need to be resolved some day. When I started attending Mass regularly again, we were living in Seattle and there were no parishes that I felt comfortable at.

We looked all over the Seattle area and finally found a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic parish that we attended. As beautiful as that Rite was, it was also a rigorous way of life that most Western Rite (Roman Catholics) have a difficulty adjusting to, at least I did. And, since we were Roman Catholics, there was a rub with the priest who was antagonistic to the West.

That led us to a parish with the ancient Dominican Rite. Completely different than the Byzantine Rite, but incredibly beautiful and close to the TLM. The Mass was said in Latin by an elderly priest, it was a wonderful place for us until the Dominicans ordered that the priest cease and desist from saying the Mass because they were no longer teaching this, one of the most ancient Rites, any longer in their seminaries and, they claimed, it wasn't fair to offer this Mass for people today if the Rite might not be around tomorrow. A complete tragedy.

Soon after that, we moved back home to Minnesota. I had been back a year when my father passed away. A close friend of the family, a very rad trad, stepped into my life. Despite the diversions in my path, I had always been a pretty traddy Catholic. The influence of this friend started to pull my beliefs into the rad trad world. It was not a good place to be either, full of conspiracy theories and a lack of compassion, along with a smattering of judgmentalism.

Last year I was torn about what to do with Halloween. There were friends telling me how it was bad, very bad, while the rest of the secular world was out buying costumes and planning parties.

Some bloggers lament about "why they blog." In the past year of blogging, I may not have imparted much to others, but I have learned a lot. I have sort of come full-circle, moving to the middle of the road instead of hanging at the fringe (referring to Charismatics and rad trads, not Byzantines or Dominicans!).

I have found outward appearances can be deceiving and it's not for me to judge. It's what's in the heart that matters and that's where I need the most work.

So, we come to Halloween. My rad trad friends would be horrified to find that my kids are dressing up as a Power Ranger and a cute pink alien creature. My parish always has a "Saint Party" for Halloween where the kids dress up as their favorite saint. That's all fine and good, but I don't think we will be able to attend many of those parties because my kids aren't dressed as saints. I'm not saying that people that take their kids to these parties are rad trads, not at all. All I'm saying is that my not taking my kids to these parties doesn't make us any less Catholic or mean that I'm sacrificing chickens in my basement.

Check out the following article by Father Augustine Thompson, O.P. that Dr. Ray mentioned on his show entitled, "The Truth About Halloween."

And, check out Ma Beck's great post from last year. It's a must read!


Sanctus Belle said...

I'm with you Swiss Miss...

I agree with everything you said in this post.

Charlotte said...

I am in agreement with you 100%. I wrote about the EXACT same thing about a month ago, it's on the sidebar of my blog - "The Halloween Debate-Let's Just Get It Over With Now." I'd love to hear your comments about my experience, Swissmiss.

angie said...

Totally agree with you! I think some friends were scandalized to find out our kids go trick-or-treating and are counting down the days! T. would be jealous of your M.'s power ranger costume. Swords were the hot item around here this year. T. is going as a knight, M. is going as a king (wanted to be a queen but told him he could be a king with a sword so that convinced him), and little A. is also a knight (with no sword, he'd be too dangerous). The next night (11/1) they will be at a saints party as St George the Dragon Slayer, St Louis King of France, and a cute baby. Had to come up with costumes that could do double duty b/c I can't handle two costumes per kid anymore. Done that in the past, but getting too pricey.

I can't wait to raid their chocolate stash after they go to bed next Friday night!

swissmiss said...

Thanks all. I think the only reason I do go trick-or-treating is to raid the kids' candy stash!

Hi Charlotte:
I'll be over to check out your blog as soon as I get the kids down for a nap :)

Mark saw the Power Rangers ONCE at my PIL and now is ga-ga for them. I thought he was going to be Darth Vader (egads!) but once the PR idea was put in his head, DV was kicked to the curb!

Christine from Maryland said...

Wow! Such a powerful post, Swiss Miss! It struck a chord somewhere deep in my soul. I'll spare the details, but suffice it to say that I'm a boomer who grew up in the pre-Vatican II Church. I love the Novus Ordo, but I question the speed with which the Church instituted so many sweeping changes. I,too, drifted from the Church temporarily after college, but I spent much of that time attempting to make sense of my faith. The grace of God brought me back and landed me in a most wonderful parish. I have been active (sometimes overly so!)in the parish for many years.Unfortunately, we recently had a sizable group of rad trads defect to another church in the Archdiocese. They claimed we weren't "Catholic enough", that our priest was on the verge of heresy and apostasy, etc. I needed to understand what motivated them, so I went on a learning bender. Eventually I chatted with one of our bishops, and he told me that we Roman Catholics are often our own worst enemies. Rather than build the Body of Christ, some of us seem to be dividing it through our over-certainty and judgmentalism. The bishop asked me to pray without ceasing and continue to live my life seeking God through the Eucharist. He said I would find my answers.

On my long faith journey I've come to believe that no one has a lock on the truth. We're ALL travelers on the road. Becoming overly scrupulous in the drive to be right about faith eventually withers the spirit that is ultimately pleasing to God. Pharisees come to mind...I agree with you that it's what's in the heart that matters. God knows what is in my heart, and only He is my judge.

PS- I'M dressing up for Halloween and will be loving every minute of it!! Life's too short not to have some fun!

swissmiss said...

Finding that the Church is universal is one thing I've started to learn. There are some non-negotiables but my choosing to go to a NO or TLM doesn't make me more or less Catholic, sincere or faithful than someone else...any more than having ham instead of goose at Christmas does :)

I'm not wearing a costume, dressing the kids up is enough work for me at this stage!

mum6kids said...

I heard Dr Ray on this too. He has a very balanced approach.
So next week we're making pumpkin lanterns and the kids will probably dress up as something.
I might not sacrifice a chicken-but I would be tempted to curry one.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

on everything

My kids are:
flower fairy
barbie princess
(and two that are two cool for costumes)
I'd love to go to the "all saints party" and come up with clever costumes, but I don't have the energy to arrange 2 sets of costumes (can you trick or treat in saint's costumes? what are the rules there?) and my kids love to trick or treat and meet new neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Dear Swiss Miss,

I really struggle with this one. The party at STA can be fun for the children but I am sick of the holier than thou approach of the hs parents there. I know it because I was just as smug once upon a time.
We also have a neighborhood party that we don't attend. Now that we have been in the neighborhood for two years and the kids have made friends I find it hard to miss this party.
I cannot wait for it all to be over!

swissmiss said...

Hi Katie:
I thought when you said STA you meant St. Thomas Academy, but figured the kids there were a little old to be trick-or-treating! You much mean St. A's.

I do find it difficult to walk through the mine field of what I will allow and not. My PIL seem to think that it's a free for all, but I'm not too keen on Halloween shows about witches. It seems that boys also tend to like the gore and scary things, and I'm not thrilled with gore! Always something.

I've never been to the St. A's party, so don't have an opinion on them. I know people tend to think that whatever choice they have made, whatever group they are in or religion they belong it, that it is the best one. It's one thing to have your convictions and beliefs, but as you say, it's another thing to be arrogent about them. I am slowly learning about how universal Catholicism is, but still have a lot of work to do with how charitable I am in my thoughts about some non-Catholics (hubby's family comes to mind!).

Anonymous said...

Dear Swiss Miss,

Thanks for your kind words!

God Bless,