Rebuilding Christendom is all about the children.
Besides Christmas, Halloween is probably the most well-loved holiday for your average kid, Catholic or not (at least in the nation I live in). The reason is obvious to any child of ten years or less: candy. Every year thousands of kids have fun dressing up and getting candy.
But for a pious Catholic parent, the prominence of skeletons, ghosts and occult imagery is enough to remove your children from the celebration all together. However, there is in fact a traditional celebration of this time among our fathers that we need to reclaim if we want to be rebuild Christendom.
What is this traditional celebration? I will return to that in a moment.
In God’s liturgical Providence, we have a triduum of feasts this year after the motu proprio: Christ the King is on Halloween (October 31st), with All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2). This is a great opportunity for children to celebrate Christ the King, Lord of the Church Triumphant, Militant, and Suffering. It is a good time to talk about death to your children, and the reality of the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven.
Conor Gallagher, father of 15 and president of TAN Books, recently shared some of his fatherly wisdom in a new book on parenting. His first chapter is entitled “Four Last Things First”:
There is perhaps no more counterintuitive notion for a parent than this: you must prepare your child for death… In the truest light of reality, you must help your children see that death is God’s way to bring us to our eternal home. While we should not be fatalistic or dwell too heavily on the subject with little ones, we should also never hide this ultimate reality from them. It requires clear and clever thinking on the part of parents to communicate the truths of the Faith, including the inevitability of death… A child must see that death is part of life and that we were not made for this world…
The greatest gift you can give your child is not that which you provide during your life but what you provide him long after you are gone. Your voice can sound in his mind, many years from now, as he lays dying: “Reach out for the Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ. They will take you to God the Father” (Parenting for Eternity, 9, 13-14, emphasis in the original).
This year there is so much uncertainty about where our families will be as the Roman Pontiff himself has declared war, it seems, on the ancient Roman Rite itself. Yet what better time than this to meditate on Christ as King over life and death? Children can get candy and celebrate the saints and remember (or learn) about the reality of death.
But what does a traditional Catholic do for Halloween? Our writers will be discussing this further over the next few days. But we can sum up the practice of our fathers as this: reject the occult, but also puritanism. Our fathers in fact had a lively (and festive!) remembrance of death during this time, and we would do well to learn from them, as our writers will discuss. We also need to remember death.
We have also been taught in the Anglo-American sphere to shun all such pageantry as occult or demonic in and of itself. But since we are dealing with truths which touch upon heaven and hell, we also shouldn’t take things too lightly. As exorcist Fr. Chad Ripperger says, “The Devil isn’t under every rock. Just every other rock.”
First and foremost for prayer purposes, tomorrow begins the Novena to Christ the King which some communities are praying in order to save the Latin Mass. We have also brought in Charles Fraune to write for OnePeterFive to cover spiritual warfare and exorcism, and he will have a piece here on some of the traditions of Catholic Halloween. Next week we will also have an expert on the Occult, so that families can be aware of the nature of these things as they see them more manifestly at this time.
We must be wise as serpents but also innocent as doves (Mt. x. 16).
For the innocence of children, and the traditional observance from our forefathers, we will have the very best write next week, so stay tuned. Essays will also reflect on Christ the King to lead up to the feast and the month of Holy Souls.
As always, please contact me with any comments, questions, objections or suggestions.
Yours in Christ,
T. S. Flanders
Timothy Flanders is the editor-in-chief of OnePeterFive. He is the author of City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. His writings have appeared at OnePeterFive and Crisis, as well as in Catholic Family News. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.