Tuesday 31 October 2017

Halloween in the very Catholic Philippines

It is Halloween night or the eve of the twin Catholic celebration of All Saint’s Day on Nov. 1 and All Soul’s Day on Nov. 2. But for all our Christianity, the Philippines which is a very Catholic or Christian country celebrates Halloween night even if Halloween really celebrates the darkness of evil. Surprised? I know that certain bishops or priests have already openly spoken against our celebrating Halloween night, but this is one issue that I would have wanted the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to issue a strong statement like what they issued against extra judicial killings (EJK) because this is what we should expect from our Catholic leaders on what should be done. Call it Pastoral care.

Somehow, I came across an article written by Fr. Gabriele Amorth who was the Vatican’s Chief Exorcist who performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms before he died. Fr. Amorth asked the poignant question, “Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?” For your information Fr. Amorth condemned the celebration of Halloween because of the danger to young people who might be lured to the occult, which promotes suicidal thoughts, psychiatric or psychological stress. Many Catholic parents tolerate their children to celebrate Halloween because it is just for fun and can bring no harm!

But Fr. Amorth said, “Halloween is really a spiritual gathering presented as a form of game, and that is the equivalent of singing hosannas to the devil. We should understand that Pope Gregory IV, 843 years after Christ moved the Feast of All Saints Day which was then celebrated on May 13th to the present November 1st was done in order to stop the evil tradition which arrived from Ireland of adoring the world of the dead.” *
One of the many scary costumes being done in Nov.1 in the Philippines (photo credit to the owner)

Fr. Amorth added, “The Battle against evil begins in the family. The reason why many individuals become evil is often because so many young people “live without knowing the sacredness of being children” and therefore do not know what it means to be a good father or mother.” How very true when we become a tolerant society we end up tolerating this celebration of evil itself! Call me a killjoy if you wish, but we cannot throw away our Catholicism simply because we want to have fun on Halloween night!

This statement by Fr. Amorth is not far from what we learned from Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared at the Cova de Ira in Fatima a hundred years ago. Sister Lucia confided to Carlo Cardinal Caffara, “The decisive battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be over marriage and the family.” Cardinal Caffara was one of Pope Francis’ 45 handpicked delegates to attend the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2015 and he once quipped that the great tragedy of mankind today is Atheism.”

Whether we accept it or not, the Philippines is also in the midst of this final battle especially in the halls of Congress where divorce is being contemplated or debated to become the law of the land. During the six-year reign of then Pres. Benigno Aquino III, he finally had the Reproductive Health Bill (RH) passed into law. Thankfully, the Supreme Court in an en banc decision continued to protect the rights of the unborn. During that fight against the RH Bill, I had a very strong adviser in the person of the late Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.  *

So will you be celebrating Halloween tonight and wear masks or even the face of the Devil complete with horns? Lest you have already forgotten, we are made in the image and likeness of God, so don’t desecrate yourself just because Halloween is an innocent celebration and simply it is fun! In case you folks haven’t forgotten, during the golden years (from 1950 to 1980) we never celebrated Halloween even if the Philippines was under the Commonwealth of the United States of America for 50 years.

Somehow things have changed and all the stores leasing space in all our shopping malls have all sorts of Halloween costumes and people are buying them like there was no tomorrow. If there is anything that Filipinos have learned to embrace in our Christianity is that we are one of the few nations that celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day with a twin holiday. This is why Filipinos go to their home provinces to visit the graves of their loved ones and more often than not, have a reunion with the families.

But even that is fast changing. In the past, visiting the cemeteries was a solemn occasion. But these days, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day has become a festive celebration. Sure we can celebrate the fact that our dearly departed dead are not really dead… they are living in life eternal, hopefully in eternal bliss. But please don’t forget to pray for those who are no longer here. Finally, allow me to bring you a quote from Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan who said, “I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween.” Just because we are not doing any demonic rituals, we Christians should never celebrate Halloween night!  *


The article was written by Bobit S. Avila of the  Philippine Star  titled “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?” which was published October 31, 2017.
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