Autumn – memories of a Catholic upbringing

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5776-a-red-oak-leaf-isolated-on-a-white-background-pv - public domain pictures

HT: Salvageable post – Playing outdoors. J’s post motivated me to write about my childhood. Thanks, J! 

And thank you, all who prayed for my eye surgeries – they went well and my vision is good!

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When I was in grade school and high school, classes began after Labor Day. Memories of this time surface whenever the leaves change. I can see the long hill, the high swings, and the imposing convent of dark stone, its portico and visitors’ parlors…

Many memories of school revive, of our tummies grumbling noisily during the hush of Mass which was just before lunch, of uncontrollable giggling. I remember the Sisters of Mercy as they used to dress, their faces framed by starched white coifs and gauzy black veils, and the snapping of fingers that kept us in line. The Sisters of Mercy – some of them were kind but none could have had a grasp of the Gospel – it would have been a foreign language to them – for they never shared it. 

Because my Mom was single she had to work and couldn’t pick me up after school. When she took off work early to attend a school function late in the day, she dressed up beautifully, and in the cold months wore her cream-colored faux fur coat – on the ride home, I would snuggle against her. 

On my first day of first grade a car appeared and took me and another little girl to Mater Misericordiae Academy. Ronnie – Veronica – became a close friend. Her mother and mine were best friends. Later I learned that during World War II, the Nazis had hanged Ronnie’s grandfather, the mayor of a small city in Italy, because he wouldn’t reveal the name of a partisan who had blown up a bridge and caused the deaths of German soldiers. 

Children live in the shadow of the serious events through which their elders pass, participating in their childlike way in their joys and sorrows and terrors. I learned to love FDR and John Kennedy because of my patriotic Grandmother, for instance, and I had bad dreams after the adults discussed the bestseller, Worlds In Collision, at Sunday dinner. I’m not sure whether they read it but the conversation unsettled my child’s heart and mind.

cropped-han-chenxu-photo-from-microsoft-9c64c0ff-9f0c-49a2-b7ba-659eb77660ed_51.jpgAt school, Halloween was celebrated both as a holy day and a holiday. During assembly we wore costumes which were judged. When I was in second grade, Mom made me a witch’s costume with a hat and stuffed cat.

I see my Catholic childhood as a bright autumn leaf detached from a living tree and not as a bowl of harvest fruit…

 

Trick or treat, or neither

Luther Bible, 1534, photo taken by Torsten Schleese in Lutherhaus Wittenberg, 1999, Public Domain, via Wikimedia.

As an heir of the blessings bequeathed to us by the Reformation, I have said goodbye to Halloween – praise God! Before coming to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, in my Catholic worldview, I had no clue about Reformation Day and its occurrence on the same date. In my world the Reformation meant only the man Martin Luther, whom I thought of as a kind of bestial person because of having read Jacque Maritain’s remarks about Luther’s appearance – that it matched his heretical soul.

Now I understand that a man may not be handsome but yet be a child of God, and rejoice that Luther, in his newly found faith, nailed his theses to the cathedral door. It’s all history from long ago – almost 500 years, 500 years in 2017. Other than blogging about this day, I don’t celebrate it. But I’m anxious about the approaching 500th celebration because from what I hear and also know about human nature, people are going to use this celebration to try to undo the work of God it represents by throwing a party with those who are deluded by Roman Catholicism, happy that they’re able to reunite with it. I can hear the party horns and firecrackers, see the party hats, imagine the raising of the cups to toast the demise of godly separation.

Let’s pray.

One of the most important holidays in Vanity Fair – Halloween.

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Romans 12

King James Version

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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Despite its pagan origins and celebration by occultists in our day, some Christians celebrate Halloween. For some, it’s actually part of the church calendar year, for others it is their choice. Is this you? If so, are you willing to forsake the world, take up your cross, and follow Jesus?

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Matthew 16

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

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Many of us don’t celebrate the day but we do use the season to throw a “harvest party” for our children or youth, where they can dress up like people from the Bible and enjoy seasonal treats. (Just to be clear, I’m not referring to Reformation Day celebrations.)

Why do we do this? Often, it is to keep them from feeling left out of the “fun”. Another reason may be that we’re nostalgic about our own childhood. Then, too, the Church seems to have fallen in love with “programs”, as well as “the church year.” That is, the Church has fallen from  simplicity of devotion to Christ.

Is there wisdom in any of this? Wisdom is teaching our young people that, even for them, these things are true:

Christians are not people of disguise (pretenders),

following Jesus demands sacrifice in everyday things,

this is not their holiday, even if we “take out the bad parts.”

We can’t sanitize or sanctify the things of the world and use them. They will never be heavenly things. 

Some of us use this day and season to witness. Praise God! But, a word of warning seems necessary: we should be discerning about any materials such as tracts that we buy to witness, that have Halloween as their theme. Some of them are silly or ghoulish. We don’t want to: 

trivialize the Gospel, 

be ineffective in our witness, 

line the pockets of merchandisers.

Buying and selling “Christian stuff” is big business. Remember what went on in the Temple during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and that He cleansed the Temple? There is nothing new under the sun. Isn’t the Bible what we should be pointing people to?

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How silly we make the Gospel look

when we witness to the world

using the things of the world.

"Halloween Scripture Candy" by Dana Busby - Dana Busby, Representative, Scripture Candy, Inc.. Via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Halloween_Scripture_Candy.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Halloween_Scripture_Candy.jpg

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How foolish we are 

when we celebrate 

what the world celebrates –  

death. 

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"PumpkinheadsHeaven1901". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PumpkinheadsHeaven1901.jpg#mediaviewer/File:PumpkinheadsHeaven1901.jpg

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WordPress resource:

The dangers of halloween

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