The store has anything from bacon mints to licorice cows – but I spent most of my time in the retro-candy aisles. There is where I found many of those candy memories from my childhood – those little wax bottles filled with colored sugar water, candy button-drops that you have to peel off the paper, pixie sticks, and even those chalky candy cigarettes (I thought those had been banned!).
My friend said, “You should buy candy cigarettes and hand them out for Halloween.” My priestly instincts quickly told me that was not the best idea I had ever heard.
Maybe I will go back to the candy store and find some Noah’s Ark Gummi Animals or Testamints (mints wrapped in a verse from the Bible) to hand out as treats. Or maybe I could find some nice rock candy in honor of St. Stephen and others who were stoned to death for their faith.
Halloween is fun. Some Christians say we shouldn’t acknowledge it. I, on the other hand, find it a nice preparation for the Solemnity of All Saints Day and the Commemoration of All Souls Day. Our Catholic faith teaches us about a world that extends beyond that which is immediately visible and apparent to us. There is a realm where forces of light and forces of death do contend for our very souls. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet says to his friend, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Halloween is a time that helps us to contemplate all of those ghoulish and frightening forces in our world through the eyes of our faith and with the levity of hope. It is a time that reminds us that, yes, there are dark forces around us but through our Communion with Jesus Christ we can have the confidence to say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
I remember going trick-or-treating as a child, after dark, and feeling scared but brave at the same time. Everybody’s spirit needs to feel that in order to grow.
So this Halloween through All Saints Day and All Souls Day I wish you all holy fear and holy hope. Whatever the darkness let us bring to it the light of Christ. God help us all to be scared and brave together.