Where did the secular traditions of Halloween originate? Do they have anything to do with Catholic Traditions? Is it OK for Catholics to celebrate Halloween?
Halloween, the Evening of All Hallows, was once a time for Christians to mock the devil by reveling in the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil and death. In the year 610 AD, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Roman pantheon (false Roman gods) to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to all Christian martyrs and set aside the day of All Saints in their honor. Years later the date of October 31st was set for the feast because it coincided with the Lemuria festival, a pagan Roman celebration intended to satisfy the restless dead. A century later, this Day of All Saints was moved to November 1. “All Hallows,” “Hallowmass, “ “Hallowtide,” and “Halloween” eventually joined the stable of popular designations for the time in the Church’s liturgical calendar when the Church commemorates its saints (or hallowed ones). Halloween was really a time for Christians to celebrate the triumph of Jesus’ Resurrection over death as seen through the lives of all the holy saints and blessed martyrs who died for the faith. Today the Church continues this tradition by celebrating the Feast of All Saints on November 1st every year. On All Saints Day we rejoice in all the holy men and women who have entered into the heavenly inheritance and pray that we may one day be counted with the blessed saints in heaven.
It is perfectly permissible for Catholics to celebrate Halloween so long as we remember that it is ultimately a celebration of Jesus’ triumph over death through the resurrection. For centuries Catholics dressed in scary costumes and makeup as a way of mocking the powerlessness of the devil. All Hallows Eve is all about Christ’s triumph of the Resurrection revealing to the world that evil and Satan have no real power. The Decorations, the costumes, the games, the candy--they can add enjoyment to the celebration, yet they are but trappings. The true joy of the holiday is Christ’s victory over death, this triumph over evil, and the invitation he offers us to share in that victory and in that triumph. Never forget that the meaning behind Halloween is holy mockery of the devil. Long live the triumph of the Cross and the Saints!
Is it ok to have my brother, who was baptized Catholic but was never confirmed, be a Godparent for my son’s baptism? Can an un-confirmed Catholic be a Christian witness and stand in place of one of the Godparents for baptism? Is it permitted to have my sister in law who is a fully initiated Catholic, but who was divorced and remarried outside the Church, be a sponsor for my daughter’s Confirmation? Is it ok for my fully initiated Catholic aunt, who doesn’t go to Mass, to be the Godmother of my newborn daughter?
The short answer to all four questions is no. When you take on the role of a Godparent you are accepting the responsibility of leading a soul to heaven, which is not an easy task to say the least. The requirements for Godparents and sponsors may seem confusing and hard to follow, but in reality are in place because the roles of sponsors and Godparents are to lead by word and example the one they are sponsoring to the absolute truth of Jesus Christ and be saved for heaven. The Code of Canon Law specifies the requirements for Godparents and sponsors:
To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:
1. be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
2. have completed the 16th year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;
3. be a Catholic who has been baptized, confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on; (this includes participating in Mass on Sunday and living a Catholic life of faith-believing and living the Nicene Creed.);
4. not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared (like being divorced and remarried outside the Church without an annulment);
5 not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.(CIC874).
There isn’t an official Catholic position on the existence of extra-terrestrial life because whether life exists on other planets is a scientific, not a theological question. However, if life on other planets is ever discovered, there are theological questions which can be considered. In his novel Perelandra, C.S. Lewis speculated about the possibility of a fallen race much like humanity influencing un-fallen extra-terrestrials. We were affected by the fallen angel Satan. There’s nothing in the Bible to say humanity couldn’t have a similar effect on another extra-terrestrial race. Humanity might also play a part in the redemption of another race--a role in their salvation history. The good angels played an important part in ours. (Matthew 28:2-5; Acts 7:38, 53).
It’s possible God has set up multiple worlds, some fallen, some not, but there’s not the slightest scientific evidence God has. A few scientists, pandering to the tabloids, claim extra-terrestrials must exist, based on the mathematical likelihood of other stars having planets, but their theories are scoffed at by nearly the entire scientific community. The argument often runs like this: If some of those planets have atmospheres like Earth’s and if some of those Earth-like planets spontaneously generate amino acids and if some of those amino acids results in higher life-forms, then intelligent life exists on other worlds. You’ll note a lot of “ifs” there.
To insist there must be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is to overstate the case. It’s also theologically irrelevant because the central tenets of Christianity remain intact with or without little green men.
However, God is the God of the universe, the God of things seen and unseen. Jesus Christ’s redemptive act on the cross and glorious resurrection is not bound by our time and space. Therefore, it is important that we remain open to the possibility that an all knowing, all loving and generous God may have created more than we could ever imagine!
Why does the Catholic Church require that only wheat bread may be used in hosts that are consecrated during Mass? Is it possible to use rice hosts or gluten free hosts? What about people with celiac disease?
The short answer is that the Church only uses wheat bread at Mass because Sacred Tradition tells us that Jesus used unleavened wheat bread at the Last Supper. The long answer to this question is found within our understanding of what makes any sacrament valid. A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to bestow grace upon the recipient. All the sacraments have both material and formal components to them (oil and prayer in anointing, water and invocation of the Trinity at Baptism, bread and wine at Eucharist, etc…) The sacraments employ material things as channels of grace, actually bringing about the spiritual effects that they symbolize. Some materials are more conducive than others for serving a specific symbolic function. This fact does not render other materials inferior in intrinsic dignity--merely less fitting in their representative value for a given purpose. For example, when our Lord instituted Baptism, the sacrament of spiritual rebirth, he explicitly mandated water (see John 3:5). Indeed, only water is an appropriate physical substance for baptism, because more than any other liquid it is apt for signifying what it produces in the soul: cleansing from sin and regeneration into the new life of sanctifying grace. When it comes to the proper matter for bread, there are many references in Sacred Scripture to the use of wheat as being most suitable for the Blessed Sacrament. (See Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19;1 Corinthians 11:23-24) Wheat is associated with being sown, fallen, crushed and buried, but then springing up for bread to feed multitudes. These are all symbols of Christ’s passion, death, resurrection and communion with his Church in the sacrifice of the Mass. We know that Jesus calls himself the “bread of life” (John 6:35, 48, 51). Furthermore, we recall that in John 12:24, during Passion week, he associates his own body to wheat, when he declares: “I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Here we observe those symbols of sowing, falling, burying and rising applied by Christ to himself, who therefore becomes the “wheat bread of life” (see 1 Cor 15:20, 36-37, where Paul suggests something similar). Therefore, gluten free hosts or rice hosts are not permitted for Eucharistic consecration because they contain invalid matter. People suffering from a gluten intolerance or celiac disease may drink the precious blood at Mass or they may request to receive a low gluten host which contains just .01% of wheat.
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