To celebrate Halloween or not to celebrate Halloween? There’s nothing heretical or sinful about wearing a costume – assuming that it is modest and doesn’t incite imprudent behavior, of course. Having a couple of drinks if you are of drinking age or carving pumpkins are also harmless social activities, and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of seasonal candy? Your Halloween party experience doesn’t have to be something out of a movie. There are plenty of alternatives to keep the day fun.
As a Catholic, Halloween is not a celebration of gory, scantily-clad or inappropriate costumes and deciding to go to the raging campus frat party. Halloween means “Hallow’s Eve,” as in the evening before a holy day. That holy day is All Saints’ Day on November 1st, which is followed by All Souls Day on November 2nd. Do those days mean anything special to you? Do you show it, or do you just conform to the secular ritual of dressing ridiculously and indulging in treats?
How To “Party” Like A Catholic College Kid On Halloween:
1. Celebrate Mass.© Sacha Fernandez/flickr
Surrounded by secular society’s culture of death, take an hour out of your day to celebrate life after death, the Resurrection, and Christ’s heavenly promise. In other words, celebrate the real body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist by attending Mass.
Saints and angels are present at each Mass – just imagine that! Perhaps contact the chapel office and ask for Masses to be offered for your deceased family members, as well. With joy, remember all that God has done for us in order that we may all become saints in Heaven. When St. Teresa asked Jesus how to thank Him for all He has done, Jesus replied, “Attend one Mass.” What better day to remember what He has done for our souls and the opportunity to be with Him in Heaven as saints than going out of our way to thank Him on All Souls and All Saints Day?
2. Pray for souls.©Gaellery/flickr
Throughout the day use this powerful prayer from St. Gertrude: Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at three o’clock, the hour of mercy. Those in purgatory are bound to go to Heaven, but they are waiting for the purgation of their sins. Pray that they are quickly received to their joy and that you can one day join them. Pray for all the souls – those forgotten, those without family to pray for them, those of your own family, and those in need of most help.
3. Explore sainthood.©Gaellery/flickr
Dress up as a saint! Don a habit or find a picture of a saint that you can imitate. Look at the symbols he or she is holding. Have fun exploring what saints you could be, unless you already have your favorite possible duo – St. George and a dragon for you and a friend. Then, don’t forget to do your best to live up to their standards of virtue!
Unfortunately, costumes in college tend to be stereotypically immodest, but that’s not a requirement to have fun. If you want to incorporate some blood, find a saint who was beheaded and be creative with it. St. Sebastian was struck with arrows for the sake of Christ; think you can manage that costume?
4. Stay up all Night!©Trond Kristiansen/flickr
Some campuses are party central for Halloween, but you have the right to politely decline any drinks or invitations to the out-of-control bash. If you want to avoid temptation, stay home. However, that does mean you have to hang out by yourself. Instead, plan to stay up all night with friends at your place, or go home and celebrate with your family. Staying up all night and having a good time doesn’t have to mean drinking or dancing at a club. You can still dance the night away without participating in immoral behavior. You never know who you could help by giving them an alternative to the normal college “party”. Play a few games of charades, Pictionary, or headband, go on a night hike or do the Monster Mash. Make it a fun night worth remembering instead of something you’re ashamed of the next morning.
5. Host a feast.
Have a themed dinner party – a murder mystery, ugly prom dresses and suits, favorite saints, the roaring 20’s, and so on. Theme your food creatively by century, puns, or allusions to saints and biblical references. Involve your guests with a potluck or include a themed games. There are many ways to have a party without it being a stereotypical college party. Select your guests wisely and pray about who may need an invitation to an event like this to help them avoid other situations. The best part of dinner is always dessert so make sure to include something that your friends will enjoy! Pinterest is a wonderful place to start looking for ideas. Type in a theme and soon you will have your feast planned.
Ghosts? Yes, ghosts. The interest in ghosts peaks at this time of the year with increased exorcism movies, campfire stories, and superstitions. Why is this a positive thing for Catholics? Because you have a chance to evangelize others with the truth! Praise the Holy Ghost!
For some reason ghost stories carry a broad interest and you can use this as an opportunity to witness to the faith. Yes, Catholics do believe in spirits and miracles so we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it when the conversation arises. It can be as easy as wishing people “Happy All Souls Day!” If you want to make it really interesting, read this article by Paul Thigpen titled “Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?” and engage in a conversation about spirituality and the Catholic faith. Prepare yourself and read up on the history of Halloween traditions as well as the faith of your beloved Church. Many people are surprised when they find out the Church’s true stance on these subjects.
7. Be creative with your treats!©Stuart Rankin/flickr
If you are passing out candy, use it as a way to bring joy to someone or evangelize. Adding notes, jokes, or quotes can be a fun way to give a little more than a piece of candy. Simply adding “God Bless You”, a saint quote or a Bible verse may find its way to a person that needs it. Our suggestion: Buy packs of life savers and write the words “Jesus is my” on each package. Another option is to go all out with religious-themed candy that can be purchased in many Christian bookstores. When people come to your door for candy, smile at them and engage them in conversation. Be the light of Christ in the midst of a dark and gory night.
8. Choose a good scary movie.
How can you tell the difference between good and bad scary movies? Well, first of all consider the audience, including yourself, that will watch it. Some people can’t handle gore while others love thrillers. If you are a person that is sensitive to these types of films and your imagination gets the best of you, it might be best to choose one of the other ideas on the list. You want to be sure that everyone can still go to bed at night without having nightmares. When choosing a movie, be sure that it does not glorify evil (or contain any other morally compromising themes) and that good wins in the end. Use the online Catholic bishops’ ratings to help guide your choices. They rate movies based on morals and Catholic teachings, unlike the secular movie ratings. A few we suggest: Goosebumps, The Wizard of Oz, The Sixth Sense, The Exorcist (1973), or Vertigo (1958).
In the world we live in today, to be Catholic is to also be counter-cultural.
While many of our college peers are attracted to excessive drinking, moral relativism, and the culture of death, this Halloween is an opportunity for Christians to be fearless in the sober pursuit of Truth and the culture of life. Perhaps show respect for the dead by cleaning up a cemetery and planting flowers, holding a prayer vigil for all those who have died for the faith this past year, or praying outside an abortion clinic for those lives that were lost before they even took their first breath of air.
If you are at college and struggling with the faith, see if your campus has a Newman Center for you to find a community of faithful friends or contact the local parish off campus and ask them for community opportunities. There are so many ways to be Catholic at college. For more great tips check out this post. Be assured that you are in our prayers as you strive to live out the faith in every possible way.
Have a blessed Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day! Use the opportunities to grow in your love of God.