All Hallows' Eve
Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a
liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to
the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day
and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant
(those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering
(those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of
November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints,
canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for
us, and for the souls in Purgatory.
In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed," hence the name "All Hallow's Day." The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en."
Halloween is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts. Although the demonic and witchcraft have no place for a Catholic celebration, some macabre can be incorporated into Halloween. It is good to dwell on our impending death (yes, everyone dies at one point), the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and the Sacrament of the Sick. And tied in with this theme is the saints, canonized and non-canonized. What did they do in their lives that they were able to reach heaven? How can we imitate them? How can we, like these saints, prepare our souls for death at any moment?
All Saints Day, the day on which Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown, is a surprisingly old feast. It arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honored.
Often overshadowed by the two days preceding it, Halloween (October 31) and All Saints Day (November 1), All Souls Day is a solemn feast in the Roman Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and now are in Purgatory, being cleansed of their venial sins and the temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had confessed and atoning before entering fully into Heaven.