By way of explanation, did you notice that I still spell Hallowe’en with the apostrophe? The apostrophe is quite uncommon these days, but I intend to keep it. The name “Hallowe’en” is originally a contraction for “All Hallows E’en,” or the Eve of All Saints Day. In other words, the popular day for dressing up and getting free candy is not nearly as important as the Holy Day that comes immediately after it. For me, the apostrophe is a reminder to let Hallowe’en go and to concentrate on All Saints Day on November 1 and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (“All Souls Day”) on November 2.
It may seem odd to preface All Saints Day with a day that focuses on the macabre – witches, graveyards, goblins and the like. Yet if we do not forget its context as the Eve of All Hallows Day, then it can even make sense as a Christian celebration. Hallowe’en can remind us that we need not fear the ghosts and the goblins, for Christ has won salvation for us. So Hallowe’en has become a time of fun at the devil’s expense. In fact, many spiritual writers have told us that humor is one of the best ways to deal with the devil. C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, describes a devil for whom everything must be austere and serious, for he rejects joy and laughter as God’s gifts. So G. K. Chesterton said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Never forget that the devil fell by force of gravity.”
So I intend to keep the apostrophe in “Hallowe’en.” (When I used a PC, WordPerfect’s spell checker accepted it with the apostrophe.) That apostrophe helps me keep a perspective when I see someone’s yard filled with fake tombstones or statues of witches and ghosts. It reminds me that our destiny is that which we celebrate on All Saints Day, to share the glorious Beatific Vision of God in the eternal joy of heaven. No ghost could possibly scare us when we remember that we are called to share the Resurrection of the Lord. As long as we make All Saints Day a priority, we can enjoy the silly little holiday that comes before. So Happy Hallowe’en, complete with the apostrophe. Oh, and while I’m at it: Boo!
On a practical note, when All Saints Day falls on a Saturday, we are excused from the obligation to attend Mass. For those who want to come, we will have a Mass this Saturday morning at 9:00. Also, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed takes precedence over a Sunday in Ordinary Time. So the Masses next Saturday night and Sunday morning will be for All Souls Day.