October is a robust time of year for sports and for spirituality! The tenth month of the year, the heart of autumn brings football standing surprises and the Fall Classic—the World Series. It is also Respect for Life Month, the month of the Rosary and the feast days of some beloved saints—Francis, the Archangels and more. It concludes with America’s second most widely celebrated holiday—Halloween, also known as “All Hallow’s Eve.” Although one would think the connection between Halloween and All Saints Day might also be robust, according to James Martin, SJ author of “My Life With the Saints” it’s not.
In “Saints and All Hallows Eve” a video clip featured on “Busted Halo” James Martin SJ states “the Celts believed that day, October 31 marked the demarcation between one time of the year and another time. It was the day when the dead and the living were very connected. There was a kind of thin veil between the dead and living. That is one reason we wear masks on Halloween.”
I hate to disagree with one of my favorite author’s, but I find the duality of the two days quite striking, and therefore the relationship quite strong. We celebrate Fat Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, we know the light because of the darkness, and we celebrate life even in death.
The Saints are holy men and women who have gone before us. We believe they enjoy life in heaven with God and are people who sought not to wear masks in this life. We venerate the saints because they lived holy and authentic lives. Thomas Merton said “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” Simply put, they became what Michael Kelly encourages all Catholics to be “the best version of yourself.”
On Halloween, perhaps we fear those evil spirits that rest uneasy. Perhaps we recognize we too wear our own mask(s) and are not ready for eternal life with God. We have more work to do. But we wake up the next day, to the Feast of All Saints. Something we can all strive to be and to become.
Therefore, this month of November will be rich with blog postings related to the saints. And not to worry New Orleans Saints fans—your story is too rich, too incredible—I only hope my writing is worthy of what happened when you came marching in to Super Bowl XLIV.