How to counter the plastic red horns of Halloween? Dress up for the vigil of All Saints’ Day

A girl dresses as St Isabella of France for an All Saints' Day pageant (Photo: CNS)

Charles Moore tickled my interest last Friday in his Spectator column when he put forward the idea that children could dress in white robes for All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as it is usually called. I think Moore is on to something. White is the colour associated with purity and spotlessness – and were children to dress in white garments on the eve of All Saints’ Day it would instil in their minds that on November 1 we are about to celebrate the entire population of Heaven. The saints have gleaming souls which is why they are with God for eternity. The only thing that I would add to Moore’s suggestion is that I think the robes should be bright white! So keep the bleach handy.

All Hallows is an exceptionally important vigil. We prepare not just to celebrate the feast that honours all the canonised saints, but also the saints that are unknown; the unidentified multitudes of humble souls who were not high-profile during their lives but nonetheless were true to goodness and made it through the Pearly Gates.

In my personal prayer life, I call on saints who are unknown. For example, recently I had difficulty getting a prescription (because of late deliveries of the meds) and I prayed to a pharmacist who had passed on who was said to be very devout and extremely diligent in getting meds to people who were ill. After praying to the soul of the pharmacist, there was a dramatic change and my prescription arrived very quickly.

All Saints is the collective feast day for souls who may have spent a time of cleansing in Purgatory and are in Paradise. I know some Catholics who get very upset when they see children dressed like devils, with red plastic horns. Some earnest people worry this dress-up will desensitise children, but do not know how to counteract the phantom fest of dressing like witches, vampires and fallen angels.

Doing the opposite is perhaps the best way to keep the October 31 vigil of All Saints. Catholic families may arrange for their children to dress up as saints, with a party akin to a birthday party where the children are encouraged to think of the joys of Heaven. This is great in itself, but getting back to Moore’s idea of children dressing in white, this allows for children to get a visceral understanding of the soul of a saint. Saints were not made saints because they were nice people who did nice things. They made sure their souls were without stain or blemish by regular prayer, availing of the sacraments such as Confession and good works.

All Hallows Eve is the time to embrace the struggle we face so that we may join the ranks of the saints. Is the struggle worth it? Going by Corinthians, yes it is: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” The saints are in ecstasies beyond our wildest imaginings.