Catholics Aren’t Crazy: On Praying to Saints (Happy All Saints’ Day!)

catherine-siena-saint-paul-necklaceThis is a post in an on-going series called Catholic Aren’t Crazy exploring misconceptions Protestants have about Catholicism and lessons we can learn from them.

UPDATE: I responded to some critiques and gave some clarifications.

UPDATE II: Here’s the story of the Saint I pray to, Catherine of Siena.

Yesterday was Halloween. That makes today All Saints’ Day (read more about the history of these holidays in yesterday’s post).

All Saint’s Day has taken on different meanings for different groups of Christians. What seems to stay consistent, though, is that it is a celebration of the victory attained by those faithful Christians who have died. They are no longer pilgrims, as we are, but are the triumphant ones, having finished their race well and been brought into their peace with God. We celebrate Christ’s effectual victory over sin and death and that this has been granted to those that have gone before us.

The hope and encouragement in this holiday is not simply that we “remember” these saints, or meditate on their example. Instead (and this is important), there has been a long-held belief in the Christian Church that we still have a mystical communion and relationship with those saints that have already died. When Christians throughout Church history (and the Bible) have referred to “The Church”, they don’t simply mean those still around today, but all the saints who have ever lived (even in the Old Testament!). We are all the Church.

So we can truly celebrate those that have gone before us because we are truly still connected to them in a very real and vibrant way.
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some hopefully not weird Christian thoughts on Halloween.

73497_813635955116_1310185_nA friend emailed me yesterday asking if I had ever written a post on Halloween and how Christians should relate to it. This was my reply to him. Also, in honor of Halloween, I’m posting this picture of the best Halloween costume I ever had. Can’t figure it out? The answer is at the bottom of the post:

Sorry to be anti-climactic, but I don’t really have any strong opinions on the matter either way. I’ll probably stay home Halloween, work on school work, and hand out candy to kids.

I really think it’s up to the individual Christian’s conscience, though there are obvious things that might be “unwise”. For one, don’t get wrapped in the sexuality that seems to have pervaded Halloween. Second, if you do a costume, try not to be exploitative (grown-ups dressing like little kid-sort of things and sexualizing them, acting gay as a joke, mocking others, or I heard of one couple of white friends who went as a dead Trayvon Martin and a George Zimmermamn, with the Trayvon guy wearing black-face).

Importantly, though, I don’t encourage myself or other Christians to be “weird” about it.
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you can always tell the health of an urban neighborhood by…

… the number of trick-or-treaters.

I just frustrated a few middle schoolers (way too old to go trick-or-treating) who knocked on our door and were miffed that we had no candy to give. They were probably also confused by the fact that both my roommate and I had yelled “come in!” in reply to the door-knocks.

We had done this because last year my roommates and I bought a big thing of candy in anticipation of the trick-or-treaters and none showed up. And so we expected this year to be the same. We didn’t even think about the chance of any trick-or-treaters coming. But, alas, they won’t stop knocking on our door tonight; the street is teeming with them. At this point, we’re just ignoring the knocks, not wanting to incur the wrath of any more children.

So much must have happened in the past year in our particular neighborhood of Graduate Hospital in Southwest Center City Philadelphia. It’s exciting to watch all that is happening in this amazing city we call home.