update: I’ve edited this post to remove links and references to other people’s articles, for fear of having misrepresented the positions expressed within. You’re stuck with just my opinion now!
I have witnessed a lot of back and forth recently about the appropriateness of devout Catholics celebrating Halloween. And I’m in a Catholic Homeschool Mom Facebook group and one of the current discussions there is about Santa and far and away the prevailing opinion is thumbs down on him too.
And I can’t help but wonder why all these nice people think we can’t have fun and celebrate the good parts of our culture’s traditions and celebrations and still be good Catholics.
I’m sure they’re all making the parenting decisions that they feel are in the best interests of their children, but it just feels to me like a case of being unnecessarily contrary.
It makes me think of this guy:
And then I feel better (thanks Keeley!).
There is a wrong way to do things. There is a wrong way to celebrate Halloween. But that doesn’t mean that Halloween is wrong.
I think it’s a more Protestant worldview to demand that everything be either-or. Either you are a Christian or you are a part of your culture. But Catholics have always been both-and. We can come into a country and adapt their traditions and culture to fit into Catholicism’s big embrace.
My favorite stop on my family’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land when I was in college was The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
The second floor is home to an extraordinary collection of mosaic portraits of the Blessed Virgin, from countries all over the world. It had never occurred to me to think of Mary as anything but light skinned and blue-eyed. But guess what, that’s not how they see her in Japan:
All of the Marys are beautiful, of course . . .
with the notable exception of the one from America, which is, frankly, nightmarish (like I said, there are wrong ways to do things):
Part of what has allowed Catholicism to flourish all over the world is our ability to embrace what is good in every culture and raise up saints from every land. (The other, slightly more important part of its success being that it’s, ya know, True.)
It’s okay for my kids to go trick-or-treating on Halloween and to sit on Santa’s lap at Christmas. Those are good parts of our culture. I want both-and.
Some good Catholics seem to be making the assumption that you must choose one extreme or the other for holidays. Either you forgo trick-or-treating for a vigil Mass and a family novena for the holy souls in Purgatory OR you dress your son up as Jack the Ripper
and your daughter as sexy Big Bird
and drop them off in some back alley to egg the neighbors’ houses and play with a Ouija board.
But as I tell my Little Flowers every month, virtue is found in the middle.
Courage is the virtue between recklessness and cowardice. Hope is the virtue between presumption and despair. Humility is the virtue between vanity and self-deprecation.
We will continue to celebrate our Halloween here in the middle, where the candy is.
I have the intention of someday writing a whole post on why we believe in Santa Claus. But I don’t know if I’ll get to it. I’ve already written on why we believe in leprechauns, and the reasons are pretty much the same.
But I cherish the memories of the joy I had in Santa Claus as a child so much that I can hardly fathom not allowing my children to have the same.
Nothing I write, of course, could ever approach the awesomeness of G.K. Chesterton’s The Ethics of Elfland chapter in Orthodoxy.
Mr. Chesterton also has a lovely defense of Santa Claus in particular, explaining how, far from making him think his parents were liars and Jesus must be a fake, his own belief in Santa Claus prepared him for greater beliefs that were to come:
What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.
This was the same experience I had. As a child, I loved and understood Santa Claus in a way that was more concrete than my belief in and understanding of Jesus could be. But loving Santa Claus opened up a Jesus-shaped hole in my heart, that stayed there, waiting, until I was ready for it to be filled.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and I’m pretty sure the right way doesn’t involve yard mannequins:
Changing gears here . . . I finished all the edits the publisher requested on A Little Book About Confession for Children, and then (totally out of the usual order of this kind of thing) received and signed my contract. It’s supposed to go to the printers next week and be available in the new year!
I am super excited.
p.s. In case you were wondering, writing catechetical literature for children does not appear to be a very good get rich quick scheme.
Now for some quotes from my weirdo kiddos
Gus (5): I always eat my hotdog with RELISH. . . . Get it? ‘Cause relish MEANS SOMETHING.
Overheard: saddest playing house ever . . .
Anita (4) -holding baby doll- to Gus (5): Our mother died just a couple of days after he was born. Now I’m all he has in the world.
Perhaps we should lay off the Dickens with her.
This is a little something for the naysayers who like to throw around the word ‘brainwashing’ when describing parents who are bothering to form their children.
Here’s hoping I can do half as good a job at brainwashing my own kids as this teenager’s parents have done.
Bronx Youth Poetry SLAM 2013, Ethan Metzger
Happy weekend everyone, I’m off to throw a moustache-themed 2nd birthday party for Frankie. It should be pretty awesome.
The house playing conversation literally had me laughing out loud! Have you read the Miracles of Mary by Bridget Curran? it has a similar theme of Mary adapting to her surroundings around the world and how people see her.
Wow. I've seen that video floating around on FB but didn't watch it until now. Awesome.
As to Halloween, we like the middle ground too. I mentioned in my post tonight that a couple of years ago a (Baptist? I think?) friend told my kids that Halloween is the devil's birthday and that the people who celebrate it are Satan worshipers. Wowsah. I so wish I had been present to correct her, but instead I just dealt with the damage of my kids who were scared that they were sinning big time. Aaaaaaargh.
Wow. That is a bold thing to tell someone else's kids.
I don't have any problems with Halloween and Santa, just in excess. I think that Santa does create a sense of wonder for children.
As for the virtue quick take, at first I thought it sounded a little crazy that you said virtues are "found in the middle." I was thinking that "Love of God," can be quite a radical thing and not necessarily found in the middle in regards to the Saint's example. But then I was reading on New Advent,
"Connection of virtues
Another property of virtues is their connection with one another. This mutual connection exists between the moral virtues in their perfect state. "The virtues", says St. Gregory, "if separated, cannot be perfect in the nature of virtue; for that is no true prudence which is not just and temperate and brave". The reason of this connection is that no moral virtue can be had without prudence; because it is the function of moral virtue, being an elective habit, to make a right choice, which rectitude of choice must be directed by prudence. On the other hand prudence cannot exist without the moral virtues; because prudence, being a right method of conduct, has as principles whence it proceeds the ends of conduct, to which ends one becomes duly affected through the moral virtues. Imperfect moral virtues, however, that is to say, those inclinations to virtue resulting from natural temperament, are not necessarily connected with one another. Thus we see a man from natural temperament prompt to acts of liberality and not prompt to acts of chastity. Nor are the natural or acquired moral virtues necessarily connected with charity, though they may be so occasionally. But the supernatural moral virtues are infused simultaneously with charity. For charity is the principle of all good works referable to man's supernatural destiny. Hence it is necessary that there be infused at the same time with charity all the moral virtues by which one performs the different kinds of good works. Thus the infused moral virtues are not only connected on account of prudence, but also on account of charity. Hence he who loses charity by mortal sin looses all the infused but not the acquired moral virtues."
So you were right. But maybe we both were. God bless!
A few years back the Archbishop of our diocese prohibited a very conservative Catholic group from using parish facilities because of a number of issues that had come up. He had been in dialogue with them, but they choose not to heed his counsel and so he exercised his authority. He didn't ban them from the diocese, just from using parish facilities. Anyway, my roommate at the time was very upset about this and couldn't believe the Archbishop who we both respected and liked would clamp down so much on a very seemingly "Orthodox, conservative" Catholic group when other left leaning shenanigans were going on in our diocese and she decried that he didn't come down on them. However, it reminded me of a what a good priest friend said "If you are off to the right OR to the left, you are still off. Virtue is in the middle." I tried to remind myself of that frequently!
I love the and-both approach to Halloween! That's how I view it too. Also love your little one playing orphan – I totally remember doing that as a kid. I guess I never thought what my own mom standing right there would have thought. For me I think it was obsessively reading The Little Match Girl (and it still makes me cry).
We have a little statue of Santa kneeling down to Jesus, and it's our favorite. Pretty much sums it up, I think.
I do like the Santa and Baby Jesus combo, I just found the mannequin in the yard part unsettling!
We do Santa and Halloween and all the rest too. But, my mom didn't really raise me "Catholic" in terms of Halloween. She also told me that it was Satan's birthday and you were basically going to h-e-l-l if you participated. After like age 8, I was forbidden. All I knew was that I was missing out on candy.
baha leave it to Canada.
Love your take on Halloween vs. being a good Catholic. Food for thought for sure!
I'm a first time visitor to your blog (came here by way of Conversion Diary), and I wanted to tell you how much I love your take on Halloween/Santa. I'm not Catholic (I've been all over the map with religion in my life), and I'm still "searching". One of the things that's drawing me to take a look at Catholicism is the inclusiveness you talk about. I belonged to a particular church (some folks actually consider this church a cult) for many years, and when God led me OUT of that church, I remember walking through a large airport one day, and feeling somehow "connected" to all of the people there in a way I never felt felt connected to humanity when a member of this church that stressed group think above all else. It was a wonderful, spiritual feeling I felt that day! I'm getting a sense of that in my exploration of Catholicism too. Who knows where I'll end up, but I'm enjoying the search, and I'm enjoying reading blogs like yours!
Diane, your cards are SO cute. Everyone! Diane's cards are SO cute. Seriously, go see: Peaceful Lane!
Anyway, I do hope you'll keep exploring, and like what you find! I really, really recommend this book: The Faith Explained for anyone who wants to understand what the Catholic Church really teaches about everything. Our ladies' book club is going to finish our year-long discussion of it next month. I wish you could have been here!
Thanks, Kendra, you're so kind! I'll check out that book!
I love your honesty! When trying to decide what my son should be for the first Halloween he'll be trick or treating (to like 3 houses… he's 14 months hah!) I kept thinking, should he be dressed as a saint instead? And honestly, no. If he ever wants to go as a certain saint, sure thing. A lot of Halloween totally creeps me out (for instance there is a hanging scarecrow down the street with a shirt that says, "Got sin?" on it). It baffles me that the Vigil of Saint's Day has turned into a day that glorifies evil, Satan and sin (in some circles at least) but really, I see no harm in keeping the innocent, fun parts of the day. Cow costumes and candy? I'm fine with that.
My problem with Halloween (if you want to call it that) is not with the practices themselves necessarily. I think there is good and healthy Catholic debate that can be had on the Theology of it and all that stuff. My problem is the timing. IF people are celebrating it as just a fun innocent secular thing, then it doesn't make sense to me to use the vigil of a major solemnity of the Church as the day. To me it's like going to a homecoming parade or game on Christmas Eve. (That's the best analogy I can think of at the moment…secular good vs. eternal good) A good thing, yeah, but not when there's something better that we're supposed to be thinking about. IF it's being used to teach or celebrate something about All Saints', then I can get behind that (depending of course, on how it's done). I just know so many Catholics who go all out for Halloween and All Saints' is pretty much ignored besides an obligatory Mass. Much like the way many people celebrate Christmas, you know? I vote we move an innocent just for fun Halloween type day to say, August. I'd be all about that. Hope this makes sense 🙂
You put this very nicely, Mary. I was just watching my kids run around yesterday in cowboy and ballerina get-up and I laughed… they are in costumes practically every day! Then we went to their grandma's house and she pumped them full of candy corn and cookies until they felt ill. It's "trick-or-treat" all the time here… the holy days are the ones that really get everyone excited!
I understand what you are saying about the timing, but I think that's the point. All Souls Day and All Saints' Day. We participate in Halloween here, and then our homeschool group has an All Saints' Party the next day, where the kids dress up as Saints. So there is a way to do both, which Kendra highlighted a few posts ago in her fabulous writing about costumes.
I'm not sure I follow. So, Halloween is really a celebration of All Souls' Day? Why, then, not have it on November 2? I guess I don't know many people who really view it that way. I used to wonder why the Church celebrated All Saints' first and then All Souls' until I realized that it is because of the focus on the Resurrection. We're led to recognize the hope of resurrection first. I know some people are able to do both and do them well, but I know me and I know I just don't have that kind of time or energy to pull it off. For me, the more I were to put into Halloween, the less I'd be able to focus on the real Solemnity. I tend to think the greater problem is those Catholics who ignore All Saints' in favor of putting their energy toward Halloween (which in my experience is the far greater number) rather than chide those who simply choose to make All Saints' their primary focus. I will be challenging myself, though, to put more effort into All Souls' Day this year since I know I could put a greater emphasis on it within my family and haven't emphasized it as much in the past. Someday I'll get this living the Faith thing down 🙂
I absolutely agree with that it's tragic that so many Sunday Catholics skip out on All Saints and All Souls entirely. But probably, they're missing out on a whole host of things! I figure that's not the issue for most people who read my blog, and it's certainly not an issue for our family or our friends families. So for us, I'm okay with them all being grouped together. We celebrate all three, we focus on all three and we enjoy all three in different ways.
Your blog has been my favorite Catholic blog now for a few months! I look forward to every post. Maybe it is because you are, as you say, somewhere in the middle. Your blog doesn't gloss over life with professional looking photos and perfect crafts, meals, and household, which we all know wouldn't be the reality of everyday life anyway. But you also don't make it sound like your house is constantly burning down. You approach everything so well, and I really relate to that. It is really uplifting to read about such a rich Catholic family life on a regular basis. And I love the literature references! We are big on literature here.
I initially wondered if the Halloween and Santa naysayers had read Chesterton or even Lewis, but then you nicely quoted Chesterton in the post! So no need for me to throw that out there. :). Thanks again for a great post.
Ha! Reading your takes I was thinking of that exact Chesterton passage…of course…so high five for reading my Chesterton mind.
And I always feel, or at least growing up with those types of family friends who believed Halloween was evil and should be shunned, was that the effect this had on the kids was one of which they saw their faith as always being a negative. Which of course isn't true, but to young kids this is kinda the impression it creates. And this impression stays with them, and they grow up feeling as if they need to get away from faith in order to somehow be accepted or at least experience normalcy in society. This is a really bad description of what I'm trying to say, but basically I agree with you….as usual!
A friend of mine on base just had a new neighbor move in across the street and when the new neighbor popped over to introduce herself it went something like this:
"Hi! We just moved in across the street and I noticed you had some Halloween decorations (i.e. two painted pumpkins) on your front porch. I just became a CHRISTIAN so obviously we won't be celebrating Halloween ever again and I was wondering if YOU would like all my old Halloween decorations, you evil, evil heathen you."
Okay, I added in that last part but that's the way it comes off doesn't it? I told my friend we should just be glad for her conversion and her enthusiasm but…..awkward! I'm pretty sure you can safely have a couple of pumpkins painted with all the scariness a five and three year old can muster up on your porch and even let them dress up as pirates to collect obscene amounts of free candy and still consider yourself a Christian….at least I hope so 🙂
I found this Word on Fire blog post about Halloween and Catholicism interesting. The short message: Celebrate Halloween with gusto. http://www.wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog/October-2012/Culture–Time-for-Catholics-to-Embrace-Halloween.aspx
I saw a great video on Catholics and Halloween last year, and I am still looking for it. It's basically a great time to talk about the supernatural, death, deceased relatives, good and evil, creation, to celebrate Christ's victory over death and evil, and ultimately to not be afraid.
We do Halloween. We do Santa. We do Mass. What I don't do is judge someone's belief by doing or not doing these traditions.
Here here. Well said.
I love your blog! I just would like to share why we don't do Santa. I don't have a problem with others believing, just for me personally I was unable to keep up with all the make-believe while putting the focus on Jesus. I found myself leaving carrots for reindeers and special notes from Santa but not finding time for making a birthday cake for Jesus. It just doesn't work for our family, so Santa became a fairy-tale just like Cinderella and my children still have a great Christmas (my oldest is 8 with 4 siblings below her) . I will say that my kids truly understand that there are kids out there that get nothing for Christmas bc their families can't afford it and there is no Santa to help the parents out. It just has become easier for us as a family to keep Christmas Christ-centered. I am sure others can do the same while including Santa, but not me. It is definitely a personal family choice and neither makes you a more holy family. It is nice to get credit for the gifts under the tree ;)!
Great post – and brave! We do Halloween, and All Saints, and Santa, and a celebration of Christ in Christmas. My kids understand that Halloween is secular, as is Santa. But we have always tied Santa to St. Nicholas and to Jesus. There is a way to do both. And as my kids have moved into the age of reason and asked questions about the "how" of Santa, we gently answer and let them come to their own conclusion that Santa is a lovely story, based on a real, generous and charitable Saint who exemplified the love of Christ to others. It's a beautiful way to teach children about the meaning of Christmas and giving.
For Halloween I have a lot easier time seeing both sides of the argument than for Santa. Even if I thought there were benefits, I just couldn't do it. It's actively lying to children (because that's what telling them something we know to be false is). I don't think having them believe that Santa is real is necessary to participate in it as a cultural thing. Fairy tales don't lose their charm because we know they are false.
I find America's style of celebrating Halloween to be much like that American depiction of Mary above, deeply disturbing. Nightmarish is a good word.
My husband has always been against our family celebrating it, and I complied without completely agreeing with him for years until my Mother died just before Halloween a few years ago. Still in shock from the death and seeing her withered away from starvation, the images of ghouls, zombies and gravestones seemed to me the most disrespectful thing I had ever seen. So now I am fully onboard with boycotting American style Halloween.
Of course we could let our kids just dress up as cutsie things and send them off to get candy, but the rest of the neighborhood is NOT cute, and do not reflect our values whatsoever. So instead we do let them dress as Saints and attend our Parish's awesome All Saint's Day party, which we think is a much more fitting way for a Catholic family to honor such a Holy Day.
We have never taught our children about Santa or the Tooth Fairy either, we figure that it's counter productive while trying to teach them that Jesus, Mary and the Saints are real even though most of the world says they aren't.
Whatever's best for our family, right?
I'm so happy to read this here. I feel like because we celebrate Halloween and believe in Santa people think we aren't 'good enough' Catholics. Which has nothing to do with being a good enough Catholic.
And I can't wait for the book. My oldest is doing her first confession/first holy communion in March, will it be out before that?
Thanks! It's supposed to be out in the winter catalogue, but I'm not sure exactly when that arrives.
Oh I just lost a whole comment. Lame! Just wanted to say I'm here from Conversion Diary, I am pro-free candy, and everything you wrote just inspires me to do it ALL with more meaning. Thanks!
Love your blog, been reading for a couple of months now. 🙂 I ran across your defense of Halloween the other day, and I love it. More to the point, my kids love it and love you. I've always blurred the lines between Santa and St. Nicholas, but I think jig will be up on the Easter Bunny soon. There's a limit to what they'll buy into. 6-foot tall rabbit delivering candy? They're not buying it. 🙂
I agree that the bunny is a tougher sell, and less obviously related to the real point of the holiday. I guess we technically do the Easter bunny here, but not particularly enthusiastically.
I need to read that Chesterton, I have a feeling I love. The thing is for me I think anything that encourages the imagination in young children opens doors in the mind for being more accepting of the complicated ideas that our Faith asks them to believe in – without a lot of scientific or "hard evidence". Not saying that both are imaginary or make believe, but I believe make-believe stretches the mind.
I love Halloween – I love costumes and candy and I love being "Santa Claus", but we still go to Church on All Saints and we do St. Nicholas at the same time. I don't worry about the lines of belief getting skewed for me kids either, because children have a much larger capacity for all types of belief; more than most adults. So to me there's room for it all.
We are big fans of imagination and magical creatures so we read about fairies and leprechauns and all that. My kids love fairy tails and imagination and all that.
We don't do Santa though..not in the traditional sense. The reason is, because for me, Santa was ALWAYS a disappointment growing up. Always..I can so remember the let-down feelings I had on Christmas morning when yet again, I didn't get what I really wanted or had "asked for." And, then there was our neighbor who was an only child and got way, way, way more presents and gifts for Christmas that we ever got which was pretty confusing for us, ya know.,.why Santa gave than he gave us. I just don't have fond memories of Santa at all.
And, I never felt that "let-down" feeling after birthdays, because I always KNEW the birthday presents were from my family and even as a young child, I had an understanding of what we could afford and what was practical. There was never this expectation of this magical man who could bring us anything we wanted.
Anyway, that is main reason we don't really do Santa..and I've been awfully glad in recent years. Our family has been through some tough times financially, so it has been a relief not having this expectation of "Santa presents." Our children have always gotten gifts, and actually a few years, we've been very blessed by REAL Santas (people who've given us things and blessed us anonymously) and that has been a huge blessing and we've always made sure to pray for those people and tell our kids that he/she is like Santa to us.
Wanted to add…we do celebrate St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6th. That's always fun..the kids put their shoes outside the door and get a little bit of candy. The kids love that, and I love that it is low pressure/expectation and just a little treat..not like this whole thing where they ask for presents, etc.
Kendra, Kendra, Kendra, I get all busy, and forget to read blogs for a while, but pop on FB just enough to hear what the anti-everythings are saying and be rubbed a little wrong. Then I pull up your blog and wish we were real life best friends because you think like me, like, on a lot of things, almost everything. Seriously, we can dress up and have Santa, and love Jesus. I know a lot of people who sort of like to be anti-all things not church. And I did catch that boys brainwash thing too, and loved it. Also, Gus's joke is funny, I love that he can't quite articulate it though. Even better. Is Gus short for something? I have a brother Gus, too, Gustave, actually.
Aw shucks, thanks Emily!
Gus is short for Augustine. A priest once told me, after a very wiggly Mass when he was a toddler, "If you didn't want him to give you trouble, you shouldn't have named him Augustine." Which is an excellent point.
Thanks for the article! I agree that there is a balance to everything. Put God first and all is well. (My only disagreement with you is the yard art–I find that refreshingly beautiful and it puts Santa in perspective.)
I would like to recommend a book explaining the Kneeling Santa and the meaning/reason behind it. (Of course, I am sure that there might be some who will pick it apart and tell me how awful and un-Catholic I am for buying into such a secular/evil character.) It is called: A Special Place for Santa A Legend For Our Time by Jeanne Pieper.
Raymond P. Gauer is the founder for the Kneeling Santa and he said the idea is to show "the secular subservient to the sacred".
I also feel that there is a balance to other things–such as television and music.
I do like kneeling Santa, just not that particular one. I think it's mannequins I don't like. If you watch Doctor Who you'll understand why.
Hmmmm…. I appreciated the CE post although I don't necessarily agree with him 100%. We don't do Halloween exactly like you do but it's much, much closer. We have spooky decorations and my kids will dress up as fairies and pirates and go trick-or-treating. We also will attend Mass on Nov 1st, perhaps visit a cemetery on Nov 2nd, and have an All Saints' Halloween party at church with games and food nicknamed after saints, kids dressed as saints, but the decorations still pretty Halloween-y.
Part of my hope as a parent is that my kids will always feel the connection between those 3 days (Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas called it "Hallowtide" and I liked that.) and they will keep in mind that Halloween can be fun and even spooky but not evil (which would be sexy, gross, mean, etc).
I'm ridiculous with my Santa. We definitely do both/and at our house: His names of St. Nick and Santa are used interchangeably. He lives in Heaven because he's a saint but his workshop is at the North Pole. He amazingly comes to bring presents in the middle of the night but he comes for his feast day and fills the stockings.
Interestingly, all this has made me realize that when I write about Santa and Halloween I probably sound a lot more either/or than both/and.
I think you sound very both/and and pretty much exactly like us! We trick or treat and carve pumpkins, then we attend Mass and have a saints pageant and carnival, then we say a Rosary at a Catholic cemetery. I love "Hallowtide" and am going to attempt to work it into conversation.
I was just telling some folks at park day yesterday about how we figured out the same thing about Santa / St. Nick and that it's his workshop at the North Pole because since he's a saint he lives in heaven. We observe advent and decorate for advent then for Christmas on Christmas Eve, we do St. Nicholas Day, and a nine day novena with friends over almost every night which I absolutely love, and we get our pictures taken with Santa at the mall, and he fills our stockings and brings the kids each a present. And of course we attend Mass, sometimes the midnight with the big kids and again in the morning with everyone.
Hooray for holy-days now I'm all excited again!
Bonnie…I love this idea, him in heaven with his workshop at the North Pole. Thank you! 🙂
As a fellow Facebook Catholic homeschooling mom member, I guess I'm in the minority with you in that we do Halloween, Santa, Easter Bunny, etc. I must have missed some of those conversations!
"virtue is found in the middle.
Courage is the virtue between recklessness and cowardice. Hope is the virtue between presumption and despair. Humility is the virtue between vanity and self-deprecation."
I don't think so. I think it appears that way, because we are seeing a 3-dimensional thing with 2 dimensional eyes, so it appears #3 is sitting between 1 and 2, when really, its a triangle, and 1 and 2 are only a few feet apart, while 3 is actually a mile away from them. (does that make sense?)
At least, all my life, I struggled with what humility was. Like you said, it seemed this delicate balance between self-deprecation and vanity. There was something so…creepy/sad/irritating about self deprecation. And I wondered how you balanced it just right etc etc, until something CS Lewis said really hit home to me. Both Self-Deprecation and Vanity are focussing on self, whether to extol or harangue. But both are looking at yourself.
And as a teen, an older girl told me "Humility is truth, it is seeing yourself as you really are". And suddenly it made sense. Humility isn't this balance between the self-haters and the self-lovers, its knowing yourself as you really are—and fixing your eyes on God. Humility is its not about you. You don't look at yourself, to revel in loathing or pride. You're too busy looking at God.
Same with Hope. I don't think hope is in between presumption and despair. Both Presumption and Despair are God-not-being-in-the-picture. Despair, obviously. (I mean, w/o God, looking at the horrors in this world, it does make sense to end it all, like that creepy-planet-euthenasia thing in the end of Season 4 of Doctor Who) But presumption also is not looking at God. The faith in ourselves, in cheerfulness, etc to make things right. That's presumption.
But Hope is looking at God. With him, we see, yes the world really really really sucks and evil is more horrific than we imagined, and yes, our frail attempts at fixing it can't do much–but there's HIM. And we can not presume too much good/hope about God. He does "more than we can ask or think". He's God.
So virtue, isn't in the middle. Often both "poles" or "sins" are actually, at teh root, the same (self-deprecation and vanity = focussing on self; despair and presumption=not putting God into the picture) and virtue, at its root, is looking to God. Fixing our eyes on Him, expecting, waiting, worshipping, seeing Him for who He really is. "Christ, our Hope" and all that.
Virtue does not fall between 2 vices, but rather, its on a whole new dimension.
I really think we're saying the same thing. Or at least we believe the same thing, but are looking at it differently. I love the visual of a triangle, and I think it's really useful, but the fact remains that there are different ways to sin again a particular virtue. And that the different ways are on different "sides" of a particular virtue.
I worry that some of us in the devout Catholic world think that the way to heaven is to keep marching firmly farther and farther down the path towards somberness, and self-denial (which is a good of course, but only when practiced mindfully and ideally under the supervision of a spiritual director), and away from any of the temporal joys of this world. (Which ARE licit.) When we ought to be, as you sugguest, feeling around for that ladder in the middle.
For me it was really helpful to understand that concept, that I could miss the mark either left or right, even if my goal was, as you say, up the ladder in the middle.
And I really, really love C.S. Lewis' concept of humility that you mention. I think it's in Mere Christianity? That was huge for me too. So, now, if someone compliments my childrens' behavior, I try to smile and say, "Yes, they were good, weren't they?!" rather than, "Oh, you should see them at home, they're awful." or ""Yes, we've worked hard to make them so." Because either one would be inappropriate.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!
Chesterton's excerpt from #4 makes me cry like a baby. That is a typical reaction from me when reading him.
Another typical reaction is to break into obnoxious laughter in inappropriate places.
Sing it sister. We're a both-and family, too, and to think that I used to be an either-or in my Protestant days. You know, I think our former bishop was right. People need to shy away from the far left and the far right and meet somewhere in the middle. Happy (early) Halloween!
Just a comment about #
My now 19 year old daughter and her now 19 year old friends and their now 17 year old siblings used to play constantly .. every time that the moms were dead, they were the only hop the children had, but one of the babies fell off the cliff (AKA the trampoline) and died another one lost a leg… they were all sick and didn't know where the next meal was coming from….. 😀
for probably 2 years every play date turned out to some macabre melodrama dress up game…
But don't worry they turned into some very wonderful well adjusted young ladies !!! working attending colleges, good grades etc. 😀
oh an d non of their home lives were anything close to that !!!
No Santa Claus. 🙁
I work with little kids and one of the best things is that I can look them in the eye and truthfully say that, 'yes, I believe in Santa.'
Actually, I met my best friend over an argument about Santa. We were on the same bowling team and one teammate proudly declared that her (then 4yo) son didn't believe in, 'that Santa crap'. I replied (my friend wrote it down shortly after), "Belief isn't a bad thing. There will always be ghosts stories because there will always be death. I believe in zombies because I understand the fear of sicknesses; I believe in the tooth fairy because there is magic in the little moments of growing up; I believe in Santa because Christmas is a time of joy and giving and he embodies the best in all of us; and I believe that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask." Admittedly, it was the overboard last bit that told her we would be best friends, but still Santa started it! 😉
We trick or treat, but no Santa. Yes to St. Nick's Day, though, so there's that. I just want Christmas to be about Jesus and not presents, and this seems like the way to do it. I don't think y'all are sacrilegious. (I don't do Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny either – I've said before, I'm really no fun.) Halloween isn't competing, to me, with a more important idea. We're going to do All Saints Day the same way regardless of its Eve – that's not true for Christmas. But what does strike me as not-so-jolly is that creepy elf on the shelf. Yeesh.