by Eric Clayton

I spent my first Halloween in Baltimore at church (not St. Ignatius). I didn’t know a lot of people, so – at the invitation of a friend – I went to an All Saints’ Day Vigil Mass. It was beautiful and peaceful, so – despite the fact that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays – I told myself I would make this a new tradition.

Until the homily.

The homilist began by commending those of us gathered before him for coming to church on Halloween – for resisting the supposed temptation to forget All Saints’ Day. “We’re different than those people out there,” he said, a vague gesture to the door, to the costumed trick-or-treaters. To me, what he seemed to be saying was better. 

Despite the beauty of that Mass, despite my own deep love for the saints and all that November 1st represents, some seven years later, all I really remember from that quiet time in communal prayer is someone standing at God’s altar and telling me I was better than other people. 

Maybe that’s just me. I’m sure the priest meant no harm; he’d been imprecise with his words. And I know from the numerous Halloween parties my wife and I have hosted in the years since that you can be both a good person – even a person of faith – and enjoy some candy, some costumes and maybe a beer or two.

What occurs to me now, though, as we look out over the next several days – Halloween, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and the US election – is that we all might be tempted to stand at God’s altar and point the finger at others. We all might be tempted to claim God’s preference for us and ours – and God’s judgment on those who disagree.

Let’s resist that temptation. Let’s remember that we are all members of God’s family. We are all called to uphold the dignity of every human person in every stage of human life. We are all called to love our neighbors as ourselves – and to welcome and embrace the stranger, remembering that by doing so, “some have unknowingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)

In solidarity,

Eric Clayton
Senior Communications Manager,
Ignatian Spirituality & Vocation Promotion
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States