October 17, 2007

Halloween Is Early This Year

There are a lot of people in our society today for whom Halloween is their favorite holiday. I work with some people who say that. You probably do too. I don't think it's a coincidence that none of the folks that I know who say Halloween is their favorite holiday regularly, if ever, attend church-any church.

I ranted last year about how angry I get when I see people at Halloween dressed as Catholic priests, monks, bishops, nuns or the pope.

Today, we need to be on guard against the people who may not be wearing a costume, maybe you can't even "see" them, but they are hiding behind the anonymity of the web to pretend to be something they aren't.

It's not funny that someone may be pretending to be a priest or a nun and saying on a blog (or any media) that they are. The mortal sin is on the deceivers soul but, honestly, I care less about that idiot then I do about the people who are in real spiritual need being taken in by the disguise. It doesn't even make it more palatable for me that the deceiver is funny or takes moderate positions or is a trad or has a great singing voice. Lying is lying.

Dissidents love to employ riducule as a device to get rid of those pesky rules that threaten their "free" way of life. One of their favorite targets are those people who live by a set a rules-whether it's clergy, religious or orthodox Catholics. Dissidents don't want there to be any clergy or religious. The dissidents want everyone to be their own hierarchy. They want to make up their own individual rules and call that Catholicism. Frequently, you will see dissident "Catholics" in clerical costume at parties this time of year.

Yes, we all probably know clergy and religious who are not upholding their end of the vows that they took. We could say that they are in disguise too. It's tragic that this happens. However, I don't think the solution to the problem of unorthodox clergy and religious is to resort to ridiculing and belittling the vows they take. In that instance, the problem is not the vows, the problem is the person who took them.

Further Reflection Update 12:54 p.m.One of the reasons that I get so upset (well, maybe reason has nothing to do with it) over non-priests wearing clericals, or pretending to be priests, is I've been thinking of the real sacrifices and pain some of the priests in this area went thru during the decades of darkness at our local seminaries. Those men EARNED the right, hard-earned right, to wear the clothes. I'm fully aware that my post is, perhaps, more emotional than logical.


Blogger swissmiss said...

Well said, Cathy. People are human and fallible, but we can't confirm them in their sin.

October 17, 2007 8:04 AM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

While I agree with you with regard to people pretending to be clergy when they are not, and the ridicule of the dissidents and other people against Catholic clergy, still, be careful to not paint with too broad a brush.

I fully intend to dress up as a nun this year. And in fact, I've done it before and found it was a great way to share my faith with others, but still with some humor.

This year there is a different focus; it is for work, I'll be at work, and it won't be to make fun of anyone. I would hate to think that someone out there automatically assumes I'm making fun of the Church when I am actually partaking in a very old tradition of honoring the saints on All Saints' Day by dressing in the clothing my saint would have worn.

So just be cautious before you assume someone in such a costume is a dissident or making fun of the Church; the reality could be just the opposite.

October 17, 2007 10:10 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks, swissmiss.

Adoro: You know I love you but I'm going to be a stubborn poo on this issue. Why do you need to dress up as a nun? Where and why do you need the humor aspect of dressing up to talk about the Faith with others? The reason I'm being a stinker about this, is I know firsthand how the humor aspect of this can get out of hand. Honestly, I'm not sure I like the whole idea of people dressing up as Saints during Halloween either-a statement that is sure to get me some hate mail from the parents out there. Why not dress up as a Saint 365 days/year in your own clothes? Know what I mean?

October 17, 2007 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy ~ I'm in faith formation. We are working on creating a culture of Vocations in the parish and school AND I can explain (to the older children) the Carmelite order on one hand, and on the other hand, with the younger children, I can be St. Therese of Lisieux - carrying a crucifix and roses.

I think my reference to "humor" was really more about people perhaps commenting on an adult in costume...but it sure is a great way to joyfully wear my faith on my sleeve.

Condemn me if you wish, and I'll leave it between you and God.

I'm just as stubborn as you, my friend.

~ Adoro

October 17, 2007 1:39 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

Eh, as long as Adoro's not going out barhopping and trying to score crack, she's not being disrespectful, IMNSHO.
I think it's MUCH better than dressing as a French Maid.
What else would a young adult Catholic dress as? (Other than the obvious - a saint, etc., but that's still "impersonating" someone.)
As for us, when Mary gets old enough, she'll be a tiny little Missionary of Charity for Hallowe'en/All Saints, and won't it be a funny photo to show the Mother Superior on the day when she actually takes her vows as a Missionary of Charity?
If she's blessed with a vocation to the religious life, that is...

October 17, 2007 3:47 PM  
Blogger Vincenzo said...

Fascinating. Fr. Mitch Pacwa was discussing these very issues yesterday on EWTN.

He discussed the problems that can occur when teachers (of the Catechism), when trying to make teaching accessible, particularly to the young, might unfortunately use harmful methods that result in them completely losing sight of the entire point of the teaching. He then specifically addressed dress-up/clown masses.

October 17, 2007 5:16 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I'm not condemning you, please don't think so. However, I'm still not sold on the idea but as I see Vincenzo stuck his foot out there even further then I did, I'll close for now-LOL!

Ma: I meant to say: why dress up in nun garb unless you mean it? Aren't we supposed to be every day saints even when wearing our old terry cloth robes and curlers? Like me? Here's an idea, why not invite an actual nun to school to talk about her order and/or her habit and what it means.

October 17, 2007 6:20 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

When I was little I wore a red satin devil costume. I don't think he cared. (I sweat and the dye came off on my t-shirt. I had to wear a jacket over the costume because it was so cold. It was cheap anyway - we got it at Woolworth's. The next year I just wore a mask.)

October 17, 2007 7:35 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

That happened last year and you know it. No, I kid.
I hope it wasn't the infamous Red Dye #5, M&M ingredient and maimer of children of the 1970s.
Just kidding about the last part.
I think.

Ahhh, but then you'd have to find a nun in a habit!

October 17, 2007 8:50 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

There's a difference between a costume/clown Mass, and just hanging around our office or visiting the classes in the school. HUGE HUGE HUGE difference.

Get a real nun? From WHERE?

We do plan to find religious sisters, brothers, seminarians, etc., to visit, but that happens at a different time in the year. It's all tied to curriculum. Why wait? Why not get the idea out there NOW?

Do you know that people literally think that there are no nuns anymore?

The other day I had my costume on in the office -partially, anyway, I didn't have all the small parts. Well, someone came in (embarassing!), and she was wondering initially if the nuns are coming back to the parish?

The next day she came back to the office for something and commented that she actually thought there were no nuns anymore. Because she never sees them.

That went into another conversation in which I listed several religious communities, in habit, and the fact that vocations are exploding in them.

All because I happened to be wearing part of my costume at work while discusing possibilities with my coworkers.

People often need visuals...and when done properly and in context, and apparently out of planned context, it can make a great impact.

I do not condone wearing costumes to Mass.

October 17, 2007 10:36 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

In light of what happened at a San Francisco event where homosexual activists dressed like nuns in taking communion, this is a serious incident.

October 18, 2007 6:57 AM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

What's sad about the San Fran incident is that their habits were ridiculous, they were made up in clown paint - and they were obviously NOT nuns.

I am afraid that there's a good chance this year people will actually dress like the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence". It makes me sick .

So I must ask....why are we letting dissidents and secularists redefine us? Why are we letting them take away our freedom?

It's the same thing that happened to the use of the rainbow; parents don't want to have a "rainbow-theme-party" for fear someone will think it means something it does not.

Symbols are powerful, and if we all start shunning what is wholesome and good out of fear of what THEY are doing...well, shame on us!

I refuse to be intimidiated out of doing what is good and holy and in a proper context just because a few losers out in California are doing what people have been doing since the beginning of time...mocking God.

October 18, 2007 7:36 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Exactly, why not get the real idea out there NOW? Why wait? Why not invite a real nun in the habit or a real priest in clericals to visit the class now and explain the difference in the words: habit versus costume? What it means when you take vows AND wear the clothes and how that's different then Joe or Jane Doe putting the clothes on without the vows?

For the record, there are faithful nuns who wear habits around here. They'd probably be only too happy to visit with the children and explain what their habit means, talk about their order, their vows etc. There could be a future sister in the crowd who will start thinking about a vocation when she sees the REAL DEAL not a layperson playing "dress up".

Laypeople have taken away enough from Catholics who have consecrated themselves to God via Holy Orders. I think there are occasions where laypeople may want to think about stepping off and letting those with the Sacrament of Holy Orders take over.

I know your heart is in the right place and I'm not condemning you. You are a good teacher and I know you are passionate about sharing the Faith (I wouldn't be here if you weren't). But, on this issue, so am I.

October 18, 2007 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy ~ Yeah, there are a few, but as I said, as this is a SCHOOL and there is a certain CURRICULUM to follow, we can't just go off and do what we think is convenient. To do so is simply not effective.

Why not wear costumes for a day, in a way that is fun and sets a good example? There are kids who will be out in terrible costumes; and guess what? That's not going away any time soon. They just keep getting worse.

I'm all for being an agent of change within a culture that is going downhill fast.

Also, you may be interested to know that our dress-up day will actually take place on November 1, the actual holiday.

A few years ago I wore this costume to work and as a result, had some great discussions with non-Catholic cowokers and Catholic ones alike.

Yeah, you're dead set against it, but I've already seen fruit of this. We can't just have nuns hanging around upon our whim; you don't realize what goes into scheduling these events, both on our end and theirs. And our time frame with the kids is very small. You think it's a simple matter; it's not. Certainly getting real sisters in is necessary, but there's also a political aspect; if we invite the ones in habit, we will have to invite the ones NOT in habit because we can't be seen as promoting one over the other.

So unfortunate, but it's reality.

This is NOT so simple as you'd like to believe.

So we're doing what we can with what we have, and quite honestly, if some of you disagree with it, it's your right, but your opinion does not make us wrong.

~ Adoro

October 18, 2007 9:36 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I'm sure it's not simple and there are logistics invovled. I did not say there weren't.

Why not favor sisters in the habit versus those that aren't? Aren't you in effect doing that by wearing a costume?

I'm concerned about the word costume being thrown around in place of the word: habit. Dissidents use the word: costume to talk about the ordained who still wear habits in public. I think the 2 words mean very different things. One word connotates respect: habit. The other: costume, makes light of it.

At the end of the day I can see we are not going to agree on this. That's ok. I hope we can still have brunch once and awhile!

October 18, 2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy ~ I understand what you are saying, but realize, I'm speaking of a particular context. You're looking at everything in light of what some people are doing, and as a result, this bias is coloring everything.

When we speak of a "culture of vocations" in the context of a school or faith formatio program, that is in reference to a lot of little things done to build the whole, keeping the idea around, keeping the images around, and doing so in a way that is fun as well as informative.

So in this context, we see that wearing a costume that looks like a habit is a lot like making a little box and decorating it to give a lesson in conjunction with the scripture readings regarding the Ark of the Covenant.

Children are not small adults. There are things planned throughout the year regarding vocations for men and women, but those things come in their time, not when we think it would be convenient to us. We have to work with a larger authority.

You're looking at things from an adult perspective, without considering the learning styles and visual/tactile/concrete realities of small children.

Or older children who don't want to be called "children" but still like the fun and games and get something out of it.

Teaching by a good example which is also fun and respectful...this is a good thing. Teaching those things at the proper time...good thing.

"Costume" is not a dirty word. I won't be wearing a "habit" because I don't have one and I shouldn't have one. But I can wear a "costume" and in the process, discuss the Carmelite and Benedictine "habits" and the symbolism, etc, and I can do it in a way that is fun.

Now, most of what we'll be doing is just going about our daily work; we haven't fully planned out what we as a department will do, but the others may come as different saints. I will be St. Therese of Lisieux, and she HAPPENS to be a Carmelite, so my costume will look like a Carmelite habit; as close as I can make it.

Cathy, lighten up...these are CHILDREN! This is not the end of the world, this is not adverse to the sacrifice of real Sisters and Priests....this is a step taken in an overall program in building vocations. Do we have to do it? No, but we want to because it's fun for us, too.

In a culture that uses costuming to mock, we can remind people of the older traditions of dressing as that which we want to be; Saints.

You seem to have the impression that everyone who wears a costume is mocking; some, perhaps. But sometimes, wearing a costume does what other lessons cannot, and sometimes it starts proper conversations and brings to light things that would not otherwise be discussed.

(ie the woman in my office who didn't know there were nuns in the area. Wow.)

No, we won't agree on this, and I'd die for your own right to disagree. (In this culture..well, we're quickly losing the right to disagree with the "tolerant" crowd).

Yes, we can still go to IHOP. :-)

~ Adoro

October 18, 2007 10:28 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: YOU are the one who introduced this whole sidebar about the school curriculum even though it was not part of my original point for doing the post. I think you felt like I was attacking you, even though I had NO idea you were dressing up as part of your teaching. It was, I grant you, something happening that had not occurred to me. I'm still not convinced that it's the ideal teaching method but I understand it may not always be logistically possible to bring a real nun to school (hey a nun show and tell day! LOL). But, be careful before you accuse me of some kind of bias coloring my thinking in this regard.

Even outside of the classroom, you told me last year on this blog that you dressed up as a nun for a private party. A teaching moment, perhaps? Meow.

I hope we can still go to IHOP! I'm confiscating your silverware.

October 18, 2007 1:06 PM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

hmmmm, I used to work for a very orthodox order of sisters. I remember one telling me they had gotten a call requesting to borrow some of thier "extra habits" for a school play. Although the sister told me they were amused by the request of course they repectfully declined. She then told me their habits are sacramentals, the fabric being blessed. When they dress they kiss it and don it according to their order's specific "vesting" rituals.

I replied saying I had heard it was a serious sin to wear a habit or dress as a priest, brother or nun as a layperson. She nodded and said yes this is true.

I'm with Cathy on this. Not that my opinion matters mind you!

October 18, 2007 1:38 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

sanctus belle: Everyone's opinion matters on this blog. This issue is not a dogmatic one so we are free to agree or disagree, though I think you raise a really serious point to consider in this debate.

October 18, 2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this one too.

October 18, 2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

Cathy ~ Yes, I brought it up because it was related to what you are saying, although in a different context. And I felt attacked because you are painting with a broad brush. My point was that not EVERYONE who does this has evil in mind as you seemed to be saying.

As far as dressing like a nun being a grave sin...not so much. IMPERSONATING a nun? Yes, absolutely. I would not call up a convent and ask for a habit...besides, to do so would just be ignorant. They often sew their own habits, they are indeed sacramentals, etc.

But if we're going to say that dressing like a nun is a grave sin, well, let's condemn movies such as "The Bells of St. Mary's".

What I think is missing here is a definition of terms, because the parameters of this entire discussion have gone from one thing to another to another and none of us is talking about the same thing although the issues are related, if even in a minor way.

I did not dress as a nun for a private party...I dressed as a nun at work, and I did this while I was actively discerning my vocation. I chose to do this at that time partially because I wondered what it would feel like to have a veil on all day long, and because I was alreayd wearing my Catholicism on my sleeve, well, it was a greater opportunity to do so.

The costume lead a Baptist into my cube, we discussed religious vocation, the items worn by religious sisters, the rosary, my Bible, and the fact I love my faith and am thrilled to share it.

I did not do anything like go out to the bar or anything like that. It was a fun day.

So meow to yourself, Crabby Cathy! LOL!

OK, I've said all I have to say and I'm sticking a fork in my part of this conversation. I'm too exhausted to continue, it's been a crazy week, I'm completely PMSing (oh, yes, I DID go there!), and if this rain doesn't stop I'm going to have a real temper tantrum because I ALSO have cabin fever!

October 18, 2007 10:53 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I remain unconvinced. However, you make an interesting point about film. But, I think it only makes it more palatable that was a good film that you mentioned but what about all the really bad films with people dressed up as nuns? If I never have to see Sister Act again EVER, I'll be thrilled.

I'm actually NOT crabby, right no. Catty, yes. Gee, haven't you figured out my disguises yet? :-)

I'm still hiding the silverware at IHOP. I'm tired of this never-ending rain too. I'm really trying to send it to our suffering brothers and sisters in the SW but it's not working.

October 19, 2007 8:38 AM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

Adoro's point about wearing habits in movies is well taken. I agree with her on this point, if one is portraying a nun with honor and dignity for a film I can't see a problem with it. But Cathy you are totally right about Sister Act (ick) I'm also thinking its not a bad thing for kids to dress as saints for Halloween as long as its done reverently, or as Mary and Joseph for Christmas programs etc. The problem lies in mocking or otherwise trying to actually pass yourself off as an actual religious. NOT appropriate to put on a nun's habit to go slosh drinks at your work's costume party though! This gives scandal.

October 19, 2007 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be very clear - at work we did not slosh drinks. That would have gotten us fired.

Although, we probably would have provided better customer service if they let us drink vodka in place of water.

Or maybe we would have said what we wanted to say to people. Not sure if that would be a good thing or not. lOL!

~ Adoro

October 19, 2007 10:49 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro:I'm reeling from the fact that you said there are situations where you don't say what you want!


Yep, me neither.

October 19, 2007 11:14 AM  
Blogger Vincenzo said...


"In contrast to the quote above here is an excerpt from a letter a newly habited nun of our parish wrote recently.

'Taking the Holy Habit has really been such an honor, although I honestly feel much too young to have it on. But to be clothed in the white of purity, virginity, baptismal and bridal gown, wearing our weapon the Rosary at my side, covered in Our Lady’s Mantle and protected by her Scapular leaves me really humbled and ecstatic at the same time. To be living witness to the world, to be a sign of hope that there is more than the temporal is a gift. I am really a reminder for myself first that there is a God who loves me intimately, who chose to create me, and is thinking me into existence at the very moment, and then for everyone else of that same reality. And finally as my response to Him is complete YES, I cover my head, to reserve myself for Him only.'"

"I am almost moved to tears over this statement. Coming from her I know it is authentic. But the question is which life is sustainable; which order will grow over the next 15 years, the former nun's or the latter?"

October 19, 2007 8:02 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Traditionally in Catholic cultures, children are allowed and encouraged to dress up as nuns, sisters, priests, monks, and friars and to play make-believe games in these outfits. Again and again you see this in Catholics' memoirs, and again and again you see this desire as an early sign of piety or even of a vocation.

If St. Therese could dress up as Joan of Arc, and St. Teresa of Avila could play Crusade with her brother (and actually run away from home to be missionary martyrs), it is certainly no crime for Catholic children and adults to dress up as saints at Halloween.

Stay tuned for my podcast, in which I reveal the medieval story of a knight who couldn't go to a tourney because of greater obligations, and how Our Lady dressed up as him and won the prize! :)

October 22, 2007 2:49 PM  

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