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Sacraments and Pumpkins

by James M. Hahn

Reclaiming the Night

It seems as though the world always takes things we Catholics celebrate and twists them for pleasure and gain. For instance, Mardi Gras has gone from a celebration before we enter a time of self-examination and penance to an excuse to drink, party, and worse. Halloween is no different. It has turned from a time of remembering those who have gone before us in Christ as well as our own mortality to a time of celebrating darkness and even evil. The world has taken our remembrance of those who have passed on in faith and like everything else turned it upside down. The focus is no longer on our dearly departed and the saints that give constant witness to the Gospel even from their place in heaven.

How can we as parents help our children regain the true meaning of this
season? How can we show them the “light of the world” in a world inebriated
with darkness? The goal should not be to protect the light from the darkness but
rather to let the light dispel the darkness. Our first response should always be
prayer. Next, we should imitate Christ and find the good in all things and bring
them to the attention of our children. Hopefully during this season a jack-o-
lantern will suffice as an excellent teaching tool for spreading the Gospel and
understanding the truths of the faith.

Sacraments and Pumpkins

We, like an un-carved pumpkin, have a great deal of junk within us. The
pumpkins’ junk we call pulp but our junk we call sin. In order to remove that
junk from our lives we sometimes need to be cut open. That happens when God
removes that which we are attached to from our lives and that in turn makes us
rely more fully on Him.

Once we, like the pumpkins, have been cut open the junk (sin) can be
removed. Anyone with experience carving pumpkins will tell you that you must
remove all of the junk in order to make carving easier, make room for the candle,
and to keep the pumpkin from burning when the candle is placed inside. It is the
same for us. The candle and its light are symbolic of Christ’s light within us.
The cleaner we are the easier time God will have carving us into the people He
wants us to be. The cleaner we are the better our light will be able to shine. The
cleaner we are the less likely we will burn (purgatory or worse).

Let Your Light Shine

How can we bring this lesson to life in our journey of faith? First, we must
be cut open and this is done with an examination of conscience. Many good
guides are available to help us do this properly. A good examination of
conscience can be painful but it is necessary. This should be done prayerfully
asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate our conscience. Second, we must discard the
junk (sin) in our lives. We can do this by frequently confessing our sins in the
sacrament of Confession. Christ wants us to bring to him our burdens of sin and
He will give us rest. Finally, we must allow ourselves to be filled with the light
of Christ through frequent reception of the Eucharist which fills us with the Body,
Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, The Light of the World.

As we approach All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day encourage your
children to participate in traditional Catholic practices like praying for the poor
souls in Purgatory. Encourage them to fully participate in the Communion of
Saints through constant conversation with those who have gone before us and on
whose constant intercession we rely for help. The world sees this as a time to
revel in the darkness. We must see this as the most opportune time to remove the
bushel basket from our lamp so that the world may see our good deeds and give
glory to God. Let the light from your jack-o-lantern be a symbol of the light of
Christ that is within you. Let your light shine in the darkness for the darkness
will not overcome it.

James M. Hahn is the Director of Religious Education at St. Michael Church in Worthington, OH. He is the founder of Real Life Rosary and the author of Rosary Meditations for Real Life available at James lives in Southeast Ohio with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at

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Rosary Meditations for Real Life
Real Life Rosary, 2003, 231 pages

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