Last night, after a number of our teenagers had prepared peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches for the poor helped through SOME (So Others Might Eat), we had our special event, SCARY STORIES WITH FATHER JOE.
A good number of teenagers attended and they listened intently.
I heard one kid say that she would never turn off the lights again.
A few adults attended as well, and pretty much everyone found the stories SCARY! They also included a Christian lesson about our trust in God and in his protection.
CLICK the thumbs to see the full-sized photo.
Father Joe’s Halloween Stories
Teenagers have enjoyed Fr. Joe’s SCARY stories for many years. Holy Family Parish teens and their friends came to hear what all the fuss was about. It was a good safe way to celebrate Halloween time while not forgetting the more important ALL SOULS and ALL SAINTS DAY. Why are his stories particularly scary? It’s because, he says, they are REAL.
Despite a few objections, the telling of ghost stories and the like have a long history among believers. Many themes in Christianity come to the fore: the resistence of the devil and the other fallen angels, life beyond the grave, the mystery of sin and death, the communion of the saints, prophecies regarding the end times and the anti-Christ, etc. Nevertheless, it may still seem particularly bizarre that a priest would annually tell scary stories, and yet, for many years that has been my practice in the month of October.
Why tell scary stories? We could also ask this of the inspired biblical authors, and yet believers regard the Scriptures as God’s living WORD to us, revealing himself and the message of salvation. Could it be that the light of the Good News shines all the brighter against the dark backdrop of human weakness and spiritual evil? I think so.
It also concerns me that many people live as if the resurrection is a hoax and that the prospect of judgment includes no dark possibility of condemnation. Many people today deny the existence of hell and reduce the devil to a fantasy character as on television and in movies. Others accept the occult lie that the devil is only the necessary flip-side to God. I even knew a “Catholic” professor in seminary, and a cleric no less, who denied the existence of angels, good or bad. While my stories are meant as juvenile entertainment, in some small part, they might function as an antidote to both the occult and the atheistic state of affairs. We are not alone. Some of us are being heavily manipulated by things we cannot see. It is essential that we place our trust in God alone. True religious faith needs to supplant superstition and doubt. Hopefully, we can avoid the extremes.
Turning to the subject of ghosts, there is a great deal of divergence on this question. Many theologians contend that the makeup of the afterlife excludes any type of spectral encounter. They would classify ghosts as flights of imagination, or in the worse scenerio, demons in disguise. Others fit ghosts into the category of souls in purgatory, crying out for prayer and remembrance. There are many stories told that seem to support this possibility. In any case, ghost stories remind us that the grave will not consume us and that the soul is immortal.
Scary stories tend to drive us toward sources of safety and strength. Note how many practical atheists and hedonists make the sign of the cross and recite HAIL MARYs in the face of immediate danger. God is almighty and omnipresent. If we trust in him, we have nothing to fear. Separated from him, we have every reason to be fearful. How do we stand right now with God?