WRAPPED IN LOVE…

A few weeks ago, Mike and I quizzed our son and daughter-in-law about Halloween rituals in our new neighborhood.  Though our block in Gurnee usually attracted well over one hundred trick-or-treaters each year, we recalled the kids mentioning that more-than-three-hundred costumed candy-seekers visit them annually.  We confirmed this information as we didn’t want to run out of candy on the first Halloween in our new house.  When that was settled and our candy was purchased, I turned my thoughts to Halloween Past.  Did I tell you that we found one of our sons’ childhood costumes while packing?  Cute as that CHIPS’ patrol officer costume was, my thoughts returned to several decades before that costume became a hot item…

  I was in second grade.  My teacher, Sister Mary Carmelice, had determined that we would host the best Halloween Party in the school.  It would also be the most saint-filled.  Sister took the world’s inattention to the November 1st Feast of All Saints Day personally and she decided to do something about it.  She believed that we all need good role models and that the saints are perfectly suited for the job.  Days before Halloween, Sister announced her plans for a “heavenly feast” of all the goodies we could convince our parents to supply. She added that saintly costumes would add to the fun.  Sister’s sweet tooth and her love for parties were second only to ours. So it was that my classmates and I began assembling our costumes while begging our parents to provide those treats for party day.

When Halloween arrived, our class boasted the Mother of Jesus, St. Joseph, St. Francis, several apostles and other popular patrons.  Sister’s face glowed until my friend Eddie arrived.  I couldn’t believe that he’d forgotten to dress as a saint because Sister had been very clear about this.  Still, in spite of Sister’s effort, Eddie had donned a crisp white shirt and a tie, both of which were lost under a very large suit coat.  Eddie’s eyes were hidden under a handsome fedora which must have belonged to his dad.  From the frown on Sister’s face, I knew that Eddie was in big trouble.  Sister immediately took Eddie into the hall for a little talk.  Though it seemed an hour to me, Sister and Eddie returned a few minutes later.  Amazingly, a smile had replaced Sister’s frown.  Before I could check Eddie’s expression, Sister called us together to share some very big news. 

My friend Eddie sported a huge grin as Sister announced that Eddie deserved an “A” in catechism.  Our wide-eyed amazement must have amused our teacher as she went on to explain that Eddie’s costume represented a very clear understanding of sainthood. Eddie had told Sister that his mother often called his dad a saint.  The man put up with Eddie and his siblings.  He worked very hard to make enough money to feed and clothe them.  Tired as he was after work, Eddie’s dad always helped his mom with dinner.  After dinner, he asked his children how things had gone that day while assisting with their homework.  When his dad helped at bedtime, Eddie’s mother often said, “Honey, you’re a saint!”  Good kid that he was, Eddie listened to his mother.  Though his status was still “saint-in-the-making,” the saint Eddie had chosen to portray was his dad.

I share this Halloween memory because Eddie’s dad truly exhibited the intent behind each of today’s scripture passages.  Deuteronomy (6:2-6) tells us that Moses called the people to be inspired by God whose laws provide the basis for truly lasting relationships.  God not only seeks friendship with us, but God also rejoices in the lasting friendships which form among us.  In the passage from Hebrews (7:23-28), Paul insisted that Jesus remains with us in all of our efforts to love one another.  Mark’s gospel (Mark 12:28-34) underscored all of this with Jesus’ declaration of the greatest commandments: To love God with all of our hearts,  souls, minds and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. 

You know, the rules most important to Jesus were those which helped his followers to love God and to love one another most completely.  It seems wise for us to concern ourselves with the same.  This Halloween memory has rekindled my appreciation of what God asks of us.  Sister asked us to dress as saints because she wanted to inspire us to be loving people.  Eddie dressed like his dad because his dad filled their seemingly ordinary life with extraordinary love.  Today, God invites you and me to do the same.  Happy All Saints’ Day!

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