It's Halloween, and we love ghost stories. Word On Fire Research Assistant Jack Thornton reveals our top ten favorite rumored Catholic hauntings in the U.S.
Well, it’s Halloween: a time when folks dress up in all manner of costumes while enjoying candy, parties, scary movies and ghost stories. The ghost stories in particular arouse the interest and wonder of many a lively imagination at this time of year. All over the world, stories of hauntings, spirits and monsters, including some supposed hauntings of Catholic locations, frighten and delight believers everywhere, especially during the Halloween season. Some rumors are scary and mysterious. Others, not so much.
In the spirit of Halloween, and in no apparent order, here are our ten favorite rumors of Catholic hauntings in the U.S.
1) Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery
Royal Palm Beach, FL
The ghosts of those buried there supposedly haunt this Catholic cemetery. One account says, “Strange fogs have been reported, described as looking like individual strands of something moving within the fog. Appearing and disappearing. The mist seems to form in to something, very dense. You could see it moving all different directions. Noticeable temperature change, uneasy feelings, and feelings of felt like someone was right behind you. Then it feels like whatever it this is trying to grab your arm.”
Or, to be more accurate and realistic, “I was in a cemetery one night and it was foggy. The End...”
On this All Hallows Eve's Eve (that's right), we're putting our Fun-Size Snickers down long enough to learn something pretty profound about Halloween — that it has deep roots in Catholicism. We fired some questions at the walking encyclopedia that is Father Steve Grunow, and this is what he fired back: Everything you ever wanted to know about Catholicism and Halloween, and more.
I always figured that Halloween had pagan roots, but you are telling me they are Catholic. Huh? How so?
The origin and traditional customs associated with Halloween require no other explanation than that they are examples of the kinds of festivity that served as a means of celebrating the various holy days of the Catholic Liturgical Year. This includes everything from masquerades, feasting, and the associations of a given day of the year with supernatural or spiritual truths.
I would draw a distinction between the violent, macabre imagery that characterizes the modern appropriation of Halloween as a kind of secular celebration and the more traditional customs that are characteristic of a Catholic cultural ethos. The descent of Halloween into the madness of an annual fright fest is a relatively recent development, but the true substance of Halloween belongs to the Church. Halloween (or “All Hallows Eve”) is the festive precursor to the celebration of the Church’s public commemoration of All Saints Day.
There has been an appropriation of the festivities of Halloween by modern pagans, but please understand that modern paganism is precisely modern and should be distinguished from the cults of ancient religions. The origins and practices of the modern paganism do not extend farther back than the late nineteenth century. Also, remember, the term “pagan” is a slippery one. What does it mean? The worship of the gods and goddesses from long ago? Those cults have long since passed away with the cultural matrix that once supported the world views that were the conditions for their possibility. You can’t just re-invent those cults without the culture that supported them...
This Halloween weekend, Father Steve speaks about the connection between the celebration of All Hallows' Eve, All Souls' Day, and the ritual and tradition of the Catholic Church-- a connection which he explains has been largely lost. Read his commentary here.
We regret to inform you that this year’s Halloween celebration has been cancelled. Because the celebration of All Saint’s this year is preceded by a Sunday, many bishops in the United States have determined that the obligation to attend Mass this year on the Solemnity of All Saints has been abrogated. Given this fact the traditional festivities celebrated on the eve of All Saints Day (aka “All Hallows Eve”) are also no longer obligatory. We are sorry for any disappointment that this may cause, but there is always next year....
(And, don't forget to watch Father Barron on WGN America tomorrow, Sunday the 31st!)