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Weapons Check

PSA for the Uninitiated

What is the highlight of the liturgical year at a Catholic elementary school?

Without question, it is All Saints Day Mass.

Tiny nuns in full habit, little stigmatists, Jedis-turned-apostles, and Disney-princesses-turned-canonized-queens populate the congregation.

What makes this day the best of all feasts?

Is it the powerful reminder that these children are becoming friends of God and saints of the Church? Is it the inspiring, visual testimony that the saints are not truly dead, but that God selects some of the faithful departed to serve as official intercessors and models? Is it the expression of our belief that heaven worships in communion with the assembly at the liturgy?

For me, it’s the weapons check.

Teachers stand ready with laundry baskets so that all the Michaels and Joans can check their weapons at the pew. It is a glorious honoring of childhood, of imagination, of drama, and of the adventure of holiness.

But I Have Some Questions

• Sometimes, I manage to convince a son of mine that St. George is definitely as awesome as St. Michael the Archangel. Do I really believe this is true, or do I just struggle to procure masculine-looking wings that won’t get in the way of sitting at a desk?

• Does dressing up as militant saints beget aggressive attitudes? Well, it might end up like that if parents forgot that good formation requires us to pounce on teaching moments like this one. Christianity has a long tradition of “spiritual warfare” that can be fruitful for children. Should I use the Halloween candy to incentivize serious after dinner lessons about spiritual warfare, or does payment in kind suggest such catechesis is an unpleasant activity which deserves compensation? Either way, do I get any of the candy?

• Did you know that some Protestant schools have the children dress up as knights on October 31 in “honor” of “Reformation Day”??? I discovered this at a neighborhood Halloween party in suburban Atlanta. I am not an expert on ecumenism, but isn’t bellicose a strange mood to foster when recalling the tragic 16th-century sundering of the people of God? If we want to mark that day, shouldn’t Christians - Protestant and Catholic alike - choose sackcloth and ashes instead?

• Do blog posts have to be seasonal? If you believe they must, don’t worry about this post, for this is the season of acquiring costume components.

• My kindergartener is not tricked and insists on being St. Michael this year. So… anybody want to lend us some spare wings?

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