Originally Published October 29, 2010 A.D.
A recent feedback prompted the following writing that you will enjoy reading. The feedback came from Italy, with the encouragement to stop following the culture’s lead in the way Halloween is celebrated and come up with alternatives led by the Christian traditions.
See what you folks can do about getting the Holyween idea going there. Today in Italy it made the news that 30 cities will begin with pictures of saints and traditional foods and songs to counteract the commercial madness that came from the pagan practices of the Celtics that later became satan’s birthday party. All we see now is empty pumpkins and ugly outfits. Light and Joy
Montenero Val., IS—Italia
What follows was first printed on October 31, 2007. It offers a picture of how Medjugorje and the Community of Caritas celebrate the holy days of All Saints Day and the Feast of the Holy Souls. Many lament the direction the culture has taken in regards to making light of evil with the glorification of Halloween. Yet, few have taken steps to take back these holy days and form their own Christian traditions. Through the initiation, 15 years ago, of the founder of Caritas, the Caritas Community was led spend the Eve of All Hallows, also known as the Feast of Morta, in prayer that has become a joy looked forward to as soon as Fall arrives and the first leaves begin falling from the trees. If you are looking for an alternative for Halloween for your family, we invite you to join in this beautiful tradition inspired through Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje, especially in light of Our Lady’s most recent message:
Building a World Without God – October 31, 2007
Villagers this morning, October 31, 2007, in Medjugorje prepare for All Souls Day. These days the cemeteries in Medjugorje are all being cleaned up and the dead remembered in a special way in Medjugorje. The recognition of All Souls Day in Medjugorje is convicting in that All Souls Day has lost the fullness and richness in meaning in many cultures around the world. “Remember the dead” has become “neglect of the dead.” Cemeteries in Medjugorje are all within walking distance of people’s homes. We say we cannot make frequent visits to the gravesites of our families in America because the cemeteries are too far away. True, but that is why Our Lady said:
January 25, 1997
Our whole life is structured by a system that must be destroyed and rebuilt. Our home places are built without thought and reflection and our lives are spent in a structure designed by a world of godless thoughts, inspired by consumerism. Building subdivisions are useless for life and culture. Our cemeteries, meanwhile, are located across town in which the system forces the transportation of its citizens, a useless spending of time that is unnecessary because God has a better way to meaningfully live out our lives. Here at Caritas, in our community, one of our most beautiful places is our cemetery. Our life is structured where it is part of our daily life. Everyday it is visited by several community members who pause, kneel and pray when we walk the path through it on the way to Rosary, our work or when going home. It gives us heritage and heritage gives us roots. It is why the future must consist of small villages, where you can walk to meet most of your needs both the necessities and cultural needs for real life. Why will it happen? Because Our Lady of Medjugorje wants us to live a simple life. How will it happen? Just like it happened here. By following Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje. They give birth to a way of life, a way of life that is “thoughtful” and encompasses even those who lay in our cemetery, that they be remembered daily in our prayers. A place built in peace.
December 25, 1992
Create a whole new way of life of peace and good for your future.
On Behalf of Caritas of Birmingham
Operated by the Community of Caritas
All Hallows Eve, the Feast of Morta and the Community of Caritas
Yesterday afternoon, one of our community members was walking out of a supply house and heard a woman ask him, with a sigh, “Do you participate in Halloween?” Our community member said, “Actually, no, we don’t.” A little surprised, she asked, “What do you do?” He answered back, “We spend the evening in prayer.” The woman was delighted to hear that and wanted more details, and then explained that she was the wife of a pastor of a Protestant church in town. Before the conversation ended between the two, the woman had received a copy of Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping and was leaving with more enthusiasm than she had before she encountered our community member.
The Caritas Community in Alabama, stopped “celebrating” Halloween many years ago. As many, many Christians today, our founder with the community felt an aversion to the darkness that is showcased in Halloween. As our prayer life grew in the community, there was a desire to truly honor the Saints of our faith in the church, as well as remember the souls of those who have died in our own families and lives. The first thing our founder changed was the name for October 31st. We no longer refer to it as “Halloween” but we have returned to the original name in Italy of the feast day—The Feast of Morta, also known as All Hallows Eve. Our kids do not dress up or go trick-or-treating. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, our founder began a tradition in our community to celebrate this special feast day. The first time we experienced it was on October 31, 1996. What follows is how we celebrate this day.
Once darkness falls, all the members of our community head to our little cemetery near the Field at Caritas. A fire is built large enough for all of us to gather around it in a circle. We come with blankets to sit upon, and to wrap around us if the weather is cold enough. Many of the kids are sitting in laps, or playing among the shadows of the trees in the woods. Before beginning the Rosary, everyone picks up an old, dried-up leaf. This leaf that we each hold in our hands represents our life, especially all in our life that we want to rid ourselves of—our sins, our failures, our weaknesses, etc. We will think about those things in our lives as we pray. We then, one by one, remember our loved ones who have passed away. Everyone, from the oldest to the youngest, will say the names of those who have died. We ask Our Lady to intercede for these souls, especially those who may be still in purgatory. We remember our Field Angels (supporters who monthly support Caritas) who have passed away, sometimes prominent people in the culture who have passed away recently will be remembered as well. We remember those who lived on this land that we now call our home—those who came before us, even the Indians from long ago who have left many arrowheads as remembrances of their time on this land are remembered. It may take as long as an hour and a half for everyone to recall those close to them who are living out their eternity. Before we begin praying our Rosary, we ask for their presence among us and their prayers.
As we sit near the gravestones in our cemetery, we remember the first to be buried here from the community. Little John Jacob. His gravestone says that he died on April 1, 1996 and was born on April 4, 1996. He was the 6th son of our founder and his wife. He died in the womb when he was only four months old, on April 1st, and then was delivered naturally on April 4th. Through his death, the community’s John Jacob cemetery was established. And a child shall lead them….
The coziness of the fire, the brisk cold air, the moss-covered gravestones marking the passage of time, the warmth of the community gathered together, the remembrances of dead loved ones who had helped to shape our lives through their love and example, the reflection of remembering that this life lasts but a brief moment in time and one day we will be leaving this world to begin living our own eternity….all of these together brings a solemnity to the evening, but accompanied with joy and peace. As we continue to hold our dead leaf, the Rosary begins. And then, one by one, community members will approach the fire and drop their dead leaf into it. We pray, by this action, that God will grant us the grace to die to ourselves and be rid of everything that is negative and dead in our lives, and bring new life, freshness, light where there was sin, weakness, faults. Our founder prayers that as we burn our leaves, that this would be symbolic of burning out all that is displeasing to God in each of us, that we would be completely renewed in our individual lives as well as in the life of our community. It is a very personal prayer and each person waits until he is moved in his spirit to rise and let go of his leaf in the fire. It is a moment in which we are looking into the fire looking at the past, at the same time that we are looking toward the future, a future that we pray that Our Lady of Medjugorje will lead us more fully into living the lives of saints.
Though there will be no “tricks” tonight, we do end our evening with “treats.” Every household has brought their favorite “sweet” and there is laughter and “remember when” stories as we watch the flames of the fire fade into dying embers. And the sweetness lingers as we say good-night to each other, to John Jacob and all the saints who are watching us from Heaven.
In the Joy of the Living,
The Community of Caritas
October 31, 2007—10th Year Anniversary
The Community of Caritas celebrates a special anniversary today, October 31, 2007. On this day, ten years ago, visionary Marija Lunetti came for a special apparition to have the Caritas Mission House in Medjugorje blessed by Our Lady. The community members in Medjugorje had scrubbed and cleaned the house from top to bottom, filled the room with flowers, prepared a special Rosary with music placed between each decade to reflect upon the grace of having Our Lady with them. The blinds were lowered on the windows and the evening sunlight filtered through the cracks creating a sense of peace and solitude so that they could prepare for Our Lady’s coming without distractions.
Our founder knelt beside Marija, along with the other community members, in front of Our Lady’s statue in the Mission House and together prayed a beautiful Rosary. After entering into the 7 Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s, suddenly Marija’s head went up indicating the Our Lady had arrived. The apparition lasted five minutes, and the room was filled with a deep peace. Marija then whispered, “Ode” meaning “She’s gone,” and with a big smile on her face, turned to us and said Our Lady had given a message for the community.
“I want you to be Jesus’ joy.”
October 31, 1997
It was a stunning message to receive, and the community was overtaken by a beautiful joy. The community back home in Alabama had been in prayer at the same time and were waiting to hear about the apparition. Our founder called home from Medjugorje and put Marija on the phone so she could personally tell them the message.
Though the message is a beautiful one, it is not always an easy one to live. In Holy Scripture, the Apostle Paul stated:
“Make my joy complete. Be of one mind, one heart.”
To be “Jesus’ joy” is to live this unity of heart and spirit in community. It is not a coincidence that Our Lady gave this message to them on the same day that She inspired the Feast of Morta tradition of burning the leaves. Because in order to be “Jesus’ joy,” one must be willing to die to himself. Our Lady once said,
December 25, 1994
For there to be a “communion of saints” there must be the willingness to die to your desires, but through that death, comes a new life, a new way of life, blessed by the Queen of Heaven. The trade-off went beyond their dreams.
30 thoughts on “The Feast of Morta – The Community of Caritas – Alternative to Halloween”
At Mass on All Saints Day this year, about 25 of the school children dressed as saints. It was so beautiful and it was fun to try and guess who they were. they processed down the aisle in front of the priest as he walked toward the altar. The whole school was present and that was beautiful too. I love how you celebrate halloween and I will try to do the same here. God bless you and thank you for all that you teach us by word and example.
I am so moved to think of such a beautiful substitute for Halloween! I have forwarded this to my daughter. Next year they can do this with the youth in the church parking lot.
I agree with Spremkumar. The craze for Halloween has spread like wildfire in Australia as well. My husband, who is normally quite tolerant, remarked “how on earth did it come to this?”; although we all know that evil takes root at every opportunity especially as soon as good people cease doing good and relax a little too much for too long and when they become too lax in self-discipline and prayer. Mother Mary you invite us to accept you as our mother too. We long for your loving embrace.
I really missed my dad who passed away 25 years ago in the Phillippines. Like Virginia said from Canada, we celebrate All Saints and All Souls Day to the cemetery and prayed to our family who have gone before us. Thank you for leading and example. Praise be Jesus and Mary
I have three children and a husband who love to celebrate, what ever the occassion. Troubled about what halloween had become, I did a little research, and realized what Halloween’s true meaning was…pray for souls! We had always had a cemetary and ghost theme (never scary), but I felt moved by the Holy Spirit to add something more, to help my family and my community understand what it was we were celebrating. I added a cross with “pray for souls” Nov. 2. Pray to be moved to see how u can help
Thank you for sharing how you celebrate Hallowe’en in the Caritas community-sounds like you are inspiring a lot of families to follow suit, praise God! Recently, I have had to try and ignore a grotesque model, parked between a “joke-shop”, and our beautiful chapel of Adoration, in our local shopping complex. I am horrified at the interest this spectre provokes in tiny children, and at the active encouragement given by the adults, to inform them about the occult. Thank God for your example!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for showing us how we should be living. My son is 13 and never liked holloween. It didn’t sit right in his heart. This is truly the way we are called to act on that Holy night. We will join you that night in prayer, with our leaves in our backyard in Ohio too, just like the family in Texas! May God continue to Bless your beautiful community.
My life changed since the death of my mother, I do understand my religion better now and the meaning of death, words cannot explain how glad I am for reading the above article, and I will do my best to go to church every Sunday, may be one day I can talk with the community to start celebrating 2nd Nov., as well and in the same way as in Italy. Thanks be to God.
dear loving caritas, Today we all pray to God and our Lord Jesus Christ through Virgin Mary to the All Saints Day and departed souls of Human Races. Thanks spremkumar v
It is a beautiful All Saints and all souls day. In our country, Philippines, we celebrate Halloween by going to the cemetery and praying for the death, It is also a getting together of family members and have a little food to celebrate the day. We pray the Rosary there with all who were present. But here in Canada the cemetery is far, I and my 3 children just pray The Rosary at home.
Praise be to Abba father Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit and through Mama Mary for this blessed grace.I will go to mass this Sunday evening and burn a leaf and join theCommunity of Caritas for this wonderful feast.Thank you dear God for giving me such a wonderful grace to read these words.Thanks You friend of Medjugorje and I pray my innermost desire of coming to Medjugorge becomes a reality one day
Gosh, it’s funny how our Mother works… tonight we just got back from a Halloween Party at our kid’s Catholic School; our 2nd oldest asked me about the origin of Halloween. I responded that “our Church celebrates All Saint’s Day on November 1st so the word Hallows (referring to holy people) eve (meaning the night before) comes thus form the word Hallow-ween (or eve). But since culture is so evil that’s why we see witch not saint costumes. Thanks for the info, I’ll pass it on! Peace, Kerri Kerr
I have never liked Halloween + we do not celebrate. I will be sitting by fire with you all with my leaf in my hand praying with you all in my heart. God Bless You All. Love Michele
What an awsome and beautiful tradition to celebrate this day. It brings back so many memories of when I was a child, and my parents brought us to the cemetary to place flowers on the graves of grandparents. we cleaned !up around the grave and spend time in prayer. I know now how far I gotten away from this. I will ask to take my parents to the grave sites of our grandparents,so I can help clean around their graves, place flowers, pray and share stories. I will share with my church. Thanks!
What a truly beautiful and meaningful way to celebrate. I love the dried leaves idea. I will be doing something different this year. Thank you.
What a wonderful difference in celebrating our loved ones. It helps when I miss my mother and other family members who have gone before, to know that they are there and are also with us in love. What a wonderful God we have.
This tradition is so full of love. That is what is missing from the tradition of holloween. It truly is hollow. No substance, no spirit, no love. How is ugly beautiful? How is scary,peaceful? All that for candy? I love your ideas and the Holy Familys wisdom. Thank you for giving us and our children true values to follow and hand down to future generations. God Bless and keep you, tina lucido
Thank you for the sharing May God bless you friend of medjogory I hoping one day to come to see you
The messages of our Lady in your article are so timeless as ever. My heart rejoices knowing that Christians everywhere are celebrating according to the patterns of heaven . Thanks for all your effort in this article. Fabiola Farias
This is a very beautiful article .A much more beautiful way to celebrate such a beautiful feast day .Thank you for this article.
This was really heart warming and uplifting to read.My birthday is 31st October and all my life it has been outdone with “haloween”.This article has really given me a fresh outlook on what really is a beautiful day and this Sunday when I turn 34 I will just be brushing aside all the consumerism and joining in deep prayer for and with all of heaven.God Bless.X
Yes, what a great tradition, thank you ! Remember Mary said ” one day through the rosary and the scapular and I will save the world”….., but the ‘world’ still say’s , as Satan and followers….” I will not Serve”…; and look where we are ?
Thank you so much for this wonderful sharing of peace and joy for families for the feast of All Hallows Eve. My family will be praying for your community and for the American families for faith, peace and commitment to Jesus and His Mother.
Thank you so much for this inspiring message! I love it and I am doing the Novena with and I fell so happy because I succeeded & didn’t fail….I don’t recognise myself ! The Lord be praised always and our dearest queen of peace. My aim and my dream is to come visit you in Alabama and pray in communion with you all…Hopefully one day !! God bless you all
Halloween should be a day of fasting, prayer and attonment, thousands of babies and children will be sacrificed that day around the world because they are innocent lambs, just the Lamb of God, Jesus. I see lay people and priests encouraging parents to dress kids as saints, this is a very sad fact, we can only counteract this by becoming more spiritual and waking people up.
Thank you for sharing your tradition with us. On that night, there will be a family in Texas who will be joining in the tradition in their backyard.
Praised be Jesus and Mary-I was reading your article and how blessed the community is and as I was reading the article a thought came into my mind that maybe the community is what heaven may be like or maybe just a taste of it. The community is an inspiration and how I long to live the life you are living I know that you have to work extremely hard but when you go to bed you know that you have done what Jesus is asking of you. I pray that my family and I will have the same peace.
WOW! That is so beautiful and so full of love and peace. We also celebrate the night as a “Night of Light” and have a candle burning in the window and any children ‘trickle treating’ are given a Miraculous Medal to take home. We also pray but will now include THE LEAF picked from our garden at dusk and returned later in the evening. Thank you for sharing and being Jesus’ joy. Your sister in Christ, Romilly xxx
Dear Community: You have given us a fine example of being in the world but not of it… Not only are the “dead” found in cemeteries, but among us in the flesh. Let us pray for them also. May all God’s children find their hearts true desire this blessed Hallowe’en or All Hallows Eve! Joyfully alive in God’s Love, +Robert Thomas
What is there left to say, except with a deep sigh wishing all families could experience your peace and joy. At least through Caritas I can live vicariously. Thank you for giving and living the life we should/could be leading.