a halloween reflection from andrew britz, osb

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Some editorials are time-sensitive, rightly addressing pertinent issues of the day. Others are timeless, their wisdom echoing over the years. St. Peter’s Press in Muenster, Saskatchewan has just published a second collection of editorials by Andrew M. Britz, OSB, long time editor of the Prairie Messenger. The collection is titled Rule of Faith: As we worship, so we believe, so we live.

This week’s issue of the PM includes his 1997 editorial on Halloween. Britz acknowledges the religious purists who denounce Halloween as a pagan celebration that corrupts Christianity. Of course, those purists are still among us today and probably always will be. That’s why I love Britz’s optimistic spirit. He challenges us to look at Halloween anew through the joyous eyes of children.  Of course, the bags full of candy are cause for any child to be giddy with excitement, but he goes further,

In all the fun and excitement of donning their masks “to frighten” their neighbours, children unconsciously grasp some important wisdom which is likely difficult to learn any other way.

They sense the power that comes to those able to step out of the daily confines of their existence and view life from a new perspective. Draw a few whiskers on a child’s face and behold — the normally shy and timid little one is ready to go out and challenge the world!

Britz sees no evil in children dressing as goblins, witches and Frankensteins.

Pagan images of fear and evil are drawn upon, not because they are believed in, but to be spoofed. The last thing Halloween does is lead children to take more seriously the fears they unwittingly harbour in the deepest levels of their being.

He praises celebration for its power to take us deeper into life than sober, intellectual reflection.

A wise society — and a wise church — allows its structures to be relativized in play. Then, and only then, is there a chance that when the children become mature adults they will not view these very structures as inhuman constrictions to growth, but rather will cherish them for the time-tested wisdom they contain.

Central to Halloween is turning our key structure of order upside down. For a day children rule; in jest they frighten their elders into submission. No wonder the child in each of us still cherishes Halloween!

(With a major shout out of love and congratulations to my Mama and Tato who are celebrating 58 years of marriage today! Happy Anniversary!)

disasters and the myth of self-sufficiency

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I have friends from all along the north-east coast of the USA and in Ontario and Quebec. I’m glued to the news coverage of Hurricane Sandy. The devastation is horrible to imagine, even more horrible to watch. During these late days of election campaigning, it is good to see the candidates respect the enormity of the situation. All of a sudden, campaign rallies seem trivial.

A natural disaster is a wake-up call and reminder to acknowledge the many heroes in our midst. The true heroes include the men and women who staff emergency measures offices around our countries, preparing for worst case scenarios. Thank God for their expertise in evacuating large populations, monitoring situations and setting the gears of emergency relief into place. And, thank God for all the first responders who risk their own lives to save others; fire-fighters, paramedics, police officers, doctors and nurses, and many more. And, thank God for the utilities workers who work in the most adverse conditions to restore power where outages have occurred.

While politics is put aside in these critical days, one can’t avoid thinking of the financial cost to have emergency systems in place; government money, tax money. I have a son who is a fire-fighter and paramedic. I know the intense, ongoing training that is required to stay up to date and prepared for all possible scenarios. I understand the massive expense required to purchase and maintain equipment that might sit idle for months on end, but is critical when disaster strikes.

When one family experiences a tragedy, the community rallies to support them. When tragedy befalls entire populations and communities, we need strong, well-funded emergency measures programs to respond quickly, efficiently and effectively. And, we need disaster relief funds to house and feed all those who are displaced, and to help them rebuild their lives.

In the midst of a wide-scale tragedy, the myth of self-sufficiency quickly evaporates. Some are happy to fund armies but denounce the funding of other governmental programs. Nature has the power to unleash some mighty wars. Thank the good God above when trained and qualified troops of emergency personnel are in place to respond.

BBC News – Sandy closes in on US East Coast

BBC News – Sandy closes in on US East Coast.

When major news hits, it’s hard to focus on writing blogs. Tonight, we’re following the path of Hurricane Sandy. From the Canadian prairies, we’re sending prayers for our friends and all who are affected by the severe weather and its aftermath.  And, we ask our loving God to give all leaders and emergency personnel the grace, energy, and wisdom needed to respond to this disaster safely and effectively….