I discovered Hallowe’en in the States. I also discovered that neither American kids nor their parents had any idea where the word came from. I therefore sounded off my considerable Readers’ Digest erudition by explaining the connection with the Catholic Holy Day of Obligation which is All Saints’, All Hallows’, Day, and the superstition which gave birth to the “Devils’ Day” which was the day and especially the “e’en” (“evening”, the eve) before November 1. Christmas has less and less to do with Christ, and Hallowe’en is no longer about devils but tricking and treating and getting dressed up as monsters and ghosts.
The dramatic story about the ghost of Hamlet’s father is, in the words of Horatio, “wondrous strange”, but for Hamlet himself, the only one to see his father’s ghost, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Act 1, scene 5). For him, his Dad’s ghost was real.
It is enough for some people to see the movie “Ghost”, starring Patrick Swayse, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, to believe that whatever about Hallowe’en and haunted houses and the scary stories we heard as kids, ghosts are also for real. For Christians, one certainly is. They call Him the Holy Ghost (understandably referred to, by preference, as the Holy Spirit).
Unfortunately the whole bit about ghosts and spirits is very real to people who believe in the after-life and the immortality of the soul. Most do not believe in spiritism nor in the possibility, through a gifted Whoopi Goldberg or other medium, of communicating with the dead or of seeing ghosts appear (Mary’s multiple apparitions are the accepted exception). But the Christian faith is built on the reality of the spirit world. Angels, common, Guardian or otherwise, may have, like devils, gone out of fashion and Catholic piety. But for non-atheists the faithful (and even the faithless) departed still exist, and will continue to exist forever, Up There or Down There or Somewhere in Between. Brains rapidly turn to mush, but the soul lives on. You and I will too, having sloughed off this mortal coil, and will live as real-live ghosts until our soul is reunited – somehow – with our body (formerly mushy brain included) to enjoy eternal life. Fiction, in spite of the contradictory cliché, is stranger than truth.