A Prayer on All Hallows Eve
I am but a man of weakness, frailty and betrayal.
I kneel before Him, my cassock rumpled up as a sea of fabric against the shore of my weekend knees. I adjust my dog-collar with my rosary beads hanging off my clasped hands, like a modern-day rapper’s bling.
I’ve finished the decades. As I pray the Hail, Holy Queen, and breathe in the miasmic mist of the dissipating incense, my mind conjures unholy thoughts.
It is the worst time of year. The pumpkins line the rows of supermarkets; they are not consumed – they are gutted and made into grotesques. Our harvests gathered by the tortured hands of migrant workers from distant lands.
Signs that tell us to buy, buy, buy. Buy Halloween masks and ignore the true meaning of All Hallows Eve, the feast of the saints, the celebration of our brothers and sisters that have gone before us. Then it is the national celebration of the torture of a Catholic whose people were persecuted, his pudgy effigy burning on autumnal pyres. Then…we have the three-month scramble to exploit and commercialise Christmas.
I pray, oh how I pray. The tears well in my eyes and I grasp the rosary beads so tightly that blood drizzles from fingernails embedded in palms. I pray that the saints will return. That they will come, marching in. That on All Hallows Eve, they will smite this world of excess and false gods.
I awake on Halloween morning to the sounds of emergency sirens wailing, calling and screeching like territorial tomcats. I look out of my windows – the world is on fire.
The TV plays low-resolution images of men and women on horses ripping through the aisles of the supermarkets. They pulverise pumpkins with their maces. They burn the BOGOF signs with their torches. They stab the gaudy Halloween costumes with their knives.
I look on, horrified.
In my desperation, I have forgotten that these were ordinary men and woman who were survivors, who believed so passionately that their faith was stronger than any government or army.
And I find myself kneeling ‘neath the crucifix again, praying.