Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cast Out Fear

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4: 18a

Well, ‘tis the season: ghouls hanging from trees, swaying in the wind. Tombstones planted in front yards as if a plague has struck. Goblin heads skewered on sticks and all other manner of evil, death and gloom shoved in our faces at every turn. And most people love it. I just don’t get it.

I certainly appreciate a good Halloween party with some spiders and creepy things. And I remember having a haunted house one year at my Catholic grade school with the peeled grape “eyeballs” and the cold, wet spaghetti “entrails”. And certainly a good sheet with two holes cut out for eyes never hurt anyone. But I think like a lot of things in our society, we’ve gone way beyond the pale when it comes to scary images. Glorifying death and murder, whether done in your front yard or in a horror movie, does nothing to cast out fear from our hearts. In fact, it increases it. How many people reading this have ever been in the shower, alone at night, and been afraid? Probably most of you. And do you think this is a natural thought that just anyone can have? I don’t. I think we have that fear because of movies and other images that we have allowed in to our brains.

Our brains are like super-computers. And once something is in there, especially an image, it is there to stay. I remember being subjected to a horror movie at an 8th grade graduation party when I was 14 and of course I watched it because everyone else was and I wanted to be “cool”. But even to this day, the images of that movie can be as fresh and vivid in my mind as the day I let them in. And many times it is during Mass or Adoration that they spring up out of nowhere. But are they really from nowhere? Are they really random?

I think that we need to be careful about the images we allow in our brain, especially scary images, because I believe Satan uses these the most to drive peace from our hearts. I think the Evil One uses these images from within our own hearts to stir-up fear in us. But Jesus wants us to live in the certainty of His love. He wants us to flee from evil. Even in our Baptismal promises we pledge to reject the “glamour” of evil. As Halloween approaches and the scary and gross become abundant around us, let us guard our hearts and minds from images that will affect us long after the ghouls are done swaying from the trees and the tombstones have been placed in the attic.

Dear Jesus, please help me to place my mind and heart in the certainty and safety of Your love. Give me the grace to avoid situations where images of fear will be allowed into my heart and mind to steal my peace. Amen.

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