Skulls and skeletons are often used during Halloween, but can also help us remember our own mortality.
One of the most widely used decorations for Halloween is a skeleton, or sometimes just the skull. The secular celebration of Halloween has become a holiday focused on death and anything else connected to it.
Halloween is a day in popular culture when many people visualize their fears, and death is a fear that many people continue to struggle with. Typically we don’t want to die, as we may be unsure about what happens to us when our time on earth is done.
However, in the Christian tradition, death is something that should remain in our minds on a daily basis.
For example, Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble points out in an article she wrote for Aleteia why we should focus on death in a positive way.
Focusing on your death may seem morbid, unhealthy, disturbing, and perhaps even diabolical. And in some cases it can become so. Death in itself is an evil. Saint Augustine wrote that death is “the very violence with which body and soul are wrenched asunder.” But Jesus has changed the nature of death for those who believe … The practice of remembering that you will die helps you to keep in mind that your life will end, and that it has a goal: heaven.
Even the Rule of St. Benedict urges monks to “keep death daily before one’s eyes.”
One way to do that is to keep those Halloween skulls or skeletons out all year round!
According to Sr. Theresa, “Pope Alexander VII commissioned Italian artist Bernini to make a coffin that he kept in his bedroom along with a marble skull for his desk to remind him of the brevity of life.”
While not all Halloween skulls or skeletons are appropriate, the simplest ones can be used that respect the dignity of the human person, but also remind us of our future death.
All of us will die, some will die today, while others will die at some point in the future. The good news is that Jesus Christ has conquered death and in this respect, we can look forward to death.
Remembering our own death can help shape our daily actions, for we recognize that our lives on earth are only temporary and are meant to lead us to eternal bliss in Heaven.