Next Saturday, as the children here may know, is Halloween, the evening celebration involving crazy costumes, yummy candy, and scary stuff. But this evening was formerly popularly known as All Hollows’ Eve, for it is the vigil of All Saints Day, November 1, the Solemnity of God’s hallowed ones. oday, I would like to talk to you about vampires, that’s right, vampires. Now vampires are not real, but we can learn a lot from their mythology and bad example, for vampires are embodiments of the anti-Gospel.
For example, Christians are children of the light and of life, but vampires are creatures of the night, of darkness and of death. Vampires fear the daytime and they sleep in coffins. Vampires tempt, seduce, and exploit others. They manipulate persons as things to be used. Vampires steal others’ blood and take their lives. This is the opposite of Christ, who tempts, seduces, and exploits no one. Rather, Jesus calls, invites, persuades, and challenges with the truth, with goodness, and with love. He treats everyone as a person to be loved. Rather than taking, Jesus gives us His blood and His life, His entire living person in the Eucharist, so that we can share His life.
How do you defeat an otherwise immortal vampire? Traditionally, there are two ways: either drag him into the sunlight, or put a wooden steak through the heart. Why do these tactics work against them? These things work because vampires are personified evil, and evil cannot overcome either the light of Christ or the wood of His cross.
There’s one more element of vampire mythology with something to teach us. Vampires can only enter a house, if they are invited inside by the people who live there. In vampire stories, the peasants don’t realize that the attractive, charming, intriguing person at their door is really a vampire, so they invite him in without realizing the threat he poses, or their own vulnerability.
Now comes the scary part of the homily, where we apply the lesson to ourselves. What have we unguardedly welcomed into the heart of our homes? What in our lives most resembles the vampire? It is, I suggest, the television and the internet.
Now granted, television and the internet are not digitized evil, like the vampires are personified evil. There is real good to be gained through these forms of technology, but we are kidding ourselves if we think that they can’t seduce us. More often than not, it seems that television and the internet suck our lives out of us. They are up to our necks, but we are too infatuated with, or hypnotized by, them to realize that something is wrong.
Ask yourself, when was the last time that you watched TV and came away thinking, “Wow, that was great. You know, I really think watching television made me a better person”? Now consider this question: when was the last time you watched TV and came away from it feeling unmoved and unsatisfied? That dissatisfaction should tell us something. Television sucks our life from us, and the internet can be just as bad, or even worse. Not only do these forms of media tend to disappoint us, numb us, and give near occasions to sin, they can harm our families too.
Imagine if there was going to be a public execution in Marshfield tonight and your son wanted to go and watch, would you let him go? Yet how much death, simulated and real, is there to be seen on TV? Would you allow a complete stranger into your daughter’s bedroom unsupervised? Yet how many of our children have a TV or the internet right in their rooms? If TV or the internet were a person, would you welcome that person into your home?
Again, I am not saying that everything on television or the internet is evil, or that every good Catholic should discontinue their cable and internet subscriptions. But I am convinced that we need to be more careful and discerning about their roles in our lives, and that our habits with them probably need to change.
It could be that the single greatest thing you could do today to strengthen your family life and to improve your life of prayer would be to simply unplug. Imagine how much more opportunity and motivation you would have every day for family bonding and quiet times with God, if you put all your TVs in the basement and hid the internet cables along with them. Why not try it for a week? Or, if you’re really serious, why not make this your Advent penance and see how much your life is changed?
Like the psalmist said,
‘Although you may go forth weeping,
you’ll be carrying the seed to be sown,
And you shall come back at the end rejoicing,
carrying the sheaves you’ve harvested.’
After your unplugged period is over, you can bring the TV and the internet back if you want, but you will be freed from any addictions to them and they will be less likely to seduce you in the future, into the life of the living dead.
In the Gospel, the blind man, Bartimaeus, threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and ran to Jesus. Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied, “Master, I want to see.”
Like vampires, change in our lives can be scary, but we should have the courage to see how much our lives could be better by following Christ in this way.