Monday, October 31, 2016

From the High School Lesson Book - Halloween and Reformation Day

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From the High School Lesson Book - Halloween and Reformation Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @

A quick check of most calendars will confirm that today (October 31) is Halloween, and tomorrow (November 1) is All Saints' Day. Many calendars will also inform you that November 2 is All Souls' Day. Fewer calendars will mention that October 31 is also known as Reformation Day. Are these days related? Well, in a way they are. Here's what I found out:

Nowadays, Halloween is mostly celebrated with candy and costume parties, but its roots are in pagan Celtic sacrifices to appease evil spirits. It was believed that the lord of death, Samhein, sent evil spirits to attack humans, and the way to escape harm was to dress up and disguise yourself as an evil spirit. Christians offered All Hallows' Day as a Christian alternative, which celebrated faithful Christians saints on November 1st. In medieval England, this was known as All Hallows, which gave rise to the name Hallowe'en from All Hallows Eve.

All Hallows or All Saints' Day was first celebrated in May in the year 609, but Pope Gregory III changed it to November 1st in the year 837. It was a long held tradition in the church to commemorate the Christian martyrs, and over time, all Christian saints were included in the celebration. During the Reformation, Protestant church recognized that the New Testament referred to all believers as saints; and so All Saints' Day came to be a celebration of the unity of the Church.

All Souls' Day, on November 2nd, is primarily celebrated by Roman Catholics. The day is dedicated to prayer and almsgiving in memory of deceased loved ones. People would also pray for the souls of the dead, in hopes of shortening their stay in purgatory and hastening their transition to heaven.

Along came Martin Luther, a Catholic priest and scholar in Germany during the 1500s. As he studied, Luther noticed differences in what the Bible said and what the Church was actually practicing. He announced his famous 95 Theses (or points of debate) by posting them on the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. These challenges to Catholic practices and doctrines were translated and distributed across Germany within weeks, sparking what became known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther was put on trial for heresy, but stood firm even through the threat of excommunication. The Reformation began a revolution in religious thought and practice that affected colonial development as the New World was being settled; shaped political thought throughout Europe; and changed the religious and political landscapes and worldview of the entire Western world.

From the High School Lesson Book - Halloween and Reformation Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @

One of the Catholic practices of his day that Luther challenged was the Treasury of Merit, or what we often refer to as the sale of indulgences. People were told to justify themselves through charitable works, pilgrimages, and other religious activities, as a way to acquire "merit". Many were left wondering if they had done enough or paid enough to escape God's judgment and a lengthy stay in purgatory. Luther's desire was to refocus the church on salvation by grace through faith - to proclaim assurance of God's grace, freely given to all who believe.
The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God ~Thesis 62
And now hopefully we all know just a little bit more about Reformation Day! I hope that you know the assurance of God's grace and forgiveness today. Do you do anything to celebrate Reformation Day or Halloween, or both? Leave a comment and let me know! Then please link your posts about homeschooling high school here - I'd love to see what you are working on! Also, please visit your neighbors and leave some encouraging comments!

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