Praying a hedge around our children

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100817.cfm

“When I was a kid.” Seriously, when I was a kid our Halloween costumes were constructed from materials from around the house. Our favorite characters for trick-or-treating included a hobo, football player, cowboy/cowgirl, or angel. Today, retail stores are jam-packed with expensive Halloween costumes, and there seems to be an increased fascination with witches, vampires, zombies and axe killers. Though some people dismiss this as harmless fun, Scripture reminds us to fill our “minds with whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious.”

This Sunday, we read from the Gospel of Matthew of the landowner “who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.” The landowner, God, has planted the vineyard—our children—and given us—his tenants—the responsibility of bearing the good fruit of Christian disciples. We have a serious responsibility for raising our children in the faith, yet it can seem like the world will stop at nothing to seize the final harvest from us.

As a young mother, it angered me when an ad for a horror film would pop up during an otherwise family show—clearly attempting to grasp the innocence from our children. Today, with countless channels and endless social media—at Halloween or any other time of the year—our children are at risk of being exposed to acts of violence, sexual deviance and aggression, which can have long-lasting effects for them.

Years ago, when faced by these assaults, I was taught to pray a hedge around our children, protecting them from all evil—that which can steal the soul. As parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s protective presence—by lovingly setting boundaries for our children based on God’s laws and commandments. We name grace by praying a hedge around our children—young or old—for protection from bullying, violence, hatred, pornography, drugs, greed and unhealthy relationships.

Christian parents must decide how or if their children will participate in Halloween. According to Catholic Answers.com, Halloween has Christian roots and originated as “a time for Christians to mock the devil by reveling in the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil and death.” Whatever we choose, we wisely pray a hedge around our children and then fortify it by:

  • Teaching our children of Jesus Christ’s final victory over evil and death
  • Monitoring social media
  • Praying with our children for the protection of their guardian angels
  • Choosing appropriate costumes
  • Educating our children on the history of Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day

Many believe the devil is only a Halloween character, but the devil is real and wreaks havoc in our world. Instead of spending money on elaborate costumes, perhaps we can turn our resources to resisting evil by alleviating starvation, addressing homelessness, aiding those afflicted from natural disasters, working against gun violence, helping mothers with unplanned pregnancies and battling human trafficking.

As we approach Halloween, pray for the Lord to build a hedge around each of our children, guarding their innocent eyes and protecting their tender hearts—and then trust. As St. Paul wrote, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Now, that’s good news!

How will you prepare your children for Halloween/All Saints’ Day?

What steps will you take to protect your child from evil?

Our hearts and prayers go out to those who died or were injured in Las Vegas. God help us and protect us from all evil.

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