We live in a time when a lot of people try to break all the Commandments, but keep all the social rules and shibboleths. And we live in a time when these people simultaneously say that rapists and murderers are just poor wittle misunderstood oppressed babies, but also that children should be thrown out of society forever for a single politically incorrect word.
So yeah, not too surprising that there’s not enough exorcists in the world to cover all the reports of demonic activity, and that a lot of Catholic and Orthodox and other bishops are scrambling to get more exorcists trained and in the field.
Exorcism didn’t use to be very frequently needed or requested in living memory, other than the exorcistic prayers included in Sacraments like Baptism. But after the Catholic minor orders were done away with, and most dioceses stopped commissioning exorcists, amazingly the need came back.
The downside of all this is that almost every trained exorcist today has been trained through the diocesan exorcists of Italy. Which is great, because they kept them; but it’s also unfortunate, because it passes on everything through a single institutional lens, and that means it’s an Italian cultural lens. The available knowledge pool is relatively small, also, although it would seem that new exorcists today are able to pool their institutional knowledge more openly.
So it’s not clear where people should draw the line, between taking advice and not taking advice, if they ask exorcists about what “opens up” people to demons.
Exorcism is counter-cultural, and the current cultures around the world include a lot of corruption and bad judgment. Exorcists are forced by their duty to live even more conservatively and ascetically than a normal holy priest, because “this kind will only go out by prayer and fasting.” They also tend to see a lot of worst-case scenarios, rather than seeing people whose lives are sunshine and roses.
Also, Italian culture tends to look with great suspicion, and to support suspicious behavior, on certain things that in the US have a lot more innocence and harmlessness attached to them.
So yeah, I fully believe that there are people who do bad occult things on Halloween, just like I believe that some true crime buffs are actually glorifying serial killers. Those things are true.
But that doesn’t mean that Halloween hasn’t been harmless fun for decades and centuries, for almost everyone. Wearing a vampire costume and playing monster by making cape gestures and yelling, “Blah, vlah, vlah!” is anything but a glorification of demons. It is a safe way to face vague fears of the dark or of monsters, and to learn to navigate in a night-confused situation of strange houses and unknown people. It is candy and play, and quality time with one’s parents.
Similarly, a lot of people like to read mysteries or true crime, because it feeds a longing for justice, and for understanding the human heart. Forensics information of the geekiest kind can end up being helpful in daily life, to save life and protect the vulnerable or foolish. I’m not a horror fan, but some of them have similar feelings; and horror movies are sometimes a gateway to religious devotion, much as hellfire and damnation sermons really help some people amend their lives and learn to love God. God is Lord, and He created the night as well as the day.
That said — if someone out there is actually having an occult problem or dealing with demonic infestation or oppression, it would be prudent to go for overkill on the psychological and spiritual protection front. If fluffy bunny decor is considered a more helpful armor than painting the walls black and running a lava lamp, go with the fluffy bunnies.
And if, God forbid, you should ever need a qualified exorcist’s expertise, you obviously need to follow his advice more than that of a layperson like me.
While I’m mentioning it….
The main Catholic traditional objection would be that Halloween was intended to be a fast day and prayer vigil; and that therefore one should stick to Trick or Treat on the night before, or maybe make the kids only have a couple pieces of candy on Halloween night. (But young kids aren’t bound by the law of fasting anyway; and fasting is totally voluntary on holy day vigil days, at this point in time in the Roman Rite. So that ship has sailed, unless the bishops decide to go back.)
Costumes, in good taste, have always been permitted in Catholicism, and even demon costumes have never been prohibited. Mocking demons is a thing, because demons have no sense of humor about themselves.
The traditional fear was that masks and disguises would lead to robbery, kidnapping, rape, and illicit sex, not that Carnival or St. Martin’s or Souling costumes would glorify evil or lead to possession.