November 29, 2013
Ordinations to the
priesthood in our part of the Marist world are few and far between, so it’s no wonder we’ve all come on board
with such enthusiasm and joy to celebrate the special event that is Father Willy’s first days as a priest.
It’s native to the
human spirit, the way that we naturally celebrate events that mean the most to us. It’s a testimony to that same
human spirit how we can celebrate even in times of strife suffering, persecution and grief.
So much of our
life is geared to producing a product, being useful, meeting a deadline. A good celebration takes us into a
place where these goals are nowhere to be seen. When we celebrate we become renewed in spirit, relationships are
recovered, refreshed or healed, life is somehow tasted more deeply.
When we enter into
the spirit of a celebration, time stands still. A good celebration takes us out of clock time and enables us to
be in a place where time is no longer the framer of our lives. Perhaps a bit whimsically, we can say that
celebration gives us a glimpse of eternity where time is not of the essence, where time is not at
When we celebrate
we play, and almost instinctively we know how to be in this space. We are made for celebration.
Celebration is a
form of play and also distinct from it in this sense, that when we celebrate we mark moments of transition,
birth, graduation, marriage, ordination, death. We mark moments which cannot be reversed. As a 21-year-old I can
no longer become 20 again!
These moments of
transition usually involve some form of grieving as we leave some of our past behind. They also involve a gift
of joy and hope as we embrace the new steps we are taking. They are bit like death and resurrection all rolled
into one. Our most significant transition events are what we celebrate
requires that we become involved at every level of our being, physically, emotionally, spiritually,
We can’t say that
we’ve really celebrated if we have just sat and watched others enjoying the occasion. Celebration is not for
spectators, only participants.
In the liturgy we
use frequently the word “celebrate.”
Given what we’ve
just been saying about a good celebration, just sitting and watching, staying mute while the singing is going on
around us, mumbling our responses, keeping our prayers to ourselves, keeping our heads down and avoiding any
real contact with our fellow believers, is no way to celebrate.
For the liturgy to
be an authentic celebration, we all need to play our part.
As with any other
celebration, our liturgy is deeply personal. It is not however private. We gather as the community of the
faithful, just as we gather as some sort of community at every other celebration.
Even in the silent
moments of the liturgy, we are silent together and not alone, present to one another, supporting each other with
In our society, we
often prefer to keep our own business to ourselves and share it with a select few.
However, when it
comes to our gathering as people of faith, our faith is a gift that is essentially relational and finds its
fulfilment only when it generates love. Again, our faith is something deeply ours personally, and deeply ours as
a family of faith and it works best when shared, when celebrated well!
As we journey with
Willy over these wonderful days of his Ordination and first steps as a priest, let’s be thankful, thoughtful,
and take the lessons of these days to heart , as they will stand by us at other times, especially when looking
on the bright side of life is not so easy.
Just for now
however, it’s time to celebrate!