Kevin Bates sm


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 all! 


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 best. 


Good celebration requires that we become involved at every level of our being, physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually.  


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 our prayer.  


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! 

Father Kevin