Season of Happiness
Fr. Peter Daly
May 16, 2007
Spring is the season of happiness.
So many happy events in parish life.
We have First Communions, Confirmations, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and retirements.
So many times to dress up. So many photos to be taken, invitations to send out, gifts to buy and cakes to be eaten. As the kids say, “I’m down with all that.” Especially the eating part.
Like most parish priests I get a little dizzy since we hardly have a chance to catch our breath from Easter before the spring round robin of events.
I have to say I love it, though I moan a grown a little.
My favorite is First Communion. The kids are so excited. They take it so seriously. They listen so intently. They really enjoy getting their photos taken.
The boys get their first “clip on” neck tie. Sometimes it stays on to the end of mass. The girls get their fancy white dresses, veils, shoes, socks, and little purses. Girls definitely get more stuff, which generally sets the pattern for life between the sexes.
This year as the kids were lining up for first communion I told them all they looked beautiful. The boys corrected me. “We look handsome.” I asked the girls if they looked like brides or queens. One girl volunteered, “We look like angels.”
Confirmation is joyous, but in an adolescent sort of way. The joy is coupled with relief. “Whew, we at least got them this far!” I always thank the parents for bringing their children up in the faith.
This year the Archbishop tossed our kids a couple of softball questions. Each time there was that moment when all seemed struck dumb. Then after a poke from a teachers or a sponsor, a hesitant hand went up.
The way young people talk today, it makes their answers sound like questions. “Sacraments?!”
The Archbishop affirmed them all and made a nice “save” out of every answer, to the relief of their pastor.
Weddings are high anxiety. That’s because they include mothers of the bride and wedding coordinators. They are a highly combustible mixture. Brides hire wedding coordinators to control their mothers.
Once the wedding march as begun, the anxiety is largely left behind.
In recent years I have taken to inserting two “pauses” into weddings. The first one comes when the bride and groom get to the altar. I tell them, sotto voce, to take a deep breath. I remind them that they look radiant. The other pause comes at the homily. I stop and ask for silence. “Let’s just savor this moment for a while. Let’s listen to our hearts beating in union with the bride and groom, saying, “We love you.”
It’s a good time for mom to cry.
The graduations, anniversaries and retirements are less taking. Pretty much the drill is just one, two, three. One, get a card. Two, show up. Three, eat some cake.
Each spring the jubilee celebration for priests is a bitter-sweet celebration. This year I took the young seminarian who is staying at our parish along. I told him, “Come and see what you will look like in 40 years.”
When all the elder brothers line up for the mass, I see myself in them.
It is a well worn group. Some are on walkers. Some have canes. Some are in wheel chairs. But most look pretty good.
At jubilees there is a different kind of joy and beauty. It is not the joy of beginnings and future hopes. It is the joy of accomplishment and gratitude for the past. It is beauty of wisdom and experience.
This really is a season of happiness.
Line up and smile for the photo.