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A Cause for Celebration - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:14 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review
By Michael Raheb '20
    In the beginning of chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, the prophet states: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. As we move through a multitude of crises – on our campus, in our Church, in our government – it is only fitting that we discern what “time” envelops us and our actions. Most, I suppose, would reply with “a time to speak” from Ecclesiastes 3:7. “We have to vote. We have to be heard. We have to muster up the courage to say what hasn’t been said before, and we need to stand our ground.”

That, of course, is unequivocally true. Whether regarding sexual abuse, scandals within the Church, or dissatisfaction with the government, we ought to voice our concerns. Silence lets open wounds fester. And thus, many discontented voices flutter about in the air like bats on the wing: those of mourning, those of loss, those of hatred, those of warrishness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. On either side of the aisle – Democrat or Republican, atheistic or theistic, women or men, destitute or swimming in money, you name the divisions – finding someone who doesn’t admire speech is rather difficult.

Yet I must raise a question. Since when must speaking only entertain the wrongness in the world? Why must there be so much denigration and bitterness? To those of you speaking and fighting for your convictions: by all means, continue to do so! I have no desire to dissuade you, and I encourage you to continue debating. But in Ecclesiastes the verse’s juxtaposition is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak” (3:7). The prophet does not specify the qualifications for speech and silence, only that each has its time. I think that, in this time of speech, what we are desperately, wretchedly missing is a voice of joy and celebration.

Celebration, in our current climes, might seem out of place. Take James Christie’s resignation from the College, for example. You must wonder: how can we celebrate after the revelation that a man, who was much-admired by many of our students, sexually abused others? Can we celebrate knowing that some of our loved ones have been harmed by someone we trusted? Consider also that, in the wake of Christie’s departure, Holy Cross has met with its 175th anniversary. At a celebratory Mass with His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, belting out hymns in St. Joseph Chapel, I am sure that many of us could not help but let the darkness of scandal simmer in the back of our minds. At the picnic outside of Kimball afterwards, many of us must have wondered who will teach the choir in Christie’s absence.

The same goes for the recent resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from his position in the clerical hierarchy. Can we celebrate the Church, knowing that a vast web of abuse and sly coverups have been hidden inside the chapel woodwork for years on end? When we enter our own parishes, can we look up at the kindly faces of our priests with the same reverence and respect? During October’s Synod on the Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, we youth – and the families and friends who support us – cannot help but let our perceptions be colored by the pain of the Church.

Even in the wake of such scandals (and the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but for more on that subject, please refer to Mr. Smith’s article), I believe that there is space for joy and celebration. We can, first, be joyful that justice is finally being served in places where there was once a drought. We can also celebrate our College’s 175th anniversary. Even with its stains, Holy Cross has given us grand opportunities and grander futures. Charging our voices with bitterness in lieu of appreciation will keep us from seeing the picture in full. Having magnificent professors is worth our joy. Having a beautiful chapel and the capacity for daily Mass is worth our joy. Having a student body with many intelligent young men and women who strive for the good of society is worth our joy. We ought to do our best to recognize what has been uncharacteristically unjust or foolish, but we should not let those problems make us cynical pessimists.

Christ did not put us into the world to be harbingers of doom and prophets of horrible things to come. He granted us our lives so that we might love like He did, sacrifice like He did, and bring other people to the Lord. That may, sometimes, require us to use our speech for fraternal correction. But it might be more fitting for us, before correcting each other, to recognize that we are first brothers and sisters. Our sheer existence within the will of God is cause for celebration, as are our relationships to one another. All our present scandals, in fact, can be traced to misconstrued relationships among God’s people, a lack of respect for each other, and capitalization on weakness and strife. I do not wish that our voices be used to propagate that strife.

Instead, I call you to look at the world, your community, your family, with unclouded eyes. There is much that we can give thanks for. To you fathers and mothers: the children you have raised with devotion, the dinners together and the laughs shared over their first steps – these are cause for celebration. To you students here: the multitude of classes you can choose from, the status of Holy Cross as a top-tier liberal arts college, even your ability to receive higher education – these are cause for celebration. To you alumni: Holy Cross, in its days of glory and darkling hours, has granted you wonderful futures, and it soon shall do the same for us – so this is a cause for celebration.

Our world, unfortunately, has quite enough toil and trouble in it. While those voices of discontent can fill the sky with a cacophony as tremendous as a roosting flock of sparrows in autumn, remember that fresh air does good for one’s constitution. Taking a moment to appreciate our blessings and celebrate them would benefit each and every one of us.