CELEBRATING anniversaries and holding regular reunions are healthy practices that should be perpetuated all throughout life. They certainly help in reminding us of who we are and what we are supposed to be and to do.
As long as they are done with God as the source and end of the celebrations, and not made to indulge only on an ego-trip of nostalgia and sentimentalism, they will always be helpful.
Anniversaries are like visits to the past that would elicit memories that are an integral part of our life. They remind us that life is a continuum of the past, the present and the future. In fact, they remind us that there is an eternity waiting for us, and that the way we perform in our temporal life here on earth determines the kind of eternity we will have.
Anniversaries therefore remind us that we have to be thankful to God and to everyone who have helped us to be faithful in our commitments through the years. They also remind us that for the sake of fidelity, there might be things we need to correct or purify in our commitments we entered into in the past, or that we may have to reinforce and enrich those commitments. If only for this, anniversaries are indeed a very valuable occasion to celebrate.
Reunions, whether they be of the family, class, or whatever, reaffirm our need to be always with others. As persons, we are meant not only to be individuals but also to be communion with others, and ultimately with God. Anything that is conducive to developing our sense of community is always good.
As Pope Francis pointed out in his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, we are always in need to be in a community. “Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others,” he said. (141)
Reunions definitely are one concrete way of strengthening our sense of community that is proper to us. We all know that no man is an island. We are always in need of others. In fact, we are actually in a journey to form a universal communion of saints that will be definitively achieved in heaven, but which we have to start working on while here on earth.
Let us hope that we have the proper understanding and attitude towards the celebration of anniversaries and the holding of reunions. They are not meant to be trivial affairs just to fulfill some social obligations or expectations. They are meant to enrich us humanly and spiritually, and to lead us to our ultimate perfection as persons and as children of God.
It’s indeed a big challenge today to identify the true nature and purpose of anniversaries and reunions. At the moment, they seem stuck in the level of formalism, sentimentalism, commercialism, and all sorts of isms.
They can even be made to play out one’s pride and vanity. In this regard, we have to be ready to go against the current and somehow help to turn the tide toward a better understanding of their purpose in our life. We have to inculturate the proper understanding of anniversaries and reunions.
We have to understand that anniversaries and reunions are not only meant to occasion greater self-knowledge. They are also to enhance our sense of duty toward God and others. In a sense there is something serious and sacred in these events that should not undermine the joy that normally marks their celebrations.
To be sure, the celebration of anniversaries and the holding of reunions will go a long way in building a strong sense of unity and commitment among us, and in giving fresh impulses in our duty to be faithful in our love for God and for others.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (firstname.lastname@example.org)/PN