Monday, June 20, 2011

My Sacerdotal Anniversary – 10 years makes a good start

If this weekly blog of mine does continue with any consistent regularity into the future, every year, around 20 June, I plan to pen some reflections on the priesthood, in particular my priesthood, as it marks my sacerdotal anniversary. This year, I celebrate a mini milestone – it’s my tenth year as an ordained Roman Catholic priest.

Has it been happy? That’s a tough question. After all, happiness is relative. But someone said about money - that money is relative – the more money, the more relatives. That’s my feeble attempt at wry humour, in case you missed it.

But on a more serious note, we can generally agree that happiness is indeed relative. Happiness is fleeting, and it is also dependent upon so many different factors in different people that it becomes problematic when we gauge anything by the value of happiness. Most apparent of all is the fact that happiness is a feeling. You can’t measure feelings. And if there’s one thing about feelings that we simply must understand is that love is not and cannot be about feelings. The moment we allow our feelings to direct when we love, how we love, and whom we love, we easily become self-centered and selfish people.

I shall borrow once more from the erudite Fr Ronald Rolheiser who said recently that what matters most in life is not happiness but meaning. If our lives have been meaningful, if they have contributed to the meaning of the lives of others, if they have added meaning to the world and to the hard tasks in life like suffering, discomfort and misadventure, then our lives would have mattered much more than if they simply made us happy. Happiness is something that can be bought. You can, for a price of an admission ticket, go to some theme park and experience the ‘happiest place on earth’, but the ‘most meaningful place on earth’ has yet to be used as a marketing ploy because that would be literally choosing the narrow gate that to many remains the least preferred choice.

In my years as a priest, notably a ‘young’ priest as compared to my confreres who are wizened way beyond my years, a question that is often asked is why did I become a priest. I have always viewed that as somewhat of a trick question because it means that it has a one-off answer, and that it is in the past. I have noticed that any answer that I give indicates the struggles that I have been going through at those particular times that the question was posed. Bringing these to my spiritual director for reflection and direction, I realize that the motives for becoming a priest have a somewhat evolving texture, much like the ways that identifying the motives for becoming a seminarian had a similar evolving weave.

So for the present, I shall settle with ‘meaning’. Being a priest has not only added meaning to my life, but I do hope that it has also brought meaning to the lives of the many whom I have encountered, touched and hopefully, healed and motivated in these last ten years of active ministry. Happiness just doesn’t cut it, because not even Jesus was happy all the time in his ministry. I’m willing to wager that hanging on the cross hoisted above Calvary on that first Good Friday could not have been a very happy moment in Jesus’ life. In fact, his use of the Greek ‘makarios’ in Matthew’s Beatitudes has been translated into “happy are the …” has us standing on our heads to see how Jesus defines happiness.

No, it has not been happy all the time for me either as a priest these ten years past, but having said that I don’t think that any one of my friends, parishioners, former classmates and schoolmates can ever say that their choice of vocation in life has been one that has been happy at every single moment of their lives. If so, then the tapestry of their lives would be more like a flat sheet made up of one single shade.

But if our lives are indeed a picturesque tapestry on which not just we, but God the master weaver as well adjusts the warps and wefts of the loom of life, then the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, successes and failures, the times of sickness and health, plenty and poverty, all add to the depth of meaning and beauty beyond adequate description.

Some of my brother priests are Golden Jubilarians this year, and have celebrated 50 years of their priesthood. In the shadow of their milestone, my ten years looks more like a kidney stone. I salute their commitment and courage, and their quest for holiness. But perhaps 10 years is a good beginning to look at things anew, and where possible, add more meaning to a world that is constantly searching for it, albeit in often the wrong places.


  1. Happy Anniversary Fr Luke!
    May Our Father shower you with grace and mercy, the Son to bask you in peace and love, and the Spirit to always accompany you in this meaningful walk.
    We have been deeply enriched by you. We look forward to more meaningful years.

  2. Dear Fr Luke,
    Blessed Anniversary.:)May The Triune God Shower His Choicest Blessings Upon You to fulfil your duties with care and love and keep you always in His Presence.Yes Fr Luke truly your guidance has been wonder-filled.....

  3. Blessed Anniversary Fr Luke! You are a gift from God and a treasure to our community. Your sheep needs you and please continue to enlighten us further through your blogs - they always give me much food for thought....
    irene - OLSS

  4. Father Luke, ever since I started reading your blog, it is really inspiring and enriching to hear the voices that comes from within. I look forward to every Monday to listen to these voices from the heart. May you have a Joyful Priesthood Journey that captures from within. Kelly:)

  5. happy anniversary!! heard u were very happy!!

    altho, i have to say, ur post confuses me a bit. sometimes i feel meaning comes easier than happiness.

    -serene, richard's daughter

  6. Dear Fr Luke,

    Happy & blessed 10th anniversary.

    Thank you for all the wonderful homilies that you've shared with us. We appreciate how you take time, wit and intellect on preparations. You have often hit home and touch many hearts. (Even when you call us wall paper & bitter gourd lovers.)

    I will cherish dearly what I've learnt from you and through observing your ways - be disciplined & focused.

    May the sweet Lord bless you always...

    A happy OLSS parishioner,

  7. Fr Luke, Happy 10 blessed years and many more to come. May the good Lord continues to bless the work of your hands through the many reflections you posted. May He takes good care of you in health and your well being. May He shower you with joy, peace, love and hope whenever you encounter any temptation, tribulations and oppression.

    The joy of the Lord is my strength and I guess it yours too.

    Happy 10th Anniversary.


  8. Dearest Fr Luke,

    As you celebrate and reflect on these past 10 years of your life dedicated to the service of God's people, know that you have been a true blessing and an inspiration.

    Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

    Thank you, Teacher, for being the selfless shepherd that you are & I give thanks to God for you. Through your faithful & fruitful guidance, you've brought meaning (Christ) to many lives, including mine. ;)

    Happy 10th Anniversary, Fr Luke. God be with you always. Take care.

  9. I am not a parishioner of your church but I read your blog for insights and to see things from a different perspective.

    As in the play 13:34, the priest said that though he is now a priest, he is still human, he is still flawed. These words struck me and gave me a truly vivid picture of what priests face daily.

    God Bless You and may you and all you have joined the priesthood remain true to their calling!

    Forever Onward!

  10. I like very much your imagery of God as the master weaver and ....'the warps and wefts in the loom of life....' and that He provides the warp upon which we the weft, the colourful yarn, interfaces to form the rich tapestry of life. Sometimes, faults & knots in the yarn / discolouration in the woven fabric can be salvaged deftly by a master weaver and even made more beautiful by inserting some silver or golden threads......

    God bless you

  11. Hi Father, happy anniversary. I am quite surprised that while you are a 'young' priest (with the word 'young' you may mean both in age as well as duration as an ordained priest) you mentioned that most of the priests you know are much more senior but I noted that in the various orders, they only invite young men between age 18-35yo who aspire to be priest. Anyone beyond 35yo has no hope of becoming a priest? Just a thought.

  12. Dear friends and readers of this blog

    Thank you so much for your kinds words of congratulations and encouragement on my anniversary. As I said in my homily at the anniversary Mass, this is a community celebration - not just mine. It bears testimony that we as a community have journeyed through 10 years together, and that we need to do this without pause.

    Thank you for the love, the memories, and all that is to come. To more adventures in God!

    God love you
    Fr Luke