Friday, October 23, 2009

The Importance of Rituals

This past week I had the priviledge of attending a change of command ceremony at Camp Smith here in Hawaii. I had heard of these before, but never had been to one. "WOW" is all I can say! What a spectacle! The event was tremendously moving, full of dignity, pagentry and fascinating ritual. As a civilian, and citizen, the ceremony made me proud of our country, and gave me "chicken skin" as we say in Hawaii. Honored guests included the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the outcoming and incoming Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command. The Governor and also the Mayor of Hawaii also attended. The event also included a twenty one gun salute, and music by one of the military bands. Jim Nabors (aka Gomer Pyle) sang the national anthem.  I was priviledged to be the guest of Alan Kellogg, Sgt. Major (Ret) and also Medal of Honor recipient. Here's a picture of  those two famous Marines, Alan and Jim Nabors, and check out Alan's Wikipedia article which is linked here. 

The ceremony reminded me of just how important rituals and symbols are in our lives. The symbols of our flag, or military uniform, or military  music, connect us with something important of the past. These symbols remind us of our nation's history, and of our past sacrifices and struggles. And as the ceremony took place, I thought back on the history which surrounded Camp Smith, and of all that had gone before. And, I also thought of what person would be in the exact spot where I was sitting, two years from now when another change of command takes place.

The symbols and rituals of our Christian faith are important as well. And from a laymen's perspective, I would say they remind us of God's ever presence, love, and commitment to us. The symbols surrounding the Mass, or Eucharist, and Baptism, take us back, help us "remember" the great love demonstrated to us in Christ. And this is a message we need to hear and see both in spoken word, and in the great symbols of the Church. In addition, our Celtic tradition, full of pagentry help us to recall the lives and sacrifies of its many saints, who can continue to inspire us today, and to live lives of passion and self-sacrifice. These saints, as do the high Celtic crosses, and primitive structure of Gallarus Oratory, remind us that the past can still speak powerfully to us today.

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