Offering a ‘happy feast’ in both joyous and trying times

Sr. Dwyer

By Sister Louisa Dwyer, OSF

Each of us, during the course of a lifetime, meets individuals who become for us unforgettable characters.

I’ve known many such people and consider them to be one of God’s many blessings. Every so often, one in particular comes to my mind. She was a diminutive wisp of a nun who had been a Latin scholar. Her speech was peppered with Latin phrases which were lost on most people. Her favorite phrase she saved for special days and her face would light up as she proclaimed “Beatum Festum” (Happy Feast). Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day and other saints’ days always rated that special greeting and it became as familiar as “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.”

Recently, I came across Sister Emmanuel’s memory card and I could only smile as I imagined her being welcomed into heaven with her favorite phrase, “Beatum Festum, Sr. Emmanuel.”

But then it occurred to me that those simple words are apropos for every day. Aren’t there numerous things that make each day of life a festivity? A puppy’s wagging tail; a baby’s smile; happy butterflies flitting from flower to flower; the deer, heron foxes, pheasants that visit our orchard; the first violets of spring; water lilies in the fish pond; apple pie for dinner; a child’s hug; the dancing of trees in the wind; newly mown hay; geese flying in formation; a letter from a long-lost friend; the sounds of laughter.


As I pondered these many blessings, they became a kind of litany — a rainbow in the sky, “Beatum Festum;” golden leaves in autumn, “Beatum Festum.”

But life isn’t all like that, is it? There is the flip side of the coin to consider — a diagnosis of terminal cancer, the death of a child, war, poverty, hatred, greed. Surely, they can’t be Beatum Festum moments, can they? Why not? I say.

Life is not always smooth and it’s because of that fact that we can appreciate life when it is smooth. The rain, thunder and lightning are merely signs of the rainbow to come. Beatum Festum.

For all of life, the good and the not-so-good, Beatum Festum. For you and me, Beatum Festum.

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