Keeping all these things in our hearts….
By Sister M. Regina
We Americans are blessed to have a national holiday which encourages us to be grateful, to count our blessings. Gratitude, by its very presence in our soul, drives out necessarily the critical, despondent, sad spirit which can sometimes afflict us. We cannot be grateful and sad at the same time! Gratitude brings joy necessarily in its train. It can be so easy to be overcome by life’s difficulties; it is so salutary to be reminded to be grateful!
We can be grateful to many persons, but, above all, our gratitude is directed to God. Having the 9:00 A.M. Holy Mass at Saint Mary’s on Thanksgiving Day makes it possible for us to begin one of the favorite American holidays by offering our gratitude to the Source of all good gifts. The Holy Eucharist is the greatest act of thanksgiving; in fact, the word “Eucharist,” which is a Greek word, means thanksgiving.
Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C., a prolific and eloquent author, provides a beautiful mediation on the importance of gratitude in her reflection upon the ten lepers who were cleansed of their leprosy by Jesus (cf. Lk. 17). She ponders how the lepers must have responded, once they realized that they were cleansed of leprosy:
One can certainly readily envision the delirium of joy, the wild excitement, the overwhelming relief of the ten. There was one other expression that assuredly ought to have been prominent among the ten ex-lepers, but it seems to have been reserved to one. “And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back with a loud voice glorifying God” (Lk. 17:15).…Only one was grateful, or at least urged to express his gratitude. And then it was that Jesus humbly revealed to us His Heart, a Heart that was hurt. “Were not ten made clean? Where are the nine?” (Lk. 17:17)…. How often for all of us the vehemence of our petition goes unmatched by the vigor or our gratitude for the petition granted? How readily we forget to acknowledge the gift. And in what measure we forget to be grateful, we have somehow lost the fullness of the gift. A great churchman of our times, Archbishop Augustine Mayer, O.S.B., has declared: “Only the grateful keep the gift.” How profoundly true this is.… Ingratitude begets crassness of mind and coarseness of spirit. Demand grows as gratitude declines. Who has not had occasion to observe that the most ungrateful persons are invariably the most demanding? The negative effects of ingratitude are multiple and gross….[G]ratitude crowds out that peevishness of spirit which so demeans and shrivels a person. One just cannot be brimming over with gratitude and overflowing with selfishness or puckered with petulance at the same time. Gratitude has a sweep and a song about it that disperses the miasma of complaint and drowns the drone of criticism (How to Pray, pp. 27-28).
Thanksgiving provides us, Sister Margaret, Sister Paige and myself, with a good occasion for expressing our deepest gratitude to Father Matthew Bartulica and to all the dear parishioners of Saint Mary’s. Thank you for welcoming us to Saint Mary’s! Thank you for everything that you did to prepare our convent home and for all the ways you have made us feel at home. We have been at Saint Mary’s for nearly half a year, and we are filled with gratitude! Thank you for the many ways that you have supported our consecrated life, especially by your prayers. You can be assured that each of you is remembered in our grateful prayers!